Welcome from Dean Verna Williams

Welcome to Cincinnati Law! Thank you for choosing to explore the nation’s premier, small, urban, public law school. As the country’s fourth oldest continuously operating law school, we have a storied history of preparing legal professionals to be business and governmental leaders, champions of justice and responsible global citizens.

You can join them.

Nestled within the University of Cincinnati, a top-tier public research university with more than 40,000 students across three campuses, our law school community is close-knit and focused on action.

Our accepted student population totals fewer than 400 students, allowing for an enviable 8.4 to 1 student-faculty ratio. Our first-year sections are among the smallest in the nation.

Our faculty includes renowned scholars and practitioners whose work is recognized globally and praised in academia as well as the judiciary and the practicing bar—and the public. I encourage you to meet our leadership. Cincinnati Law faculty and staff specialize in providing personal and individualized attention.

The success of our curriculum is evidenced by the success of our students. Our students pass the bar at higher rates than Ohio’s average, and on top of that, xxx are employed in law-related fields within x months of graduation.

It’s great to be a BEARCAT

The Greater Cincinnati metropolitan area is home to 2 million people, more than 800 law firms, and serves as headquarters for 10 Fortune 500 companies. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and U.S. District Court for Southern District of Ohio are both located in downtown Cincinnati, a mere two miles from the law school, allowing for expansive and distinctive practical experiences that round out a rigorous academic curriculum.

Along with opportunities for employment with law firms and corporations, every year Cincinnati Law students get hands-on legal experience through hundreds of externship opportunities that put them to work in government entities, non-profit organizations and judicial offices.

We’re also proudly Cincinnati, a Midwestern city consistently ranked highly for its quality of life, strong professional networks and start-up communities as well as its affordability. In fact, Forbes ranked Cincinnati as one of America’s “Best Bargain Cities.”

Cincinnati Law’s distinctive Centers and Institutes also provide valuable learning experiences. Consider:

  • Our Urban Morgan Institute is the first center at an American law school dedicated to the study of international human rights.
  • The Lois and Richard Rosenthal Institute for Justice is home to the highly acclaimed Ohio Innocence Project at Cincinnati Law. OIP, which welcomes undergraduate as well as JD-candidate students in its work, has already helped exonerate 24 wrongfully convicted inmates since its founding in 2003.
  • The Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice, of which I am the co-director, puts academic theory into action as we prepare students to take the lead in advancing justice.

With approximately $3 million awarded annually in scholarships, consistently high bar passage results and below average student loan debt figures, a Cincinnati Law degree provides a solid return on your investment.

I hope you enjoy exploring our website and learning more about the exciting opportunities here. Come for a visit and learn even more, or start your application now.

Verna L. Williams

Dean and Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law, Co-director, Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice


Verna Williams

Interim Dean, Judge Joseph P. Kinneary Professor of Law, Co-director, Center for Race, Gender and Social Justice


BS, Georgetown University

JD, Harvard Law School

Professor Verna Williams was appointed Interim Dean of the UC College of Law in 2016. She joined Cincinnati Law in 2001 after many years of practicing in the areas of civil and women’s rights. She co-directs the University of Cincinnati’s signature, joint-degree program in Law and Women’s Studies.

Williams teaches in the areas of family law, gender discrimination and Constitutional law. In both 2004 and 2011, she received the Goldman Prize for Teaching Excellence.

Before moving to Cincinnati, Williams was vice president and director of educational opportunities at the National Women’s Law Center. Her work focused on gender equity in education. While at the Center, she successfully argued before the United States Supreme Court as lead counsel in Davis v. Monroe County Board of Education, a ruling which established that educational institutions have a duty to address complaints of student-to-student sexual harassment. Williams also practiced at the Department of Justice and at Sidley Austin LLP. She began her legal career clerking for the Honorable David S. Nelson, U.S. District Judge for the District of Massachusetts. While serving as a consultant for the Ford Foundation, she chaired the convening of a national conference at the University of Cincinnati: “Women Coming Together: Claiming the Law for Social Change.”

Research areas:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Class
  • Education Law and Policy

Associate Dean, Chief of Staff, and Director of the Center for Professional Development


BA, Miami University

JD, University of Cincinnati

Mina Jefferson, a former hiring partner at a National Law Journal Top 250 law firm, practiced commercial litigation for nine years before joining Cincinnati Law and was one of the first African-American women in the region elected to the partnership of a large firm. In addition to promoting the professional development of the College's student body, Ms. Jefferson is a speaker on the topic of professionalism, has taught Ethics and provided classroom instruction for the legal extern course. She currently serves, by appointment, on the Ohio Supreme Court Continuing Legal Education Committee. Her community involvement has included the Children's Law Center, ProKids and the Cincinnati Bar Foundation, as well as current service on the Legal Aid Society of Greater Cincinnati Board of Trustees. She is also a member of the National Association for Law Placement (NALP) Board of Directors and has spoken at prior NALP conferences and programs.

Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, James B. Helmer, Jr. Professor of Law


BA, Harvard University

JD, Yale University

Professor Mank teaches and writes in the areas of environmental law and administrative law. A prolific scholar, he has authored many articles and book chapters on environmental justice, regulatory reform, standing and statutory interpretation. He also has worked with the City of Cincinnati on a number of environmental ordinances and implementation matters, including climate change, environmental justice, recycling and air pollution issues.

He was named the James B. Helmer, Jr. Professor of Law in 2001 in recognition of his scholarly and teaching accomplishments. Professor Mank has also been honored with the 2004 Harold C. Schott Award and in 2001 with the Goldman Prize for Teaching Excellence. He was also awarded the Dean’s Award for Faculty Excellence in 2016.

Before joining the College of Law faculty in 1991, Professor Mank served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Connecticut. He also was an associate with the Hartford, Conn., law firm of Murtha, Cullina, Righter and Pinney, where his emphasis was environmental law.

Professor Mank served as the Editor of the Yale Law Journal. After graduation, he clerked for Justice David M. Shea of the Connecticut Supreme Court.

Sandra F. Sperino

Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor of Law


BA, Texas Tech University

MS, University of Illinois

JD, University of Illinois

Associate Dean of Faculty and Professor Sperino teaches in the areas of civil procedure, torts and employment law. In 2013, she received the Goldman Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Professor Sperino’s scholarship focuses on employment discrimination, and her recent work focuses on the intersection of tort and discrimination law. She is the author of several books: Unequal: How America’s Courts Undermine Discrimination Law (w/ Thomas) (Oxford University Press forthcoming 2017) and Employment Discrimination: Cases and Materials (w/ Grover & Gonzalez) (CAP 2013), an employment discrimination casebook. In 2017, she will join West’s hornbook Federal Discrimination Law and West’s Federal Discrimination in a Nutshell. Her article, The Tort Label, was selected for the Harvard/Stanford/Yale Faculty Forum.

Her recent articles are published in the Michigan Law Review, the University of Illinois Law Review, the George Mason Law Review, and the Notre Dame Law Review.

In 2015, Professor Sperino received the Harold C. Schott Award for Scholarship. She has served as Chair for the AALS Section on Employment Discrimination Law and is a contributing editor to several employment law books published by the American Bar Association.

Prior to joining the UC Law faculty, she served on the faculty at Temple University Beasley School of Law. She also was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois College of Law and the St. Louis University School of Law.

Professor Sperino was in private practice as an attorney for the litigation and labor and employment departments at Lewis, Rice & Fingersh in St. Louis. There she co-authored the successful petition for writ of certiorari and the brief argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in United States v. Sell.

Professor Sperino received her JD from the University of Illinois College of Law, where she was editor-in-chief of the University of Illinois Law Review, and a MS in Journalism from the University of Illinois. After law school, she clerked for the Hon. Donald J. Stohr of the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Missouri.

Joel Chanvisanuruk

Assistant Dean, Academic Success and Bar Programs


BA, Bradford College

MPA, Indiana University

JD, UC College of Law

Professor Joel Chanvisanuruk designs and leads workshops as well as works individually with law students to help them adapt to law school curriculum, prepare for exams and improve their academic performance. Chanvisanuruk also oversees Cincinnati Law’s Structured Study Group program, which includes training and supervising 2L and 3L students who are matched with groups of 1Ls to help them develop academic and exam taking skills.

Chanvisanuruk teaches Legal Analysis and Drafting: The Bar Exam, a course designed to help 3L students prepare for the written components of the Bar Examination. He served as Dean of Student Affairs at Cincinnati Law in 2015-2016. In 2011, he received the Nettie Berk Staff Recognition Award.

Prior to joining Cincinnati Law, Chanvisanuruk worked as Associate Director of Career Planning and Professional Development at Washington & Lee University School of Law. Earlier still, he served as a U.S. Presidential Management Fellow (PMF) litigating employment matters for the United States Forest Service and the United States Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC.

Chanvisanuruk obtained a Master of Public Affairs in Public Management and Comparative International Affairs from Indiana University, Bloomington and a B.A. in Philosophy from Bradford College. Before law school, he served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Sosnowiec, Poland.

Staci P. Rucker

Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Diversity


BA, Summa Cum Laude, Howard University

JD, Harvard Law School

The University of Cincinnati College of Law has named Staci Patterson Rucker its first-ever Assistant Dean for Academic Affairs, Student Affairs and Diversity. This new position reflects the law school’s continued commitment to fostering an intellectually challenging and diverse learning environment, a value that is embraced by the University of Cincinnati also. Prior to joining the College of Law, she was assistant dean for student affairs at the University of Dayton School of Law. It is an exciting time to be at UC and I am honored to be a part of it.” Rucker began her career as an attorney at law firms in Washington, DC and Atlanta, GA. After transitioning to North Carolina, she joined the ranks of academia and administration, serving as interim director of Academic Support at North Carolina Central University School of Law, where she also taught an upper-level legal writing course. Later, she clerked for the Honorable James A. Wynn, Jr., formerly on the North Carolina Court of Appeals and now on the Fourth Circuit, before coming to the Ohio Valley.

Nora Burke Wagner

Assistant Dean for International Student Programs & Director, LL.M Program


BA, University of Dayton

JD, University of Cincinnati College of Law

Nora Burke Wagner is both the Assistant Dean for Student International Programs and Director of Cincinnati Law’s LL.M, a master’s degree program for individuals who’ve earned a degree in law outside of the United States. Dean Wagner was instrumental in developing the LL.M program and, since its launch in 2012, has succeeded in building a top quality educational experience, recruiting students from over 18 different countries.

In her role as Assistant Dean for Student International Programs, Dean Wagner works to expand opportunities for Cincinnati Law students to study and participate in work overseas. Dean Wagner graduated from Cincinnati Law in 2000, where she worked as the managing editor for the Human Rights Quarterly and was an Urban Morgan Human Rights Fellow. Following graduation, Dean Wagner served as a Law Clerk to Judge Nathaniel R. Jones of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. She then spent seven years working in-house at a large non-profit social service agency as Director of Government Advocacy and Legal Affairs before returning to the College of Law community.

Al Watson

Senior Assistant Dean, Admissions and Financial Aid


BA, Hope College

MA, Bowling Green State University

Dean Watson has worked for the College since 1986 and oversees the Admissions Office, directs all recruiting, is a member of the Admissions Committee, awards scholarships, and works closely with the University Student Financial Aid Office with financial aid packaging for law students. Dean Watson is currently serving the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC) as a member of the Test Development and Research (TD and R) Committee. From 2009 – 2012 he Co-Directed the Cincinnati Law and Leadership Institute, a summer youth development diversity program. A past recipient of the Nettie Birk/Dottie Sutton Staff Recognition Award, Mr. Watson began his admissions career with the Wittenberg University Admissions Office in 1981.