College of Law

Niyah Walters '15

Inspiring Change at the Ohio Legislative Service Commission

Aug. 1, 2019

Niyah Walters

Niyah Walters '15 is a Detroit native, but she spent her formative years in Toledo, Ohio. Niyah received her B.A. in political science with a minor in Spanish from Wright State University. In 2015, she earned her J.D. from The University of Toledo College of Law with a certificate of concentration in environmental law. While a student, Niyah was the president of both the Black Law Students Association and the Public Interest Law Association.

After becoming a member of the Ohio Bar, Niyah relocated to Columbus, Ohio to begin her career as an attorney at the Ohio Legislative Service Commission. There, she drafts legislation and conducts research in the areas of family law, abortion, public utilities, energy, and finance for the Ohio General Assembly. Her role is to help legislators take their idea from concept to legislation.

Recently, she worked on a large piece of utility law legislation that would create a nuclear subsidy in the state. Utility law is a niche subject with lots of complexities. The drafting process for this type of legislation can require several versions and amendments before and during the committee process. Drafters also analyze a bill when it is introduced and reported from committee, as well as after it passes each house.

In the House of Representatives specifically, drafters are required to create a comparative synopsis when new dash versions of a bill are introduced in committee. The comparative synopsis shows the differences between the initial bill and the newer version. Niyah completed most of these steps in drafting the nuclear bill in the House. "It was a fantastic learning experience for me as a young lawyer," said Niyah. "I have no doubt that the research skills I learned at Toledo Law were integral to my drafting process."

Niyah is committed to making a difference in the Columbus community. She is vice president of the Columbus Urban League Young Professionals and previously served as the secretary and the YP Weekend co-chair. She is a graduate of the YWCA's Leadership for Social Change Program and is a proud member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, Alpha Sigma Omega chapter, where she currently serves on the health committee.

At the Ohio Legislative Service Commission, Niyah founded and chairs the Diversity Discussion and Advisory Group, which is an employee business resource group for staff members interested in aspects of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. A key purpose of the group is to advise and assist agency management in achieving diversity and inclusion goals.

Q&A with Niyah Walters

What did you find most satisfying about your position?
I find being on the ground floor of policy creation for the State of Ohio is the most satisfying part of my job. The work that we do not only affects us but all the residents of the state.

What is the most challenging aspect of your position?
The most challenging aspect of my position is thinking both for myself and legislators. What I mean by that is sifting through their requests to look for potential problems, all while trying to get a grip on the subject matter myself, can be quite complex.

What suggestions do you have for current law students and new lawyers who might be interested in this area?
If you are interested in drafting legislation, I would encourage you to attend committee hearings and floor sessions at the Ohio General Assembly to get a better understanding of the process that legislation goes through to become a law.

Do you have a favorite memory from attending Toledo Law?
My favorite memory of attending Toledo Law was the Black Law Students Association potlucks. Law school is a stressful environment. With fewer people of color in law school and within the legal profession, this time with like-minded individuals who look like me was very impactful.

How did Toledo Law prepare you for your legal career?
Toledo Law helped prepare me for my career by providing the building blocks for the foundation of success. My career field is very niche, so it's not something that is particularly taught in law schools. However, the research skills I learned at Toledo Law have been invaluable. More importantly, the environment created by Toledo Law allowed me to develop confidence in my skills and abilities to succeed.

How did Toledo Law help you make connections to begin your career?
A few of the attorneys that work at my job are Toledo Law alumni. That connection allowed me to speak to them prior to interviewing and get some pointers.

What other things do you enjoy?
I enjoy traveling, hanging out with friends, shopping, trying new restaurants, and participating in community service.

What are you passionate about?
I am passionate about creating change in my community. My mantra is, "Be the Change you wish to see." This mantra led me to found the Diversity Discussion and Advisory Group at my job, which discusses topics of diversity and inclusion in the workplace, including how to attract and retain diverse talent. Additionally, my service with the Columbus Urban League Young Professionals and the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated allows me to support the community through Meals on Wheels, community clean ups, and more.

Last Updated: 7/21/20