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PROFILE: Justice Department Next Stop For New UC Law Grad

Following a circuituous route that took her to the Far East and back, Kathryn Moore of the UC College of Law's Class of 2004 is now headed to Washington to help tackle issues relating to immigration.

Date: 5/24/2004 8:00:00 AM
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825
Photos By: Peter Griga
UC ingot Kathryn Moore's journey towards career fulfillment has taken her from the Cincinnati Zoo to Japan and then the University of Cincinnati College of Law.

Her next step is a big one - into the ranks of the United States Justice Department's select program for developing outstanding young legal talent.

Kathryn Moore

Moore, who graduated in mid-May, is the first UC law product in nine years to move into the Justice Department's Attorney General's Honors Program. The program is the only avenue the Justice Department uses for hiring new law school grads directly into its ranks.

She'll begin work this fall in the Office of the Chief Administrative Hearing Officer, which works with cases dealing with the Immigration and Nationality Act.

"I first heard about this opportunity during my first year in law school, but I never dreamed I would get admitted to the program," says Moore.

The circuitous route is not out of the ordinary for Moore, who found law appealing in part because she saw it as "the last refuge of the generalist."

After growing up on Cincinnati's east side, she went to Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, majoring in biology and art history. After graduation, she began her professional life at the Cincinnati Zoo, sometimes running overnight educational programs for students. Then she went to work for Cincinnati's Natural History Museum as a collections technician.

Next, she went overseas for four years, teaching English as a Second Language classes in South Korea and Japan. "I think being overseas and working with people from other cultures helped spark my interest in immigration law," Moore says. "Being in the classroom, with that service angle, made me realize what I might want to do when I returned home."

Her timing was propitious. Shortly before being accepted into the UC College of Law, the school had become the home of the Immigration and Nationality Law Review (INLR).

After spending much of her first year exploring different areas of the law ("I had a brief love affair with intellectual property law," Moore jokes), she took a course in immigration law and ended up joining the INLR staff.

Gradually, she became more involved with the journal, culminating this year in her status as editor-in-chief.

The INLR work not only opened up an opportunity to research and review the work of others in the field, it gave Moore a platform for her own work. Her article, "Judicial Blindness, General Cognizance: Protecting Language Minorities From Intentional Discrimination," was published in the 2003 edition.

It examined the impact of a recent Supreme Court decision on Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, the part of the law that prohibits discrimination by entities who receive federal financial assistance. "I analyzed the decision and argued that since the court limited the scope of Title VI, claims on behalf of limited English proficient claimants should nonetheless succeed under a theory of intentional discrimination."

Moore's scholarship and her leadership on the journal helped impress the Justice Department. She also drew on the Washington experience of two UC law faculty - former Justice Department attorney Verna Williams and administrative law expert James O'Reilly - to navigate the interview process. (Besides her legal background, interviewers also seemed drawn to ask about Moore's Cincinnati Zoo experiences, she laughs).

Now she's off on another adventure that she could have hardly predicted for herself five years ago. After taking the Ohio Bar Exam this summer, she plans to head to Guatemala for a month for a crash course in Spanish.

Then she'll begin working in a Justice Department office charged with interpreting and writing regulations relating to immigration laws.

"I'm told I'll be going to a lot of inter-agency meetings between the various branches of the federal government to talk about immigration laws and policy, which suits me, because I like administrative stuff. I think it will be very exciting, actually, because of all the changes that came after 9/11 and immigration now touching on areas of national security and civil liberties."

Moore could spend up to two years in her Justice Department assignment. Then she's hoping for a long career helping people in a fast-growing area of need in American law.

"Right now my vision is I'd like to be working at an immigration law clinic 10 years from now," Moore says. "Public interest work is definitely where my interest is."

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