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The UCLI Team

UCLI Encourages Secondary School Students to Consider Legal Careers During Career Fair Season

By News

Each spring secondary schools across Utah hold career fairs to expose students to professionals from various careers. UCLI had the opportunity to participate in a number of these fairs to share with students the incredible opportunities available to them in the legal profession. UCLI Associate Director, Jon Wayas, was able to attend three of these events in March and April.

The first event was March 8 at the Utah Military Academy in Lehi, UT. This charter school focuses on career and college readiness with an emphasis on pursuing military service upon graduation. The school serves grades 7-12. This tabling event was a great way to connect with students and educate them on the ways attorneys serve all sectors of our society, including through military service.

Utah Military Academy

On April 10, Jon attended the career fair at Canyon View Junior High in Orem, UT. This fair was a breakout session style event. 8th grade students were able to pick from a variety of careers and were able to attend 30 minute presentations. This style was a great chance to elaborate more in-depth on what attorneys do, and what is needed to become an attorney. It also gave the students a chance to ask great questions about the legal profession. This format provided the chance to talk to over 125 students during the 3 hour event.

The final event on April 26 was with the Utah International Charter School based in South Salt Lake, UT. This was the third year we have been able to participate in this event. The school is open to all students. However, the student body is made up primarily of new immigrants and refugees. These students come from all over the world, with many coming from the Middle East, Africa, and Central and South America. Despite some language barriers the event is a great chance to expose students to the legal profession, and to consider it an option for their future.

Utah International Charter School

We are honored to be asked to attend these events. They are extremely rewarding. We appreciate the chance to connect with students who are interested in the law, or who are open to learning more about the profession. UCLI is always looking to extend our reach to more students. If you are interested in having us come to the next career readiness event at your school contact us at . We look forward to sharing more with students in the 2024-2025 school year.

Donor Spotlight: B.W. Bastian Foundation

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The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) is unable to accomplish its aims without the community volunteering their time and expertise and without incredible donors and foundations who support our work financially.

For the second year running, UCLI is privileged to receive a grant award from the B.W. Bastian Foundation. The B.W. Bastian Foundation strives to build community and understanding by supporting local and national institutions, specifically supporting the arts and educational outreach. They place a strong commitment on programs and organizations that benefit, encourage, and preserve the rights of individuals and promote equality for the LGBTQ+ community. The B.W. Bastian Foundation supports organizations who wholeheartedly embrace the principle of equality. UCLI and the B.W. Bastian Foundation share a common vision for a legal profession that is more inclusive of LGBTQ+ individuals, and UCLI is honored to be one of the recipients of their grant awards in 2024.

Like the B. W. Bastian Foundation, UCLI is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the rights, equality, and fair treatment of the members of the LGBTQ+ community. Thanks to this grant, UCLI will be able to continue its LGBTQ+ outreach initiative with the PLEDGE Program (Promoting Legal Education to Diverse Groups Everywhere). In 2024, these funds will allow us to continue to support networking events for LGBTQ+ students at both of Utah’s law schools, provide CLE offerings to attorneys on the topics of inclusion, and create resources that will allow for better community engagement. We are excited to continue this important work and are grateful for the donors who make it possible. Thank you, B.W. Bastian Foundation, for the meaningful contributions you make in the community and for your generous support of UCLI’s mission.

Donor Spotlight: Utah Bar Foundation

By News

The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI) cannot work towards its goals without the support of incredible foundations, donors, and partners.

One of UCLI’s very first supporters was the Utah Bar Foundation (UBF). Founded in 1963, UBF was created in order to promote legal education and increase the knowledge and awareness of the law in Utah, assist in providing legal services to lower income Utahns, improve the administration of justice, and serve other worthwhile law-related public purposes. UCLI and UBF share a common vision for the legal profession, and in 2024 UCLI is honored to be a fifth-year recipient of a significant UBF grant award.
Thanks to this generous grant, UCLI will be able to continue its PLEDGE Program (Promoting Legal Education to Diverse Groups Everywhere) and serve a new generation of aspiring attorneys. In 2024, these funds will allow us to continue our mentoring programs, scholarships and fellowships, and outreach, and allow for us to launch new programming: the Pre-Law Fellowship and the Street Law high school outreach program. We are excited to continue this important work and are grateful for the donors who make it possible. Thank you, Utah Bar Foundation, for the great work you do for our organization and so many others in the community!

2023 Community Member of the Year Award

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We are delighted to announce that UCLI’s executive director, Kaitlyn Pieper, has been selected by the Utah State Bar Commission to receive the 2023 Community Member of the Year Award! The Community Member of the Year Award is “Awarded to a non-lawyer member of the community who demonstrates outstanding service toward the creation of a better public understanding of the legal profession and the administration of justice, the judiciary or the legislative process.” A distinguished list of community members have received the Award may be viewed here.

Kaitlyn’s nominator, Cliff Parkinson is the UCLI Community Outreach Co-Chair and said in part, “Kaitlyn spends her days introducing underrepresented populations to the Bar and explains how the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion is trying to close the gap between what the Bar looks like and what the population of Utah looks like.” Kaitlyn expresses her gratitude to the UCLI board for the opportunity to work so closely with incredible members of the legal profession, as well as members of the community at large, on matters of importance to all Utahns. Kaitlyn also thanks the Utah State Bar for this honor and for the many ways they support and empower UCLI and its mission. 

The award was presented to Kaitlyn on November 17 at the 2023 Fall Forum at the Little America Hotel in Salt Lake City. 

UCLI Associate Director, Jon Wayas Participates in the Utah State Bar Leadership Academy

By News

UCLI Associate Director Jon Wayas was chosen to be a part of the 2023 class of the Utah State Bar Leadership Academy. Each year 12 Utah attorneys are chosen to participate in this program. Generally, participants have been attorneys for 10 years or less. The program is a chance for lawyers to learn leadership skills and build camaraderie with the other members of their cohort.  The program aims to put participants on a path to become leaders in their own firms and organizations, as well as in the wider Utah State Bar and legal community. As part of the program, participants are also required to serve on a bar committee for at least one year. Jon began serving on the Character and Fitness committee in the summer. This committee reviews applications for those seeking to take the Utah State Bar Examination. The program has been a great benefit to Jon in his work with UCLI. 

The Leadership Academy started with a retreat where attorneys participate in workshops and social activities to quickly build trust and a sense of community. The group then met monthly to learn from respected attorneys and experts. These meetings included topics such as bystander training, how to have difficult conversations, and how to better advocate for yourself in your career. The group also had the opportunity to meet with the Utah Supreme Court to gain perspective and advice on career goals and growth. Of the program Jon says, “The program has helped me gain a close group of friends I would not have met otherwise. It has been great to see the reciprocal help we have been able to give each other in our various professional roles. On a personal level, it has been great to have people to turn for support, and to celebrate our personal and professional successes. I am immensely grateful to have been chosen to participate in the program this year. I would encourage everyone to apply in the future.”

Click here to apply for the 2024 year. The application deadline is November 17, 2023.

UCLI Highlighted in Law 360 Article

By News

UCLI Associate Director Jon Wayas recently participated in a panel discussion with fellow Utah Attorneys at the Federal Bar Association’s national Convention in Memphis, TN. The panel was a chance to highlight the inclusion efforts being made by various organizations across Utah’s legal community. As a result of this panel, Jon Wayas was interviewed by an editor at the website Law 360. The interview and subsequent article are a great opportunity to highlight UCLI on a national level. The article can be read here or here.

2022 UCLI Staff Message

By News

This year was a year of change for the staff of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion office! This summer we said goodbye to Layla Shaaban and Lizzie Jarrett, and welcomed Emily Zárate who joined as UCLI’s new Administrative Coordinator in September 2022. We are each grateful for the chance to be part of this organization and to work towards UCLI’s mission. Here are some of our 2022 highlights:

Kaitlyn: I loved working with UCLI’s interns and board members to launch UCLI’s first ever Fundraiser Luncheon. It was a first for all of us, and putting it together took collaboration and creativity. When we started advertising the event to legal employers in the state we had no idea what type of response we would get. We were thrilled when over 200 people attended, and when many of those attendees told us that it was a very “not boring” event – which I have learned is high praise in the legal community. This was all thanks to the dynamic presenters who shared their stories and passion. I also loved watching Justice Durham’s surprise when the Fellowship in her name was announced.

Jon: The UCLI Pre-law Symposiums were the highlight of this year for me. It took incredible collaboration and effort to make these happen. I made it to and through law school almost by happenstance. I know I made many mistakes along the way. It was truly an honor to work with so many great professionals to provide resources and encouragement to over 125 aspiring future lawyers who will hopefully now have a clearer path to law school and practice.

Emily: For me, the highlight of this year was working closely with UCLI’s interns to create outreach videos. It was incredible being able to collaborate with such creative interns and staff to find the right production company, create video concepts and then execute and watch our ideas come to life. It was such a privilege to have been able to interview many inspirational individuals who play a huge role in advancing goals of equity in the state of Utah. This project has been extremely rewarding because I know that these outreach videos will inspire someone out there to go to law school.

Other big milestones and accomplishments in 2022 include a new partnership with the 4H Refugee Youth Internship Program, the launch of the Utah Legal Inclusion Fellowship, scholarship awards for LSAT preparation and Bar review, and many other great developments that have expanded UCLI’s reach to a greater number of young people, undergraduates, and law students in Utah.

As 2022 draws to a close, it is gratifying to reflect upon everything that has been accomplished within the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion and in our broader Utah community. We are so grateful to all of you for contributing to these important causes. The good that was done this year would not have been possible without your passion and efforts. This newsletter highlights just a few of the many notable achievements of 2022, and we hope you feel pride and satisfaction as you review these successes.

Warm holiday wishes to you and yours!

 

Kaitlyn Pieper, Executive Director

 

Jon Wayas, Associate Director

 

Emily Zárate, Administrative Coordinator



Meet Laura Kyte, recipient of 2021 Bar Review Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship

By News

Watch Laura’s interview on our YouTube channel here!

Laura Kyte, a single mother of two, is planning to take the Utah State Bar exam this Fall. Yet growing up, she never considered she would become a lawyer. As a young girl in California, Kyte grew up in a low-income household. The only experience she had with the law was through TV and interactions she had with the men working with her Dad after he had gone to prison. “I thought, kids like me don’t go to law school,” Kyte laughed, “I remember my younger sister wanted to go and I thought she was naive.” 

Laura did not do the typical undergraduate experience. She was married in her early 20s, working on and off, receiving a real estate license, later going through a divorce, and returning to school to maybe pursue a degree in history. When a professor encouraged her to go to law school she finally realized law would be a great fit. A great fit it is! Kyte graduated from BYU Law School and currently works at the Attorney General’s office in litigation. She plans to clerk for a judge for a year to pursue her interest in civil rights work and criminal law. 

When asked about the barriers to becoming a lawyer as a single, working mother, Laura believes she got lucky. “I was married for 18 years and wasn’t completely financially devastated by the divorce,” Kyte said. “I could sell my house to afford law school, I received child support and alimony… If I hadn’t had those things ….” Kyte trailed off. BYU Law is a full-time program. To juggle classes with being a single mom and working full time would be almost impossible. “I was lucky, my circumstances were such that I could overcome… most women in my position probably wouldn’t have the option if they wanted to.” 

Yet, Laura is still apprehensive about being able to afford the Bar. “Right now I am living on dwindling savings,” Kyte said. Kyte has an 18-year old who is attending college in the Fall. Her budget is tight and anything at this point helps. “The Bar prep scholarship from UCLI made it possible for me to survive for the summer,” Kye explained, “if I don’t pass the Bar it will be financially devastating, I have to take off time for work just to study.”Laura also greatly appreciates the UCLI mentorship program. “It’s incredibly valuable to me, I didn’t know anyone in the law growing up, my mentors are like my brothers.” Kye said. 

Laura believes in UCLI because she believes in equity in legal education. Kyte mentioned, “The barriers to becoming a lawyer are so high for kids in lower socioeconomic status.” Kyte understands that it’s time to even the playing field for these kids. The same goes for women in the legal profession. “There needs to be a recognition about the realities women still face, we need to acknowledge what it’s like to work as a woman, a person of color, or other minority in the Utah legal field.” Kyte affirmed, “Once we directly confront these realities, we can begin evening the playing field.” 

Pictured: Laura Kyte, recipient of 2021 Bar Review Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship

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Meet Alex Sánchez, recipient of 2021 Bar Review Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship

By News

submitted by Collin Mitchell, UCLI Program Development Intern

Alex Sanchez is a law school graduate currently preparing to take the bar in Utah. He grew up in a hard working family with both of his parents working blue collar jobs all of his adolescent life. Although he is a native of California with strong familial roots in El Salvador, Alex moved to Utah at an early age so Utah is where he calls home. 

Alex was fortunate enough to have many doors open on his way to law school. When he was entering high school, he was given the opportunity to get a scholarship to go to a private Catholic school. At this school, he found a school counselor that really took an interest in his future success. This counselor put the University of Utah on Alex’s radar as a potential landing spot for his post secondary education. At the urging of his counselor, Alex applied and not only got accepted to the University of Utah, but got a full ride through a Larry H Miller scholarship. Originally Alex wanted to graduate and pursue a profession in social work, but after Alex was exposed to law work through his time as a legal assistant, he realized that the law field was the direction he wanted to go. 

Getting into law school wasn’t completely a breeze for Alex either. After scoring lower on the LSAT than he wanted, he wasn’t able to get into the University of Utah’s law school after several years of trying. He then decided to attend a law school in Idaho, ultimately performing extremely well enough to transfer to the University of Utah’s law school. 

Alex’s journey in the legal field is not over. He still needs to pass the bar and achieve his dream of becoming a public defender. He really feels that he could make a difference as a public defender, both as an advocate for the Hispanic community and promoter of criminal justice reform. 

UCLI has had the fortunate opportunity to help Alex with his journey through law school and in his preparation for the bar. While in law school, Alex decided to start an organization for first generation law students. He described UCLI as extremely beneficial to the success of the organization because of UCLI’s help in event planning and funding. UCLI was also able to help members of the organization by providing resources on how to be successful in law school. Personally, UCLI has also been able to help Alex directly in his bar prep. Unfortunately, the bar entrance fee as well as exam prep resources are extremely expensive. UCLI was able to pay for the entrance exam and fund the resources Alex needed to study for the bar.

Pictured: Alex Sánchez, recipient of 2021 Bar Review Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship

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Salt Lake Tribune Op-Ed: Utah law students call for more diversity in the legal profession

By News

“We believe the legal profession will not live up to its essential ideals — preserving fairness, equality and justice — unless and until the profession’s demographics reflect our communities.”

Last week’s op-ed by UCLI’s Justice Lab Sarah MartinezRyan Williams, and Jackie Rosen highlights the importance of proactively examining and pursuing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the legal profession. While our efforts are centered in Utah and in its legal profession, many of the principles discussed–– advocacy, courage, community, personal responsibility, work ethic–– apply more broadly.

Worth a read, worth considering, and worth substantive action. Email us at with any follow up you may have!

Read the article here.

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