Larry Hayman helps OHIO pre-law students pursue legal education and careers
Larry Hayman, Esq. has held several roles at Ohio University, serving as an instructor, advisor, program director, and more. One of the roles that led him to return to his alma mater to support students pursuing legal education and careers after eight years of legal practice was that of a first-generation college student seeking a legal career.
Experiential learning opportunities were not so abundant and accessible to OHIO pre-law students when Hayman was an undergraduate student, so he was eager to share feedback with faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences who proposed and developed the Center for Law, Justice and Culture (CLJC). Hayman now provides students with support that includes advising, experiential learning opportunities, and career development.
Before making the move back to Athens and Ohio University to support the work of the new CLJC in 2014, Hayman taught a Politics and Law class at OHIO for several years while working in private practice in Columbus.
“We had a lot of wishes for what he could do for us when we hired him,” said CLJC Director Kevin Uhalde. “Larry exceeded them all and is still finding new ways to help us serve the community better.”
Though he continues to advise pre-law students and lead programs in affiliation with the CLJC and the College of Arts and Sciences, Hayman’s role shifted this year to align him with a team of advising and career professionals working collectively to provide individualized support for students through the Center for Advising, Career and Experiential Learning.
Learning through experience
Providing students with opportunities to test out their skills and preview legal careers through experiential learning is a key part of Hayman’s work. Experiential learning opportunities for pre-law students include participation in the mock trial team Hayman started seven years ago, internships with private law firms or nonprofit legal organizations like Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, and leadership opportunities with the CLJC or the Center for Student Legal Services at OHIO.
“Ohio University’s Mock Trial Team is an opportunity for students to engage in a competitive experience that involves them competing against and with universities from across the country,” said Hayman. “Every year we, as well as about 300 other universities, participate in the American Mock Trial Association’s Mock Trial competitions, and then we spend all of Fall Semester preparing for trial.”
According to Hayman, participating in the Mock Trial Team helps students build skills in areas such as public speaking, teamwork, collaboration, analysis, and time management.
Alexa Jesser, a deputy public defender for the Colorado State Public Defender, said participating in the Mock Trial Team, as well as Phi Alpha Delta, the pre-law fraternity, helped her gain skills and leadership experience as she prepared for law school.
“Being on the mock trial team gave me extremely valuable skills that have helped me throughout my entire academic and professional career,” Jesser said. “It helped me to get over my fear of public speaking (and become, dare I say it, good at public speaking); it gave me my first experience with a leadership role; it gave me a wider network of friends and colleagues who are now in the legal field or plan to be in the legal field; and it taught me valuable lessons about the rules of evidence, courtroom decorum, and more.”
Jesser joined the Mock Trial Team in her second year at OHIO. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and political science and a certificate in law, justice, and culture in 2018.
Ryan Crowley, who graduated from OHIO in 2019 with a degree in political science and history, and will graduate from Widener Law School later this spring, was one of Hayman’s advisees and took advantage of numerous experiential learning opportunities at OHIO. Crowley said he appreciated the leadership experience he gained as a member and new member coordinator of the Mock Trial Team.
“The Ohio University Mock Trial Team provides students with the opportunity to draft oral arguments which will be performed in front of real judges,” Crowley said. “Preparation for the competitions teaches legal analysis, a crucial skill for law school.”
After finishing law school this summer, Crowley will take the Delaware Bar Exam and will begin serving as a clerk in the Superior Court of Delaware in September.
Partnerships and internships
Hayman also helps create experiential learning opportunities for pre-law students through partnerships with local and regional law firms and legal organizations.
Five years ago, he partnered with Southeastern Ohio Legal Services to create the Access to Justice Internship Program that allows students to work in evidence gathering while working under the guidance of staff attorneys at the agency which serves low-income populations.
According to Hayman, the Center for Student Legal Services, a non-profit law firm that provides legal services to OHIO students in criminal and civil matters, also provides students with opportunities to learn first-hand about legal proceedings by serving on the Center’s board of directors.
“That's an incredible opportunity to learn the inner workings of a law firm, and the inner workings of a non-profit, which is a really invaluable opportunity even for students that may not be interested in going to law school,” Hayman said.
Hayman also helps pre-law students connect with and leverage a supportive network of OHIO alumni and the local and regional legal community.
“Larry put me in contact with Assistant Athens County Prosecutor Liz Pepper for an internship in the spring semester of my junior year,” said Crowley. “This was a great real-world experience and re-affirmed my desire to attend law school.”
Senior English pre-law and sociology-criminology major Ellen Gill-Franks completed internships with the Ohio Innocence Project, the Supreme Court of Ohio, and Southeastern Ohio Legal Services.
OHIO’s Summer Law and Trial Institute, which Hayman launched in 2016 with support from the Ohio State Bar Foundation, provides critical learning experiences for high school students, as well as the college students who help coordinate the program. The immersive programs aim to increase understanding of the law and its possibilities among high school students from southeast Ohio. The program also seeks to foster an interest in all aspects of legal education, service, and issues, and to create the next generation of legal, advocacy, and community professionals. Hayman is currently helping students who were part of the first cohort at the Summer Law and Trial Institute with their law school admissions decisions.
Preparing for law school
Gill-Franks said the experiential learning opportunities she accessed at OHIO prepared her well for law school. In addition to completing multiple internships, she studied abroad and took on leadership roles with the Mock Trial Team, Students Defending Students, and the Ohio University Board of Trustees.
“I am more prepared for law school because of the many experiential learning opportunities offered to me over the past four years,” Gill-Franks said. “I was able to lead others and develop my own leadership style, mentor other students, and define who I want to be when I serve others.”
Though many OHIO students who want to study law choose pre-law majors in the College of Arts and Sciences, Hayman notes that students from other colleges and majors such as business and journalism find their way to law school and legal careers as well.
“Law is one of those disciplines in which there is no required undergraduate curriculum so people are coming at it from all sorts of angles, all sorts of ideas, all sorts of undergraduate disciplines,” Hayman said. “It's important for students to have an understanding of what exactly it is that they're getting into because law school is a difficult commitment in terms of the work and it's also a significant financial commitment.”
Hayman helps students with the law school application process and preparation for the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). With the support of alumni donors, he has established two funds that help prepare OHIO students for law school entry and reduce barriers to application. The Law School Application Support Fund helps defray the cost of applying to law school, signing up for the Law School Admissions Council, or purchasing LSAT preparation courses. The Social Justice Internship Fund provides stipends to students who take unpaid internships at law and justice organizations.
“This fund is meant to make it easier for students to be able to take an unpaid internship with organizations like Southeastern Ohio Legal Services, the ACLU, or the Ohio Innocence Project,” Hayman said. One of the experiences made possible through the fund this summer is an internship placement with the Ohio Innocence Project at the University of Cincinnati College of Law, in which a student will gain experience in a legal clinic, and work in policy and engagement.
OHIO hosts an annual law fair to allow students to engage with law school representatives from across the country as they explore legal education opportunities.
Not only does Hayman help guide undergraduate students as they prepare for law school and entry into the legal profession, but he also works with OHIO alumni who decide sometime after leaving Ohio University that they are interested in law school or careers in law. Regardless of when, or what program they graduated from, all OHIO alumni can access the advising and career support that Hayman provides.
“A lot of people don’t go straight from undergraduate school to law school,” Hayman said.
Associate Vice Provost Jen Murphy said Hayman’s support for pre-law students provides a strong model for preparing students for meaningful careers through thoughtful advising and transformative experiential learning opportunities.
“Larry's work illustrates the collective continuum of support that Ohio University, with coordination by the Center for Advising, Career and Experiential Learning, provides to students as they gain experiences, which ultimately helps them succeed as a Bobcat, and prepares them for the world of work,” Murphy said.