Attorney Keneilwe Modise from Botswana Visits UC Law to Conduct Research on Domestic Violence
Once again this fall, a new class of students began at the College of Law – each coming from diverse backgrounds and experiences. But another new face inside the College of Law this semester is that of Keneilwe “Kenny” Modise, a practicing attorney from Gaborone, the capital city of Botswana.
Modise arrived in August and is involved with the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic, as well as the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights. “Besides that, I am also doing research, but it is also on domestic violence,” Modise said in a recent interview. “I am going to do research that, hopefully by October or November, I am going to share with the Human Rights class.”
Modise – who flew in via a connection from New York, by way of her Botswana’s neighboring country, South Africa – is getting her first taste of the United States in Cincinnati.
She had been in town for just two weeks at the time of the interview, but now that she has been in Cincinnati for about a month, she is starting to get more acclimated to her new surroundings and all the city has to offer.
Modise came to UC Law as part of an exchange program involving the Honorable Unity Dow, a retired judge, human rights activist and novelist from Botswana. Justice Dow, who opened Dow & Associates in her homeland in early 2010, has been affiliated with the College of Law for the past 23 years. She is on the Urban Morgan Institute’s advisory board, while Professor Bert Lockwood, director of the Institute, has been sending Urban Morgan fellows to intern with Dow each summer.
In addition to working with Professor Lockwood, Modise spends much of her time downtown at the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati, which houses the domestic violence clinic. She has been assisting clients and working closely with Kenyatta Mickles, a visiting professor of clinical law and the supervising attorney of the clinic. “With Kenyatta, it’s been a really extensive training for the domestic violence clinic,” Modise said. “She’s really been helpful with getting to know the differences in the law in the two countries, Botswana and America, specifically the Ohio law in domestic violence.”
Modise became interested in domestic violence because it is a “pretty new concept in our country,” she said.
Modise will be at the college until December 10, before returning to Botswana where she will “try to share what I have (learned) with people back home,” she said, later noting that her nation has struggled to implement the concepts of domestic violence and legal aid through its judicial system. Working with Professors Mickles and Lockwood has been helping Modise to further her goals.
For Modise, a 2009 graduate of the University of Botswana’s five-year law program, law has not always been her sole focus. Until she opted to come to the United States, she played rugby. “I was actually the national team captain,” Modise said.
But while it has been “law and rugby” in the past, Modise says she will continue to focus on her law career when she returns to Botswana at the end of the year.
She is considering a return to the United States, hopefuly at the Georgetown University Law Center Domestic Violence Clinic for a master's degree in human rights. Of course, for the time being, Modise will continue to make the most of her opportunity to be in Cincinnati and at the College of Law.
“So far it’s been great,” she said.
By: Jordan Cohen, ‘13
Marilu Gresens ’10 Supports Human Rights Work in Gaborone, Botswana
One of the biggest decisions for most out-of-state students attending the College of Law is whether to take the bar exam in Ohio or back home. Marilu Gresens ’10, who grew up in a small town in upstate New York, faced that same question and ultimately opted to take the New York State bar exam.
But Gresens is not working in her home state – in fact, nowhere even near New York.
Instead, she is working as an associate attorney at Dow and Associates, a human rights-focused law firm in Gaborone, Botswana. “Generally, I assist with the firm’s cases, and also get to work on test litigation cases having to do with women’s rights and human rights generally,” Gresens said. “Most recently, we’ve taken a case that we hope will advance children’s and mother’s rights in Botswana in regards to child support.”
Another aspect of Gresens’ job is managing the partnership between Dow and the College of Law, which sends interns to the firm each summer – and this is how she got connected with Judge Unity Dow in the first place.
Gresens’ path to Gaborone began in the small town of Poestenkill, N.Y., where she and her younger sister – and many pets – were raised. She has fond memories of being on the campaign trail with her late grandmother, Lois Fisher, who became the town’s first female supervisor. “I think it was from her that I gained a fiery sprit, and learned that if you don’t like what’s happening in the world, then don’t sit around – go out and try to change it,” Gresens said.
Gresens graduated from SUNY College at Plattsburgh in 2007, with degrees in political science and women’s studies. She then was off to law school – something Gresens had anticipated since she was eight years old. “I’ve always been a driven and passionate individual, with a strict sense of justice,” she said. “Most people who knew me when I was younger are not surprised that I grew up to become a lawyer.”
Gresens was set on attending George Washington, but the decision to attend the College of Law became a no-brainer when she visited the campus. Two main attractions for Gresens, a “huge animal lover” and vegetarian, were the Urban Morgan Institute for Human Rights and the Domestic Violence and Civil Protection Order Clinic.
But it was even before attending UC Law and getting involved with those programs that Gresens knew she wanted to work in Africa. In fact, she recalls speaking with Al Watson, Senior Assistant Dean and Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, about the possibility of working in Africa after her 1L year. Indeed, Gresens went to Africa and clerked for (then) Judge Dow, the first female judge on the High Court of Botswana, through the Urban Morgan Institute.
She worked at a small law firm her second summer, Sirkin, Pinales & Schwartz, and later clerked for Gerhardstein & Branch. Gresens completed an externship with Chief Judge Susan Dlott, United States District Court for then Southern District of Ohio during her 3L year.
Meanwhile, Judge Dow stepped down from the bench in Botswana and opened her firm in Gaborone. Gresens, who was graduating from the College of Law around that same time, maintained contact with Judge Dow. “I made it no secret that I wanted to join the firm, and she eventually extended me an offer,” she said. Gresens is now firmly situated at Dow and Associates and is enjoying her job. “I see it as an exciting opportunity to advance and promote the enforcement of human rights in a country whose political and judicial leaders are receptive to progressive development,” she said.
The New York native, who “fell in love with Botswana” when she first came in 2008, said she is hoping that her current job will “lead to a career in international human rights law.” But Gresens presently has no intentions on going anywhere. “I love Botswana and I have no plans to leave anytime soon – so I hope to be doing this for some time,” she said.
While Gresens is far removed from the corner of Clifton Avenue and Calhoun Street, she spoke fondly of her time at the College of Law, as well as those who supported her and inspired her along the way – specifically, Professors Margaret Drew and Bert Lockwood.
When asked about what she misses the most about Cincinnati, friends, Graeter’s ice cream and “weekend movies at the Esquire,” came to mind. Gresens now spends many of her weekends taking the opportunity to travel, which recently included a trip to Botswana’s well-known Okavango Delta, the world’s largest inland delta.
“It was beautiful,” she said. “We saw some amazing wildlife, including some giraffe and zebras grazing on the side of the road.”
Clearly, a degree from the College of Law can take you places.
by Jordan Cohen '13
Three UC Law Students Awarded Equal Justice Works Summer Fellowships to Serve Those in Need
Cincinnati, OH—What are your plans for the summer? A family vacation at camp or the beach? Relaxing at home? For three UC law students, summer has brought an opportunity for career exploration. They’ll be getting a jumpstart on their legal careers as participants in the Equal Justice Works Summer Corps Program. The third-year law students will gain valuable legal experience by devoting their summer to serving those in need. UC Law students Guy Cardamone ‘12, Johnathon Marvel ‘12, and Anna McGahan ‘12 were three of 700 students selected from nearly 1900 applicants from more than 150 law schools from across the country to participate in the program.
The largest program of its kind for law students, each Summer Corps member will receive a $1,123 education award upon completion of 300 hours of service as well as gain valuable first-hand legal experience in areas ranging from client intake and representation to legal research and writing.
Cardamone has taken a position with the Office of the State Appellate Defender in Chicago, IL. Marvel is working at the Mecklenburg County Public Defender Office in Charlotte, NC. And, McGahan has taken a position at Farmworker Legal Services in Kalamazoo, MI.
This year, Equal Justice Works Summer Corps members will serve at non-profit organizations in 44 states and the District of Columbia. They will be engaged with a broad range of issues, including civil rights, community economic development, death penalty, disability rights, housing, domestic violence, education, public benefits, and workers’ rights.
Two UC Law Students Receive Community Awards
Bobbi Dillon ‘13
Rising 2L Bobbi Dillon was recently awarded the 2011 Montgomery County (Dayton) "Young Democrat of the Year" award. Given yearly, the award recognizes a member of the Montgomery County (Dayton, OH) Young Democrats who is active in the chapter and dedicated to the party.
“Bobbi’s enthusiasm for the group and her efforts to promote the message and to always look for ways to represent the organization were key reasons she received this award, said Gen Murphy, executive director for group. “In 2009 she worked very hard on Rhine McLin’s mayoral race. And in 2010, before coming to law school, she led the membership recruitment efforts, signing up 75 people as new members of the group.”
Joseph Zoimen ‘12
Joseph Zoimen, a rising 3L, will be honored on May 25, 2011 by the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati as “Volunteer of the Year.” This award will be presented based on his work as a volunteers and programs he runs at Congregation Zichron Eliezer.
- Commented Rabbi Meir Minster, “Yosef (Joseph) has initiated many programs for our congregation. When he takes on a project, he sees it through to the end, motivating others to get involved. His vision goes beyond our congregation and encompasses the entire community.”
Congratulations to Bobbi and Joseph!
Celebrity Golf Scramble
Sponsored by the Sports & Entertainment Law Society Date: Saturday July 16, 2011 Time: Beginning at noon Location: California Golf Course (5924 Kellogg Avenue Cincinnati, OH 45228) Cost: $150 Single Player, $70 Student Includes: Sponsored Lunch and Complimentary Drink Tickets; Awards Banquet with Catered Dinner and Cash Bar; Silent Auction Registration Deadline: July 6, 2011 What is it? Join us as we combine our passion for Sports, Entertainment, and the Law to benefit Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. We’re bringing together local attorneys, celebrities, alumni, administrators, and students for a day of food, golf, and philanthropy, while coming together on behalf of a common cause. Tournament Specifics Format: Four-person best ball scramble 18 holes Event Schedule 12:00 p.m. Registration & Lunch 1:00 p.m. Shotgun Start 5:30 p.m. Awards Banquet & Silent Auction Prizes So Far… Brand New Nissan from Busam Nissan Cash prizes Sponsorship Opportunities $4,000 Awards Banquet Sponsor * Invitation for 4 to awards banquet *Invitation for 4 to golf & lunch *Corporate banner displayed at banquet $3,000 Lunch Sponsor *Invitation for 4 to golf, lunch, & banquet *Corporate banner displayed at lunch $1,500 Cart Sponsor (15 Carts) *Invitation for 4 to golf, lunch, & banquet *Corporate literature in carts *Corporate logo on all cart signs $1000 Score Card Sponsor *Invitation for 4 to golf, lunch, & banquet *Corporate logo on all score cards. $750 Foursome & Hole Sponsor *Invitation for 4 to golf, lunch, & banquet *Sign on designated hole $600 Foursome Sponsor *Invitation for 4 to golf, lunch, & banquet $350 Hole Sponsor * Sign on designated hole Contact: Brad Blevins at 330-540-0571 or email@example.com with any questions or to make a donation to the Silent Auction.
CPD Launches Catalyst Program
On February 25, 2011, the College will launch the Catalyst Program, a micro-mentoring program designed to fold students into the lives of attorney volunteers. The Catalyst Program, which will be administered by the Center for Professional Development, increases the opportunities for students to interact with the local bar. What is a Catalyst? A catalyst is usually defined as a substance or agent that accelerates the rate of a chemical reaction. Similarly a catalyst can be defined as a person or thing that precipitates an event or change. Almost 60 students registered and the volunteer response from the local bar to serve as Catalysts has been equally enthusiastic. Each Catalyst will bring wisdom, experience and unparalleled professionalism to benefit law students’ professional journey. The interaction between each student and Catalyst will provide students with a filter for their experiences and help them marry those experiences to their unique ambitions and expectations.
2012 Charity Golf Tournament
Sign up today to win great prizes including a new Cadillac!
Date: April 13, 2012
Time: 12:30 (registration)
Location: Glenview Golf Course, located at 10965 Springfield Pike
Cost: $90/attorneys; $40/students. (Cost includes course fees, golf cart use, lunch, dinner, and entry for all prizes and games.)
This is a four-player best ball scramble at Glenview Golf Course. Sponsored by the Student Bar Association (SBA), this event will raise monies for the Summer Public Interest Fund (SPIF).
In addition to the best ball scramble, there will be proximity games and other contests as well as the ability to purchase mulligans.
12:30 p.m.: Lunch & Registration
1:30 p.m.: Shot Gun Start
Attorneys are encouraged to sign up with other players; however SBA would like to combine your teams with law students. Teams will be assigned at random, though handicaps will be taken into account. For more information: email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Become a Tournament Sponsor
Your tax-deductable donation of $300 will make you a tee-sponsor and allow your organization to advertise to over 140 tri-state area attorneys, judges and other legal professionals. Read more information here.
What’s Summer Public Interest Fund? Want to know what SPIF is all about? Find out more here.
Reading, Writing, and Fashion? Students Go Head-to-Head with What Not to Wear
Law and fashion collided on the runway at the College of Law’s “What Not to Wear” event held October 21, 2010. The Student Bar Association and the Center for Professional Development co-sponsored the entertaining event designed to help those future lawyers struggling with questions about appropriate dress for the workplace—be it the office or the courtroom. Fellow students showcased looks from suitable to a more “traditional” environment to outfits befitting a business casual outing. They were reviewed by fellow classmates and a panel of judges: Anne B. Flottman ’01 of the law firm Wood & Lamping; Joshua Crabtree ‘03 of the Children’s Law Center, Inc.; Emily E. Walters ‘09, law clerk to the Honorable J.R. Schrand of the Boone Circuit Court; and Danielle Battaglia of the Tom James Company, a custom clothing retailer. Each panelist provided insightful commentary and discussion regarding the appropriateness of each outfit and answered thoughtful questions from audience members about the importance of dress and making a great impression.
Meet 3L Students Sarah Sanderson and Ross Bextermueller
While they were waiting for the first Introduction to Law class in August 2008 to begin, Ross Bextermueller asked Sarah Sanderson if she was ready for law school. The two have been dating since. In their final year of law school, Bextermueller and Sanderson, now engaged, are scheduled to graduate next May as members of the Class of 2011.
A native Ohioan, Sanderson hails from Sylvania, a northern suburb of Toledo. She attended the University of Kentucky, where she majored in psychology. Originally pursuing a graduate degree in psychology, Sanderson switched gears and decided to try law school. “Unfortunately, it was too late to apply (for the current year) by the time I decided,” she said. “So I took a year off and worked full-time as a legal secretary at a firm in Lexington.”
The following year, Sanderson ended up at the College of Law. “I really didn’t consider UC,” she said, “until my dad, who attended the university for his undergraduate degree, suggested I apply. Then, of the schools I was accepted into, UC was the most well-rounded.” Sanderson said she was attracted to the school’s location and academic strength, as well as the Weaver Institute for Law and Psychiatry. In fact, the Weaver Institute was a “huge draw” for her.
Born in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, Bextermueller moved around the world a lot while growing up—including living Saudi Arabia and England. He went to high school in Cincinnati, though, and considers it his hometown. He attended Saint Louis University for undergraduate studies, majoring in accounting. He continued his studies at that university, obtaining his MBA before coming to the College of Law. He chose UC because it was, as he put it, “the best bang for the buck” of all of his options. He also has family and friends in the area, and felt it would be nice to have such a strong support system in place.
Summer Experiences Courtesy of UC Law
During her first summer in law school, Sanderson lived in Toledo, working two days a week for Chief Judge James Carr of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and the other three days for Advocates for Basic Legal Equality (ABLE), a non-profit organization associated with Legal Aid of Northwest Ohio. “At ABLE I had the opportunity to do educational law and loved it,” she said. During her second summer, Sanderson began working at Ennis Roberts & Fisher, a law firm in Cincinnati that specializes in representing school districts. She is still working there this school year.
Bextermueller spent his first summer working at GE Aviation, located in Evendale, doing transactional and contractual work. This past summer, he worked as a summer associate at Strauss & Troy. He has signed with Deloitte as an international tax consultant following graduation.
The two have only had a few classes together over the course of law school, so they have not had many experiences in the classroom together. “Because we are interested in different fields,” says Sarah, “as Ross will be doing international tax and I hope to do either education or family law, I think we balance each other out and affect the way the other thinks about their area of interest.” They have also been able to help each other throughout their time in law school. “Ross has helped me understand his areas of interest so much better. So I suppose a reward specific to me is that I have someone to make sure I understand corporations or my federal income tax when exams come around.” In addition, she said, “I think generally the overlap has actually helped our relationship, which is rewarding. When you begin law school they always tell you it’s difficult to sustain relationships while in school. Since we are both in school and in the same year that hasn’t been a problem for us. We certainly understand the demands on the other if one of us has an exam or another project or deadline to meet.”
Both Bextermueller and Sanderson have already learned to balance work/law school and life outside of those things: “We both value a healthy work/life balance, so while we do work hard, it not a huge issue in our relationship,” they said. “There are certainly times when we do need to remind each other to either get work done, or to stop working. While there is always someone to hold you accountable to your work, there is also always someone to hang out with. Although that unfortunately means there are also times when the other can convince you that the mall or a Bengals game is a better idea!”
Bar Exam Results Are Strong
The results for UC Law students who took the July 2010 Ohio Bar Exam are in and the College of Law, once again, had a strong showing. UC ranked second in the state for overall test takers. While the passage rate for all takers was 82.8 percent, the College of Law’s passage rate was higher at 90 percent.
The passage rate for the College of Law’s first-time test takers was 91 percent, comparable to last year. This can also be compared to an 87.8 percent passage rate for all first-time test takers in Ohio.
The excellence of UC Law students was exemplified by alumnus Pat Brown ’10. Having taken the bar exam in July, he recently notified the school that he scored in the overall 100th percentile on the examination, scoring in the 99th percentile on the MBE and in the 99th percentile on the essay component.
Applicants who successfully passed the examination and who satisfied all of the Supreme Court’s other requirements for admission were sworn in on November 8 at 10:30 a.m. during a special session of the Supreme Court at the historic Ohio Theatre. The session can be viewed via the Supreme Court and Ohio Channel websites at www.supremecourt.ohio.gov and www.ohiochannel.org. You can also see photos of the event here.