By Danielle Jones 

Fifth Third Bank 

Zahki Davis and Marissa Lee are Fifth Third Fellows. Photo provided

Two 2019 graduates of the University of Cincinnati’s College of Law 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 and corporate secretary at Fifth Third (and a UC Law alumna), this fellowship program can serve as 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-based company, we recognize the importance of attracting and retaining diverse talent in our region. We are thrilled to provide hands-on, meaningful work experience for our UC Law fellows that will help them embark on their legal careers.”

The program’s fellowships are two-year, set-term apprenticeships for new graduates that help them hone their legal skills as they enter the profession. In addition to their real-world learning, they also will be mentored by seasoned attorneys along the way. New fellows will be chosen every two years as the program grows.

Zahki Davis and Marissa Lee joined Fifth Third this year as the program’s inaugural fellows. 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,” said Verna Williams, dean of the College of Law. “Innovation has always been a part of our DNA at Cincinnati Law. This is yet another example of that. 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, agreed. “This collaboration will allow us to operationalize the Bearcat Promise – helping students design a customized path to their ideal future.” She helped create the program.

“Traditionally opportunities like this aren’t available to new law graduates,” she said, “and now they have immediate access to a Fortune 500 legal department. This experience will jumpstart their careers.” 

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