Cincinnati native Victor Kolodny integrates the practice of law and business. A graduate of The Ohio State University with a degree in business, he earned his JD from the College of Law in 1962. "I was always certain I wanted a law degree and that I wanted to attend the College of Law," Kolodny recalled. He was so certain that he only applied to the College of Law! And he never regretted it."The dean at the time, Dean Barrow, was a wonderful dean; and Professor Dewey was very popular." Kolodny remembers Dewey often played ping-pong with the students and other faculty. "Ping-pong was very popular; the library was second," he joked.
After completing law school Kolodny planned to join the Judge Advocate General Corp (JAG). However, that plan didn’t work out. "For some reason it was cancelled that year," he remembered. "I expected to join JAG so I had not been interviewing with law firms." This unexpected turn of events turned into an adventure as it prompted Kolodny to hang his own shingle. "Few of my classmates did that at the time. It was tough to get clients." Indeed, at first most of his cases were court appointments.
Within a few years, however, his career took another significant turn. While in private practice he met wildlife artist John Ruthven. After much consideration they formed a partnership, Wildlife Internationalé, Inc., in 1971. The company publishes and distributes Ruthven limited edition prints. The partnership called on Kolodny’s business training, enabling him to use his marketing skills to promote Ruthven’s art to galleries, private collectors, and universities. His efforts were successful, resulting in Ruthven's work appearing in the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Smithsonian, and the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Kolodny notes that his legal training was instrumental in the success of the partnership. Because of the College of Law he learned to negotiate production and publishing agreements, including Ruthven's release from an earlier publishing contract.
Law School Lessons Equal Business Success
Early on he realized that he "loved the challenge of creating something." Thus, in addition to the successful Ruthven partnership, Kolodny formed the now 38-year old leasing business First America. The company leases cars, boats, planes, and medical equipment.
The continued success of his businesses took Kolodny further away from the daily practice of law. "The law took a back seat," he confessed; but he has continued to maintain his license to practice. Importantly, he also credits his business success with the legal training he received at the College of Law, and the school has remained in his heart.
"Law school provided me with the ability to do whatever I wanted in life because I could always practice law. My success made me feel very strongly that I had to give back."
Kolodny's debt of gratitude to the law school, along with his high regard for the school and the legal education he received, motivated him to create the Sky and Victor Kolodny Scholarship.
One of the benefits of creating the scholarship is getting to know the students who are recipients. Over the years, Kolodny has had the opportunity to meet the students and even receive correspondence from them. "I enjoy reading the thank you letters," he smiled. It is actions like these that bring today's students closer to alumni, bringing back memories of law school and what it takes to become a lawyer.
The Sky and Victor Kolodny Scholarship Fund
The Sky and Victor Kolodny Scholarship, now in its 13th year, is awarded to a student who has completed his/her first year at the College of Law in the top half of the class and is in need of financial aid. Kolodny favored a scholarship, in part, because it directly helps a student afford the increasingly high cost of law school. He commented, "I think tuition was about $4,000 a year when I attended the College of Law." Today, it is approximately $37,000 for Ohio and Northern Kentucky residents; out-of-state residents must pay over $52,000.
For more information about how you can set up a scholarship, contact Mike Hogan, director of development, at the University of Cincinnati College of Law Development Office.
Scott Brenner '09