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Six Questions with Professor Yolanda Vázquez


Yolanda Vázquez, assistant professor of Law, joined the College this year. She teaches in the areas of immigration, crimmigration, and criminal procedure. Professor Vázquez’ research examines the incorporation of immigration law into the criminal justice system.  Her scholarship has focused on the role of criminal courts and the duties of defense lawyers in advising noncitizen defendants on the immigration consequences of a criminal conviction.  Find out what makes Professor Vázquez “tick” in this edition of “6 Questions With…”

Why did you want to become a lawyer?

I wanted to change the world, or at least the conditions of those less fortunate.  However, I couldn't decide between medical or law school as the way to do it.  I worked in an emergency room while I was deciding between the two and determined that while a doctor can patch you up and even save your life, the individual went back into the same environment as before.  I thought that by being a lawyer I could actually change the conditions of someone's environment.  I don't know if I actually believe that the law can truly change the world or people's circumstances as I did before but I still try, just in case.

What sparked your interest in immigration law?

Honestly, I fell into it.  I was a public defender in a domestic violence courtroom when immigration law changed that made a conviction for domestic violence a deportable offense.  From that time, immigration and criminal law has continued to intersect and, therefore, continued to be a part of my life.

Why did you go into higher education?

Tupac stated, "I'm not saying that I'm gonna change the world…but I guarantee that I will spark the brain that will change the world."   I agree.

Who is your favorite lawyer of all time?

I don't have a favorite lawyer.  I have the deepest respect for those line attorneys who truly fight every day for the rights of their client, willing to risk their life and/or liberty for "justice."  Those individuals aren't famous but truly deserve our respect. 

What’s the best part about the law/being a lawyer?

I think it is the worst and the best--The law changes.

What’s on your bucket list?

I want to spend time in the Maldives; in a beautiful hut surrounded by water, lying in a hammock with a good book and no phone or computer.

Professor Kristin Kalsem : Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Lecturer


Professor Kristin Kalsem is the recipient of the 2012 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award, which recognizes outstanding research and scholarly achievement by a member of the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Professor Kalsem received her J.D. with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1987 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa in 2001, where she also served as a member of their English Department and a lecturer at their law school. Professor Kalsem has been an influential scholar in women and the law since joining our faculty in 2001. She also serves as co-director of the College’s Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and a co-director of the joint degree program in law and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

In her 2012 book, In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature (Ohio State University Press), Professor Kalsem brings together law, literature, and feminism to illuminate how 19th century women writers advocated legal issues in their literary works and lives as authors. The book is an important interdisciplinary accomplishment befitting the recognition of the Schott Award. In the book, Professor Kalsem reveals and details a wealth of suppressed evidence of 19th century women’s feminist jurisprudence (“outlaw texts,” as she identifies them), casting new light on history and introducing useful new ways to see the performance of feminist jurisprudence in law and literature. Christine Krueger, professor of English at Marquette University, is among those who have praised the book, noting that “Kristin Kalsem’s In Contempt makes a significant contribution to scholarship on the history of feminist jurisprudence. She covers thorny legal issues including married women’s property, infanticide, and lunacy law, as well as birth control, imperialism, and women’s admission to the bar. In her afterword she urges scholars to engage the ‘new evidence’ she has brought to light—and I have no doubt that this evidence will be welcomed enthusiastically.”

She is a teacher and scholar who is firmly dedicated to bridging theory and practice. That determination is fully evident in In Contempt– as it is, too, in her articleSocial Justice Feminism, 18 UCLA Women’s Law Journal 131 (2010) (with Professor Verna L. Williams), which inspired a conference last fall that brought scholars and activists

Professor Kalsem will deliver a public lecture on her scholarship here at the College of Law during the Fall 2013 semester. Until then, please join me in warmly congratulating Professor Kristin Kalsem for this well-deserved recognition.

Professor Kristin Kalsem named 2012 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award Recipient


Congratulations to Professor Kristin Kalsem who has been named the recipient of the 2012 Harold C. Schott Scholarship Award. The award recognizes outstanding research and scholarly achievement by a member of the faculty of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. She will deliver a public lecture on her scholarship here at the College of Law during the Fall 2013 semester.  

Professor Kalsem received her J.D. with Honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1987 and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Iowa in 2001, where she also served as a member of their English Department and a lecturer at their law school.  Professor Kalsem has been an influential scholar in women and the law since joining the law faculty in 2001.  She also serves as co-director of the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and a co-director of the joint degree program in law and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies.

In her 2012 book, In Contempt: Nineteenth-Century Women, Law, and Literature, Professor Kalsem brings together law, literature, and feminism to illuminate how 19th century women writers advocated legal issues in their literary works and lives as authors.  In the book, Kalsem details a wealth of suppressed evidence of 19th century women’s feminist jurisprudence (“outlaw texts,” as she identifies them), casting new light on history and introducing useful new ways to see the performance of feminist jurisprudence in law and literature. 

Kalsem is a teacher and scholar who is firmly dedicated to bridging theory and practice.  This is  evident in In Contempt – as it is, too, in her article Social Justice Feminism, 18 UCLA Women’s Law Journal 131 (2010) (with Professor Verna L. Williams), which inspired a conference last fall that brought scholars and activists from around the nation to Cincinnati to explore new ways of understanding and doing feminist work today and into the future.

Professor Kalsem’s scholarly record is complemented by her outstanding teaching accomplishments here at the College, where she has twice received the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Christo Lassiter Quoted in ABC News Report


UC Law’s Professor Christo Lassiter was quoted in an ABC News.com article about the possibility of prosecuting people who failed to report a felony in the Steubenville, OH rape case.  Here’s the story: Steubenville (OH)  Rape Case Report

Professor Williams Writes Editorial About Justice Scalia’s Scorn of Vote Protections


Constitutional law professor Verna Williams published an editorial in the Cincinnati Enquirer  (March 7, 2013) challenging Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia’s comments about voter protection under the Voting Rights Act.    

Read the editorial: Scalia Scorns Vote Protections

College of Law Professors Launch New Scholarship Fund for Students


Cincinnati, OH— Prospective students are well aware that a legal education can be a significant financial investment. What’s news at the University of Cincinnati College of Law is what professors have initiated to make things a little easier for students. They’ve established the College of Law Faculty Scholarship Fund.

Specifically, the College of Law Faculty Scholarship Fund will provide necessary financial support to our law students that will help offset the rising cost of legal education. To kick off this initiative, nearly $40,000 was raised, with the average gift exceeding $1,000.

“We have high hopes for this effort,” said A. Christopher Bryant, professor of law at the College and one of the initiators of the idea. “This faculty has always felt a very strong connection to our students. We also understand the realities of the legal profession today—and remember the anxiety we all felt when we were in law school. Creating this scholarship was an opportunity to show our support of them in a tangible form.”

Noted Bryant and Mark Godsey, the Daniel P. and Judith L. Carmichael Professor of Law and Director of the Ohio Innocence Project, law faculty were excited and very committed to participating in this venture recognizing the increasing pressures on students in terms of debt and the impact of a slowing economy.  As an important initiative of this year’s Faculty Staff Campaign, these efforts helped raise our faculty participation rate to 100%, making UC College of Law one of very few to achieve this high standard.

“We’ve long been proud of the strong relationships that exist between faculty and students at the College of Law,” said Louis D. Bilionis, dean at the College of Law. “Our professors care deeply about their students, and their initiative and generosity in establishing this scholarship fund shows how dedicated they are to making a positive, personal difference in the lives of their students.”

2012 William Howard Taft Lecture on Constitutional Law


*This event, scheduled for Tuesday, October 30, has been postponed due to inclement weather on the East Coast.

New Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2012
12:15 - 1:15 p.m.
College of Law - Room 114

Webcast: 2012 Taft Lecture

Steven G. Calabresi
Class of 1940 Professor of Law, Northwestern University School of Law

"The Right to Buy Health Insurance Across State Lines: Crony Capitalism and the Supreme Court"

My lecture will focus on the health care reform debate in the wake of the Supreme Court's historic decision this past June in NFIB v. Sebelius upholding the mandate to buy health insurance under the Affordable Care Act as a tax. I will argue that citizens have and should have a constitutional right to be able to purchase any health insurance plan that is offered in any of the fifty states even if a citizens' own state has not given an out of state insurer permission to do business within a state. The present licensing system has led to the creation of 50 separate health insurance monopolies or oligopolies in each of the 50 states. This is unconstitutional because it deprives consumers of choices they should have in buying health insurance, it drives up the cost of health care, and it leads to lower quality health insurance because of the absence of competition.

I will argue that 1) the Commerce Clause applies to the buying and selling of health insurance; 2) that the Dormant Commerce Clause, absent the McCarran-Ferguson Act, would and should make it unconstitutional for states to discriminate against out of state health insurance providers; 3) that the Constitution should no longer be read as giving Congress the power to override the Dormant Commerce Clause in the health insurance context because the mandate now compels consumers to buy health insurance; 4) that Congress lacks the direct power under the Commerce Clause to create 50 separate health insurance monopolies and oligopolies in each of the 50 states; and 5) that the McCarran-Ferguson Act violates the Privileges and Immunities Clause of Article IV, Section 2.

My conclusion is that the passage of the Affordable Care Act and the upholding of the mandate to buy health insurance renders the McCarran-Ferguson Act unconstitutional as it applies to the market for health insurance.

About the Taft Lecture

The William Howard Taft Lecture on Constitutional Law was established in 1986 to honor the contributions of the only person to have served as both President (1909-1913) and Chief Justice (1921-1930) of the United States.

William Howard Taft was born in Cincinnati on Auburn Avenue in 1857. He is a graduate of the Cincinnati Law School, the predecessor of the University of Cincinnati College of Law. He served as Dean of the newly founded University of Cincinnati Law Department from 1896-1900 and was instrumental in the merger of this department and his alma mater in 1897.

Lori Strait Named the 2012 Nettie Birk/Dottie Sutton/Louise Erway Award Recipient


Congratulations to Lori Strait, the recipient of the 2012 Nettie Birk/Dottie Sutton/Louise Erway Award. The staff recognition award was formally announced at the Hooding Ceremony.

In her position as program coordinator she provides significant support for the work of the law school’s faculty. In addition, she supports the staff and projects of the Corporate Law Center and the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC).  Strait interacts with students, faculty and staff, as well as members of the general public, many of whom are clients of the ECDC.  As one nomination stated “[s]he relates well to both students and clients, always greeting them with a smile and a genuine sense of caring and professionalism.”  Her steadfast dedication was observed during the ECDC Pro Bono event with Duke Energy, for which she served as the project leader.  

Finally, her commitment to the law school community extends beyond the business day.  As one student noted “[s]he attended the PILG student-faculty basketball game, which… also demonstrates her interest in the students and her jovial nature.” 

This year’s selection committee included:  Professor Michele Bradley, Professor Christo Lassiter, Joel Chanvisanuruk (last year’s winner), John Hopkins, Amanda Kennedy ‘12, , Shannon Kemen, Becky Rhoda ‘14, and Suzanne Smith ’13.

Chanvisanuruk Named Staff Recipient of the Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award


Joel Chanvisanuruk May 04, 2012 - Joel Chanvisanuruk was named staff recipient of the Marian Spencer Diversity Ambassador Award at the university’s recent Diversity Conference. The award is presented each year to highlight campus-affiliated individuals and groups whose diversity initiatives have positively impacted the university.  Chanvisanuruk is the law school’s Academic Success Director and head of the Diversity Committee.

The Diversity Conference announcement reads:

In his role, Joel delivers workshops and works individually with law students to help them adapt to law school curriculum, prepare for exams and improve their academic performance in order to achieve their full academic potential as a law student. But in addition to these duties, Joel also serves as chair of the UC Law Diversity Committee which provides counseling to students regarding diversity issues, while also bringing together faculty, staff and students of the College of Law to develop proposals to support present diversity initiatives. 

Working with the College of Law Office of Admissions, Joel launched “Law School 101 Day”, a program focused on educating Department of Education Trio-qualified students, diverse students and first-generation college students from regional colleges and universities on becoming an attorney. The program included diverse and first-generation faculty, students and attorneys speaking on their experiences of becoming an attorney while providing useful information on the application process, financing and academic rigor of law school.  As a staff member within the College of Law, Joel is constantly talking with co-workers about how we can create a more efficient and comfortable working atmosphere for all persons such as spearheading potluck committees and staff programs that work to enrich relationships and foster inclusion and community. From race and ethnicity to gender, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic background and beyond – Joel believes that all of these areas are equally important when creating an environment that students, staff and faculty can feel comfortable.

Dean Jefferson Honored with NALP President’s Award


Mina Jones Jefferson ‘90, Assistant Dean and Director, Center for Professional Development, was named a 2011-2012 President’s Award Winner—one of the highest honors in the field—at the annual meeting of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP). Dean Jefferson was lauded for her work as chairperson of NALP’s Employment Outcomes Task Force.   Under her leadership the Task Force published a comprehensive Best Practices Guide that will assist all law schools in the data collection process. Jefferson will again serve as chairperson of the task force during the 2012-2013 academic year.

One of the first African American women in the region elected to the partnership of a large firm, Jefferson practiced commercial litigation for nine years before joining the College of Law. A former hiring partner, she has the distinction of being one of the few law school career services professionals in the country who has been on “both sides of the table.”  Dean Jefferson speaks on professional development throughout the tri-state and is very involved in the community, including currently serves on the board of the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati Board of Trustees and by appointment on the Ohio Supreme Court Commission on Continuing Legal Education.

What is NALP?

Founded in 1971 as the National Association for Law Placement, NALP—The Association for Legal Career Professionals—is a nonprofit educational association established to meet the needs of all participants in the legal employment process (career planning, recruitment and hiring, and professional development of law students and lawyers) for information, coordination and standards. NALP is dedicated to continuously improving career counseling and planning, recruitment and retention, and the professional development of law students, lawyers, and its members.