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Paula Boggs Muething Talks About the Importance of Civic Service

For Paula Boggs Muething ‘03, a career in litigation has also been a career of civic service.  Originally from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Boggs Muething studied political science and journalism at the University of Kentucky and then worked for several years on the West Coast before returning to the Midwest to study law. 

At the University of Cincinnati College of Law, she was a fellow with the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights.  In fact, the Institute was a major factor in her decision to attend UC Law.  “The program was really the focus of my law school experience,” she shared.  “Working on the Human Rights Quarterly journal and engaging with the programs and speakers the Institute brought in were truly enjoyable experiences.”  She further became involved in Law Review her second year, and continued her third year, even when she became editor of the Human Rights Quarterly journal.

Out of law school, Boggs Muething spent one year clerking for Justice James E. Keller at the Supreme Court of Kentucky.  “It was a wonderful experience,” she reflected, noting that the clerkship helped to prepare her for the rest of her career.  “I agree with the sentiment that a clerkship is a tremendous experience out of law school.  It works as an excellent bridge between the classroom and becoming a practicing attorney.”  Following her clerkship, she spent two years at Keating, Muething  & Klekamp PLL, working in litigation before spending the next five years working as an attorney for the city of Cincinnati.

Much of her work as a city attorney involved land use as well as First Amendment issues.  “Blight, nuisance abatement issues – I really became involved in working and engaging with various communities and neighborhoods around the city,” she explained.  This work led to her involvement in an effort to pass land bank legislation, which ultimately resulted in the creation of the Hamilton County Land Reutilization Corporation.  Upon the land bank’s creation, she was hired to manage it in its effort to return vacant properties to productive use by providing diverse commercial and residential opportunities through investment in neighborhoods.  She served as the general counsel and vice president, working to employ the land bank in the best possible ways to revitalize communities.

At the end of last year, Boggs Muething was appointed Cincinnati City Solicitor.  “The job is a potpourri of legislation, litigation, economic development, community redevelopment – just about anything you can conceive a city being involved in,” she said.  She further noted that the position involves constitutional issues, which can be rare in private practice.  “I think it’s the best job any lawyer could ever have.  It is always interesting, I work with very intelligent and motivated attorneys, and working with our elected officials is a wonderful way of engaging with ideas and turning them into programs and laws to better our city.”

The Importance of Civic Service

“I will tell you that this is one of the easiest towns to get involved in if you want to be involved in civic organizations and community work at a leadership level,” she said, reflecting on her career.  “If you really are interested in it, you can get involved in this work, even if it isn’t going to be your day job.”  

Boggs Muething is a good example of this, as she joined the board of Talbert House while an attorney at KMK.  “You meet wonderful people on boards such as this who are civic minded and become a great network for continuing community development work throughout your career.  If you want to become involved in civic service, my advice is to just get involved.   Civic service does not have to be your day job in order for it to be part of what you do, and it can be just as rewarding.”



Karen Hester Reflects on the Rewards of a Career in Diversity and Inclusiveness

With four degrees behind her, Karen Hester ’01 has a wealth of education, knowledge, and experience that she has turned into a career working in the areas of diversity and inclusiveness.  While she was born in Chicago, her father was in the Army, so she moved from place to place growing up.  She considers Kansas home, and now she works in Colorado.

Her first two degrees are from Kansas State University:  a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and a master’s degree in student personnel and counseling.  She later earned her juris doctor from the College of Law before returning to Kansas. There, she earned a LL.M. in taxation from the University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law.

“I enjoyed law school… as you can tell, I really enjoy learning,” said Hester, lightheartedly referencing her degrees.  “I worked between each of my degrees, and when I was in law school I think that I was really able to enjoy the moment.”  At UC Law, she was involved in numerous programs and student groups:  Black Law Students Association, Tenant Information Project, Student Court, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, Student Legal Education Committee, and the Immigration and Nationality Law Review.

Currently, Hester serves as the executive director for The Center for Legal Inclusiveness in Denver, CO.  The Center is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing diversity in the legal profession by actively educating and supporting private and public sector legal organizations in their own individual campaigns to help legal employers retain and advance diverse and female attorneys.  And she feels strongly that her previous work has prepared her for this position. 

Her professional career was in the field of career services at the University of Kansas School of Law.  “I noticed that a lot of the work I was doing was related to diversity and inclusiveness at the time,” she shared.  With some reflection and encouragement, she submitted a proposal to make diversity and inclusiveness officially part of her job duties, and it was ultimately accepted.  “It was around this time that it really hit home for me.  I remember having the feeling that ‘this is what I am supposed to be doing.’”

As the chair of the diversity committee for the Kansas Bar Association in 2011, Hester discovered the Center for Legal Inclusiveness while surveying what other organizations were doing.  When the position of executive director opened up, she jumped on the opportunity and now has been in the role for about two years.

The Center held its 2015 Legal Inclusiveness & Diversity Summit on May 4, 2015 – a day-long conference with workshops, speakers, and panel discussions with over 200 attorneys from across the nation in attendance.  The Center further produces an inclusiveness manual laying out step-by-step processes through which organizations can make themselves more diverse and inclusive.

In reflection on her work and her career path, Hester advises young attorneys and law students to “enjoy the moment.” 

“I look at students today and see that things are different,” she said.  “It’s more expensive, its harder to get a job --  I know some students out there wonder, is it worth it.  I say it is.  You may not take the path that others take, and that’s okay.  Find your own way, you’ll find that the work you do is rewarding.”



College of Law Ranks 10th in Midwest Region for Hiring

Dean Mina Jefferson counsels Caleb Benadum ’14 and
Chiddy Ukonne’13

A recent survey of American Bar Association hiring data found that the University of Cincinnati College of Law ranked 10th in the Midwest region for hiring. The survey compared the College’s employment rate with that of 42 Midwest universities.  Read more about the survey in the ChicagoInno article:  “42 Midwest Law Schools, Ranked by Graduate Employment” 

Law students have the opportunity to work closely with the team from the Center for Professional Development—five attorneys with significant legal experience who are dedicated to preparing students for their career. The CPD team begins working individually with law students from their first semester through Professional Planning Meetings, helping them build competitive resumes, and managing activities and programs that promote professional development through service. 

Learn how CPD helps prepare students for their careers: CPD

College of Law Students Receive Scholarship Awards from the Black Lawyers of Cincinnati

Remington A. Jackson ’15 and Georgeanna Bien-Aime’16 are both recipients of prestigious scholarships from the Black Lawyers Association of Cincinnati (BLAC). The BLAC is a professional organization committed to improving the administration of civil and criminal justice; working with national, state and local bar associations to solve problems particular to African American lawyers; and improving opportunities for all lawyers and law students to share equally in the benefits of the legal profession.  The awards were announced at the organization’s annual scholarship and award banquet.

Jackson, who will graduate this month, is the recipient of The Theodore M. Berry Scholarship. This scholarship was created in recognition of the political, civic and legal achievements of former Cincinnati Mayor Theodore M. Berry, who was also a University of Cincinnati College of Law alumnus. A graduate of the College of Wooster, Jackson plans to pursue a career in labor and employment law or corporate law. While at the law school, he honed his leadership and professional skills while working at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, the General Counsel’s Office for the university, and as a judicial extern to the Hon. Jeffery P. Hopkins, United States Bankruptcy Court-Southern District of Ohio. In addition, this past year he was president of the Black Law Students Association and vice-chair of the Midwest Region of the National Black Law Students Association.

“I will be using the funds from this scholarship for bar support to avoid taking out any additional student loans,” Jackson said. “But more importantly, the meaning of this scholarship goes far beyond monetary value. Since coming to Cincinnati, I was made aware of Judge Berry's achievements, such as being the first Black mayor of Cincinnati. But my mentors challenged me to dig deeper past those accomplishments to his character. Being awarded the Theodore M. Berry Scholarship is an immense and humbling honor not only because of the prestige associated with such a legal giant so much but also the fact that it will continue to help me build my career here in Cincinnati.”

Bien-Aime, a second year law student, was awarded The William A. McClain Scholarship, which is given to an African American student who demonstrates leadership potential and dedication to the community. Judge McClain, a member of the Bar of Ohio for more than 70 years, was a former Cincinnati City Solicitor, the first African American attorney to serve in this position of any major city in the country.  

A graduate of Northern Kentucky University, Bien-Aime plans to focus her career on corporate transactional work, labor and employment, and regulatory compliance. At the College of Law she is an Associate member of the Freedom Center Journal, the Black Law Students Association and served as the Legislative Advocacy Specialist for the National Black Law Students Association Midwest Region this year. In addition, she volunteers throughout the Cincinnati community with groups such as the Avondale Bond Hill Legal Clinic, Habitat for Humanity, and the Volunteer Income Tax Association.  She has interned for the Honorable John Andrew West, Hamilton County Court of Common Pleas and is currently a legal intern with Cincinnati Public Schools and an extern with The Kroger Co.

“After passing the bar, I plan to go directly to an in-house legal department or to start my career at a small firm and then move to an in-house position,” she said. “I really appreciate this award,” Bien-Aime continued. “It will open doors and give me greater opportunity to advance the work of the late Honorable William A. McClain.”

College of Law Assistant Dean named President-Elect of the National Association for Law Placement

Cincinnati, OH—Mina Jones Jefferson, Assistant Dean and Director, Center for Professional Development at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, has been named president-elect of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP), an association of over 2,500 legal career professionals dedicated to facilitating legal career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students and lawyers. The 44-year-old organization advises law students, lawyers, law offices, and law schools across North America and beyond.

Jefferson was recognized as president-elect at the NALP annual conference in Chicago, IL in April 2015. Her term includes service as president-elect in 2015-16, president in 2016-2017 and immediate past president in 2017-2018.

“This is a wonderful and well-deserved honor for Dean Jefferson that reflects the high esteem in which she is held by her peers across the country,” said College of Law Dean Louis D. Bilionis. “As the legal profession continues to experience major change, it needs strong leaders – and Mina is a great leader in the field.”

“It’s a privilege to have a leadership role with the preeminent organization for legal career professionals,” said Jefferson. “I look forward to advancing the initiatives identified in NALP’s strategic plan and upholding its foundational beliefs that law students and lawyers should benefit from a fair and ethical hiring process; that law students and lawyers are more successful when supported by professional development and legal career professionals; and that a diverse and inclusive legal profession best serves clients and our communities.”

Jefferson, a University of Cincinnati College of Law graduate, has a strong background in the legal hiring field. As a former hiring partner at a National Law Journal Top 250 law firm, she is one of the few law school career services professionals in the country who has worked on both sides of the table. She practiced commercial litigation for almost a decade and was one of the first African American women in the region elected to partnership at a large firm.

A published author, Jefferson writes on the topic of careers and professional development for numerous legal publications and is a sought after speaker on the topic of professionalism. She has also taught Ethics courses at the college, as well as the legal extern course.

Active in the community, she currently serves on the Steering Committee for the Cincinnati Academy of Leadership for Lawyers (CALL).  Jefferson, a former co-director of the Law & Leadership Institute at the College, also served—by appointment—on the Supreme Court of Ohio’s Continuing Legal Education Committee.  Additionally she has been a member of the board of the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, Children’s Law Center, ProKids, and the Cincinnati Bar Foundation.  

Ohio Innocence Project Attorneys and Exonerees Honored at Award Ceremony by Death Penalty Advocacy Group

L to R: Attorneys Gilbert, Godsey, Howe; Exonerees Bridgeman,
Jackson, Ajamu; Attorney Mills.

Ohio Innocence Project Director Mark Godsey, OIP attorney Brian Howe and exonerees received a “Special Recognition” award on May 7 in Beverly Hills, CA.  

Cincinnati, OH—The University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Professor Mark Godsey, Ohio Innocence Project (OIP) attorney Brian Howe, and three exonerees were recognized with the “Rose Elizabeth Bird Commitment to Justice Award” at the 24th Annual Death Penalty Focus Awards dinner, held on May 7 in Beverly Hills, CA.  Death Penalty Focus, founded in 1988, is an organization committed to the abolition of the death penalty through public education, grassroots organizing and political advocacy, media outreach, and domestic and international coalition building.  The award recognizes individuals whose actions and stories bring to light the flaws in the US judicial system. 

Actors Mike Farrell and Ed Asner

Wrote Mike Farrell, the organization’s president, in an email about the award, “Your efforts which resulted in the exoneration of these men for a crime they did not commit are an incredible accomplishment. It is cases like these which further illustrate the importance of our work to end the death penalty.”  Farrell, an actor and activist, is well-known for his role as Captain B.J. Honeycutt from the hit-TV show M.A.S.H.  Event attendees included: Ed Asner, known for his Emmy Award-winnign role as Lou Grant during the 70s and early 80s on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" and spin-off "Lou Grant and as Ed Wunclear on "The Boondocks', among many other film and TV roles; actress Amy Brenneman, known for her role in the TV-series "Judging Amy", Violet Turner in "Private Practice", and Laurie Garvey in HBO's "The Leftovers"; Larry Flynt, Jr., publisher and president of Larry Flynt Publications; and many others.

Godsey and Howe were recognized for their representation of Ricky Jackson. The OIP’s investigation also ultimately freed Jackson’s co-defendants, Wiley Bridgeman and Kwame (Bridgeman) Ajamu, who—along with Jackson—were honored for their courage and commitment.  The men together served over 100 years in prison for a crime they did not commit; many of those years were spent on death row. Jackson has the tragic distinction of setting the record for the longest-serving person to be exonerated in U.S. history. They were exonerated in November 2014 after a key prosecution witness, Eddie Vernon, recanted his story that he saw the men shoot and kill Cleveland, OH businessman Harold Franks in 1975.

In addition to the OIP team and exonerees, several other individuals and organizations were recognized for their work at the event. Awardees included Dale Baich, an Assistant Federal Public Defender, who defended Joseph Wood, a man whose botched two-hour execution in Arizona last year was deemed by many to violate the Eighth Amendment; Rabbi Leonard Beerman, a founder of the DPF and lifelong opponent of capital punishment; and the program “Death Row Stories,” an 8-part CNN series exploring cases that pose hard questions about capital punishment and the justice system.

Attorneys for the exonerees are: Mark Godsey, Brian Howe'08, David Mills, Terry Gilbert

Actress Amy Brenneman.

About the Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice/Ohio Innocence Project

Harnessing the energy and intellect of law students as its driving force, the OIP seeks to identify and assist inmates in Ohio prisons who are actually innocent of the crimes they were convicted of committing.  Innocence Projects across the country have freed more than hundreds of wrongfully convicted inmates to date. The Ohio Innocence Project to date has helped 23 individuals obtain their long-sought freedom.

Read more about Ricky Jackson’s story

Learn more about the Ohio Innocence Project.

Prof. McMahon Published Op-Ed on Death Tax Repeal Act in The Hill

Professor Stephanie McMahon recently published the op-ed “(Un)intended Consequences of Death Tax Repeal” in the April 29, 2015 issue of The Hill (a congressional blog). Her editorial looks at the impact of H.R. 1105, the “Death Tax Repeal Act of 2015,” which would repeal the federal estate tax, and explains her concerns on the hidden agenda behind the bill.  Read more hereStephanie McMahon.

Prof. Sandra Sperino Give Presentation and Has Article Accepted for Publication

 Sandra SperinoThe article “Retaliation and the Reasonable Person”, written by Professor Sandra Sperino, was accepted for publication in the Florida Law Review.  In addition, Professor Sperino recently participated in the Clifford Symposium at DePaul University College of Law where she presented her paper, “The Civil Rights Restatement”. Congratulations!

Prof. Jacob Cogan’s Article Published

jacob coganCongratulations to Jacob Cogan, the Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law.  His work The Changing Form of the International Law Commission’s Work was recently published in EVOLUTIONS IN THE LAW OF INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS 275 (Roberto Virzo and Ivan Ingravallo eds., Brill | Nijhoff 2015).