Skip to main content
All Posts By

Jon Wayas

Kickball and Cupcakes Cap Off Another Successful Year of Meadowlark Mentoring

By News

The 2023-24 school year marked the fourth year of UCLI’s mentoring program with Mr. John Arthur’s 6th grade class at Meadowlark Elementary. Meadowlark is located in the Rose Park neighborhood on the west side of Salt Lake City. This is one of the oldest and most rewarding programs UCLI has been involved in. The program grew out of necessity during the pandemic. Mr. Arthur, or “Captain” as his students affectionately refer to him, noticed a need to help his students to remain engaged and on pace during the remote learning period of the early COVID-19 pandemic. He turned to his good friend Melina Shiraldi, who is an attorney in the Salt Lake City US Attorney’s office. Together they developed the idea to bring attorneys into the classroom via Zoom to mentor students with their writing skills. The program was immediately effective and popular.

The program was so successful that Mr. Arthur decided to continue it after his students returned to the classroom. UCLI has been partnering with the class ever since. On most Fridays during the school year, 20-30 attorneys Zoom into the classroom to help students improve their creative and persuasive writing skills. In the past few years attorney mentors have also taken the opportunity to visit the classroom, or to have the class visit their law firm offices. Last year’s class was also lucky enough to visit the Utah Supreme Court and meet several of the Justices.

This year was no different. The mentoring was successful and enjoyable for all involved. The year’s mentoring ended in mid-May with a kickball and cupcake party. Mentors were able to help students craft the perfect message for their Mothers Day cards. The group then had cupcakes and donuts and enjoyed a rousing game of kickball where the mentors faced off against the mentees.

UCLI is grateful for Mr. Arthur and his wonderful students. This truly is one of the most rewarding programs. The next round of mentoring will begin in the Fall with the 2024-25 school year. If you are interested in participating as a mentor please contact UCLI Associate Director, Jon Wayas, .

May 2024 Marks Successful Kickoff for Another Great Year in CLE Offerings

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) was able to reach thousands of attorneys both in Utah and nationally through the broad array of CLE offerings in 2023. May of 2024 marks the beginning of UCLI’s offerings in CLE for the year, and has already seen a continuation of the trends set in 2023. UCLI and other partner organizations were able to deliver three great presentations in the month of May.

First, on May 6 UCLI partnered with the Litigation Section of the Utah State Bar, Parsons, Behle & Latimer, and the University of Utah SJ Quinney College of Law to present an “Overview of the Bystander Initiative”. The Bystander Initiative at the S.J. Quinney College of Law is led by Professor Amos Guiora and a team of 10 student research assistants dedicated to the work of criminalizing bystanders and enablers of abuse. The Initiative is undertaking numerous projects including a book, law review articles, and legislative efforts that focus on the role of the bystander and enabler in the U.S. and globally. Acknowledging the entire systemic framework around sexual and other abuse is central to the Initiative’s efforts to prevent and prosecute abuse.

The goal of the Bystander Initiative is to:
– Hold enablers and bystanders accountable
– Work with legislators around the world on criminalizing bystanders and enablers
– Engage in widespread education on the harm caused by bystanders and enablers

This event provided the Initiative a platform to present their goals and research findings to the Utah State Bar at large. Professor Guiora was joined by two of his students who have been instrumental in the Initiative, Anna Hall and Diana Pogosyan. The hybrid event was well attended.

The second event on May 7 was the first session of the UCLI 2024 CLE Series. This was titled, “The Great American DEI Discussion”. This was delivered virtually by UCLI Co-President, Christina and her fellow Parsons, Behle & Latimer Shareholder, Michael O’Brien. The two delivered an in-depth discussion of the ramifications of the 2023 Supreme Court ruling in SFFA v. Harvard/UNC. They also discussed the recent bills discussed and passed in the 2024 Utah Legislative session. The narrative centered around what these decisions and laws do now, and what the potential next steps will be legislatively that will likely affect attorneys and the practice of law more directly. The online audience totalled more than 600 attendees who provided lively feedback both for and against the current state of DEI.

The last event was held on May 20 as part of the annual conference of the National Consortium for Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts. This year the Utah State Courts and the Office of Fairness and Accountability (OFA) were asked to host this national conference. The conference was held in downtown Salt Lake at the Little America Hotel. The conference and Consortium are concerned with studying and furthering diversity and fairness in state and federal courts across the country. UCLI Associate Jon Wayas was asked by OFA Director Jonathan Puente to convene a panel of the Utah State Bar affinity groups to discuss efforts to build inclusion and opportunities for attorneys of all backgrounds in Utah. The panel included Jessica Ramirez, President of the Utah Minority Bar Association, Amber Stargell, Secretary of the Utah Black Lawyers Association, Brit Merrill, President of the Women Lawyers of Utah, and Anaya Gayle, the President of the LGBTQ+ and Allied Lawyers of Utah. The panel gave these leaders a chance to highlight the successful programs they have established to serve their members and the Utah State Bar as a whole. There was also discussion of the challenges they are facing, and how they are working together to find innovative solutions. This was a successful event which provided another opportunity to highlight the important work these groups are doing with a national audience.

This is just the beginning of the UCLI’s 2024 CLE offerings. Our next session will be an ethics CLE on June 25 as part of the Utah State Bar’s “Procrastinators Series”. There will also be a session on August 20 as part of the Utah State Bar’s Virtual Summer Convention. This session will focus on the judicial application and nomination process in the Utah State Court system. We will have more sessions in the Fall, with more details coming toward the end of the summer. UCLI would like to share our deepest appreciation for all participating CLE faculty members and planning committee, as well as to our partners and sponsors for these recent and future CLE events. We hope you will join us in these discussions for the remainder of 2024.

UCLI announces 2024 UCLI Bar Review Scholarship Recipients

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion in partnership with the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Utah State Bar is pleased to announce the 2024 recipients of the UCLI Bar Review Scholarship. This scholarship is offered to law students who are registered to take the July 2024 Utah State Bar Examination who have an exceptional record of service during their law school careers. Scholarship funds help students cover expenses of registering and studying for the bar exam. 

Congratulations to the nine recipients of the 2024 UCLI Bar Review Scholarship: Jordin Annett, Lauren Cormany, Kekai Gonsalves Cram, McKaela Dangerfield, Harriet Norcross Eppel, Jasmine Harouny, Breeze Parker, Anthony Tenney, and Jehicob Torres. Find out more below about these amazing scholarship winners.

 

Jordin Annett (pronouns she/her)

As an 8-year-old Jordin Annett was pulled out of the school system to be homeschooled but, due to the severe mental issues and illnesses of her parents, never really received an education. At the age of 18 Jordin googled, “how to apply to college” and applied to BYU as a last-ditch attempt to escape her abusive family situation. Miraculously she was accepted without a verified high-school diploma and later graduated from BYU via zoom during Covid-19 with a Bachelor of Science. In April 2024, at age 28, Jordin walked in a graduation ceremony for the first time in her life when she received her J.D. from J. Reuben Clark Law School. Jordin has spent much of her time at BYU working to make campus more welcoming. As an undergraduate she helped established BYUSA’s annual Mental Health Matters Program, as a law student has served as the student lead for Community Space (a working group that focuses on LGBTQI+ issues at the school), and as a founding board member for BYU’s NAACP chapter. Jordin is also one of the inaugural BYU Law Achievement Fellows Scholarship recipients and a Utah Minority Bar Association 2022 Pipeline Scholarship recipient. Personally, her hobbies include traveling to places she’s technically not supposed to be at, eating excessive amounts of cannoli, and participating in extreme sports. Jordin is extremely grateful to the Utah Center for Inclusion and the Young Lawyer’s Division of the Utah State Bar for their generosity in awarding her a 2024 UCLI Bar Review Scholarship.

 

Lauren Cormany

Lauren will graduate with a J.D. and a Certificate in Natural Resources & Environmental Law from the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. She grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and received a B.A. in History & Political Science with a minor in International Agriculture from the University of Tennessee. Lauren is passionate about access to justice, especially for communities experiencing environmental and housing issues. During law school, she served as the Environmental Editor of the Utah Law Review, helped her team win Best Brief for Petitioner at Pace University’s National Environmental Law Moot Court Competition, and completed several internships in government agencies and non-profit organizations. After graduation, she hopes to pay forward all the incredible mentorship she received during law school and continue her volunteer work with the U’s Pro Bono Initiative. 

 

Kekai Gonsalves Cram

Kekai (Kiki) Gonsalves Cram is a recent graduate of the J. Reuben Clark School of Law at Brigham Young University. She also received a B.A. in English Teaching with a minor in Spanish from BYU. At BYU Law, Kiki was involved with the Pacific Islander Law Student Association and BYU Women in Law. Her legal experiences range from working for a real estate solo practitioner in Hawai’i to working at a Salt Lake City immigration law firm. She loves writing, storytelling, and serving others.

McKaela Dangerfield

McKaela graduates from the S.J. Quinney College of Law with her Juris Doctorate and a certificate in Public Interest Law and Policy. McKaela is a native Utahn and earned her undergraduate degrees from the University of Utah in Social Work and Political Science. During law school, McKaela served as the Student Director for the Pro Bono Initiative’s Family Law Site, the President of the Public Interest Law Organization, the Golden Rule Pro Bono Fellow, and was honored with the 2024 Outstanding Student Leader Award. McKaela is passionate about the welfare of children and families in her community and is determined to make legal services more accessible, functional, and empathetic to these populations.

 

Harriet Norcross Eppel

Harriet Norcross Eppel graduated from Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. During her three years at BYU Law, she participated in the Women in Law, American Constitution Society, and other student groups. She served as a board member for the Environment, Energy, and Resources Society, as well as an officer for the Provo chapter of If When How. She enjoyed summer internships at Immigrant Legal Services in Salt Lake City and the Utah County Public Defender Association. She currently works in campus sexual assault investigations and conflict resolution, and looks forward to serving in her community as a licensed attorney. She is passionate about expanding legal access and assisting the underrepresented.

 

Jasmine Harouny

Jasmine is a 3L at the University of Utah and will be sitting for the bar this summer. She grew up in Utah and is a first-generation college graduate on both sides of the family.  She earned her undergraduate degrees in Broadcast Journalism and German from BYU. During law school at the U, Jasmine has loved her experiential learning opportunities within the community the most—whether that be working with the Youth VOA Resource Center, volunteering at the Pro Bono Clinic, or ​helping judge high school mock trial competitions. Jasmine was the 2023 National Moot Court Competition Regional “Best Oral Advocate” and hopes to one day focus on appellate work to participate in meaningful discussions about how the law affects the community. After graduation, Jasmine will work as an associate with Babcock, Scott & Babcock, PC. 

 

Breeze Parker

Breeze Kauakokoipohaiapunināmoku Waipā Parker was born and raised in her humble hometown of Kalihi, O’ahu. As a first-generation Native Hawaiian law student, Breeze’s experiences growing up in an underprivileged community have garnered her passion for immigration, civil rights, and Native rights law. Breeze has worked as a law clerk for Perretta Law Office, which specializes in immigration law, a CJA (Criminal Justice Act) mentee for the Utah Federal Defender’s office, and a Federal Indian law research assistant for BYU Law’s Associate Dean Michelin Steele. When she’s not working or in school, Breeze enjoys spending time with family, surfing, dancing hula, and playing volleyball. Breeze is excited as she will be working in Washington D.C. as a part of the DOJʻs Honors Program at the Board of Immigration Appeals.

 

Anthony Tenney

Anthony frequently moved as a child before attending high school in St. Marys, Ohio. He earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in History and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Ohio State University. In high school, Anthony began working at neighbors’ farms and the local McDonald’s. He continued working in the service industry throughout school and after graduation, when he lost his job due to the COVID lockdown. That’s when he decided to come to Utah and study law at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. Anthony knew that he wanted to become an employment and labor lawyer because of his experiences in the service industry and family history in unions. Anthony plans to help build strong communities with solid jobs through organizing and advocating for workers’ rights.

 

Jehicob Torres

Jehicob Torres is an expected graduate of the J. Reuben Clark law school. Prior to law school, Jehicob completed a bachelor’s degree in political science at Utah Valley University. During his time at law school, Jehicob was a member of the trial advocacy team and moot court team. His team won first place at a national moot court competition hosted by the Hispanic National Bar Association. He was also the president of the Latino/a Law Student Association. He externed for Justice Paige Peterson of the Utah Supreme Court. He has also volunteered at the BYU Community Legal Clinic to help families with immigration needs such as applying for  U.S. citizenship, permanent residency, and asylum. After taking the bar, he will go clerk for Judge Alberto Rivas in New Jersey. 

Celebrating the Life and Legal Career of Judge Raymond Uno

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) joins other organizations in Utah and nationally to celebrate the life and career of Judge Raymond Sonji Uno. Judge Uno passed away at the age of 93 on March 8, 2024 at the Veterans Administration hospital in Salt Lake City. Judge Uno was a celebrated attorney and judge. He was also a strong community and civil rights advocate. 

Judge Uno was born in the backseat of a taxi cab in Ogden, UT in 1930, and was named after the taxi driver. His family moved to California in 1938. They lived there until the outbreak of World War II when they were incarcerated in Japanese internment camps, first in California and then in Wyoming. His father passed away from heart problems at the age of 48 while in the Wyoming camp. This time had a profound effect on the trajectory of Judge Uno’s life. In an interview later in his life he explained, “My father was an American citizen, he was a veteran of World War I, active in the American Legion — to me, a very loyal American. That was something I really didn’t understand until I went to college and started taking classes in constitutional law. and going through law school and going through all the different kinds of cases that something like this could happen in America to Americans and that is something I have been working on so it wouldn’t happen to anybody else.” 

After World War II the Uno family chose to move back to Ogden. Judge Uno volunteered to join the Army and served in the 441 Counterintelligence Corps in Tokyo during the Korean War. After being honorably discharged he went to the University of Utah to receive his Bachelors and JD. After graduation he worked for a time in juvenile court before joining the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, where he was the first minority ever hired. He then served for a time in the Utah Attorney General’s Office before being appointed to the Salt Lake bench in 1976. In 1983 Judge Uno ran for a State judicial position, and won. This was one of the last judicial elections held in Utah before they switched to the current appointment system. Judge Uno worked his way up to the Utah 3rd District Court. He was the first minority judge in the State of Utah. He served on the bench for 25 years.

Judge Uno was instrumental in the creation and leadership of organizations in Utah and nationally. He was one of the founders of the Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA), and served as the group’s first president. He was also active in the Asian Chamber of Commerce and the Utah Citizens Committee for Civil Rights. He also served for a time as the president of the National Japanese American Citizens League.

Judge Uno was a passionate advocate for his clients and for the people he knew he was training to carry on his legacy. When his son asked him why he still worked so hard in his retirement years, Judge Uno replied, “Because if they didn’t need my help they wouldn’t ask. If they ask, I need to help.”

UCLI is grateful for Judge Uno and his contemporaries who took the hard path to make our work possible today. Thank you Judge Uno for your life of service and dedication. Your legacy is truly one which will inspire current and future generations of Utahns to reach their full potential while striving to improve the lives of others in our homes and communities. 

The Uno family will be holding a celebration of life for Judge Uno on Saturday, April 20 starting at 9:30 am at the University of Utah Eccles Alumni House, 155 S. Central Campus Drive, Salt Lake City.

 

Sources:

Salt Lake Tribune: https://www.sltrib.com/news/2024/03/11/utah-judge-raymond-uno-whose-life/

The Rafu Shimpo: https://rafu.com/2024/03/raymond-s-uno-93-civil-rights-leader-utahs-first-minority-judge/

 

The ALL Rise Utah Program Holds Opening Banquet

By News

The All Rise Utah Program held an opening banquet on Tuesday, February 15, 2024 at the Loveland Living Planet Aquarium. The event was well attended by almost 30 Utah judges from all levels of judiciary, including all five of the justices from the Utah Supreme Court, as well as dozens of law students from both Utah law schools. They were joined by practicing attorneys from supporting firms and organizations. 

The event was a chance for students to hear from Chief Justice Durrant of the Utah Supreme Court, and then to network with judges and attorneys. Chief Justice Durrant reiterated the Utah State Courts’ commitment to rooting out bias among judges, and the great need to attract well qualified judges who reflect the increasingly diverse demographics of the State of Utah. 

The All Rise Utah program is an ongoing collaborative effort directed by the Utah State Courts, to build a pipeline of students and attorneys who will one day seek judicial appointments in Utah. The program helps law students and attorneys begin to see themselves as future judges. It will also provide mentorship opportunities at both the law school and attorney level to help individuals prepare for and apply for judicial openings. All Rise Utah is led by Judge Diana Gibson of the Utah Third District Court, and Jon Puente, Director of the Utah State Court’s Office of Fairness and Accountability. Supporting organizations include: the Utah State Bar, Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA), LGBT and Allied Lawyers of Utah (LALU), Women Lawyers of Utah (WLU), The Young Lawyers Division of the Utah State Bar (YLD), The Disability Law Center (DLC), and the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI). 

We look forward to continuing to help plan and support events for both law students and attorneys for All Rise Utah. If you have questions or would like to be involved in the program please contact Jonathan Puente, the Director of the Utah State Court’s Office of Fairness and Accountability,

A group of law students pose with Judge Sanchez of the Utah Third District Court.

Congratulations to the 2024 Legal Inclusion Fellows

By News

We are pleased to announce the 2024 Legal Inclusion Fellows, Gloria Aquino, a first-year law student from the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, and Naomi Botchway, a first-year law student at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. This year marks the third year of this wonderful collaboration between Intermountain Health, Kirton McConkie and the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI).

The Fellowship provides a place in Kirton McConkie’s summer associate program for two law students, one for each Utah law school. Fellows receive a tuition award furnished by Intermountain Health. They have the opportunity throughout the summer to observe and learn from Intermountain’s legal department. The Fellowship plays a significant role in UCLI’s efforts to increase opportunities for law students in Utah to thrive and find meaningful connections within the legal community.

This year we saw a large and impressive field of applicants. After careful consideration, Gloria and Naomi were selected as Fellows. Learn more about these two incredible students here:

Gloria Aquino

Gloria is a native Utahn from Salt Lake County and the proud daughter of two Mexican immigrants. She is a first-generation college student and earned her degree in Health, Society, and Policy from the University of Utah in 2022. During her undergraduate years she developed a love for public service and completed an internship with the Hinckley Institute at the Utah Legislature. As a 1L at the S.J. Quinney College of Law, she has continued to be involved in her community. She is serving as a 1L representative for the Minority Law Caucus and has been selected to serve on the S.J. Quinney inaugural Student Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Board. Gloria hopes to use her law degree to serve as an advocate for underrepresented communities and aspires to one day sit on the bench.

Gloria Aquino

 

Naomi Botchway

Naomi Botchway is currently a first-year student at BYU Law School. Originally born in Salt Lake City and raised in Rose Park, she has deep connections to other parts of the world. Her father is from Ghana and her mother is from Tonga. Growing up as the child of immigrants, Naomi was inspired by her family’s remarkable journey to the United States and the sacrifices they made for her to be in the position she is in today. Naomi has chosen the path of law to be a voice and advocate for her community in the legal field. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from BYU in August 2022. During her undergraduate years, she actively contributed as a member of the presidency for the Women of Color Club and served as a Research Assistant, researching gender gaps in different political systems. Post-graduation, Naomi was a compliance analyst for Goldman Sachs. In this role, she not only honed her skills as a professional but also developed a passion for comprehending the intricate intersection between corporations and the legal landscape.

Naomi Botchway

Holland & Hart Hosts the Opening Social for the 2023-24 cohort of the Utah Law Student Mentoring Program

By News

The opening social of the 2023-2024 Utah Law Student Mentoring program was hosted by Holland & Hart in their downtown Salt Lake City offices on January 25, 2024. The event provided a chance for mentors and mentees to meet as well as to mingle and meet other program participants. We would like to thank everyone who came from near and far to be at the event. We would also like to thank Holland & Hart for hosting the event, and for their continued support of the ULSM program.

The ULSM program is an expansion of the mentoring program originally started as a collaboration between the Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA) and Holland & Hart. The program would pair each UMBA annual scholarship winner with an attorney mentor from Holland & Hart. In 2020, Holland & Hart allowed UCLI to take over and expand the program. UMBA scholarship winners are still automatically entered into the program. They are joined by any other law students who register to be part of the program. Mentors are recruited from the wider membership of the Utah State Bar. As much as possible, and when requested, mentees are paired with mentors based on several preferences including area of law interests. 

This is the fourth cohort under UCLI’s stewardship. Please contact UCLI Associate Director, Jon Wayas () if you are interested in joining the program for the 2024-2025 school year. 

Congratulations to our 2023 UCLI LSAT Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship Recipients

By News

UCLI recently awarded the UCLI LSAT Diversity and Inclusion Scholarship to four recipients. 2023 marks the third time the scholarships have been awarded. The scholarship is aimed at expanding opportunities for students pursuing legal education who have a strong record of community service and a commitment to advancing equity and inclusion. College students, recent graduates, and others in the state of Utah anticipating taking the LSAT within the current or following year when the scholarship is granted are invited to apply. We congratulate the winners and wish them luck as they take the next step in their journeys toward becoming legal professionals. Learn more about the four incredible 2023 recipients below:

 

 

Victoria Roberts

I am currently pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Utah Valley University, I have also been trying to gain practical legal experience through working as a paralegal for the past two years. As a first generation college student, I have had to navigate completing my education while balancing real-world work. In addition to my studies and paralegal role, I volunteer time as a translator for immigration attorneys. Through this work, I have been able to support immigrants and develop my language skills. As a political science major, I am deeply interested in policy, law, and social change. I have high hopes to apply my education and experiences to a career in law after graduation. I am proud to be a first generation college student and look forward to all the opportunities ahead as I complete my degree. I’m extremely grateful for this scholarship opportunity as I make my way towards applying to law school.

 

 

Khai Ronquillo

My name is Khai Ronquillo and I am a senior at the University of Utah double-majoring in Political Science and Economics. I am originally from Las Vegas, NV. As a first-generation pre-law student it has been very rewarding to strive towards my career aspirations of being the first lawyer in my family. Funding law school is difficult and scholarships like these mean the world for helping me overcome financial barriers. Receiving this scholarship from the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion is truly an honor and it excites me to think that I will be taking the LSAT soon and working towards achieving a life goal. 

 

 

Gabriela Villalobos

Gabriela Villalobos graduated from the University of Utah as a first-generation student in May 2022, earning her bachelor’s degree in sociology and international studies with a minor in economics. Throughout her university experience, she engaged in multiple organizations dedicated to breaking down barriers that exist for first-generation and Latinx students in the systems of higher education through college + career readiness and community belonging. With a passion for community and economic development, she previously interned at Accion Opportunity Fund, a non-profit supporting small business owners. Gabby also serves as a mentor in the We Rise First-Generation College Program. Currently, she is a financial crime analyst at Goldman Sachs, merging her interest in law and finance.

 

 

Erica Webb

Erica Webb is a senior at Brigham Young University studying economics, math, and environmental science. She is passionate about women’s issues and environmental stewardship. Recently, she has spent much of her free time working with an environmental advocacy group focused on preserving the Great Salt Lake. She plans to attend law school, and eventually hopes to use her JD to work for the government or a nonprofit in order to help marginalized communities and the environment. She is extremely grateful for the financial relief this scholarship will offer as she prepares for law school, since her husband plans to apply to and attend medical school concurrently.

UCLI Fall 2023 Pre-Law Symposium

By News

On Friday, October 20, 2023 the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion held the third UCLI Pre-law Symposium. This was made possible by the University of Utah SJ Quinney College of Law, and their talented and capable event and IT staff. This marks the second Symposium held with the school, and UCLI is grateful for their generosity and expertise. The event was attended by 54 students who ranged from freshman undergraduates to professionals seeking career changes.

The symposium continues to help close the gap between a legal education and the current place a given student finds themselves. This is achieved through support from the admissions offices of SJ Quinney College of Law, represented by Associate Dean Reyes Aguilar, and the BYU J Reuben Clark Law School, represented by Assistant Dean Tony Grover. Students also heard from Justin Zieman, the Regional Director of AccessLex Institute, a non-profit which provides support and resources to pre-law and law students.

The second panel gave attendees perspectives on what to expect during law school. The panel consisted of four current law students, Rachel Passey and Bree Spaulding from SJ Quinney, and Elena Guanuna and Jehicob Torres from J. Reuben Clark. The panel was moderated by attorney Gabriela Mena of the firm Skordas & Caston. The panel provides a great opportunity to understand what to expect in law school, and provides encouragement to attendees that law school is hard but manageable.

For the second year attendees had the privilege to be taught in a mock class given by Associate Dean Louisa Heiny of SJ Quinney. Dean Heiny taught a criminal law case in an approachable and engaging way. The mock class is a great way for students to understand what to expect from a law school class, and to begin to gain confidence that they can see themselves being successful in this type of setting. 

The final panel of the day was delivered in partnership with the Utah Black Lawyers Association. Attorney Samantha Frazier of Coil Law was joined by panelists Zakia Richardson, in-house counsel at Pluralsight, Engels Tejeda, Partner at Holland & Hart, and Beatryx Washington, General Counsel at OC Tanner. The panel highlighted the breadth of opportunities available to attorneys once they enter practice. It was also a chance to highlight how attorneys navigate cultural and life balance challenges to find success in their careers. 

The day ended with a keynote address by US Attorney Trina Higgins. Trina is the first woman in Utah to be presidentially appointed to the US Attorney position. Trina has been an ardent supporter of the UCLI Pre-law Symposium from the first event. Last April she gave of her time to visit with attendees at our first Symposium. It was a pleasure to have her back as the keynote to hear her amazing story, and words of encouragement. Trina has had an amazing career, and has shown through her actions how to build more equitable and inclusive work environments.

UCLI expresses gratitude to all those who participated in creating this educational and inspirational experience for those who attend. We again express our gratitude to the team at SJ Quinney who made this event possible. We also express thanks to our sponsors, Ballard Spahr, Michael Best, Nelson & Naegle, The Lone Peak Valuation Group, and the ADR Section of the Utah State Bar. We are grateful for the participation of these incredible attendees and wish them well on their journeys to law school.

Highlighting Utah’s Efforts to Increase Inclusion at the Federal Bar Association National Convention

By News

Utah and UCLI were well represented at the Federal Bar Association’s (FBA) National Convention last month in Memphis, Tennessee. A five member panel made up of Jen Tomchack (Tomchack Skolout), Ross Romero (Inclusion Strategies), Michele Oldroyd (Utah State Bar and UCLI Leadership Council), Melinda Bowen (Snow, Christensen & Martineau and UCLI Co-President), and Jon Wayas (UCLI Associate Director) delivered a CLE presentation moderated by Jon Hafen. Jon Hafen is a UCLI board member, and was sworn-in as the new President of the Federal Bar Association at the convention. The presentation was titled, “Community Engagement Efforts to Diversify the Legal Community – Examples from Utah.” The presentation was well attended and gave panelists the chance to highlight the wide ranging programs and collaborations taking place to make Utah’s legal market more inclusive and diverse.

The program began with Ross Romero painting the picture of Utah’s changing demographics, and why diversity is so important to the legal market and to the business community in Utah. Michele Oldroyd followed by recounting what is happening from the Utah State Bar perspective with rulemaking and an increased effort on attorney wellbeing and mental health. Jen Tomchack was able to show the great work the Utah chapter of the FBA has been doing to support inclusion, specifically in regards to women in the legal profession. This includes the “Staying in the Game” initiative which kicks off with a CLE event on October 5, 2023. Melinda Bowen highlighted the great work being done by affinity groups like the Utah Minority Bar Association, LGBT and Allied Lawyers of Utah, Women Lawyers of Utah, and the Utah Black Lawyers Association. Melinda, who is a founding member of UCLI, shared the story of the organization’s creation. This led into the final portion where Jon Wayas shared about a number of the great programs and scholarships UCLI is currently offering. The presentation ended with a short Q&A.

UCLI is grateful to Jon Hafen and the FBA Convention’s planning committee for giving this group the opportunity to share the great work going on here in the State of Utah. UCLI continues to have great opportunities to share and teach through Continuing Legal Education (CLE). We hope you will join us soon for the final installment of the “Pathways to Inclusion” CLE series for 2023, and the great offerings we will have available throughout 2024.

Read More

Close Menu