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Jon Wayas

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training for Legal Employers

By News

Throughout 2022, the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion’s staff members continued offering DEI training to law firms, organizations, and governing bodies throughout Utah. UCLI offers these training sessions to any interested legal employers in Utah. These sessions can also help fulfill requirements for participants in UCLI’s Certification Program. Popular topics for these training sessions include implicit bias, review of diversity data for Utah and Utah’s legal community, and best practices for building inclusion in the workplace.

These sessions are often held as a lunch time meeting with 1 credit of Ethics CLE being awarded to attendees. Here are the firms and organizations UCLI has been able to reach in this last year:

  • Utah State Bar – Character and Fitness Committee
  • Strong & Hanni
  • Snell & Wilmer
  • TraskBritt
  • Kirton & McConkie
  • Mountain Mediation
  • Greenberg Traurig
  • Dentons
  • Utah Association of Legal Administrators
  • Department of the Interior – Salt Lake City Office

We are grateful to each firm or organization who has graciously hosted us and appreciate your commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. If your firm or organization is interested in having UCLI present please contact us at .

                     

 

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Meadowlark Initiative

By News

The Meadowlark Initiative began in the 2020 school year. Mr. John Arthur, who is known by his students as ‘Captain’, and UCLI have teamed up each year to provide mentoring to his sixth grade class. UCLI attorneys and law students are paired with sixth grade students from the class. Each Friday mentors and students meet via Zoom. Captain briefly explains the writing assignment the students have been working on, and then attorneys and students are sent to breakout rooms to work one-on-one to help improve writing skills. There are different topics every week. They may be given writing prompts like “Was it fair that women and children were given priority as the Titanic was sinking?”, or are given assignments like writing engaging and informative autobiographical essays. We are excited to aid Captain, who was designated the 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year, in his enthusiasm and vision for his students’ learning. The hope for the mentoring is to help the students build confidence and dream big for their lives as they transition into junior high school. It also provides the opportunity for these students to meet and be mentored by attorneys who are friendly and genuinely care about their success. For many of these students the mentoring is the first chance they’ve had to talk to attorneys.

Meadowlark Elementary is located in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City and nearly 75% of the students are from a diverse background. Each year approximately 25-35 attorneys and law students participate as mentors. The commitment is minimal- 30 minutes on most Fridays during the school year – yet incredibly impactful. In letters to their mentors, students shared the following sentiments: 

“You increased my writing. Now my writing skills are better than ever! I also want to be like you when I grow up and I know what I want that to look like.”

“Thank you for helping me with my writing. I really like talking to you about the projects we did in class. Writing was hard at first, but then you helped me a lot and it got easier! I am a better student thanks to your help.”

“Captain chose me you to me because I’m speaking Spanish and now I write you a letter in English! Thank you for everything you helped me in what I did not understand.”

Recruiting for each school year runs from August through September. If you are interested please contact UCLI Associate Director, Jon Wayas at . Everyone is welcome. However, there is extra need and opportunity for mentors who speak Spanish.

Check out this 2022 video of Captain and a handful of the incredible UCLI Meadowlark volunteer mentors here



UCLI announces 2022 Bar Review Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship recipients

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion is pleased to announce this year’s recipients for the Bar Review Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship.

Congratulations to the five recipients of UCLI’s 2022 Bar Review Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship: Alusine Conteh, America Andrade, Andrew Wirkus, Carolyn Sharp, and Zachariah Becerra.

UCLI wishes each recipient the best in their journeys, and looks forward to seeing the many contributions they will make to Utah’s legal profession. Please find more information about each scholarship recipient below.

 

Alusine Conteh – Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Class of 2022

Alusine Conteh is originally from Sierra Leone. He recently graduated from the BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School. Before law school, Alusine earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.During his time as a law student served as president of the Black Law Students Association and a member of the BYU Law Trial Advocacy Team. Alusine has interned with the Utah SupremeCourt and Hayes Godfrey Bell, PC, and has served as a BYU Law faculty research assistant and student ambassador. Outside of law school, Alusine works with the nonprofit Future Scholars of Africa, which provides resources to African college students in Utah. After the bar, Alusine plans to continue pursuing opportunities to further equity and inclusion within the legal profession.

 

America Andrade – Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Class of 2022

My name is America Andrade. I am a recent law grad from BYU Law School. I did my undergrad at Utah State University (Go Aggies!) and I grew up in a small town in Idaho where I lived with my mom and younger brother. I came to law school to become a prosecutor. I’ve known that I wanted to be a prosecutor since I was around ten years old. I knew early on that I wanted to defend the law and protect those who cannot protect themselves. Specifically, I want to work within the Special Victims Unit and protect women and children. Throughout law school I have worked with the SLC DA’s office, the Utah County DA’s office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah. I have been actively involved in inclusion within the legal profession all three years of law school and I hope to continue to strengthen the profession and add more diverse voices in the future. 

 

Andrew Wirkus – University of Utah SJ Quinney College of Law, Class of 2022

I am from Salt Lake City. I got a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health with an International Development minor and a Social Innovation Certificate. I decided to go to law school because I wanted to marry my interests of improving the social determinants of health and social innovation, and I viewed law school as a great way to do that. I did a lot of clinics during law school and that was by far the best choice for me. I learned so much by actually doing innovative work and having my feet on the ground rather than just sitting in a room listening to a lecture or being afraid of the socratic method. I spent as much time as I could taking public interest classes and experiential learning opportunities. I worked in Immigration, in tribal affairs, on covid response with the ACLU, on disability rights with the Disability Law Center, doing data visualization for a more transparent criminal legal system, and in clinics coming up with innovative and creative ways to bridge the access to justice gap. I have accepted a job with the National Center For State Courts and I get to continue chasing the dream of a more equitable and fair legal process. This scholarship came at a critical time for me. Pursuing a career in public interest out of law school is intimidating because it doesn’t offer the same financial security that my peers have, but being able to know that my bar fees are paid for I can really take the time to study and prepare myself for success in passing the Bar.

 

Carolyn Sharp – Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Class of 2022

Carolyn Sharp recently graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. Before law school, she attended the University of Utah where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a minor in Religious Studies. Shortly after starting, Carolyn decided to pursue a career in military and national security law. During her 2L year, Carolyn served as BYU Law’s first woman president of the Military and National Security Law club and focused her studies on emerging technology and warfare. Carolyn’s published works, discussing the future of warfare, intentionally cite women writers, when possible, to elevate their voices. She believes that diverse thought from diverse communities can provide unorthodox, solutions-based approaches to current and future global obstacles. Carolyn looks forward to embarking on her legal career with her two children by her side and collaborating with individuals who also seek to include and elevate diverse perspectives.

 

Zachariah Becerra – University of Utah, SJ Quinney College of Law, Class of 2022

Zachariah Beccera recently graduated from the University of Utah’s SJ Quinney College of Law with his Juris Doctorate. He is the son and grandson of Mexican immigrants. Prior to law school he attended Utah Valley University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish. Zachariah served as the Vice President of the Multicultural Law Caucus during law school. In this capacity he helped raise funds for scholarships for minority students, and planned networking events among other responsibilities. Zachariah spent time clerking in the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office. He looks forward to joining the Bar and continuing his legal career.

 

Alusine Conteh

 

America Andrade

 

Andrew Wirkus

 

Carolyn Sharp

 

Zachariah Becerra

 

UCLI would like to thank the generous sponsors and partners who have made these scholarships possible:

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2022 Legal Inclusion Fellowship

By News

Intermountain Healthcare, Kirton McConkie, and the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI), have collaborated to create the Legal Inclusion Fellowship, providing students at Utah law schools the unique opportunity for a paid summer internship and a substantial scholarship. The Fellowship is open to students at Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School and the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. In 2022, the fellowship was granted to one law student, KC (Keigo) Decker at the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU. The fellowship plays a significant role in UCLI’s efforts to empower students from historically underrepresented groups to thrive in the legal profession by developing professional skills, exploring career options, and receiving financial support.

KC is a first-generation, bi-racial Japanese American law student. KC was born and raised in Japan and moved to Utah when he was in grade school. During his first several years living in the United States, KC remembers struggling to adjust to a different culture and language, while his parents struggled to provide. “The transition was hard on everyone. I struggled to keep up with peers in school while my parents worked multiple jobs to stabilize our new place in the world. Though my parents undoubtedly worked hard, economic stability continually proved elusive. With no college education, little substantive career experience, and no financial savings, my family constantly fought an uphill battle.”

Although education was not a strong emphasis in his home growing up, KC developed a deep love of learning from passionate and encouraging public school educators. With this foundation, KC went on to study at BYU where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in European Studies and Russian. This course of study was motivated by his experience as a church missionary living in Eastern Europe. “I met with hundreds of people who were caught in all too familiar circumstances. As I listened to them share the stories of their own families, I recognized the familiar pattern of navigating life without an education, jumping from job to job, and borrowing money to maintain spending habits.” KC explains, “I began to comprehend the pervasive consequences of this pattern, and that if I wanted something different for my future, I was going to need to break the cycle and formal education would be the key.” As a first-generation college graduate, KC has a deep appreciation for how formal education increases awareness and equips people with tools to create change.

KC is currently a rising 2L at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. As a UCLI fellow, he hopes to hone skills in the law to help others avoid some of the challenges he has encountered. “The UCLI fellowship has allowed me to learn practical legal skills and better navigate the law. As I’ve studied and worked in the law, it is no wonder to me why many people fall victim to prejudiced legal structures and economic hurdles. The law is extremely complicated and not intended to be understood by the layperson, and access to legal resources costs a substantial amount of money. This naturally leaves immigrants and those without a formal education disadvantaged.”

For KC, the fellowship is an opportunity to pave a new narrative; one with greater stability for himself and his family. As he continues to build out his legal practice, KC hopes to become a mentor and example to others, proving that multi-generational precedent is not an indication of one’s future. To others who come from similar backgrounds, KC says, “You can create a better future if you desire it and know where to look. Often, you will only know where to look if you have someone to show you and guide you. UCLI, in partnership with Kirton McConkie and Intermountain Healthcare, was that someone for me. I plan to pay this opportunity forward by helping future law students navigate their journey.”

 

 

                                                       

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