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The UCLI Team

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

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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

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“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.

UCLI interns hear from Utah judges, attorneys, law students, and more

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Over the last six months, UCLI’s interns have been lucky to hear from various leaders in Utah’s legal profession and beyond. Included among those who have taken the time to speak to our interns are Judge Clem Landau, Melinda Bowen, Che Arguello, Kate Conyers, Jesse Nix, Sadé Turner, Amber Stargell, David Bowen, Brigham Daniels, Sarah Martinez, Ryan Williams, Jacqueline Rosen, and more. 

The purpose behind these weekly meetings is to expose our interns–– many of whom are included among those groups who have been historically underrepresented–– to a variety of legal professionals and careers, and to make these individuals accessible to the interns. We have discussed clerkships, environmental law, family law, corporate law, nontraditional legal paths, criminal law, and others. In the coming months, we anticipate inviting attorneys who practice family law, immigration law, human rights law, federal law, and more, to connect with our interns and to help in laying a foundation for their confidence in becoming attorneys themselves.

We are grateful for those individuals who have agreed to present to our interns, and we are looking forward to continuing to learn from attorneys inside and outside the Utah legal community. If you or someone you know might be interested in speaking with UCLI’s interns in the coming months, please email us at .

UCLI law student mentoring program open for mentee enrollment

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Salt Lake City, Utah: The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within Utah’s legal profession, has announced that the organization has opened  enrollment for its mentoring program. UCLI is seeking current law students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to enroll in this program where they will be paired with two current attorneys.

 

The main purpose of this program is to empower students from historically underrepresented groups to thrive in the legal profession by connecting them with current attorneys as mentors. It is designed to build a sense of belonging in Utah’s legal community, to expose mentees to a wide range of career opportunities, and to help mentees develop the necessary professional skills to succeed in law school and beyond.

 

The mentoring program benefits law students from numerous backgrounds who may not traditionally have access to mentorship. As one student wrote, “My mentors seem like they are very dedicated to their roles as mentors [and] they’ve made it clear that no conversation is off the table. I love this. […] [They are] incredibly valuable to those of us who are embarking on this journey somewhat blindly.“ 

Follow this link to enroll as a law student mentee. To learn more about the program, please visit utahcli.org/law-student-mentoring.

UCLI law student mentoring program open for mentor enrollment

By News

Salt Lake City, Utah: The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion (UCLI), a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within Utah’s legal profession, has announced that the organization has opened enrollment for its mentoring program. UCLI is seeking current Utah attorneys from all backgrounds and expertise to enroll in this program. Enrolled mentors will work in tandem with another attorney and law student as a mentoring group.

The main purpose of this program is to empower law students from historically underrepresented groups to thrive in the legal profession by connecting them with practicing Utah attorneys as mentors. It is designed to build a sense of belonging in Utah’s legal community, to expose mentees to a wide range of career opportunities, and to help mentees develop the necessary professional skills to succeed in law school and beyond.

For those law students from numerous backgrounds who may not traditionally have access to mentorship, attorney mentors can make all the difference. As one of our enrolled law students shared, her mentors “made it clear that no conversation is off the table… [They are] incredibly valuable to those of us who are embarking on this journey somewhat blindly.“ 

For this and other law students, real mentorship can be hard to come by and we need your help to close that gap. 

Become a mentor today by enrolling here. To learn more about the program, please visit utahcli.org/law-student-mentoring.

UCLI interns begin building out curriculum for visiting attorneys

By News

Attorneys across the state of Utah want to help build Utah’s students dreams–– including those of being a lawyer. The busy life of an attorney can make it difficult, however, to prepare effectively for a student presentation.

In order to make it easier on attorneys to feel prepared to present to these students, UCLI has begun building out a curriculum for attorneys visiting different elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and even universities across the state. This curriculum will include PowerPoint presentations, printable handouts, demographic-specific videos, and law-related activities.

Anyone who wants to will be able to access and download these free materials at utahcli.org/school-presentation-curricula. 

UCLI and Justice Lab publish results of 2020 Certification Survey

By News

At UCLI, we aim to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in Utah’s legal profession. This week, three Utah-based law students–– Sarah MartinezRyan Williams, and Jackie Rosen–– published a status report of current trends, and we are thrilled to share “Looking In and Leading Out.” It is illuminating, important, introspective, and extremely well-done. Take a look!

https://www.utahcli.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/UCLI-Justice-Lab-Report.pdf

UCLI announces 2021 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.

The winners are: Laura Kyte, Alex Sanchez, Sarah Martinez, and Emily Walter. Photos and short biographies included below.

Laura Kyte is a recent BYU Law grad and has a B.A. in history from UVU. Before law school she worked for several years as a real estate agent and was a stay at home mom before that. She is now a single mom of two teenagers and decided to go to law school after a history professor, while completing her undergrad, encouraged her to think about it. Laura realized that early in childhood she had formed the belief that girls and “poor kids” like her didn’t become lawyers. Now she could see that a career in the law was an ideal intersection between a career and her interests in helping historically marginalized groups. Laura hopes to make sure little girls and kids from lower socioeconomic backgrounds don’t have to wait until they’re forty to realize they’d be great lawyers. After the bar, Laura has a Fellowship in the litigation division of the Utah Attorney General’s Office and then, starting August of 2022, will clerk for Judge Hagen of the Utah Court of Appeals.

Sarah Martinez recently graduated from the University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law. During her time as a law student Sarah held interests in DEI, environmental law, and immigration law. To this end, Sarah served as president of the Natural Resources Law Forum, Secretary of the Minority Law Caucus, chaired the SBA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion committee, and provided pro se assistance to detained immigrants outside San Antonio, Texas. Post-graduation, Sarah hopes to continue working on diversity, equity, and inclusion issues in the legal field.
Alex Sanchez recently graduated from the S.J. Quinney College of Law. He grew up in Salt Lake City and graduated from the University of Utah in 2015 with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Sustainability Studies. After earning these degrees, he briefly attended law school at the University of Idaho College of Law. During his short time there, he served as membership chair of the American Constitution Society and was involved in coordinating a “Know Your Rights as Immigrants” community training event for a migrant community located in Othello, Washington. After gaining admission at S.J. Quinney College of Law, he further developed his passion for criminal defense through internships with the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, the criminal defense firm of Conyers & Nix, the Salt Lake Legal Defender’s Association, and by working on federally appointed criminal cases as a Criminal Justice Act Intern. Alex is also the co-founder and former Vice-President of the First-Generation Law Students Organization, a student group that was created in the Spring of 2020. He was recently offered a position at the Salt Lake Legal Defender’s Association where he plans to begin working after the Bar exam.
Emily Walter recently graduated from the BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School. Before law school, Emily completed a B.A. in French Teaching and then taught high school Spanish for three years in Washington, DC. Emily decided to pursue a legal education to develop her advocacy skills and improve the conditions of vulnerable and disadvantaged populations in the United States. In law school, she focused her studies on tax and social justice and served on the board of the Minority Law and the Latino/a Law Students Association. After the bar, Emily plans to continue pursuing opportunities to further equity and inclusion within the legal profession.
Layla

UCLI welcomes new Associate Director, Administrative Coordinator

By News

UCLI’s Associate Director, Ling Ritter, has officially begun preparing for her legal career. Accepted into Stanford Law School as a Knight-Hennessy fellow–– one of the most competitive fellowships in the country–– she is taking a few months to be with family before she enrolls this fall semester. “Quote about UCLI”

As Ling steps into this new phase, she will be replaced by former Education Program Director, Kacey Sorenson. Kacey joined UCLI’s team in 2020 as an intern and transitioned into the Program Director position at the beginning of 2021. During her time as Program Director, Sorenson focused her efforts on building and rolling out UCLI’s pilot of the Utah Law Student Mentoring Program. She is looking forward to this new position, saying that “The team and work at UCLI is unmatched, and I am so excited to work closely with our beneficiaries and continue in this new capacity.”

UCLI is excited to also announce a brand-new staff position and member. After a competitive, 3-round application process with 16 other applicants–– the most that UCLI has ever seen–– Layla Shaaban has accepted a position as UCLI’s Administrative Coordinator. Formerly a UCLI intern, Layla says she is “”.

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