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Rachel Smith Sees Connection Between Moot Court and Legal Research and Writing

While Professor Rachel Smith is officially the faculty advisor for Moot Court, she is unofficially the student appellate advocacy organization’s biggest fan.

“They’re amazing,” Smith said.

Smith, Professor of Practice, is currently in her second year as the Moot Court faculty advisor. Although she steps in for the occasional challenging situation and serves as the “official school face” when needed, it is a rather hands off position.

“When I started as faculty advisor, some told me they didn’t need my assistance for much. They liked their independence,” Smith said. “I found that, the students, they absolutely run it themselves. It’s incredible what they accomplish and what they do.”

This has certainly been the case for the upcoming August A. Rendigs, Jr. National Product Liability Moot Court Competition. “I try to make myself available to help out,” Smith said. “I can just show up (March 30 and 31) and watch the glory that they’ve created it.”

Smith, who was hired by the College of Law as a Legal Research and Writing professor in 2004, said she had likely expressed interest in the past and was invited to fulfill the faculty advisor position when it opened last year.

It made a lot of sense to her to have a connection between the legal research and writing program and Moot Court “because the first year we teach the foundational skills that the Moot Court people are going to build on later,” she said.

“Even if someone is not planning on being a litigator, those skills are valuable and can be used in other settings,” Smith said. “I think it’s a nice continuation of those basic skills you get in the first year.”

As an Indiana University law student, Smith was not a member of the Moot Court, although she did take an upper level appellate advocacy class. The former Articles Editor of the Indiana Law Journal graduated from the Bloomington-based law school in 1993, with a joint master’s degree in Environmental Science from IU’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs.  

From there, the 1986 Barnard College (N.Y.) graduate spent two years as a judicial clerk for the Honorable Wade Brorby of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, whose chambers are in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Smith then worked for four years as a senior assistant attorney general with the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, a former geology major, Smith found this to be somewhat of her “dream job,” as it allowed her to focus on environmental issues, specifically those related to water and wetlands.

After several years out west, the Cincinnati native returned home, accepting an offer to become an associate at Dinsmore & Shohl downtown. “By then I had a couple kids (now ages 14 and 15) and I thought Cincinnati was a nice compromise, having lived in New York City; Bloomington, Indiana; and Cheyenne, Wyoming,” she said. “Cincinnati had all the things I liked.”

Smith spent five years at Dinsmore, before accepting the research and writing position at the College of Law. She had long been interested in teaching this area, which was the “part of practice I enjoyed maybe the most,” she said.

“When I was finishing my clerkship, I actually applied and got an offer to teach legal research and writing back at Indiana University, which I would have loved,” Smith said. “But I thought, since I hadn’t officially practiced law outside of clerking, that that was something I needed to do first before I could come back and teach.”

In addition to teaching Legal Research and Writing, Smith taught Legal Ethics last fall. She is also the University Appeals Administrator for the entire University of Cincinnati.

Outside of UC, Smith enjoys yoga, outdoor activities and eating at the various local Indian restaurants. She also secretly likes knitting, but in light of her donations to the recent Hooding Auction, it is safe to say that the cat is out of the (knitting) bag.

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13

Faculty Advisor Role Is Chance to Support Student Work

The Cincinnati Law Review, like most law review publications, is student-run and student-edited. But that does not mean that the faculty advisor does not play an important role.

At the College of Law, that person is currently Professor Michael E. Solimine, who is serving in this capacity on an interim basis for Professor Betsy Malloy. Malloy is on sabbatical during the 2011-12 academic year and will return as the faculty advisor to the Law Review this summer or fall, Solimine said.

But this is familiar territory for Solimine, the Donald P. Klekamp Professor of Law, as he was the Law Review faculty advisor from 1996-2004, as well as in 2005-2008.  Although he downplayed his involvement with the Law Review, calling it a “background advisory role” and crediting the students for all their hard work, Solimine’s efforts have not gone unnoticed.

“He’s fantastic,” said Sarah Topy, executive editor of the Law Review.” Professor Solimine, he’s just an incredible advisor for us.”

Some of his duties have included providing case note and comment topic suggestions, speaking and advocating to the faculty on the students’ behalf, granting the academic credit to those students, and also consulting with the dean and Law Review editors about potential speakers at the Robert S. Marx and William Howard Taft Lectures.

“Even though it’s an advisory role, he still does a lot for the Law Review,” said Jeff DeBeer, editor-in-chief of the Law Review.

The 1981 Northwestern University School of Law graduate has been at the College of Law since 1987, when he joined the faculty as a visiting assistant professor. Solimine had previously clerked for a federal judge and practiced law in Dayton, OH, a city in which he spent most of his childhood after moving there from upstate New York at a young age.

While at Northwestern, Solimine was a student editor for the School of Law’s Journal of Criminal Law and Criminology. Since joining the College of Law, he’s been producing legal scholarship and wants to promote scholarship at UC as well, he said.  Fittingly, this is something he is able to achieve as a faculty advisory to the Law Review.

In January of this year, Solimine was working with student editors at the Georgia Law Review on finalizing his forthcoming article, “State Amici, Collective Action, and the Development of Federalism Doctrine.” He also recently completed a paper that he presented at the Case Western Reserve Law Review symposium in Cleveland on November 4, 2011.

In the next year or two, Solimine will also be working on the second edition of Voting Rights and Election Law, a casebook he co-authored that was published in 2010 by Lexis Nexis. Solimine would also like to teach an Election Law course as well. “It’s actually in our curriculum and it has been taught in the past by adjuncts. It hasn’t been taught in the past few years,” said Solimine, who also teaches Civil Procedure, Federal Courts and Conflict of Laws. 

Outside of the College of Law, Solimine said his family keeps him busy. His daughter, Jane, is a junior at The Ohio State University, while his son, Jimmy, is a high school sophomore with whom Solimine frequently travels for his lacrosse games.

Solimine comes from a family of lawyers, which include his father, one of his three sisters, one of his two brothers, one of his sisters-in-law, and one of his nephews. His older brother, Louis, is a 1976 College of Law graduate and a partner at Thompson Hine LLP in Cincinnati.

As for the Law Review, Solimine will continue to enjoy serving as its faculty advisor this year, just as he previously did. “Over the years, the students have been first rate and wonderful to work with, and I think they’ve done a terrific job in running the Review,” Solimine said. “I think the product of each volume of our Review speaks for itself.”

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13

All Roads to a J.D. Begin with Al Watson

For two and a half decades and counting, the road to earning a J.D. from the University of Cincinnati College of Law has been running through Al Watson. After all, Watson, currently the Senior Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, has played a major role in the College admitting strong, diverse classes annually, since his hiring in 1986.

After spending four-and-a-half years in undergraduate admissions at Wittenberg University, a liberal arts college in Springfield, Ohio, Watson was hired by then-dean Tom Gerety, and is currently in his 26th year with the College of Law. 

With 30 years and counting of admissions experience, following his days as an undergraduate and graduate student, Watson joked that he “never left college.”

“I attended Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and then completed a master’s degree in a college administration field; then I went back to a liberal arts college in a recruiting function and now I work at a major university in admissions at a law school,” Watson said.

Landing His First Recruiting Job

The South Haven, Mich., native was a double major in political science and business at Hope before he pursued a master’s degree in college student personnel at Bowling Green State University.

Upon graduating from Bowling Green, Watson found the job at Wittenberg, where he spent a lot of time recruiting on the East Coast, as well as in Cleveland – the latter being part of a region that Watson and the admissions staff target fairly heavily today. 

Eventually, Watson married and moved to the Cincinnati area, where his wife, Diane – currently a human resources executive with U.S. Bank – had been since they met at Bowling Green.  

When Watson landed at the College of Law, there “wasn’t a lot of strategic, formalized recruiting that was taking place,” he said. “So I was hired as the admissions director in ’86 to really formalize a lot of our enrollment management activities and improve our recruiting in order to grow our national standing,” Watson said.

How the Admissions Office Works

For most of his tenure with the College, Watson was somewhat of a “one man band,” doing “a lot of everything.” Since the arrival of Dean Lou Bilionis, the admissions staff has grown, however, with John Stiles currently serving as the Associate Director of Admissions.

Another major change Watson has seen in recent years is the development of the electronic application, allowing the admissions staff to avoid the previously “tedious process” of individually entering each application into the computer system. “I’m able to really concentrate a bit more on strategy, because things have changed a lot in terms of admissions,” Watson said. 

The admissions process at the College of Law, like at other schools, is a cyclical process, beginning in the fall when Watson spends much of his time on the road talking to pre-law groups, attending law fairs at undergraduate universities and colleges, and hosting some on campus events.

Since the late fall and into the early winter, Watson and the admissions committee – made up of a faculty member, usually Professor Bert Lockwood, and two subcommittees of faculty and law students – have been reading files from prospective students.

In the late winter and into the early spring, Watson will dedicate a large portion of his time to awarding scholarships and working with admitted students on their financial aid packages. Also during the spring, Watson will continue meeting with students in person, in addition to making and receiving phone calls, and assisting in communicating with prospective students through mail and e-mail.

“I think every year is a new challenge and we try to put forward the very best, most diverse entering class that we can do each year,” Watson said.

Expanding UC Law's Outreach

Since 2009, Watson and Mina Jefferson, the College’s Assistant Dean and Director of the Center for Professional Development, have been co-directing the Cincinnati Law and Leadership Institute (LLI) for high school students during the summer. LLI is a state-wide diversity initiative started several years ago by the Supreme Court of Ohio to improve Ohio’s law school applicant profiles in the future, Watson said.

Like any other position, Watson’s role as director of admissions is not without challenges. He highlighted three, in particular: the City of Cincinnati not being “as well-known as maybe we would hope”; resources, especially as it relates to the amount of scholarship money that can be currently offered; and rankings.

“Our ranking has been consistent,” Watson said. “Certainly being in the top 50 or so is not bad, but many of the applicants that we’re admitting – our top portion – they are being admitted to top 25 or so schools. Applicants do pay a lot of attention to rankings, (so) that can be a challenge.”

Outside of his work at the College, Watson is an avid golfer. The Fort Thomas, Ky., resident is in a group that plays fairly regularly on Friday afternoons. Watson also gets to a local gym “pretty regularly,” enjoys reading and follows college sports (especially college football) in his time away from UC and the golf course.

Of course, Watson truly enjoys his time at the College of Law and that has not changed since 1986.

“Being able to recruit and get to know a generation of UC law students has been amazing,” Watson said. “With the College of Law’s tradition, size and location we have a unique place in legal education. I am very thankful for the many positive memories!”

In addition to his wife, Diane, the Watson family includes their children, Catherine, a fourth-year business co-op student at UC, and Ben, a second-year student at the University of Kentucky, as well as dogs Duke and Lucy.

Five Questions with Diane Cross, UC Law's Public Sector Coordinator and Counselor

Meet Diane Cross, the law school’s newest Public Sector Coordinator & Counselor for the Center for Professional Development. Cross provides career counseling to students and alumni regarding judicial clerkships, government opportunities, and work in the public interest.   A graduate of Butler University, she received her law degree from Florida Coastal School of Law. 

What type of law did you practice before joining UC Law?

Prior to joining the Center for Professional Development, I was the Fellow in the Office of Public Service Initiatives for the National Association for Law Placement (NALP).  While at NALP, I managed, its public interest legal career clearinghouse.  Most recently, I was a legal consultant with CT Corporation, dealing with matters of corporate governance and compliance.

What sparked your interest in career development?

Simply put, I believe that a legal education can be one of the most significant investments a person can make.  I enjoy assisting law students and lawyers on how to best utilize their investment and achieve their professional goals.   

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

Counseling clients is my favorite part of being a lawyer.   I enjoy being able to work through problems and create solutions for people.  As an advocate for social responsibility, I most enjoy working with underprivileged folks to provide them with resources they otherwise may not have.

Why did you want to become a lawyer?

I wanted a career path that would continue to challenge me substantively and professionally.  Mostly, I craved knowledge of the law.

What’s on your nightstand?

A book (and some dust, I’m sure) - What to Expect: the First Year.  I’m afraid that my reading these days is about what is going on in the life of our infant daughter!

Bettman Recognized as Outstanding Educator by Ohio Magazine

Professor Marianna Bettman ’77 was recognized in the December issue of Ohio Magazine as one of its outstanding educators at colleges and universities around the state. She is the only professor at a law school named in the article. Read the article in the December 2011 issue.

Dean Emeritus Joseph Tomain’s Latest Book Examines the Relationship Between Energy Law, Policy, and Politics

“Climate change presents the United States, and the world, with regulatory problems of a magnitude, complexity and scope unseen before,” wrote Tomain, the Wilbert and Helen Ziegler Professor of Law in his book Ending Dirty Energy Policy: Prelude to Climate Change. “The United States, however, particularly after the mid-term elections of 2010, lacks the political will necessary to aggressively address climate change.”  Ending Dirty Energy Policy is an extended case study of the relationship between law, policy, and politics. The interaction of these three variables constitutes a model for the study of government regulation. Completed while the stories and the federal investigations of the Upper Big Branch Mine disaster and the Deepwater Horizon offshore explosion were unfolding, Ending Dirty Energy Policy argues that the US will not adequately address climate change until it transforms its fossil fuel energy policy. Visit the website for more information and to read an excerpt.

Her Work in Public Defense Reform Led Professor Janet Moore to UC Law

Prior to joining the College of Law’s faculty, Janet Moore had been active in public defense reform locally, where she helped build “a joint indigent defense clinic” for the College of Law and neighboring Salmon P. Chase College of Law.

“It was through that that I came to UC’s attention, so when they needed somebody to teach last spring, they gave me a holler,” Moore said. Brought on as a visiting professor, Moore taught Criminal Law and Criminal Procedure II last year. This semester she teaches Criminal Procedure II and Evidence.

“The teaching of young professionals, the growing and nurturing of young professionals, is extremely satisfying and challenging work,” said Moore, who will teach another Evidence section and also Criminal Law in the spring 2012.

Long before joining the College of Law’s faculty, Moore had aspirations to teach, though not necessarily at a law school. In 1981, Moore earned her undergraduate degree from Kalamazoo College, a small liberal arts school in her home state of Michigan. There, Moore studied religion, but also wrote a lot of poetry and developed an interest in theology, she said.

Following graduation, Moore worked for the well-known author and astrophysicist Dr. Carl Sagan as a research assistant in New York, before heading to Chicago to attend the University of Chicago Divinity School, with “the intention of getting a PhD and teaching theological ethics.”

Then, she had two children – who are 27 and 20 years old now.

The next leg of Moore’s journey took her family and her to North Carolina, specifically Duke University in Durham. “I wanted to find a law school where I could do both the law and continue to do a master’s in philosophy,” said Moore, who still had intentions of teaching philosophical and theological ethics.

After graduating from Duke’s School of Law, Moore clerked for the Honorable J. Dickson Phillips, Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in Durham, North Carolina.

She found this to be a “very eye opening experience in many respects, particularly with respect to the back end of the capital litigation system and habeas corpus, and how that works or doesn’t.” “Wrongful convictions was a rather dramatic introduction to all of that,” she added.

Then, her husband’s work took the family overseas for several years, not far from Paris, but they returned to North Carolina in 1998. Upon her return she took a position as an Assistant Appellate Defender with the Office of the Appellate Defender in Durham and Asheville, still intending to teach and research.  “It turned out that I was really good at getting people off death row,” Moore said, quick to credit her colleagues in contributing to her successes.

Her experiences in this position “furtherer deepened (her) awareness of the pattern that led folks, particularly low-income people and people of color, into the criminal justice system – both as crime victims and as defendants,” she said.

Moore also became “much more keenly aware of the shockingly poor representation that a lot of these folks get as indigent defendants,” she added. 

In 2005, Moore and her family moved to Cincinnati, where she continued this same line of capital and noncapital appeals work on an appointed basis. In 2006, she became involved with the Ohio Justice & Policy Center as director of OJPC’s Race and Justice Project. “The goal, as I saw it,” Moore said of her position, “was to focus at the front end of the system and try to divert the school-to-prison pipeline.” 

Moore stayed on with the OJPC through 2010, before her work caught the eye of the College of Law. In addition to her teaching, Moore has pursued scholarship which is focused, unsurprisingly, on criminal justice reform. She recently had an article published in the Freedom Center Journal, while another of Moore’s pieces will be coming out in the Brooklyn Law Review in 2012.

When Moore is not focused on the law – though, admittedly¸ she enjoys spending her days at the law building  – she enjoys swimming, tennis, golf, gardening, biking, hiking and traveling when she gets the opportunity.


By Jordan Cohen, ‘13

2012 Stanley M. Chesley Distinguished Visiting Professor Lecture featuring Angela P. Harris

2012 Stanley M. Chesley Distinguished Visiting Professor Lecture
Angela P. Harris, Professor of Law, University of California, Davis, School of Law

"The Occupy Wall Street Blues: Why Americans Have Trouble Talking About Inequality"

January 11, 2012
12:15 – 1:15 p.m.
College of Law, Room 114

One (1) hour of general CLE has been approved for Ohio and Kentucky.

View webcast.


About the Lecture

In her lecture, Professor Angela P. Harris will talk about some of the reasons, legal and political, why Americans have trouble talking about race, class, and structural inequality in particular.

In 2011, Professor Harris joined the faculty of UC Davis School of Law, and lists her special interests as Critical Race Theory, Feminist Jurisprudence, Law & Cultural Studies, Race Relations, and Women’s Rights.  She began her career at the UC Berkeley School of Law in 1989, and has been a visiting professor at Stanford, Yale, and Georgetown law schools.  In 2010-11, she served as Vice Dean of Research and Faculty Development at the University at Buffalo School of Law (SUNY).  She writes widely in the field of critical legal theory, examining how law sometimes reinforces and sometimes challenges subordination on the basis of race, gender, sexuality, class, and other dimensions of power and identity. 

Harris received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan and a master’s degree in social science from the University of Chicago, where she also received her J.D.  She clerked for Judge Joel M. Flaum on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, then briefly practiced with the firm of Morrison & Foerster in San Francisco, before making her way to Berkeley.  At Berkeley Law, she was the recipient of the Rutter Award for Distinction in Teaching.

Harris is the author of a number of widely reprinted and influential articles and essays in critical legal theory. She is also a prolific co-author of casebooks, including Criminal Law: Cases and Materials; Race and Races: Cases and Materials for a Diverse America; Gender and Law; and Economic Justice. Among other awards for her mentorship of students and junior faculty, she received the 2008 Clyde Ferguson Award from the Minority Section of the AALS.  Professor Harris is a frequent speaker at workshops and conferences, and is active in promoting community among critical legal scholars in legal academia and beyond.

About the Stanley M. Chesley Visiting Professor of Law

The Stanley M. Chesley Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law was endowed by Mr. Chesley in 2006 to bring outstanding legal scholars of national and international prominence in all areas of law to the College as visiting professors. Mr. Chesley, a 1960 graduate of UC Law, is the president of Waite, Schneider, Bayless & Chesley. He is a long time supporter of the law school and the University and currently serves on the University’s Board of Trustees.

Professor Bettman Discusses the Issue of Judges’ Retirement Age

Professor Marianna Bettman and the Honorable Patrick F. Fischer of the Hamilton County Court of Appeals were interviewed on WKRC’s Newsmakers TV program about state Issue One: at what age should a judge retire?  (Issue One is up for vote on November 8.)

To find out more about the issue, view the interview here.

For Professor Ronna Schneider Sabbatical Brings New Book Project Exploring Religion and Education

Like colleague Professor Bryant, Professor Ronna Schneider is back in the classroom this fall after a yearlong sabbatical.

It was not Schneider’s first time away from the classroom since joining the College of Law as an Assistant Professor in 1980.

During her previous sabbatical, Schneider – who became an Associate Professor in 1985 and then Professor of Law in 1987 – worked on finishing her two-volume treatise, “Education Law: First Amendment, Due Process, and Discrimination Litigation.”

One of the projects Schneider pursued during the last year was writing her annual update to the treatise. She also did a book review on a book about public education in Ireland.

Schneider’s main purpose for taking a sabbatical during the 2010-11 academic year, however, was to work on her own new book. “The book is looking at the role of religion in publicly funded education in several countries,” Schneider said. “The purpose of doing that is to take a look at the way a particular country treats that issue, and how it reflects the greater society’s attitude about religious pluralism.”

Schneider is, of course, exploring American education and the role of religion in American education, which have long been major focuses of her research and scholarship. To better understand how Americans deal with the constitutionally-imposed division between religion and public education in America (rooted in the Establishment Clause), Schneider is also analyzing the United Kingdom – England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – as well as the Republic of Ireland and Canada.

“The reason I selected all of those countries is because I think we consider ourselves like them on several grounds,” said Schneider, noting factors such as political and legal culture, strong educational values and the existence of some level of religious strife in each nation’s history.

“Nevertheless all of those countries are somewhat different in terms of the official role religion plays in society and publicly-funded education.”

Schneider, a Boston College Law School graduate, said the book “explores the whole role of religion in the public sphere, but as seen through the lens of education.”

“I think in this age of globalization, it’s time to look at what we can learn from the experiences of other countries, even though our constitutional and legal principles may differ or demand a different result,” she said.

The book project will be “a multi-year process,” for Schneider, who was primarily in Cincinnati during the sabbatical but did visit the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom (established in October of 2009).

Schneider, who felt a “wonderful sense of renewal” from her sabbatical, “enthusiastically” returned to the classroom this fall to teach an Education Law Seminar. Of course, it has been a bit of an odd transition back for her, seeing that she is not teaching any 1Ls until the spring, and her Education Law Seminar course consists of predominantly 3Ls.

“It’s very strange to walk around a law school where I’m used to knowing 99 percent of the students,” laughed Schneider, who will teach Constitutional Law II and a First Amendment Seminar in the spring.

By Jordan Cohen, ‘13