Committed to community

UC Clermont alum leads by example, behind and before the bench

Nathan Little’s journey led him from a family farm to the University of Cincinnati Clermont College to Washington, D.C. — and back again, to help the community he calls home.

Little lives in Milford, Ohio, and recently was appointed magistrate for the Clermont County Domestic Relations Court. He is also a partner in the Middletown, Ohio, law offices of Combs, Schaefer, Ball & Little, providing legal representation for clients throughout southwestern Ohio.

“My goal is to be the best citizen I can be because there are a lot of people who need help out there,” said Little. “Leaders have to try to make things better.”

A native of rural Felicity, Ohio, Little grew up on a farm raising tobacco, pigs and cattle, and dreamed of becoming a police officer. By the time he graduated from Felicity-Franklin High School with his 85 classmates, however, he wasn’t sure of his next step; he wanted to go to college, but UC’s main campus in Clifton felt too far from his small-town roots.  

“UC Clermont was close to home and affordable. Coming from a high school where I knew everybody, the college was a perfect transition,” Little said. “The advantage of UCC was the smallness and close relationships with my professors and other students. UC Clermont was my foundation; it was where it all started for me.”

Once on campus, Little became president of student government, led the Clermont County Young Republicans Club and worked as a deputy clerk in the Clermont County Clerk of Courts. After serving as the college commencement speaker in 2002, Little transitioned to UC’s College of Arts and Sciences to major in business. The connections he’d made in Clermont County continued to pay off, and Little interned in Washington, D.C. for Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) in the summer of 2003.

“The sparks of interest from my time at UC Clermont led me to apply to the internship in D.C. and to get involved in politics and leadership,” Little said. “I thought, ‘These are the things you do to become a leader.’”

My goal is to be the best citizen I can be because there are a lot of people who need help out there. Leaders have to try to make things better.

Nathan Little UC Clermont alumnus, lawyer, judge

After earning his bachelor’s degree, Little worked for Walgreens Co. and Western & Southern Financial before another UC Clermont spark caught fire. While a business major at the college, Little had taken a business law course with paralegal professor Jeff Rubel.

“I enjoyed that class and always remembered it,” said Little. “And I liked Rubel; he was a good professor. Our connection evolved over time.”

That experience in part inspired Little to enroll in law school at the University of Dayton, joining a law firm in Butler County soon after. Now a partner at his own firm, Little regularly speaks to UC Clermont paralegal classes and has hired several students from the program.

“Jeff always knows that I’m happy to help a student who lives close to our firm,” Little said. “The more we can do to keep students here locally and help them succeed, the better.”

Rubel reflected that as a student, Little demonstrated strong analytical skills, persistent work ethic and a curiosity for the law.

“Nathan’s career successes are amazing but, given his passion for law, not at all surprising,” Rubel said. “I strongly suspect that Nathan will eventually end up on the state judicial bench, where he will quickly become one of Ohio's premier judges."

Outside the courtroom, Little is also serious about impressing upon students the importance of giving back to their communities. He leads by example as a volunteer with CASA for Clermont Kids, a program that provides court-appointed special advocates for children whose family fates lie in the hands of the Clermont County Juvenile Court.

“I chose to stay here and give back to the community I grew up in. That’s not everyone’s dream; some will go elsewhere,” Little said. “But there’s plenty of need out there, and everyone can make a difference. Every difference that gets made can make a change in someone else’s life.”

Driven by paying his success forward, Little remains quick to give credit to the college on a hill in Batavia where he first found his life direction.

“I loved my time at UC Clermont and still have friends today that I made on campus. The college invests in relationship building and training future leaders,” he said. “UCC is a starting block of a wall that you build over your lifetime. Your destiny is yours to make.”

Featured image at top of Nathan Little. Photo/Danny Kidd/University of Cincinnati.