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General and Small Practice

Challenging, highly varied work across a broad spectrum of practice areas is a hallmark of a general or small law firm practice. It requires a lawyer with a superior understanding of the law and the ability to work closely and effectively with clients. Cincinnati Law graduates are prepared to deliver sophisticated legal representation to both individuals and small businesses.

Academics

The demands of a general practice require students to have a solid foundation in both doctrinal and practical skills classes. Cincinnati Law’s curriculum offers multiple classes in the areas of law that represent the more frequent legal issues presented by clients.

All law students take Contracts in their first year. Because they are prerequisites for other courses, students should consider taking Evidence, Federal Income Tax, and Wills and Estates in their second year.

During their second and third years, students can then select advanced classes from the curriculum based on their specific interests in an area of law. It also is recommended that students take a number of skills-based classes designed to replicate the types of legal tasks performed by attorneys on a daily bases.

Changes in technology and the delivery of legal services is especially important to the solo and small law firm practice. Students should consider taking the Technology in Law Practice class to learn about the latest technology innovations in representing clients.

Students interested in general practice or in starting their own firms should plan carefully to take full advantage of the offerings in all of these areas and are encouraged to meet with any of our faculty members during their first year to design a personalized curriculum best suited to their professional goals.

Selected Courses for a General Practice

Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure I
  • Criminal Procedure II
Business Law
  • Agency, Partnerships & Unincorporated Business Associations
  • Bankruptcy
  • Corporations I
  • Debtor and Creditor Law
  • Secured Transactions
Employment and Labor Law
  • Disability Law
  • Employment Discrimination
  • Employment Law
Estate Planning
  • Estate and Gift Tax
  • Estate Planning
  • Federal Income Tax
  • Wills and Estates
Family Law
  • Family Law
Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Evidence
  • Negotiations
  • Remedies

Experiences

Cincinnati Law’s clinics, externships, and fellowships provide students with a realistic and invaluable perspective on the day-to-day life of a lawyer. The UC College of Law has partnered with many companies and organizations to provide internships, externships, and other experiential learning opportunities for students.

The Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic (ECDC) offers free legal services to small and startup businesses and non-profit organizations. Students in the clinic provide advice to clients to areas including entity selection and formation; contract and lease preparation, review, and negotiation; corporate governance and regulatory compliance; trademark and copyright protection; and other legal issues faced by small businesses.

The ECDC also has partnered with area business accelerators , such as The Brandery and the Hamilton County Business Center, to give students unique opportunities to learn valuable hands-on legal and business skills (and earn compensation). Students work closely with innovative entrepreneurs, local lawyers, and nationally-respected business advisors in a dynamic business environment.

Selected Practical Skills Courses

  • Client Counseling
  • Corporate Transactions
  • Introduction to Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Legal Drafting
  • Real Estate Transactions
  • Technology in Law Practice
  • Trial Practice

Students may choose to work part-time in their second and third years with many of the law firms located in the Cincinnati area. Working for a law firm is an excellent way to enhance research and writing skills, learn practical lawyering skills, and gain exposure to a wide variety of practice areas.

Volunteer opportunities also abound. Any student who performs 15 or more hours of volunteer legal work receives an official transcript notation. For example, the ECDC partners with Duke Energy to conduct an annual pro bono event that provides free legal services to local business owners and entrepreneurs.

Careers

Starting a solo practice or small law firm can be a very positive experience if autonomy is an important career goal. Numerous UC College of Law graduates have found personal satisfaction and career success in founding their own law firm.

The majority of attorneys in private practice are employed in small law firms with less than 20 lawyers. Almost half of those lawyers are solo practitioners. Small firm lawyers are often generalists that enjoy challenge and wide variety in their work.

Other smaller law firms are boutique law practices that specialize in a niche area of the law. Lawyers in boutique firms can service their clients more personally in a clearly defined practice area and refer clients to different law firms for other services. These lawyers may have begun their careers in a larger firm and then chosen to narrow their focus.

Law Firms Founded by Cincinnati Law Graduates
  • Barbara J. Howard, Co., LPA (family law)
  • Cuni, Ferguson, LeVay Co, LPA (real estate, estate planning, civil litigation)
  • Helmer, Martins, Rice & Popham (false claims law, business litigation)
  • J. Thomas Hodges (business litigation, civil litigation, criminal law)
  • Keller Barrett & Higgins (divorce and family law, estate planning, real estate)
  • Rittgers & Rittgers (criminal/DUI defense, family law, personal injury)