Fifth-Third, Cincinnati Law announce fellowships for new graduates

The first of its kind fellowship gives newly minted graduates a chance to go in-house straight out of law school

Two University of Cincinnati College of Law class of 2019 graduates have joined Fifth Third Bank’s legal department as part of a new fellowship program that will provide them in-house experience directly out of law school.

Created in collaboration with Susan B. Zaunbrecher, executive vice president, chief legal officer & corporate secretary at Fifth-Third (and a UC Law alumna), this fellowship program will be a model for similar ventures at other Fortune 500 companies, helping retain the best talent in the region and opening doors for new attorneys.  

“We saw an opportunity that would support rising legal stars, benefiting fellow alumni as well as Fifth Third,” said Zaunbrecher. “As a Cincinnati company, we recognize the importance of attracting and retaining diverse talent in our region. We are thrilled to provide hands-on, meaningful work experiences for our UC Law fellows that will help them embark on their legal careers.”

The fellowships are a two-year, set-term apprenticeship program for new graduates, helping them hone their legal skills as they enter the profession. In addition to learning the field, they will be mentored by seasoned attorneys along the way.  New fellows will be chosen every two years as the program grows.

Zahki Davis ’19 and Marissa Lee ‘19 joined Fifth Third as inaugural fellows this year. Davis is working in mergers and acquisitions, and Lee is working in regulatory affairs.

These innovative fellowships will have a lasting impact on our students as they start their career journeys

Dean Verna Williams

 “These innovative fellowships will have a lasting impact on our students as they start their career journeys. Innovation has always been a part of our DNA at Cincinnati Law. This is yet another example of that,” said Verna Williams, dean of the College of Law. “I’m thankful to Susan Zaunbrecher and Fifth Third for the forward-thinking vision in creating these opportunities for our students.”

Mina Jones Jefferson, associate dean and director of the law school’s Center for Professional Development, and the individual who helped create the program, agreed.  “This collaboration will allow us to operationalize the Bearcat Promise – helping students design a customized path to their ideal future,” said Jefferson. “Traditionally opportunities like this aren’t available to new law graduates, and now they have immediate access to a Fortune 500 legal department. This experience will jumpstart their careers.”

Companies interested in starting a law fellowship program with the College of Law should contact Mina Jefferson at (513)556-0075 or ( for more information.

About the University of Cincinnati College of Law

Founded in 1833, the University of Cincinnati College of Law has the distinction of being the first law school west of the Alleghenies. From humble beginnings 175 years ago in a room above Timothy Walker’s law offices to its home today in Clifton (OH), Cincinnati Law has been on the leading edge of legal education. Thousands of lawyers have graduated from the law school, and about one-third practice in the Greater Cincinnati community, working in all areas of the law. For more information about the College of Law, visit

About Fifth Third

Fifth Third Bancorp is a diversified financial services company headquartered in Cincinnati, Ohio and the indirect parent company of Fifth Third Bank, an Ohio-chartered bank. As of June 30, 2019, Fifth Third had $169 billion in assets and operated 1,207 full-service Banking Centers and 2,551 ATMs with Fifth Third branding in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Florida, Tennessee, West Virginia, Georgia and North Carolina. In total, Fifth Third provides its customers with access to approximately 53,000 fee-free ATMs across the United States. Fifth Third operates four main businesses: Commercial Banking, Branch Banking, Consumer Lending and Wealth & Asset Management. Fifth Third is among the largest money managers in the Midwest and, as of June 30, 2019, had $399 billion in assets under care, of which it managed $46 billion for individuals, corporations and not-for-profit organizations through its Trust and Registered Investment Advisory businesses. Investor information and press releases can be viewed at Fifth Third’s common stock is traded on the Nasdaq® Global Select Market under the symbol “FITB.” Fifth Third Bank was established in 1858. Deposit and Credit products are offered by Fifth Third Bank. Member FDIC.