McMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

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Alumnus Makes Jump Into Private Practice

Philosophy graduate Nick Zingarelli is 29 and just opened his own law office.

Date: 1/16/2009
By: Kim Burdett
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Provided by Nick Zingarelli
Nick Zingarelli recently compared his career as an attorney to the extreme sport of skydiving.

While being a lawyer doesn’t require a physical plunge from an aircraft, it does demand a comparable sense of courage—and maybe even a small conviction in one’s own invincibility—to get into such a daring line of work.

Especially considering that Zingarelli, who is only 29, has already opened up his own law office.

“There comes a point when you just have to jump out of the airplane and hope that your parachute is going to open,” the 2001 philosophy alumnus said.

“Opening up one’s own practice (or ‘hanging out a shingle’ as it is called) is a big move for a young attorney,” said Mike Whiteman, a law professor who taught Zingarelli at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law. “It says a lot about Nick’s courage and determination that he has decided to do this. Given Nick’s outgoing personality and his legal knowledge, I have no doubt that he will succeed and be an excellent advocate on behalf of his new clients.”

Nick Zingarelli.
Zingarelli praises his philosophy education at McMicken for helping him in the field of law.

Zingarelli was a Cincinnatus scholar and the co-sports editor of the News Record during his undergraduate years at UC. He transferred into McMicken from the College of Business as a result of how much he enjoyed his arts and sciences classes. Philosophy, he said, seemed like a great transition for law school because it helped enhance his ability to think on a gray scale, a trait he finds invaluable in his career.

After law school, he worked for a short period of time at a creditor’s rights law firm before moving on to a firm that concentrated on bankruptcy. He learned everything about the specialization while he was there, building relationships with key bankruptcy lawyers and developing a sense of pride for his work helping those that needed it.

“You definitely have to be empathetic to be in this line of work,” he said. “It’s realizing that the person on the other side of the desk has real problems. What I hear from a lot of my clients is that I don’t make them feel like they’ve done something wrong. I don’t make them feel bad after they leave my office, and that’s a trait that I like to have.”

He continued, “You have to have the box of Kleenex ready in my office.”

Zingarelli was able to open his office back in August after securing a small business loan. The office is in a newly renovated building on Sycamore Street in Cincinnati, where he acts as the sole practitioner and his wife handles the office's administrative responsibilities.

Even though he just started his practice, Zingarelli is already swamped in work—partly due to the economic downturn that is plaguing the country as well as the networking skills he sharpened while working at the previous firm.

“I’m incredibly busy, much more so than I thought I would be at this stage,” he said. “Usually you expect growing pains to get your name out there and get the practice established, but I’ve built a pretty solid network of attorneys that respected me at the last office I was with, so they’re sending me a lot of overflow work or cases they don’t specialize in.”

Zingarelli is even considering adding another attorney to his firm in the next few months, should the cases continue to pile up.

In his spare time, Zingarelli likes to go to UC football games, play poker and spend time with his wife. They found out during the holidays that they are expecting their first child, an announcement that Zingarelli says is the best Christmas present of all.

So far, that parachute of his seems to be holding up just fine.


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