Cheri Budzynski
‘95, BA, Psychology

Shared characteristics of psychologists and attorneys include being open-minded, patient, ethical, law-abiding, persevering, and possessing great interpersonal and analytical skills.

One alumna who possesses all these traits and more is Cheri Budzynski, Attorney at Law and Associate in the environmental practice group for Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick, LLP. As she proudly notes, "What is perfect about my job is that I get to combine my love of science with law."

An accomplished professional, Cheri's list of achievements has garnered her great respect:

Scales of Justice

  • MA and PhD in experimental psychology with an emphasis in behavioral neuroscience, Bowling Green State University
  • JD, magna cum laude, The University of Toledo
  • Chair and Professor, Department of Psychology, Heidelberg University
  • Executive Editor, Law Review for The University of Toledo
  • Published author of several peer reviewed articles
  • Research presenter at numerous national conferences
  • Member of the Toledo Bar Association, Women's Bar Association and the Ohio Bar Association
  • Admitted to practice law in Ohio and Florida
  • Admitted to practice law before the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, the US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and the US District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  • Recipient of full scholarships for graduate and law school
  • Recipient of fellowship in third year of graduate school
  • Order of the Coif, a recognition bestowed to those ranked in the top 10% in law school

Currently in her fifth year with Shumaker, Loop & Kendrick (SLK), Cheri's job encompasses approximately 70% regulator work and 30% litigation.

"On the regulatory side, I monitor new regulations that the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the US EPA propose and then provide opinions to our clients on how it will impact their industry."

When these agencies propose regulations, interested parties have the opportunity to comment on the rules. Cheri is responsible for writing these comments and in cases where the clients do not like the regulations, she is responsible for appealing them. She also works with clients during their permit renewal to ensure that the terms of their permits are acceptable to them and that they will be able to comply.

"On the litigation side," adds Cheri, "I have been involved in defending a permit that the Ohio EPA issued to our client. I have also been involved in defending a citizen suit against our client for alleged violations under the Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act."

How case law shapes regulations under the Clean Air and Water Acts

"Environmental law is like a rolling wheel," notes Cheri. "The US EPA and Ohio EPA are constantly proposing new regulations that affect industry. These regulations are then challenged by both environmental groups and industry. Under the appeals of these regulations, sometimes the courts uphold them or strike them down and remand them to the agency.

"Most people are completely unaware of these appeals because there are very few 'groundbreaking' decisions that impact their day to day lives. However, these appeals do have significant impacts on industry in this country and unfortunately, in some cases, American companies have elected to move overseas to avoid the US regulations."

Influencers in life

Crediting her father for always encouraging her to pursue her education, she says it was during college that her aunt, a social worker, influenced her to pursue psychology. "I thought I wanted to become a clinical psychologist when I started at Lourdes but then I took some experimental psychology classes and I was hooked." She loved the research on how people behave in various situations.

Patricia Bellomo, PhD and Chair of Lourdes' Department of Psychology along with fellow professors Tom Estrella and Robert Campbell, influenced Cheri to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. While enrolled in the program, her mentor was Vern Bingman, PhD. "I really enjoyed the experimental research, but for personal reasons, I decided to take a job at a small liberal arts college," notes Cheri. "While I enjoyed teaching, especially the adult students, I missed the day to day problem solving that I experienced when I was doing research."

Having always been a bit of a debater, she was naturally attracted to law. "Had I not chosen graduate school previously, I would have pursued my law degree."

Feeling restless, she said she took the leap and tried it out – with great success. Today in her current position, she says, "I am once again exposed to complex problems every day and I really enjoy those challenges."

Cheri BudzinskyArt and Life

A collector of local art thanks to the education she received from good friend and world-class glass artist Baker O'Brien, Cheri believes it is critical to balance work with some hobbies. "My two passions are my horse and cooking. Riding horses is a great exercise and it helps me relax after a hectic day. I love experimenting with food as well!" She believes the reason she enjoys these hobbies is "because after working at a desk, I am allowed to be physical and use my hands without thinking too much!"

Of her long range goals, without any hesitation she offers: "Make equity partner at SLK and ride my horse until I am 85!"