Tuesday January 2, 2018

A Place To Call Home

By Carole Judge

See why Dayton Law can be the perfect home away from home for students from around the country.

Brittany Holzer '13 is a dedicated fan of everything Pittsburgh, but she knew she had to leave town in order to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer.  Six years ago, she came to Dayton to focus on her legal education without the distraction of her friends, her family – and her Penguins, Pirates and Steelers. 

“The University of Dayton School of Law provided me with the opportunity to be in a completely different place, where I knew nobody, while still allowing me to be a drivable distance from family,” explains Holzer, who immersed herself in student life.

Holzer enjoyed her years on what she calls an “incredibly welcoming” campus, participating in student organizations from the Student Bar Association to the Phi Alpha Delta legal fraternity, where she was nominated as the Marshall her 3L year.

Brittany HolzerBut now she’s back home, and Pittsburgh is returning the love.  A short walk through downtown on a warm fall day found Holzer exchanging hellos with locals at almost every street corner.  It’s easy to see why: This young professional not only takes pride in her community, but also gives back to it.

Holzer is a member of the Children’s Trust, an initiative of the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation, as well as serving on the Board of Directors of the Ladies Hospital Aid Society.  She has worked on the Family House Gifting Gala Committee for the last three years.  Plus, she launched a networking group, of which she is the co-host, called PGH Women Connecting Women.  This organization connects professional women in all industries in the Pittsburgh area to one another.

Sentiments about her hometown run deep, not only in her charitable work, but also professionally, as she works on special projects geared toward developing a city that successfully transformed following the decline of the steel industry. 

“These projects have and will allow the city of Pittsburgh itself to expand and grow in areas in which, up until more recently, development and accessibility had been stunted,” adds Holzer, referring specifically to zones along the riverfront and Strip District, Pittsburgh’s historic market neighborhood.

Brittany HolzerShe works with a diverse group of lawyers at Tucker Arensberg, located at PPG Place (the iconic glass castle) in downtown Pittsburgh and appreciates the learning experience her colleagues have provided, beginning when she was a summer associate for the same firm.

While in law school, she also interned with the Allegheny County Bar Association’s Juvenile Court Project and with Carl Sherrets of Sherrets Law Offices in Kettering, Ohio, an adjunct professor at Dayton Law. 

“A large portion of my practice now is estates and trusts work and I owe that to my experiences with Professor Sherrets,” Holzer says.  “His commitment to his clients and the relationships that they formed was an inspiration and further fueled my interest in the practice area." 

As a member of Tucker Arensberg’s multidisciplinary Medical Marijuana Practice Group, Holzer’s practice also includes advising industry players on Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Act, both for parties seeking to become growers/processors and/or dispensaries, as well as providing legal advice to related ancillary ventures.

Pennsylvania’s recently adopted Medical Marijuana Act has set the stage for a new industry which will require new legal skills. “Practice in this area is constantly evolving and it has been a unique opportunity to get involved on the ground floor,” Holzer explains.

As an undergraduate, Holzer had every intention of becoming a medical doctor when her focus shifted.  During college, her experience representing parents in juvenile dependency proceedings solidified her desire to attend law school instead.  Armed with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology with a minor in Administration of Justice, plus a related concentration in Chemistry from the University of Pittsburgh, Holzer embarked on her legal journey to Dayton.

And while she understood the amount of rigorous coursework and level of commitment law school would require, Holzer credits Dayton Law for delivering the right balance of challenge and support. 

“Dayton provided an environment that was extremely collegial.  And while competitive, it was not cut-throat,” Holzer says. “Professors wanted you to excel and provided you resources to do so.  I can think of a few professors off of the top of my head who I had extensive conversations or study sessions with beyond the classroom in efforts to further my understanding of the course material.”

Brittany HolzerHolzer feels she received the same support and encouragement from her classmates.The accessibility and collaborative nature of both the students and professors at Dayton fostered an educational environment that allowed the students to excel.”

Her advice to current students and new law graduates: “Never underestimate the importance of the impression you make on people or the impact that any person can have on your future.  You never know where the next client or job is going to come from because the legal community is typically very close knit.  Opportunities frequently come from unexpected places.”

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