While most people would expect to find pharmaceutical litigation cases playing out in courtrooms in New York or Los Angeles, Tiffany Reece Clark is proud to boast many of those cases are going before judges here in Cincinnati. And she’s right in the thick of it as an associate at Ulmer & Berne, representing drug manufacturers, including generic drug companies, when they’re facing litigation.

“My work entails great philosophical debates about whether or not we should hold pharmaceutical companies responsible when a person is injured taking a drug,” she explains. The problem, she adds, is that a medication might help 99 percent of its users. When a person sues because of a rare side effect, the manufacturer reacts by raising the medication’s price.

That’s not to say Clark doesn’t sympathize with the plaintiffs. “I always feel sorry for people, but it’s not personal. And that drug helped someone else.”

These gray areas drew Clark to pharmaceutical litigation in the first place.

Growing up in Winfield, W.Va., a small town 20 miles outside of Charleston, Clark dreamed of becoming a journalist. Arguments with her dad over her allowance made Clark realize she loved a good debate. She also decided she liked how law provides a structure for analyzing ideas and situations. “It gives you a way to fit things into categories,” she comments.

After attending Wake Forest University for her undergraduate degree, Clark enrolled in the University of Cincinnati College of Law in 1996. There she met her husband, Eric — now a partner at Thompson Hine specializing in labor and employment law — and took a class in product liability. “We can’t sue every time it breaks — if it breaks in a way that’s reasonable,” she says about faulty products. “It was interesting to think about what’s socially good for us.”

Clark recently graduated from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber’s 2008 C-Change class and is in her third year of volunteering as a court-appointed special advocate for Hamilton County foster children through the nonprofit organization ProKids. Clark visits kids monthly (two to three currently), monitors their living situations and attends their court hearings to offer support.

It’s a cause that’s close to the heart of the mother of two. “Parents are their kids’ best role models. I think they benefit from having people in their lives who are engaged in their communities and in their work.”