College of Law

Jamar King '13

networking into a career

Dec. 8, 2022

Jamar King

Jamar King '13 is a senior managing associate in the Dayton, Ohio office of Thompson Hine LLP where he practices business litigation, government contracts, and government enforcement defense.

Jamar grew up in Dayton, Ohio. As he prepared to graduate from college, he was unsure about his next step in life. Growing up, Jamar did not aspire to practice law, but he took an international business law class during his last semester of college and did well. Jamar’s success in that class piqued his interest in law school and he started reaching out to practicing lawyers for advice. Following graduation from college, Jamar spent a year as a runner at a small criminal defense firm in Dayton while he studied for the LSAT and applied to law school. Toledo Law offered Jamar the best financial package which made attending Toledo Law an easy choice.

Jamar was interested in returning to the Southwest Ohio area. During his last semester of law school he became a visiting student at the University of Cincinnati College of Law. While in Cincinnati, he served as an extern for Judge Lee H. Hildebrandt ‘72 at the First District Court of Appeals. Jamar says he “networked his tail off” and made it a point to attend every CLE, networking reception, and bar association event he could find. One of those events took place at Thompson Hine’s Cincinnati office. He was running late and almost chose not to attend, but he did. During that reception, Jamar serendipitously met a partner from the firm’s Cincinnati office. Afterword, he followed up by sending his resume to the partner. A few weeks later, Jamar received a call from Thompson Hine’s Dayton office with news that his resume had been passed along and they were inviting him to interview for a job.

Though Jamar had been scouring legal job boards for months, he had not come across any postings for the opening in Thompson Hine’s Dayton office. He assumed that there weren’t any.  Big Law firms, such as Thompson Hine, generally select first-year associates from large pools of summer associates or externs. But the people at Thompson Hine admired his willingness to step way out of his comfort zone and network his way into the career he wanted.  After three grueling interviews, Jamar was offered the position and has spent seven years of his nine-year career with the firm.

A career pivot-point for Jamar came after about 2.5 years at the firm. He was not getting the trial experience he wanted so he left and took a position as an assistant public defender in Montgomery County, Ohio. That experience gave Jamar his first opportunities to try cases and it changed Jamar both as a person and as an attorney.  Not only did that experience lay the groundwork for his current high-stakes litigation practice, it opened his eyes to the importance of providing competent legal representation to all members of our society, not just those that can foot the bill.  As a result, Jamar remains committed to participating in several pro bono efforts, such as the Dayton Bar Association’s eviction clinic, and he sits on the federal criminal justice advocate panel for the Southern District Court of Ohio.

When asked about his career successes, Jamar says he is most proud of the opportunity to help dozens of first-generation law students and students from underrepresented communities secure summer clerkships in the Dayton area over the last seven summers- and many have received full time offers as a result of their summer experiences.

When Jamar left Toledo Law at the start of his last semester, he did not know what was going to happen.  “I was the student looking for someone to give me a chance,” says Jamar. “At the time, I wasn’t sure how I was going to do it, but I knew that if I could figure out how to crack that door open, I was going to leave it wide open for the students that came behind me.” Jamar truly believes that a student’s opportunity to start a career in this profession should be based on merit, not by chance. 

Jamar received his B.S. in Education, with a major in Sport Enterprise from Bowling Green State University in 2009 and a J.D. from Toledo Law in 2013.

Q&A with Jamar King

Can you share a memory from your time at Toledo Law?
I wasn't the most outgoing student, and the few students I connected with didn't continue at Toledo Law  beyond their first year. I formed a special connection with Professor Emeritus Ben Davis. He encouraged me to believe in myself and to hang in there. I enjoyed talking with Professor Davis and remember spending several Saturday afternoons watching college football with him in the student lounge during study breaks. His encouragement meant a lot to me.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your current (or a recent) position?
The most challenging aspect of my role now is also the most rewarding – mentoring. Teaching others does not come easy me, but I enjoy watching younger associates when they finally “get it” and the proverbial light bulb comes on.

What do you wish you would have known in law school?
I am a pretty reserved guy unless you get you me in a courtroom or on a stage. Whether I am delivering a closing argument or pitching a bar program to a group of skeptical partners, I have a natural talent for commanding a room when the spotlight is on. But I was very uncomfortable meeting new people at cocktail receptions and asking strangers to 1:1 lunches during my semester in Cincinnati.  What I did not know at that time was those networking experiences were just as valuable, if not more, than the theory I was learning in the classroom.  The ability to network and build professional contacts is absolutely critical to developing a strong book of business as an attorney.  

How did you make connections in Cincinnati?
I am from Dayton and knew I wanted to end up close to home. The only way to do that was to spend a lot of time there-and make the time count. I elected to be a visiting student at UC during my last semester and made a list of all the Toledo Law alumni in the area. I reached out to each one and asked if they would meet me for coffee or lunch and just started asking questions. It was hard. I wasn’t comfortable. I felt like I didn’t know enough. I learned a lot and got comfortable being uncomfortable. After I met with each attorney I asked for feedback on my resume. While I was looking for feedback, I also thought at some point, someone may be interested in what they see on paper. It worked. After a ton of “first dates,” someone eventually gave me a call.

Where do you see areas for growth on the part of the legal profession?
I think that technology is blurring the traditional jurisdictional lines.  I am curious to see how the profession and the law develops to confront the approaching reality that jurisdictional lines (especially as they apply to U.S. states) are fictional just don’t mean anything anymore. 

I have a national law practice, and I cannot remember the last time I had a big case in the Common Pleas Court of Montgomery County, Ohio.  I suspect that is the same for many litigators in Big Law.

What should new attorneys keep in mind and be thinking about?
Litigation is not about arguments; it’s about stories. I didn’t realize this until a couple of years ago, but I wish I had known it earlier in my career.  People, including judges, remember stories.  That amazing case or legal argument you cite isn’t going to do anything for your client unless you convince the arbiter that your client has a stronger story.   Each time I sit to write a brief – whether it’s a simple discovery motion or complex dispositive motion – I think about what I want the judge to come away feeling.  If you can pull the judge or jury to your client’s side with a compelling story, they will find the law to reach the outcome you’re advocating for. 

What was the best advice you ever received?
Know the rules of civil procedure and the rules of evidence. 

Who is someone you admire and why?
I admire my wife.  She carries so much for our family and never complains about anything. I could not imagine managing life and a law practice without her. 

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
Outside of work, I enjoy grilling and am a self-proclaimed “backyard BBQ pitmaster.”  I enjoy grilling for family and friends. Every now and then, when the spirit hits me, I might hit a karaoke stage. 

Last Updated: 12/8/22