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.
For the Love of Country: Meet Troy Benton ’13
First year student Troy Benton has dedicated himself to service to others, and he plans to continue this path after law school by dedicating himself to service to his country. Benton attended Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) before serving in AmeriCorps for two years. Through that program, he impacted the lives of many students as an academic tutor and mentor; he also touched many in the community as a volunteer. “It was a life-changing experience,” said Benton, and it certainly impacted his plans for the future.
Benton came to Cincinnati looking for a new experience. Originally from Seattle, Washington, he had completed his undergraduate studies at PLU in Tacoma, Washington, and was then stationed with AmeriCorps in nearby Federal Way. Each of these experiences, while unique, left him in close proximity to the others—he remained on Puget Sound. As he was deciding where to go next, Benton knew he wanted to leave the area to gain a new experience and perspective. “I already knew the Northwest,” he said. “So when I was considering law schools, I wanted to go somewhere where I’d be far away and on my own; somewhere that would be an adventure."
Committing to UC Law
Benton was considering several law schools in the Midwest, but had not actually considered UC’s College of Law. “One day I got a call from Sarah Topy ‘11,” he said, “and it changed everything. She really energized me, and got me excited about the school. She encouraged me to apply here, and her phone call is the reason I did.” After completing his service with AmeriCorps during the summer of 2010, Benton moved to Cincinnati to begin his law school career.
Although he is only halfway into his first semester of law school, Benton is already thinking ahead to life after graduation. “No matter what specifically I end up doing, I know it will be under the general category of public service. I get joy from serving people, and I want to continue doing that even after I finish law school.” Benton stated that he particularly enjoys serving underserved populations in whatever capacity he can. “It feels really good knowing you are meeting a need that is too often overlooked by society in general,” he said.
On top of service to others generally, service to country is particularly important to him. As a member of AmeriCorps, he was able to serve the country in an academic capacity, in addition to helping individual students. Similarly, he plans to become a member of the JAG corps after graduation. There’s a significant family history of military service in Benton’s family—his father serves in the Air Force—and he hopes to continue that tradition as an attorney in uniform. “As a JAG, I’d have the chance to serve as both an officer and a lawyer. It would be an incredible honor to serve my country as an attorney.”
Recent Grad Megan Robinson Commits to JAG Corps
For Megan Tonner Robinson, waiting for her bar exam results has been especially stressful. You see, passing the bar is the last step on the road she has travelled for the past year preparing to join the US Air Force Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps.
Originally from Hamilton, Ohio, Robinson ’10 completed her undergraduate studies at Miami University, where she majored in English and History.She took a year off after finishing undergrad in which she was “figuring out what to do with life.” She eventually settled on applying to law school. “I wanted more education,” said Robinson, “and I feel that a law degree is very versatile and that I can do a lot of good with it.” She chose the College of Law because she wanted to stay in Ohio for tuition purposes, and UC was conveniently close by. “It was great that there happened to be a good quality law school close enough that I could commute,” she said.
During her first summer in law school, Robinson worked as a fellow with the Ohio Innocence Project. “I really liked the experience,” she said. “I’m really interested in criminal law, and I was able to learn a lot about it that way. Plus, one of my friends from law school was my partner from OIP. I really enjoyed everything about it.” In particular, Robinson enjoyed having the opportunity to be a part of every step of investigating cases, including talking to inmates. She also enjoyed the relationships she was able to build during the experience, not just with the other fellows but also the close connection the fellows had with their supervising attorneys.
Getting A Taste of the Military
During her second summer, Robinson interned at the Polk Air Force base in North Carolina. Robinson knew when she entered law school that she wanted to be a prosecutor, and as she progressed through law school she became more and more interested in joining the military after graduating. “I knew it was possible to be a prosecutor in the military,” she said, “in addition to being able to experience other kinds of law in addition to criminal law.The internship was a good way to see if I would like to be in the military after graduation.”Robinson stated that the attorneys with whom she worked this summer made considerable efforts to show her what the job of a JAG is really like, allowing her to sit in on cases in court in addition to researching various issues in the cases. She was also able to experience several areas of law in addition to criminal law, such as white collar crime, real estate, and torts. The experience was very positive, she said, and helped solidify her decision to become a JAG.
There were several factors that contributed to Robinson’s decision to become a JAG. First, she commented, there had always been the possibility that she would join the military, particularly because both of her parents were in the Marines. Second, serving in the JAG Corps would provide her with the ability to use her education and degree to make a difference and help others, which had been an important consideration in her decision to come to law school. Third, the equal work/life balance in the military was another important consideration.
In August of 2009, after completing her internship and deciding she wanted to continue in the Air Force after graduation, Robinson applied to the USAF JAG Corps. After she was accepted, she had to complete a medical exam; the last stage of the process is passing the bar exam. She will find out the results of the exam on October 29, 2010, and when she lets the Air Force know that she passed, they will tell her where she will be stationed. “That’s really the point of no return,” said Robinson. “At that point, I technically could decide not to become a JAG—but that’s not going to happen.” After accepting the position, Robinson will go off to Officer Candidate School sometime between January and March. When she accepts a position with the JAG Corps, Robinson will be committing herself to the program for at least four years. She will be assigned to a particular department to practice a particular area of law, although she will likely begin with military justice.
Waiting for Word
As of now, Robinson has no idea where she will be stationed.“I got to submit a list of preferences for where I would like to be, but where people get stationed depends on a lot of factors,” she said. “My top choice is Dayton, because my husband and I have a house here, and my second choice is anywhere around the D.C. area.” Robinson said that both she and her husband are excited to find out where she will be stationed: “He’s probably less apprehensive about that part than I am,” she noted, “but we both look at it as an adventure.”
Robinson also acknowledged that there is a possibility that she will be stationed overseas at some point. “When I was interviewing, they basically told me, ‘if you’re signing up for the military at this point in time, you’re doing so with the knowledge that you’re going overseas at some point,’ so I look at it as a certainty.”
Because she cannot definitively accept her position until after the bar results are in, Robinson is basically playing a waiting game for now. “I’m looking at this as my last summer vacation,” she said. “Summer was not fun; I was studying for the bar, so it was hardly ‘summer’ in the traditional sense at all. So I’m using this time to go on some vacations”—she recently took a cruise to celebrate the fact that bar exam and law school were over. She also took a separate trip to New York City, and has another trip planned for next month. “I’m spending time with friends and loved ones. I’m just appreciating this time, because I literally don’t know where I’ll be in six months.”
How Destiny Moore ’11 Made a Career Out of the Army, Law, and Community Development
Destiny Moore ‘11 is proud to live in what she calls the greatest city in the world. Originally from Cincinnati, she returned here for law school and plans to remain here after graduation. “I love it here,” she says, “I wouldn’t go anywhere else.” Her love for the Queen City has spilled over into her career goals: she hopes to use her law degree to continue developing the city and making it even better and stronger.
Moore entered the Army after graduating high school in 2001. Initially stationed in Georgia, she was sent overseas to Iraq in 2003. In 2004-2005, she was stationed in Seoul, Korea, where she served as a paralegal in HR Command for the Army. She also had the opportunity to attend school at night at the University of Maryland-Asian Division. After being discharged from the Army, she went to St. Louis, attending Webster University to complete her last two years of college. Although a civilian at that point, Moore continued to work for the Army as a legal assistant. Soon, however, she joined the reserves.
Why Become A Lawyer
After finishing her degree, Moore returned to Cincinnati for law school. Her decision to be a lawyer was influenced by many sources. As a young girl, her grandmother always told her she would be a lawyer. Later, when she was recruited by the Army, she told them she would only join as a paralegal. “I always admired the status of lawyers in society as up-standing people who benefitted the community,” said Moore. In the military, it became clearer to her that she wanted to practice law, especially because most of those around her, including her commander, were attorneys.
Moore split her time during her first summer of law school. During the first half of the summer, she worked with Laufman, Jensen, & Napolitano, LLC, doing mostly civil rights and criminal defense work. Moore enjoyed the practical experiences she was able to gain from this position, particularly being able to be in court with the attorneys and sitting with them at the counsel tables. “It was a really great experience,” she said, “and I learned a lot. But I also learned that practicing civil rights, at least in that way, wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do in my career.”
What Moore found during her second position for the summer was much closer to what she had in mind. Moore went to work for the City of Cincinnati in the Solicitor’s Office. Her work focused a lot on reviewing community development plans, in addition to working on employment law & litigation cases. “My experience with the City was awesome. I loved it,” said Moore. Her experience was so positive that Moore chose to remain there throughout her second year of law school and during her second summer as well, and she hopes to continue to work there after graduation.
Focusing on Community Development
While her position with the City initially began as more “squarely” in the legal department, Moore expressed to her boss a desire to focus more completely on community development. He told her to go for it. “I still have close ties to the legal department,” said Moore, “and because of my legal education I am able to spot issues when they come up in my work, which is very useful. But at the moment law, itself, does not play a major role in the work I am doing.”
One major project Moore worked on over the summer was closing down an empowerment program which had been designed to give Cincinnati millions of dollars over 10 years to improve various communities and neighborhoods. This year marked the tenth year, so Moore worked on closing that program down. Now, she is working on a tax abatement program as well as a small business assistance program, for which she is on a Small Business Task Force. “Right now the work I’m doing is non-legal; but after I graduate and pass the bar, I would like to do some kind of community development-related law practice for Cincinnati.”
Cincinnati is Great
Moore was careful to stress the “for Cincinnati” part; she stated that she would never go anywhere else. “I bought a house when I came back to Cincinnati, and I got my cat—who I brought back with me from Korea—all settled in,” she said. “Cincinnati really is the greatest city, and I really do want to help make it even better.”
In her free time, Moore is active in her own community through the Westwood Civic Association and does community service whenever she is able. She also enjoys the “artsy” side of Cincinnati, particularly the great theatre and musical performances the city has to offer. She is also a huge sports fan, going to Reds and Bengals games whenever she gets the chance.
Moore stated that she also would like to return to the Army after graduating law school. “After passing the bar, I’d like to get commissioned in the JAG Corps,” she said. “I’d like to be in the reserves, so I can continue serving the country. I’ve found, after being out of the Army for a while, I start to miss it.”
Revisiting You've Been Served: A Commitment to Community
Mayor Mark Mallory, UC Provost Santa Jeremy Ono, law school administrators, faculty, students, and family volunteers honored September 11 by performing community services ranging from working with seniors to serving the homeless.
“ ‘You’ve Been Served’ was an amazing way to give back to the community, and to start the new school year off right,” said Megan Collard ‘12, SBA Community Service Chair. “It is our hope that we can continue this spirit of service in the coming year and years.”
With volunteers working at 19 worksites and participating in a number of volunteer activities, organizations throughout Cincinnati expressed their gratitude for UC Law’s efforts. “UC’s hard working and energetic volunteers did more work in one day than we often get done in weeks,” said Molly Lohr, Director of ReSource, an organization that sells discounted furniture and office supplies to other non-profits. “As a staff of just four full-time staff members, the work that UC did for us was vital, and the best part is, some of the volunteers signed up to come back again.”
This Day of Service project was conceived and implemented by students who hoped to give back to the community, and also to welcome new students to Cincinnati by creating a culture of service. But the event organizers credited the event’s success on the number of partners who participated in the project.
“This event was really based on teamwork” said Allison Kendall ‘12, another student organizer. “From law firms sponsoring our t-shirts to restaurants donating lunches to organizations like Keep Cincinnati Beautiful and Habitat for Humanity assisting us with projects, we had so many people come together to help make this a success.”
The event organizers said they will continue to do events like this — both large and small scale — throughout the year, and will keep alumni posted for those who would like to participate.
Thanks to sponsors for the event:
- Dinsmore & Shohl
- Porter, Wright, Arthur & Morris
- 5/3rd Bank
- Chipotle Restaurants.
UC Law Students Still Giving; Offer Pro Bono Assistance to Hurricane Victims
06/11/2007 - Considered one of the costliest and deadliest storms in history, 2005's Hurricane Katrina impacted the lives and livelihoods of thousands of residents along the north-central Gulf Coast of the United States. Though the storm was two years ago, its effects are still being felt today. That's why last month, following exams, eight students from the College of Law traveled to New Orleans, Louisiana as part of the Student Hurricane Network to offer pro bono assistance with the city's rebuilding efforts. The students, including three recent graduates, spent the week with Common Ground-an organization that provides short term relief for victims of hurricane disasters in the gulf coast region, and long term support in rebuilding the communities affected in the New Orleans area. In addition, the organization operates a Legal Aid Clinic and performs community outreach on important legal topics for current and displaced residents.
Working with Common Ground, UC law students spent their week documenting deteriorating housing conditions, offering educational outreach on landlord/tenant rights in various neighborhoods, collecting data and information regarding prisoner rights, as well as providing legal research and drafting on a variety of topics.
Attorney and Best-Selling Author Scott Turow To Speak at College of Law
Date: Friday, November 16, 2007
Time: 9:00 a.m.
Place: College of Law - Room 118
Cincinnati, OH - The twist and turns of the law will come to life when attorney and best-selling author Scott Turow speaks at the College of Law, Friday, November 16 at 9:00 a.m. in Room 118. He will discuss capital punishment. All are invited to attend.
Turow, the award-winning author of the #1 New York Times best-seller Presumed Innocent (1987), brought to life the story of Rusty Sabich, Kindle County's long-time chief deputy prosecutor. He followed that work with seven additional best-selling novels: The Burden of Proof (1990), Pleading Guilty (1993), The Laws of Our Fathers (1996), Personal Injuries (1999), Reversible Errors (2002), Ordinary Heroes (2005) and Limitations (2006). He has also written two non-fiction books: One L (1977), an autobiographical story about his experience as a first-year Harvard Law student, and Ultimate Punishment (2003), a reflection on the death penalty. In addition, Turow is a frequent contributor of essays and op-ed pieces to numerous publications, including The New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Playboy and The Atlantic.
Even though he is an accomplished writer, Turow still works as an attorney, concentrating on white collar criminal defense for firm Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Prior to joining the firm, he worked as a supervisor in the United States Attorney's Office, honing his skills by conducting federal criminal prosecutions, including grand jury matters, as both a prosecutor and as defense counsel. He was one of the prosecutors in the trial of Illinois Attorney General William J. Scott, who was convicted of tax fraud. Turow was also lead government counsel in a number of the trials connected to "Operation Greylord," a federal investigation of corruption in the Illinois judiciary.
Today, he devotes significant time to pro bono cases, including capital cases. He is well-known for his successful representation Alejandro Hernandez in the appeal that preceded Hernandez's release after nearly 12 years in prison including five on death row for a murder he did not commit.
Turow is currently Chair of the Illinois Executive Ethics Commission, and previously served as a member of the Illinois Commission on Capital Punishment, whose recommendations led to substantial reforms of the Illinois death penalty.
UC Hosted Annual Midwest National Black Law Students Association Convention
Cincinnati, OH—Aspiring lawyers and their legal peers descended upon the Queen City for a week of educational programming, career workshops, networking, and community service during the Annual Midwest Regional Convention for the National Black Law Student Association (BLSA). The Convention took place January 16-20, at the Westin Hotel in Downtown Cincinnati. Hosted by the University of Cincinnati College of Law’s chapter of BLSA, this week-long event equipped attendees with the critical skills needed to succeed in the field of law.
Participants had opportunity to attend educational workshops to sharpen their skills, broaden their horizons, and prepare them for life after law school. Workshops included Effective Advocacy, Smart Investments, Exploring Opportunities in Sports and Entertainment Law, and the Journey to Judgeship Luncheon. The Convention concluded with a formal banquet, with the keynote address given by Laurie Nicole Robinson, Vice President and Assistant General Counsel of CBS Corporation. In addition, attendees had the opportunity to compete in the Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial and the Frederick Douglass Moot Court competitions, judged by some of the tri-state’s legal giants.
Traditionally, the conference includes a community service experience for attendees. This year was no different. “The conference theme, ‘40 Years of History: Embracing the Past to Ensure the Future,’ articulated our commitment to reaching out to the youth of Cincinnati during our visit,” said Terrence Thompson, Regional Chairperson of the MWNBLSA. “This year, NBLSA met, greeted, and mentored students attending Cincinnati Public Schools.”
Ohio Innocence Project's Case Wins at the 2007 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
Cincinnati, OH—Conviction: The True Story of Clarence Elkins, a documentary about the life, wrongful conviction and eventual release of Clarence Elkins, has won the 2007 Big Sky Documentary Film Festival Award for Best Short Documentary. This story features the work of University of Cincinnati College of Law Professor Mark Godsey and the law school’s Ohio Innocence Project. This team, through an analysis of DNA and testimony, led the charge to have Mr. Elkins released from prison after he was wrongfully convicted of raping and murdering his mother-in-law.
The movie, directed by Mike West and Bill Ward, was a unanimous choice by the judges for the Best Short Documentary award out of about 100 other documentaries. Reviewers called the movie “an awesome documentary” and “in-depth look at a case, a justice system, and a life.” The film festival, which concludes today in Missoula, Montana, is considered one of the world’s top documentary film festivals.
“Literally everyone was crying at the screening, that’s how much this film touched people,” said the College of Law’s Godsey. “It’s a way to educate people about what happened in this case, and a way to do it in a beautiful form. The film told the story about all the pain that was involved in this case, and did it in a very effective way.”
“The festival was wonderful – great people, warm atmosphere – and seeing the film move the audience to tears was an experience I’ll never forget,” said West. West produced the film, along with Ward, Fred Steim and David Fortney. Executive producer for the film was Kurtis Productions.
A Summary of the Story
In a small town in Ohio, Melinda Elkins' mother is raped and murdered and her husband is arrested for the crime and sent to prison for life. Proving that police have the wrong man would take eight years, all of her money, and the only life she knew. Partly a meditation on the role of luck in the criminal justice system, the documentary chases a story too unbelievable if it weren't true.
The Big Sky Film Festival
The Big Sky Documentary Film Festival includes three separate competition categories – Best Documentary Feature, Best Documentary Short and the Big Sky Award. To be eligible for screening in a competitive category, films must be Montana Premieres and have not been broadcast on the Internet or Television anywhere in the United States. Big Sky competition films can be any length but must be about the American West. The award for Best Documentary Short is given to one film up to 50 minutes in length.