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Released on May 31, 2023
Graduate Profile: Dean's Learn Law Live Justice Award Recipient Katheryn Hach '23
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Katheryn Hach Learn Law Live Justice

Juggling full-time employment and legal studies is challenging in itself.  2023 Cleveland State University College of Law graduate Katheryn (Katey) Hach ’23 managed to not only accomplish that while ranking third in her 4LE class, but also become a force in the CSU|LAW and greater Cleveland legal community. For her dedication to service, Katey was selected as the 2023 recipient of the Dean’s Learn Law Live Justice Award.

“Receiving this honor is an extreme point of pride for me and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for even having been nominated. I know the past couple of awardees and am extremely honored to be in their presence because they’re all superstar lawyers,” said Katey.

Katey served as a leader of several student organizations where she emphasized the elevation of voices of under-represented student populations and actively advocated for the involvement of students in administrative decision-making. She has been a voice for part-time and non-traditional students as their Senator with CSU|LAW’s Student Bar Association, going on to serve as Vice President of the Association.  She also served two-terms as President of OUTLaw, CSU|LAW’s social and political student organization dedicated to serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ+) community. Katey also founded the law school’s Non-Traditional Law Student Association (NTLSA) to provide part-time and working students with ongoing support and a strong sense of community.

“The legal profession can be extremely intimidating, and from my experience, that intimidation is tenfold for those who fall under the non-traditional labels,” explained Katey. “Many of our members (in the NTLSA) have full-time jobs, kids to attend to, or lack the time and resources to settle into the institution like those who come into law school straight from college. I hope students continue to align themselves with groups that give them a voice and community in law school.”

Katey takes pride in her ability to balance work, academics, extracurricular activities and life. In addition, her leadership positions with the student organizations, she was a Dean’s Leadership Fellow, Academic Excellence Program Fellow, a member of the Peer Mentoring Program and worked as a Teaching Assistant for Professor Karin Mika’s Legal Writing course. 

During law school, Katey also volunteered as a member of two Cleveland Metropolitan Bar Association’s 3Rs teams – where she facilitated discussions with high school students about their legal rights, responsibilities, and realities. She took part in the Community Advocacy Clinic where she spent much of her time volunteering with the Legal Aid Society of Cleveland at their brief advice clinics throughout Northeast Ohio.

It might be surprising to discover that Katey did not hold any leadership positions and “was pretty reserved” during her time as an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh where she initially studied biology before transitioning to political science.  She was “born to argue” as her mother likes to kindly remind her and embraced that skills while participating in Model United Nations during high school.  But it was after attending classes during her senior capstone at the Fayette State Correctional Institution through the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program that Katey knew with certainty that she wanted to pursue a legal career.

“Hearing how concretely our system of laws affected my classmates’ lives was extremely impactful and I still reflect on those experiences in my work today,” said Katey.

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Katheryn Hach Podium

Katey worked for a year prior to enrolling at CSU|LAW and then throughout law school as a paralegal and law clerk at Cleveland area firms. She is currently employed at the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority (GCRTA) where she assists the legal department in the organization’s mission of “Connecting the Community.” Wherever her legal career takes her, she intends to be active within the community and can envision being a part of the law school community in particular as an adjunct professor.

While  Katey recognizes that a career dedicated to service is not a fit for all law graduates, she reminded her classmates in her commencement address their legal education gives them a unique opportunity to help others.

“I’d like to convey that you don’t have to commit your entire life to public service to give back to the community with your law degree. From what I've learned in my time volunteering, for many people, dedicating significant amounts of time to noble causes is not a reality despite the best of intentions. But the beauty of our degrees, or degrees in the making, is that even spending an afternoon giving back can make a significant impact on the lives of those in our community. Whatever time can be spent giving back is more valuable than we may realize!”

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