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Dayton Docket

Lawmaking And Class Taking

Michele Reynolds, like many of her fellow online law students, leaves her job at the end of the day and then heads online to go to class.

The only difference is the “office” she’s leaving is the Ohio Statehouse.

Reynolds was elected to the Ohio Senate in November 2022 and took office in January 2023, but she’s still able to work toward earning her law degree through the University of Dayton School of Law’s Online Hybrid J.D. program.

“The hybrid program has made it possible for me to go to law school,” Reynolds says.

Law school was something Reynolds always wanted to do so that one day she could be a federal judge, but life often got in the way.

“Going to law school was a goal I had as a young girl,” Reynolds says. “It was never something I was able to do because of family, time constraints and my career.”

Instead, Reynolds earned five different college degrees, a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice, a Master’s in Public Administration, a Master of Laws in Wealth Management, a Doctorate in Business and an Honorary Ph.D. in Humanities. 

“I’m someone who believes in the value of education,” Reynolds says. “I didn’t intend to be a career student, but when I set off to get my first degree I loved learning and I loved the college atmosphere.”

Then in the fall of 2021 she finally got the opportunity through the Online Hybrid J.D. program to pursue her dream of earning a law degree.

“I love the hybrid program because it meets the demands of my lifestyle,” Reynolds says. “We have a tight-knit cohort.”

But soon after starting law school, Reynolds decided to take another leap, leaving her job as director of Ohio Governor Mike DeWine’s Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives to run for state senate.

“I really enjoy serving my community,” Reynolds says. “I’m an addictive problem solver. If there’s a problem in my community I’m the person who leans in and locks arms to find out how we can solve it.”

Reynolds continued with her law classes during the spring and summer of 2022 while campaigning, but took a leave of absence in the fall to focus primarily on her senate race. After being elected, she started back again in January 2023 with a limited schedule.

“Online is good because it’s flexible, however, you have to be very disciplined,” Reynolds says. “There’s no room for slack.”

Reynolds says discussions in her law classes sometimes inform her thoughts on potential legislation and other times her work in the senate provides her with experience that helps in class.

For example, next semester Reynolds is thinking about taking a class on legislation, something she already knows a thing or two about. Although, her many experiences in education have taught her there’s always more to master.

“I’m still a student,” Reynolds says. “Always a student.”

But while learning is a lifelong endeavor for Reynolds, her plan is to only be a law student for a few more years. 

“My goal is to get it done,” Reynolds says. “I don’t care if it takes me my whole term in the Ohio Senate, I’m going to get it done.”

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