Cincinnati Law teams with bank to create in-house fellowships

Landing in-house general counsel jobs is not easy. The jobs are in demand for a host of reasons, particularly because you're no longer working for a host of masters, which is the case at law firms. You're part of a team. However, it normally takes years of private practice experience to be eligible to land such positions.  
But the Unversity of Cincinnati College of Law has created a new followship progam that will provide graduates in-house experience directly out of law school. Two members of the Class of 2019 have joined Cincinnati-headquartered Fifth Third Bank’s legal department as part of the new program — the first of its kind. 
Created in collaboration with Susan B. Zaunbrecher, executive vice president, chief legal officer & corporate secretary at Fifth-Third (and a UC Law alumna), this fellowship program will be a model for similar ventures at other Fortune 500 companies, helping retain the best talent in the region and opening doors for new attorneys.
“We saw an opportunity that would support rising legal stars, benefiting fellow alumni as well as Fifth Third,” Zaunbrecher said. “As a Cincinnati company, we recognize the importance of attracting and retaining diverse talent in our region. We are thrilled to provide hands-on, meaningful work experiences for our UC Law fellows that will help them embark on their legal careers.”
The fellowships are a two-year, set-term apprenticeship program for new graduates, helping them hone their legal skills as they enter the profession. In addition to learning the field, they will be mentored by seasoned attorneys along the way. New fellows will be chosen every two years as the program grows.
Zahki Davis ’19 and Marissa Lee ‘19 joined Fifth Third as inaugural fellows this year. Davis is working in mergers and acquisitions, and Lee is working in regulatory affairs.
“These innovative fellowships will have a lasting impact on our students as they start their career journeys. Innovation has always been a part of our DNA at Cincinnati Law. This is yet another example of that,” said Verna Williams, dean of the College of Law.
Mina Jones Jefferson, associate dean and director of the law school’s Center for Professional Development, and the individual who helped create the program, agreed.  “This collaboration will allow us to operationalize the Bearcat Promise – helping students design a customized path to their ideal future,” Jefferson said. “Traditionally opportunities like this aren’t available to new law graduates, and now they have immediate access to a Fortune 500 legal department. This experience will jumpstart their careers.”