D. Benjamin Barros
Dean and Professor of Law
D. Benjamin Barros joined the College of Law as Dean in July 2015. He teaches and writes in the areas of Property Law and Theory, Regulatory Takings, Property Law Reform, and the Philosophy of Science. He is the founding editor of the Journal of Law, Property, and Society, and in 2015, he released a casebook on property law with Aspen/Wolters Kluwer. Dean Barros was one of the youngest educators to serve on the executive committee of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and has served as chair of the AALS Property Section as well as president of the Association for Law, Property, and Society.
Previously the associate dean of academic affairs and professor of law at Widener University School of Law in Harrisburg, Pa., Dean Barros practiced as a litigator before teaching. Immediately after graduating from law school, Barros clerked for Judge Milton Pollack of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. He then worked at the law firms of Latham & Watkins LLP and Debevoise & Plimpton, both in New York City.
Dean Barros graduated from Fordham University School of Law (1996), where he was an editorial board member on the Fordham Law Review and a member of Order of the Coif. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Colgate University (1991) and a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Maryland (2013).
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Harold A. Anderson Professor of Law & Values
Geoffrey Rapp has been a faculty member at the College of Law since 2004. He has taught and written extensively in the areas of Corporations, Torts, and the regulation of the sports industry. He regularly comments in local, national, and international media outlets on business and sports law. His work on whistleblower bounties has attracted national attention; in 2011, Dean Rapp testified before Congress concerning the Dodd-Frank whistleblower program.
Before entering law teaching, he clerked for Judge Cornelia Kennedy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and worked in private practice in Chicago. Dean Rapp graduated from from Harvard College (1998) and the Yale Law School (2001), where he was a notes editor of the Yale Law Journal and a teaching fellow in the Departments of Economics and Computer Science.
Dean Rapp is licensed to practice law in New York, Illinois, and Ohio.
Katherine Raup O’Connell
Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Legal Writing Professor
Katherine Raup O’Connell joined the College of Law faculty in 2005 and teaches Legal Research, Writing, and Appellate Advocacy I & II. Dean O’Connell is a graduate of Wittenberg University, B.A. English, cum laude (1979) and The Ohio State University College of Law, J.D. (1984).
Prior to joining the College of Law faculty, Dean O’Connell practiced law for more than 20 years. From 1984 to 1987, she was an associate at Peck, Shaffer & Williams, a law firm specializing in tax-exempt finance. From 1988 to 1991, she was an associate at the Toledo law firm Cooper & Walinski. From 1991 to 2006 she was affiliated with the Toledo law firm Stockwell & Cooperman, as a partner from 1991 to 1997, where she practiced in the areas of real estate, general business, and corporate law.
Dean O’Connell is a member of Council in the Village of Ottawa Hills and chairs its Services & Environment Committee. Since 1997, she has also served on the Ottawa Hills Planning and Zoning Commission.
Jelani Jefferson Exum
Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion
Jelani Jefferson Exum joined the College of Law faculty, with tenure, in 2011. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College. Prior to joining the UT Law faculty, she was an associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Law and a visiting associate professor at the University of Michigan Law School.Professor Exum has also been a Forrester Fellow and Instructor in Legal Writing at Tulane Law School. Before joining academia, Professor Exum served as a law clerk for the Honorable James L. Dennis, United States Circuit Judge for the for the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Honorable Eldon E. Fallon, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of Louisiana. She teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Comparative Criminal Procedure, Federal Sentencing, and Race and American Law. Professor Exum mainly writes in the area of sentencing law and policy, but her research interests also include comparative criminal law and procedure and the impact of race on criminal justice.
Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Development and Professor of Law
Eric Chaffee has been a College of Law faculty member since August 2013. He teaches courses relating to business law, contract law, commercial law, and tax law, and he has won a variety of awards for his teaching.
Dean Chaffee is a prolific author, and his scholarship focuses on business and tax law with an emphasis on tax-exempt organizations, securities regulation and business ethics. He is an author of a leading textbook on international securities regulation, and his work has been published in numerous law reviews, including the Ohio State Law Journal, Maryland Law Review, and Washington and Lee Law Review. He has also published articles in specialty journals at various institutions, including Stanford Law School, New York University School of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School, and University of Michigan Law School. Dean Chaffee is regularly invited to speak at symposia, conferences, workshops, and other events across the United States and abroad.
Before becoming a law professor, Chaffee was an attorney with Jones Day. Dean Chaffee earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School and his undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University.
Director of Academic Success and Bar Preparation and Legal Writing Professor
Office: LC 2002G
Lesa Byrnes joined the College of Law faculty in 2007 and teaches Lawyering Skills I & II, Pretrial Litigation and Law and the Legal System. Professor Byrnes received her B.A. in French from Oakland University and her M.A. in French Literature from New York University. She received her J.D., cum laude, from Wayne State University Law School in 1989.
After graduating from law school, Professor Byrnes worked as a corporate tax attorney in the Office of Chief Counsel to the Internal Revenue Service in Washington, D.C.. As a Chief Counsel attorney she drafted regulations, revenue rulings and private letter rulings.
Professor Byrnes began teaching legal writing in 1995 at Wayne State Law School. She also taught legal writing at Ave Maria School of Law in Ann Arbor, Michigan where she directed the Research, Writing and Advocacy program from 2001-2007. Additionally, she has regularly coached teams participating in both regional and national moot court competitions.
Heather S. Karns
Assistant Dean for Law Career Services and Alumni Affairs
Office: LC 1030
Heather Karns received her B.A. in psychology from The University of Toledo, her M.Ed. in counseling from Clemson University, and is a Licensed Professional Counselor.
Heather’s experience prior to joining The University of Toledo College of Law in the spring of 2003 includes mental health and job retention counseling with the South Carolina Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, supervising educational career services, then advancing to assistant director of recruitment at Clemson University’s Michelin Career Center. She also operated a private practice for a short time. Heather now supervises both Career Services and Alumni Affairs for the College of Law in the Office of Professional Development.
Heather is a member of the Toledo Bar Association Diversity Committee, serves as a College representative on the Board of the Federal Bar Association Northern District of Ohio, and is also involved in the National Association of Legal Professionals (NALP), contributing articles to the Bulletin, presenting and moderating programs at annual conferences, and serving on committees.
Assistant Dean for Law Admissions
Office: LC 1015
Jessica Mehl received her B.S. magna cum laude in public law and government from Eastern Michigan University in 2002, followed by a law degree magna cum laude from The University of Toledo College of Law in 2005. Jessica is a licensed attorney and a member of the Ohio Bar Association.
After working at a private law school in Michigan, Jessica returned to The University of Toledo College of Law, Office of Professional Development, in the spring of 2006. In early 2007, she became the Public Service Coordinator for the College of Law, and, in that capacity, managed the Public Service Commendation program. Through the National Association of Law Placement (NALP) Public Service committee, Jessica was a contributing author to the Law School Guide to Public Interest Careers (Oct. 2007, National Association for Law Placement, Inc.) and co-author of Tips and Pointers on Drafting a Resume for Legal Services Position (Jan. 2010, NALP Bulletin, Vol. 22, No. 1)
Jessica served as the Assistant Dean for Law Admissions from April 2010 through December 2013 and returned in June 2015 to serve as Interim Assistant Dean for Law Admissions. She also works with the Lucas County Juvenile Court as a Guardian Ad Litem representing the best interests of abused, neglected, and dependent children.
Assistant Dean for the LaValley Law Library and Associate Professor of Law
Office: LC 3009
Dean Goheen teaches Advanced Legal Research and has been director of the LaValley Law Library since 2007. He served as reference librarian, interim head of information access, and head of reference at the University of Cincinnati from 1995 to 2001. From 2001 to 2007, Dean Goheen was the founding Associate Director for Public Services at the University of St. Thomas’ Schoenecker Law Library in Minnesota. He has served as treasurer of the Ohio Regional Association of Law Libraries since 2009, and chaired the host committee for ORALL's 2013 annual meeting in Toledo.
His research interests include family law, juvenile law, and legislative history. He is co-editor of Academic Law Library Job Descriptions for Use with the AALL Salary Survey (published every two years and consulted by law librarians and their employers nationwide) and is working on a history of legal publishing in Ohio from 1795 to the present. Dean Goheen holds a BA from the University of Toledo, a JD from the University of Cincinnati, and an MSLS from the University of Kentucky.