A Passion for Politics and Government Led Matt Wiseman ’14 to UC Law
While many have grown tired of the almost constant political advertisements shown on TV and on the radio, “political junkies” like Matt Wiseman ’14 are enjoying campaign season.
“It’s interesting to see what (Governor Mitt) Romeny says in his commercials, what’s (President Barack) Obama saying in his commercials, what they are trying to do, who are they trying to reach,” Wiseman said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
It was Wiseman’s interest in politics and government that led him to law school. The 2L from Findlay, Ohio considered engineering up until his senior year of high school, but high school classes made Wiseman move towards politics and history.
It was during his undergraduate days at Ohio Northern University, where the 2011 graduate majored in history and political science, that Wiseman got to experience his passion first-hand.
In August 2008, prior to his sophomore year, Wiseman got to take part in the Democratic National Convention in Denver. Wiseman and seven classmates joined a political science professor for a couple weeks at the DNC working in various jobs.
“I worked with Rock the Vote for a couple days and that was basically your grassroots volunteering, handing out flyers kind of stuff,” said Wiseman. “And I got to work with the Latin American economic policy forum … that was really interesting.”
Then, from September through December 2010, Wiseman worked somewhat concurrently with Kohn, Kohn and Colapinto Law Offices and the National Whistleblowers Center in Washington, D.C. This for-credit internship during his senior year allowed Wiseman to do “a lot of interesting work,” including some legal work.
This work involved policy research on the Dodd-Frank Act and other substantive legal research and writing for the law firm, while researching issues for grant writing and drafting press releases and organizing press and media events for the National Whistleblowers Center.
“It’s a really great town, especially for young professionals” Wiseman said about D.C. “A really vibrant city for our age group.”
After graduating from Ohio Northern, Wiseman came to the College of Law, seeing law school as an opportunity to pursue his interests. “I thought the best way to kind of do something practical in the realm of politics, law, (or) government would be to go to law school and kind of figure it out,” Wiseman said of his earlier decision to attend law school.
Wiseman said he was looking for a law school with a strong public interest side and that was also a strong school overall. For him it was UC. The prospect of working for the Ohio Innocence Project was also attractive to Wiseman who, sure enough, spent this past summer and is currently working with OIP this semester.
“I came into law school thinking there was no way I was going to do certain things. I was never going to go into family law, I was never going to go into criminal,” Wiseman said. “I think that’s the big change so far, the criminal law aspect. Working with the Ohio Innocence Project has really changed that. I love what we do there.”
The second-year student said he still has “a strong passion for politics,” though he is happily undecided on the career path he ultimately might take.
Outside of school, Wiseman said he often runs, enjoys following the Dallas Cowboys and Cincinnati Reds, and he also enjoys reading non-legal books on breaks.
This past summer, while in town working for OIP following a busy 1L year, Wiseman enjoyed getting a chance to experience Cincinnati for the first time. Granted, he was a Skyline fan long before he enrolled at the College of Law.
By Jordan Cohen, ‘13
Politics Has Played a Big Role in Caitlin Graham's '14 Life
While she might not be pursuing a career in the field, politics has played a large role in Caitlin Graham’s adult life: a summer internship in college, multiple post-graduate positions locally and in Washington, D.C., and she is currently the Law Republicans president at the College of Law.
Graham, a 2L from the Kenwood-area in Cincinnati, had her first exposure to politics while attending Ohio University. The summer prior to her sophomore year, Graham interned with Congresswoman Jean Schmidt, working closely with Schmidt’s communications director in Cincinnati.
After earning her degree in journalism in 2009, Graham began working for Senator George Voinovich’s Cincinnati office – though Graham knew she wanted to pursue a law degree at some point.
“Senator Voinovich was retiring the following year, so, as people moved around in that office, I had the opportunity to move up through the ranks,” Graham said.
After working as staff assistant/assistant to the state director in the Cincinnati office from Sept. 2009 to Feb. 2010, Graham moved to Washington D.C., in early 2010 to become a staff assistant in Senator Voinovich’s office there. In this position, Graham took on various administrative tasks, while also researching a variety of issues, which included developing briefs on the Supreme Court nomination of Elena Kagan.
After holding this position for several months, Graham became a legislative correspondent in the fall of 2010.
“As a legislative correspondent, you interact a lot with constituents, you meet with people. You’re doing, basically, the legislative agenda for the Senator,” Graham said. “Towards the end of the year, since he was retiring, everybody in the office was looking for a job, so we campaigned pretty hard for all the Republicans in Ohio.”
Graham, knowing she wanted to attend law school the next year and ultimately wanting to practice in her hometown, moved back to Cincinnati. She spent the first several months of 2011 as a press assistant for Congressman Steve Chabot in Cincinnati. Then, in August, she began classes at the College of Law.
“I really wanted to be a lawyer as long as I can remember, (but) the reasons have changed over the years,” Graham said. “It was a big goal of mine. I knew it was something I wanted to do down the road and I like to say I took the scenic route to eventually get here. “
Like many native Cincinnatians, Graham noted, she got out of town for a little while but was drawn back to her hometown. With a goal of practicing in Cincinnati, attending the College of Law seemed like the obvious choice.
Following her first year of law school, Graham spent this summer at Taft Stettinius & Hollister, where she “really fell in love with litigation.”
At school, Graham is a judge on Student Court, a member of the Honor Council, and a legal research assistant for associate professor Sandra Sperino – in addition to her aforementioned Law Republicans role.
Outside of school, Graham enjoys reading and exploring various activities in town. “I love Cincinnati and, having been in D.C. and exposed to the different museums and activities that D.C. has to offer, I realized when I moved back, the City of Cincinnati has a lot of those same things,” Graham said. “So every time the Cincinnati Museum Center has an exhibit I go see it. I love to go to the art museum (and) I have season tickets to Broadway Across America at the Aronoff Center.
Graham is also training for a half marathon for one of her friend’s upcoming wedding.
By Jordan Cohen ‘13
Chelsea Brint ’13 Receives Moyer Fellowship
The Ohio State Bar Association recently selected Chelsea Brint ’13, as one of the first two recipients of the inaugural Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer Fellowship. The fellowship was designed to honor Chief Justice Moyer’s commitments to improving access to courts, advancing civility and ethics, working with national and international organizations to promote the rule of law, and promoting civic education. With her strong interest in international human rights law, Brint was able to merge her interests and fellowship with a summer internship focusing on this issue.
A native of Wellington, FL, and a graduate of Florida State University, Brint has always had a strong interest in human rights. In fact, one of the reasons she chose UC Law for her legal education was because of the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights, the first human rights institute in the nation. She plans to focus her career on international human rights law. “My affiliation with the Institute has afforded me invaluable opportunities…particularly pursuing internships and coursework that incorporate human rights law.”
This past summer she was able to work “on the ground” with a summer internship with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Geneva, Switzerland. Specifically, she worked with the Asia-Pacific Section. This experience dovetailed nicely with her fellowship, noted Brint. “My work is promoting his [Chief Justice Moyer’s] initiative of working with national and international organizations to promote the principles of judicial independence and the rule of law within the United States and throughout the world.”
In her role as an intern with the Asia-Pacific Section Brint provided support to human rights officers assigned to specific countries throughout the region--which spans from Iran to Fiji. She said, “One component of my work is to examine ways to promote independence for the judicial structures of the countries I am focusing on and to also analyze the current human rights mechanisms that those countries have submitted themselves to be governed by like treaties and regional commissions that adjudicate claims of human rights violations so that both domestic and international law can be better utilized to provide protections to those countries' citizens. I anticipate my internship with the OHCHR will be a stepping-stone for my career in international human rights law and being a recipient of the Chief Justice Moyer Fellowship makes pursuing these kinds of opportunities possible.”
Though her focus is international human rights law, Brint does see connections to challenges in the United States, particularly Ohio. “My intention is to incorporate the lessons I have learned through this internship to address some of the human rights abuses in Ohio with organizations that are working on issues such as trafficking in persons and the rights of children.
“My experience with OHCHR has shown me how crucial the judiciary is in protecting human rights by providing a mechanism for victims of human rights violations to bring their claims and hold the perpetrators of those accountable for their actions. In countries that do not have tribunals where these claims can be brought, the victims are largely left without redress and the culture of impunity for aggressors only encourages more violations. Hopefully through my work in Ohio and abroad I can continue to promote Chief Justice Moyer's initiative long after my internship with OHCHR has concluded.”
Rex Marvel ’12 Named Public Defender Corp Fellow
After three years in Cincinnati, (Johnathon) Rex Marvel is off to the other Queen City – Charlotte, N.C. Marvel, a recent graduate of the College of Law, will spend the next three years at the Mecklenburg County Office of the Public Defender, as part of the 2012 Class of Public Defender Corps Fellows.
Marvel is one of 19 recent graduates selected into the second ever class of Public Defender Corps Fellows, which was created by Equal Justice Works and the Southern Public Defender Training Center. The fellows will spend the next three years committed to changing the standard of practice for defendants who are caught in the criminal justice system and can’t afford an attorney.
Marvel and the other fellows were chosen from 75 finalists, a group selected from the more than 450 initial applicants from across the country. In addition to North Carolina, fellows will work in Kentucky, Louisiana, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
“It basically starts the day after the bar exam,” said Marvel, who has been studying in Cincinnati. “I have to drive to Birmingham (Ala.). They call it boot camp and I’ve heard somewhat about it. It’s basically every day of the week, 12 hours-plus days. You don’t get to start working as a public defender until your bar results are back, but you are a fellow once the training starts.”
Marvel came to the College of Law from Florida State University, where he earned a degree in political science and religion in 2009. At FSU, Marvel’s main focus was in human rights, and he also earned a certificate from the Center for the Advancement of Human Rights (CAHR), which is led by another UC Law graduate, Terry Coonan ’95. “He is the only reason I considered applying to anywhere outside of good weather,” Marvel said.
While an undergraduate student, Marvel had the opportunity to attend a conference at FSU with members of the International Criminal Tribunals of Rwanda and the Rwanda president. Also attending the conference was the College of Law’s Professor Bert Lockwood, director of the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights. “I was able to meet him and it kind of sold me on UC Law,” Marvel said.
Although he will soon move to Charlotte, Marvel has enjoyed his time in Cincinnati – the largest city in which he has ever lived. Marvel, who grew up in Wichita, Kansas but finished high school in North Florida, has been surprised by the amount of culture in town and has enjoyed some of the festivals that take place in the warm weather.
Understanding His Drive for Justice
The recent graduate also had a positive experience at the College of Law, where he was an Urban Morgan fellow and later a book reviews editor for the Human Rights Quarterly. The summer after his 1L year, Marvel worked as a law clerk with the Botswana Court of Appeals through the Urban Morgan Institute. While Marvel noted that the judges in Botswana “did their best to preserve justice,” he was deeply troubled that there was no the right to counsel in Botswana. This led to many appellants struggling to defend themselves against the State, he noted.
Marvel’s experience in Botswana, coupled with family experiences involving a public defender, helped shape his interest in public defender work. “I come from a blue collar background. I lived in a couple of trailer parks growing up and a couple members of my family have had public defenders represent them. Most recently it was my mother in my 1L year,” he said. “The public defender really invested a lot of time in her case and really helped her out of a very difficult situation.”
Moving forward into his own career as a public defender, Marvel has been inspired by something said to him by Coonan, his mentor. “He told me to ‘find something you’re passionate about, make a niche of it and of kind of become an expert,’” Marvel said. “I really want to focus on helping people from very difficult backgrounds … I’m trying to get an understanding of the person and not just the problem.”
Life Away from UC Law
Although Cincinnati offers less warm weather than Florida, plus the fact that studying has kept Marvel very busy the last three years, he very much loves being outside. In fact, he and his wife, Bonnie, were members of the FSU Rowing team and were “on the water every single day” while in college. One hobby Marvel has picked up while in Cincinnati is brewing beer, which compliments his passion for cooking.
By Jordan Cohen, ‘13
Anna Lammert Wants to Fight for Social Justice…in Her Own Backyard
Early in her law student career, St. Louis native Anna Lammert ’12 focused on international law. Today, however, the recent College of Law graduate is back home studying for the Missouri bar, which is just one more step in the process of beginning a career in criminal defense.
Lammert graduated from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO in Dec. 2008, where she earned a political science degree and minors in French and women’s studies. From January to July 2009, Lammert taught English in China before returning to the States to pursue a law degree that fall.
“Initially I was attracted to the joint degree program at UC, primarily the women’s studies program,” Lammert said. “Although I did not end up pursuing a joint degree, UC has a very strong social justice program and I have not been disappointed with my decision.”
After her 1L year, Lammert clerked for a judge at the High Court of Botswana through the Urban Morgan Institute. It was this experience abroad, which included visits to “some of the poorest areas of South Africa and Botswana,” that marked the start of Lammert’s interest in indigent defense, she said.
“I realized that I don’t have to travel around the world to fight for social justice. In fact, I realized that many areas of St. Louis have been ravaged by racism, poverty, aggressive policing and over-incarceration and something just clicked for me,” Lammert said. “I knew I needed to be back in St. Louis and I knew that I could combine my intrinsic interest in the law and criminal defense with my passion for social justice – and even if I could help even one person, the effect of my assistance could be infinite.”
Since her trip to Africa, Lammert has been involved with and worked in a number of positions reflecting her interests. At school, she worked as a research assistant for the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice and helped host a number of the Center’s events. In fact, she says her favorite event was “Let’s Get Free: A Hip-Hop Theory of Justice,” featuring former federal prosecutor and current George Washington University Law School’s Professor Paul Butler. Lammert spent months preparing for this event, and her parents even came in from St. Louis to attend, she said.
After her 2L year, Lammert interned with the Death Penalty Litigation Clinic (DPLC) in Kansas City, MO, a habeas corpus firm. “DPLC is like OIP (the Ohio Innocence Project), except all of the clients have already been found guilty, sentenced to death and do not dispute their convictions,” she said. “Rather, attorneys at the DPLC look through the client’s trial and appeal records and investigate mitigating evidence in order to commute death sentences to life sentences.”
For most of her final year at the College of Law, Lammert had an “informal” internship at the Hamilton County Public Defender’s Office. She also worked with the Kentucky Department of Public Advocacy in Kenton County during her final semester on campus.
“In all three states (Ohio, Kentucky and Missouri), I have limited practice licenses and have really enjoyed appearing for clients and representing their interests in court,” Lammert said.
After completing the bar exam, Lammert said she would “love” the opportunity to work in the Missouri Public Defender System, particularly in her hometown of St. Louis. “Either way, I definitely plan on being a public defender,” she said.
By Jordan Cohen, ‘13
Future Trial Attorney Greg Laux Finds Moot Court to be a Great Training Ground
March 30 marks the start of the 25th Annual August A. Rendigs, Jr. National Products Liability Moot Court Competition, a special event for the Moot Court Program and the College of Law. The two-day event will also mark the culmination of a year’s worth of hard work for Greg Laux ’12, the Rendigs Competition Director. Since the first day after last year’s competition, Laux has been planning and coordinating this year’s event.
“I did a lot of work last spring, a lot of work in the summer, a ton of work in the fall and this spring has kind of been a whirlwind too,” Laux said.
While the Rendigs Competition has had up to 30 teams in years past, only 15 teams participated in last year’s event. “I took that on as a personal challenge,” Laux said. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen a decreasing number of teams that have attended the competition the last several years, and I really wanted to reverse that trend.”
After selecting a date for the 2012 competition, Laux began booking and negotiating contracts with hotels, planning a dinner banquet, recruiting attorneys and judges to serve as competition judges, while also trying to attract teams to attend the competition.
“Last year’s Moot Court Board sent out email recruitments. Emails are easy to ignore and easy to delete,” Laux said. “What I did this year was have everyone send emails, but also follow up with personal phone calls to the law schools (and Moot Court directors).”
This year, 22 teams from 17 different law schools will travel to Cincinnati for the competition. This includes teams from the Mississippi College School of Law and the South Texas College of Law (which sent last year’s winning and second-place teams, respectively), as well as newcomers from the likes of Nevada-Las Vegas and New Hampshire.
Laux joined Moot Court a year ago, after transferring from NKU’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law. With his interest in becoming a trial attorney and doing litigation, it seemed like a perfect fit when he was extended an invitation to join last fall.
The 1999 College of William & Mary graduate was attracted to appellate advocacy for two major reasons. First, he commented, he has found the trend where judges establish tests and principles for future cases, as opposed to making decisions solely based on disputed facts in individual cases, to be very interesting. Second, he appreciates how Moot Court “combines both writing and advocacy at a very high level.”
The Road to Cincinnati
Laux’s pathway to Moot Court, but more specifically his journey to Cincinnati and the College of Law, is unique. He was born in Louisville, Ky., but his family moved to Arkansas at a young age. His father’s work at a Reynolds Metals aluminum factory also took the Laux family to Texas, back to Arkansas and then to Virginia – where most of his family still lives today.
While Laux considers Arkansas home, he did go to college at the Williamsburg, Va.-based William & Mary, where he majored in political science and philosophy. Upon graduating, Laux found work with the Justice Department in Washington D.C., and worked in a grants program office, where he helped distribute block grants and discretionary grant money to state and local police departments and fire departments.
After five years in that role, and then a stint on Capitol Hill with the House Appropriations Committee, Laux began work as a volunteer fire fighter on the side. “It was really rewarding work,” Laux said. “I liked being able to help people in a direct way. People call 9-1-1 when they don’t have anywhere to turn and don’t know what to do. I liked being able to solve people’s problems on the spot.”
Laux was later hired as a firefighter near Richmond, Va., and he worked for two different fire departments over the next five years. He later quit his job and came to Cincinnati, after his girlfriend at the time (now wife) began a residency program in emergency medicine at University Hospital.
After working “a few odd jobs,” Laux opted to attend law school, something he once considered pursuing straight from undergrad.
UC Law and Beyond
Since transferring from Chase, Laux has had more than a full plate, even joking that he has “probably over-extended” himself the last two years. For example, in addition to his high involvement with Moot Court, Laux is a Westlaw student representative, a BARBRI student representative, and editor-in-chief of the Immigration and Nationality Law Review.
Laux additionally works about 20 hours each week at Wood & Lamping LLP, where he began clerking last summer. The busy 3L also helps out with the Student Ambassador Program, specifically talking with and giving tours to prospective “nontraditional” students who similarly have worked several years since getting their undergraduate degree. “The admissions office likes to pair me up with those folks and just give them a realistic perspective of what law school is like and why UC Law would be a great place for them,” he said.
Laux, now in his fifth year in Cincinnati, said he and his wife “love” living here. In what little free time he does have, Laux enjoys spending it with her, whether that involves running, traveling, attending shows at the Aronoff Center, “vicariously” rooting for Duke basketball (her alma mater), or cheering on the Bengals and attending Reds games.
After graduation and taking the bar, the avid baseball fan is also wanting to learn Mandarin Chinese and further hopes to become “more heavily involved” in the community. “My wife and I like to volunteer when we have the chance to,” he said. “That’s one thing I want to get into more.” For now, the Rendigs Competition, work, other activities and, yes, classes, will continue to keep Laux quite busy.
By Jordan Cohen, ’13
Moot Court is a Part of Brian Pokrywka’s DNA
While March is a busy time for any UC law student, Moot Court has certainly kept Brian Pokrywka ’12 on his toes this month. Pokrywka, the Moot Court executive director, recently participated in a moot court competition of his own in Boston, while he has been hard at work preparing for the UC-hosted August Rendigs Products Liability competition at the end of the month.
Like every other student who has tried out for Moot Court in recent years, Pokrywka weathered “an intense time crunch” during his 2L fall semester, completing an appellate brief and a three-round oral argument.
He saw Moot Court as an opportunity to hone his legal research and writing skills to better prepare him for a future legal career. Not only did his hard work lead to being selected to join the student-run appellate advocacy organization, but he even received the top oral argument score last fall.
While most of his peers were free of any further Moot Court responsibilities until the spring semester last year that was far from true in Pokrywka’s case. Late last fall, an emergency came up with the 3L student who had been writing the problem for the 2011 Rendigs competition. It was Pokrywka, a Toledo native, who stepped up, replying to an urgent email asking for someone to write the problem.
“The day after Christmas, I told my family about the opportunity, and then I drove back to Cincinnati from Toledo and started crafting the 2011 Rendigs Moot Court problem with a two-week deadline,” Pokrywka said. “Our competition is always a products liability issue, and I previously had no experience with any products liability.”
After taking a week to learn products liability law, Pokrywka drafted the problem the following week. While most students try avoiding the law library after exams, he was putting in 14 hour days. “While the long hours were tough, I wanted to make sure that the problem represented the work that I was capable of,” he said. “At the same time, the problem reflects the work of UC Moot Court, so I did everything I could to make sure that I gave maximum effort in writing the problem.”
Last spring, Pokrywka competed in a securities law competition at Fordham Law School in New York. Then, in March 2011 he and Greg Laux participated as an unscored team in the Rendigs competition, due to an odd number of competing teams.
Pokrywka eventually opted to run for and was elected by his peers to serve in the executive director position. He functions in a managerial role, working with his “great team” of officers to make certain the organization runs efficiently and successfully.
“I chose to run for the position because Moot Court is something I’m passionate about,” Pokrywka said. “I believe the advocacy skills that Moot Court fosters will serve us well throughout our careers. Beyond just the written and oral advocacy skills, participating in Moot Court competitions builds organization skills, time management skills, and teamwork.”
In addition to his involvement with Moot Court, Pokrywka is working at a law clerk downtown for civil litigation defense firm Montgomery, Rennie & Jonson. He aspires to work in litigation, “preferably on the defense side,” he said.
After graduating from the University of Toledo in 2009 – where he majored in business administration, while minoring in finance – he finished work as a stockbroker intern with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, before coming to the College of Law.
In his free time, Pokrywka likes to golf, where he is a “single digit handicap with aspirations to get to scratch sometime after the bar exam.” He also once bowled a 298.
Until graduation, studying for the bar exam, and making it out onto the golf course, Pokrywka will continue putting in the long hours in the moot court office. After all, his goal when running for executive director was “to lay the groundwork for building and sustain a successful Moot Court program” at the College of Law.
By Jordan Cohen, ’13
UC Law Trial Practice and Moot Court Teams Excel
UC Law’s Trial Practice Competition team took first place at the Regional TYLA competition February 10-12, 2012 with a perfect score! Congratulations to the team of Alexander Rodger ‘12, Emily Homel ’13, and Allison Kendall ’12 who represented the school at the competition in Michigan. They will go on to represent UC Law at the National Competition in Texas in late March. Credit for terrific trial performance also goes to the team of Tony Strike ‘13, Jeff DeBeer ‘12, and Sarah Kyriakedes ‘13, whose fine work also made us proud.
In addition, congratulations go to Kathryn McBride ‘12 and Sundeep Mutgi ’13, who attended the Whittier Moot Court Competition February 3-5, 2012. They placed third in the competition. Mutgi received a second place finish for best oral advocate.
Law Review to Host First Annual Alumni Banquet on March 8
The University of Cincinnati Law Review is hosting its first annual Law Review Alumni Banquet, honoring former alumni and recognizing the efforts of current students.
This year's banquet will be held on Thursday, March 8 at the Millennium Hotel. At the banquet, the Law Review will honor former members Doug Dennis of Frost, Brown, Todd and James Helmer, Jr. of Helmer, Martins, Rice & Popham.
Department of Education Releases Loan Forgiveness Certification Form
In 2007, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program was established by Congress to encourage individuals to enter public sector and non-profit professions. The program provides forgiveness of any Federal Direct student loan debt remaining after individuals have made 120 separate, on-time, monthly payments in certain repayment plans while working full-time for one or more qualifying public service organizations. While the program has been in place now for several years, it was only late last month that the US Department of Education finally released an Employment Certification form borrowers can use to track their progress toward meeting the 120 month (ten year) goal.
Because the Department never created a process for borrowers to signal their intention to enter the program on the front-end, advocates for attorneys and others working in government and public interest positions believe this new form will go a long way in helping borrowers to at least now document that their ongoing employment will qualify. A separate application is still being developed in advance of the date when the first group of borrowers will be eligible for loan forgiveness in 2017.
Further details on what types of employment qualify, what student loans can be forgiven, and more are available at the Department of Education’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness program website.