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UC law student plants seeds of hope for community farmers

When her family farm started raising hops for craft brewers, University of Cincinnati College of Law student Hannah Scott (2L) quickly learned the challenges of a rural business owner. And like brewers adding hops to flavor beer, Scott is adding a much-needed J.D. to her hometown.  

Farmers in particular battle tricky regulatory language and strict laws to simply open their business or sell their products. And these regulations can often change. 

Experiencing these challenges firsthand fueled Scott’s decision to become a lawyer. Her hometown in Brown County, Ohio, is populated by small businesses and farmlands–an area where legal aid is limited.

In addition to standard licensing and food processing regulations, Scott explains, “the United States Department of Agriculture estimates a large percentage of agricultural land in the US is about to change ownership as many farmers are reaching retirement age. Terms of land ownership and succession planning have significant implications for farmers.”    

“I kept finding myself thinking that it would be great to have a lawyer who really understands agriculture and rural communities.”

Hannah Scott, 2L

After years of managing most aspects of her family's farm business, she says, “I kept finding myself thinking that it would be great to have a lawyer who really understands agriculture and rural communities.”

The Path to Cincinnati Law

Scott received her bachelor’s degree in sociology at Duke University, and her master’s of science degree in rural sociology at The Ohio State University (OSU).

At OSU she studied the sociology of agriculture and researched interest groups that engage federal agricultural policy. Scott researched the structure of the contemporary agricultural interest group community, examining which groups participate in policy making, how they participate, and whether their participation creates policy engagement niches. 

Headshot of Hannah Scott, 2L.

Headshot of Hannah Scott, 2L.

Scott is a flex-time student, and works as a program manager for the College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences Center for Cooperatives (CFAES) at Ohio State. Most of her work focuses on education and business development around new cooperative enterprises with farmers.    

While her job at OSU primarily centers on business planning, market planning, and education, she soon realized that having a legal degree could help her get closer to working with community farmers and small business owners.

As far as balancing work and school, Scott admits it’s a challenge, but knew it wouldn’t prevent her from pursuing a degree at UC. She credits being able to work while taking classes to her “fantastic support group” of family, friends, and colleagues.

Cincinnati Law students have a knack for finding innovative ways to give back to their community. And Scott is no exception. She hopes that her unique experience will ease the regulatory burdens of rural business owners, and open doors for others to do the same.