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Welcome Emily Zárate: UCLI Administrative Coordinator 2022

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Born in Provo, Utah and raised in American Fork, Emily Zárate always knew she wanted to become a lawyer. Her background as a first generation Mexican American student motivated her desire to pursue the field of law through her exposure to the field. Her father’s incarceration, which took place when she was at a young age, meant Emily was translating and reviewing documents with lawyers at a court of law. This was where she was first introduced to the legal processes. 

Emily graduated May of 2022 from Utah State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Law and Society Studies. After becoming involved in USU’s pre-law club, Emily was introduced to UCLI through their pre-law symposium. It was then that she realized she loved everything about UCLI’s work, especially in diversity and inclusion. During her early experience in a court of law, she became discouraged at seeing judges, lawyers, and interpreters who were for the most part white men. However, one day, at the court, Emily noticed there was a Latina woman who was an attorney. She says “And I remember that day because I was like “I can do this. I can totally do this. She looks like me, she talks like me, she’s in the field that I want to practice in”. That was the little push that I needed”. 

Emily hopes to obtain her JD in 2023, either specializing in technology, immigration, or criminal justice law. Her skills in technology as a social media coordinator for university associations piqued her interest in technology law, while her father’s incarceration inspired her to consider criminal justice law. Finally, Emily’s aspirations for immigration law stem from her immigrant parents, family, and community’s support for her studies, which she said could not have been possible without them. “I just want to be able to give back to my community because they’ve uplifted me so much. If it wasn’t because of my family and community I wouldn’t be where I am now.”

Farewell to Lizzie Jarrett, Lead Intern

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Lizzie was born and raised in New Hampshire, and moved to Utah to study at Brigham Young University where she graduated with a degree in philosophy last April. The diversity in her home state and high school helped inspire her passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion, which ultimately led her to UCLI. After hearing about the organization in a pre-law class at BYU, Lizzie applied and started her journey as an intern in January 2021 before being promoted to lead intern the next semester. In her time at UCLI since then, she has continued to work as a lead intern and offered mentorship and support to four different groups of interns.

In addition to her work as a leader and mentor Lizzie has been involved in various projects, offering her expertise to promote greater inclusion in the Utah legal field. One of her most memorable (and perhaps the most influential in her being offered the position of lead intern) was her work on the mentorship program manual which can be found on UCLI’s website. Through her experience learning a new form of writing and researching for the manual, Lizzie expressed her appreciation for UCLI and the emphasis placed on learning new skills and taking opportunities to try new things, no matter how uncomfortable they may be at first. Another memorable project took place this summer, where Lizzie was able to assist in writing grant proposals to keep UCLI up and running. Through all her work on different projects in her time with UCLI, Lizzie said the most memorable aspect of them all was the people she worked alongside. She stressed her appreciation for the opportunity to work collaboratively with such a diverse intern population, and seeing people, as well as herself, grow in their skills.

Lizzie’s biggest piece of advice for other pre-law students (although this can also apply to law students and even attorneys) is to network as much as possible. She highly recommends attending any events that UCLI puts on and reaching out to lawyers to learn about their experiences. In her experience, attorneys are very willing to share their stories and offer any resources they may know about which can be extremely helpful.

At the end of this week Lizzie will be moving to New York to work at the boarding school she graduated from. Although she is sad to leave UCLI and “the good fight”, her future is bright. She plans on taking the LSAT and applying to law school this fall. Working with UCLI and getting first hand experience in the Utah legal field has given Lizzie motivation to consider coming back to Utah to practice law in the future. Organizations like Women Lawyers of Utah have also been important examples to Lizzie of what it looks like to fight for inclusion and equity in the legal field. Although her time at UCLI is coming to an end, Lizzie has left a mark on the organization and has been an example of what it means to be truly passionate about diversity, equity, and inclusion.


Layla Shaaban is Going to Law School!

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After being a part of UCLI for a year and a half, Administrative Coordinator & Data Analyst Layla Shaaban is beginning her next steps of life in Chicago where she will be attending the DePaul University College of Law in the fall. 

UCLI is so excited for Layla and the opportunity she has to continue her passion for law but especially grateful for the time she has spent with the organization. Beginning in January 2021, Layla joined UCLI as a program development intern where she worked closely with staff members such as Melinda Bowen and Ling Ritter on various projects within the organization. Layla recalls some of her most memorable moments during this time as being able to help orchestrate UCLI’s various outreach videos as well as work on the Theory of Change project. Following her time as an intern, Layla went on to accept a position as a staff member and became UCLI’s first Administrative Coordinator in May of that same year. During this period, she remembers fondly the opportunities that the position opened up to work on new projects with directors such as Kaitlyn Pieper and Jon Wayas but also to work more closely with those in Utah’s legal field that shared the same passion for diversity and inclusion. Layla’s title was promoted to include Data Analyst in September 2021, at which point she was able to use her background in data and statistical analysis to become an active and additive participant in the Tracking Progress Committee. In this committee, Layla assisted with data tracking efforts and piloted a new Utah Law Student Mentorship Program survey.

Before leaving the organization, Layla wished to share her appreciation for the entire team at UCLI and its mission. She is especially grateful for Melinda Bowen for being “subconsciously a mentor for me, both in working with her and hearing from her outside of a UCLI setting.” She recalls fondly the opportunity Melinda gave interns to sit in on law classes at the J. Reuben Clark law school and to approach her for advice. Layla is also grateful for the chance to work with Executive Director Kaitlyn Pieper and Associate Director Jon Wayas which she described as a “great experience because they were always so open to ideas and made it feel like a collaboration and not a hierarchy.” Layla also shared her appreciation of her time at UCLI for “creating and pushing a mission of diversity and inclusion in something as sensitive as the legal field, which was never designed to benefit anyone who wasn’t white or male.” She is grateful for the opportunity the last year has given her to create connections with lawyers and individuals that both look like her and identify in the same way as her. 


.                Layla                   

2022 Legal Inclusion Fellowship

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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.”




June CLE – Inclusion and Identity: How We Welcome Each Other

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On June 9, the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion in partnership with the Utah State Bar, Well-being Committee for the Legal Profession (WCLP), Lawyers Helping Lawyers (LHL), and LGBT and Allied Lawyers of Utah (LALU) hosted a CLE on inclusion in our legal field titled “Inclusion and Identity: How We Welcome Each Other”. The CLE was hosted at the Utah State Bar in which three sets of panels discussed themes such as LGBTQ+ perspectives in the legal field, how to treat each other inclusively, and how to hold our courts to our definition of justice. A CLE that was full of raw emotion because of shown hardships, and showcased a common theme of bettering our legal field for future generations! Having a diverse crowd of attendees at the CLE was amazing. A crowd of attendees that was partially in-person and partially on zoom was a bit challenging, but we managed to pull through– kudos to the Bar’s tech and IT team for helping make this multi-platform CLE a reality. Having a small breakfast at the start of the CLE was a great opportunity for networking, and it was incredible seeing our colleagues interact with each other. After breakfast, we had the honor to listen to three incredible panels.

Panel One – An Opening Panel Dialogue about Belonging and the Barriers to Being Good Allies

In the first panel at the CLE, we heard from four outstanding LGBTQ+ legal professionals. Moderated by Martha Knudson and featuring Chris Wharton, Jess Causer, Dani Hawkes, and

Maya Anderson, the panel was full of genuine emotion and full of inspiration. The panelists discussed unfair treatment in the workplace and how their personal life intersected with their legal career, in sometimes derogatory forms. The panelists had discussions in which they were vulnerable and upfront about the frustration that they have had to endure. It was clear that these professionals love what they do and presented in order to help the field to which they are dedicating their time to. Thank you for sharing your experiences and struggles.

Panel Two – Our Duties of Professional Conduct and Standards of Professionalism: A Panel Presentation on Current Rules and Possible Improvements to Duties Owed 

In our second panel, we heard from experienced public servants in both the legal and analytical sectors of the law. Those outstanding individuals were Paul Burke, Jennifer Yim, and Chris Warton – with Michelle Oldroyd as moderator. The panel touched on the topic of how current rules and procedures could be improved and what true justice looks like; a conversation that is becoming increasingly important because of how we can help transform our contemporary legal system. Thank you for sharing your expertise in the legal sector and your thoughts on how to improve this field.

Panel Three – A Summary Panel Session on Best Practices and Practical Skills to Employ Moving Forward

In our closing panel, we heard from LGBTQ+ colleagues on best practices and action towards interacting with our LGBTQ+ colleagues. The incredible panelists included Samantha Taylor, Katie Woods, Jesse Nix, and Judge Jeanne Robison, with Kate Conyers moderating. In this discussion, we understood how pronouns should be treated in a professional manner and other best practices. People in the room actively learned how to change their current language to become more inclusive. Thank you for sharing words of wisdom around how to better our professional environment.

Thank you to all the wonderful organizations and individuals who made this event a reality and to all the attendees. Special thank you to all the staff that helped with the tech and IT portions of this CLE. Thank you to Parr Brown Gee & Loveless for the buffet and your generosity. If you are interested in attending any future Utah Center for Legal Inclusion events, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at . It would be an honor to have you at any of our upcoming events!


Gentle Ironhawk Shelter Drive

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In May, the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion in partnership with the Utah Tribal Relief Foundation Organized a drive for the Gentle Ironhawk Shelter, which supports victims of domestic violence. UCLI accepted donations that could support this wonderful opportunity on three different days. Thus, the team and also volunteers stepped up to make sure they could provide additional assistance with any task that needed to be done! 

The Gentle Ironhawk Shelter was in need of items such as laundry items, food storage containers, shampoo and conditioner, body and baby wash, skincare, hair accessories, feminine hygiene products, clothing, etc. People from various law firms came, in person, to the Utah State Bar in order to drop off any donations that they were willing to provide. Some others decided to do online financial donations, which we are truly grateful for! 

Then, it was time to take all of the donations that were received to the Gentle Ironhawk Shelter. Nick Stiles delightfully volunteered to make the drive and take the donations to the final location! We are really grateful for his support and stamina–it was a long drive! 



This event has had a sensational impact on our community. We were able to connect with each other to achieve the same goal: to provide assistance to the Gentle Ironhawk Shelter. It has given us the opportunity to visualize the influence that a supportive community can have on a specific objective and project. We recently received a delightful statement from Cynthia Atine, GIS Program Manager: 

“Gentle Ironhawk Shelter and UNHS, are extremely grateful for the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion and Utah Tribal Relief Foundation for coordinating this donation drive. Many of our families in need will benefit from these supplies that you so graciously donated. Due to domestic violence/sexual assault, many of our families/children/individuals will leave everything behind and start over. Your donations will help our families get a head start on a new life. On behalf of the families who are here at the Gentle Ironhawk Shelter, ahe’ hee’!”

If you would like to make any additional monetary donations, click here! Then, click on the “Donate” button, and when asked “How would you like your donation to be used?” select “Shelter for Domestic Violence Support-Gentle Ironhawk Shelter” in the drop-down menu. 

Thank you to all the wonderful volunteers we had for this event, and to our supportive legal community. Your efforts contributed greatly to the success of this event. We are humbled by your generosity, both your volunteerism and donations. If you are interested in volunteering in any future Utah Center for Legal Inclusion events, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at . We’d love to have you on our journey to help our communities!

UCLI Legal Relaunch Event

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On May 10, 2022, the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion held its first-ever Legal Relaunch event. This event was targeted toward those individuals who were interested in law school and/or pursuing a legal career later in life or while raising a family. Panelists in this event were legal professionals who attended law school as parents, single parents, and grandparents. Discussion topics included how to finance law school, balance family life while pursuing a legal career, and overcome barriers as “non-traditional” law students. It was a truly fulfilling event for our panelists and for those who attended! Anyone who missed it can catch the recording here.

The virtual event was kicked off by Melinda Bowen,  co-president of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion, and Cherise Bacalski, who is an appellate attorney on motion practice in the district court. Cherise was able to effectively communicate with the rest of the panelists to understand and learn from their experiences. Then, questions were asked to Geidy Achecar, who went to law school in her thirties as a single mom with two young kids and also experienced financial stress and childcare issues. It was truly interesting to learn from Geidy’s experiences as they provided a different perspective. During this event, those who attended also had the opportunity to hear from Pam Schools, who started this journey by getting an associate’s degree. After getting divorced, Pam went back to college nights to complete a bachelor’s degree. She will be graduating on May 13 and could not be more excited for this next phase of her professional life! 

Attendees also had the opportunity to hear from Zakia Richardson, who attended law school when she was younger, took the Bar, and relaunched after a ten-year break. Learning from her experience provided a stronger foundation for those individuals interested in law school and/or pursuing a legal career later in life or while raising a family. After this, attendees had the chance to hear from a married couple, Kristen Olsen and Marshall Thompson. Marshall’s experience and perspective as a veteran provided a fascinating understanding to those students considered “non-traditional.” In addition, with Kristen’s words, the event reached a stronger sense of community as everyone was able to open up a little more and listen to each other’s opinions. Lastly, attendees had the wonderful opportunity to hear from Suzette Rasmussen, who went to law school after being a stay-at-home mom and had eight children when she started as a 1L. Suzette mentions that since she was a daughter of immigrants, she did not grow up knowing attorneys. However, she mentions that she felt that going to law school was the path that she should take! 

This was a very wonderful event where attendees were able to understand a little bit more about the different ways in which “non-traditional” students are able to navigate law school, even though they face different challenges! We would like to thank those who attended, and a big thank you to the wonderful panelists who were willing to participate! If you are interested in attending law school as a “non-traditional” student, don’t hesitate and get in touch with us at . We’d love to help you on your journey in any way we can!


First Annual UCLI PreLaw Symposium

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At the University of Utah’s SJ Quinney College of Law 61 undergraduate students and many attorneys gathered to gain resources and share their knowledge. According to data collected at registration, many identities were represented at this event. 56% identified as female, 37% identified as male, and 7% identified as genderqueer, gender fluid, or demigender. In terms of race and ethnicity, 36% identified as Hispanic, Latino, or of Spanish origin, with other racial identities depicted in the pie chart below. 73% of the attendees identified as straight, with 27% identifying as LGBTQ+. 13% of the students identified as having a disability or chronic condition. 36% of registrants identified as first-generation college graduates. We were so pleased to see the diverse opinions, worldviews, and identities of everyone represented at the symposium.

At 7am students and attorneys began to arrive, they were greeted by a registration table and a raffle to win LSAT scholarships. The students walked around to tables with representatives from Kaplan, BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law school, and The University of Utah. They had the opportunity to have their headshots taken by a professional photographer. Breakfast was provided and students loaded up plates, ate and talked. UCLI’s Geidy Achecar welcomed all to the event and delivered a wonderful message on why this event exists and how it will help the students overcome barriers. Kristen Olsen then emphasized that law school is possible and that the legal field needs people who will represent more fully the demographics of Utah. Then Dean Reyes Aguilar introduced the students to the SJ Quinney College of Law and talked about the importance of making informed decisions (rewatch & confirm that this was his main point).

The next event was highly applicable for undergraduates looking to law school. UCLI’s Jon Wayas and Melinda Bown moderated a discussion on preparing for law school with panelists Reyes Aguilar the dean of admissions from the U and Andrea Fitzgerald the dean of admissions from BYU. Each  gave very practical advice about how to critically look at law schools and make that big decision. They also spoke about what students can do now to prepare, tips like focus on getting good grades and also taking classes that will prepare you for the rigors of law school. 

The next panel was moderated by Grace Acosta, a highly accomplished lawyer as well as adjunct professor at the U. The panel was composed of the Assistant deans of student affairs Bryan Hamblin from BYU and Bryan Burton from the U, as well as Chandler a 3L at BYU, Madison Van Fleet 2L at BYU , Jessica Arthurs a 2L at the U. The advisors discussed their role and provided tips to students about things to do or avoid. The students told stories about successes and difficulties in their journeys and about what things have helped them. Participants asked many questions and as a result there was a rich discussion.  

Then lunch was brought by BYU and students and attorneys mingled. Then Sam Abla gave the keynote address and inspired all who attended with his story and encouraged everyone that “If I can do it so can you”. He talked about hard work and ways to combat discrimiation. 

After lunch Associate Dean and professor Louisa Heiny led  a mock law class. Students got to participate as she asked difficult questions and encouraged student thinking. Professor Heiny taught students to analyze and apply a supreme court ruling. After the class had ended students followed Professor Heiny out into the hallway and continued to ask further questions about the case and topics discussed. 

The next panel was an inspiring group of attorneys who discussed career options and what life is like in the law. It included Melina Shiradli who moderated, Engels Tejeda from Holland and Hart, Andrea T. Martinez the US Attorney for the District of Utah, Rebecca Ryan Director of Litigation for eBay, Inc, Olga Taylor of Gardner and Taylor, and Amy Morgan from Utah Legal Services. They each talked about their journey to get them where they are. Specific questions were answered and a very transparent conversation about salary was conducted. The students had many more questions and were delighted that many of these panelists stayed to talk and network with them.

Finally an introduction to the UCLI mentoring program was given by Melinda Bowen and Abby Dizon-Maughan. They briefly talked about the value of mentoring and how UCLI can be a resource for students. 

Awards were given and people were thanked for their contributions and hard work on the event. The LSAT scholarship giveaways had been going on all day but concluded and students were given instructions on how to claim prizes. Networking continued on with attorneys and the UCLI team. 


Video recordings of all the sessions can be found here:



2022 LGBTQ+ Networking Event

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On March 11, 2022, the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion joined with LGBT and Allied Lawyers of Utah (LALU) to host an LGBTQ+ law student networking event at Encircle Provo. Law students and attorneys from the community attended and had the opportunity to connect, get advice, and share their experiences with each other as members of the LGBTQ+ legal community in Utah. Guests also toured the Encircle House and learned about the programs that it offers for LGBTQ+ youth and adults in the area. UCLI is grateful for its partnership with LALU and appreciates the wonderful mentorship opportunities that can be offered to law students.

“It was amazing to see the LGBTQ lawyer community of Utah come together to meet students. The event engendered a better, more inclusive legal community for Utah.”

– Brickelle Bro

“​​I was inspired by the willingness of so many attorneys to give their time to make this event possible and network with students. UCLI and LALU are committed to making the wider Utah legal community an inclusive place.”

-Rachel Johnson

“Getting to network with lawyers was a highlight of my law school experience. It was great getting to meet with interesting and diverse lawyers while making great connections.”

– Chandler Stepan

First Annual UCLI Fundraiser Luncheon

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On March 24, 2022, the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion held its First Annual Fundraising Luncheon at the Salt Lake Marriott Downtown at City Creek. Over 200 guests attended the event, representing large and small law firms across the state, Utah’s courts, and other organizations. It was wonderful to be together in person as members of the legal community and to hear from MCs Justice Paige Petersen and Kristen Olsen, as well as from the many excellent speakers.

The program began with an introduction to UCLI’s mission statement, partnerships, and current programs, including the Certification Program, PLEDGE, and Tracking Progress initiatives. Several guest speakers shared information about UCLI’s current mentorship programs and their positive effects. Mr. John Arthur, 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year, shared the progress and development of his sixth grade students at Meadowlark Elementary School, who have been mentored each week by volunteer lawyers to help them with their critical thinking and writing skills. Arin Perkins, a 1L at the University of Utah’s S. J. Quinney College of Law, and Wayne Latu, a 3L at Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark College of Law, spoke about their experiences as law students from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, and how the Utah Law Student Mentoring program has encouraged them and helped them make meaningful connections in the legal community. Guests then heard from the keynote speaker, Justice Christine Durham, who served as a justice of the Utah Supreme Court from 1982 to 2017 and as Chief Justice from 2002 to 2012. She spoke of her experiences as one of the first women in Utah’s legal community, the challenges she had to face, and the progress in the areas of diversity, equity, and inclusion that has been made and is yet to be made in the state. You may view a recording of her keynote address here. We are grateful for her attendance, her inspiring presentation, and her life-long service to the people of Utah. 

At the close of this event, UCLI announced a new scholarship in Justice Durham’s honor: the Justice Christine M. Durham Equity Scholarship. This scholarship is intended to facilitate the legal education of an individual who shows a demonstrated commitment to and great potential for pushing forward the cause of justice, equity, and inclusiveness in Utah’s legal profession. Someone who, like Justice Durham, will make the legal field a better place for all who follow. We invite you to donate towards this scholarship fund here

The Luncheon also featured a silent auction with over thirty items; nearly $4,000 was raised from the auction items alone, and we are very grateful for the kind support of everyone involved. The silent auction and ticketing proceeds will contribute to the UCLI programming that benefits current and future lawyers in our state. UCLI is grateful to all the guests that attended, spoke, and donated at this year’s luncheon, and looks forward to future events and the progress that will continue to be made toward change, justice, and equal representation within the legal profession in Utah.

Thank you to our Event Sponsors

Ballard Spahr

Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School


Disability Law Center


Dorsey Whitney

Fabian VanCott

Greenberg Traurig

Jones Waldo

Keller Jolley Preece

Kirton McConkie

Lowenstein Sandler

Mountain Mediation Center

Parr Brown

Parsons Behle

Ray Quinney & Nebeker

Rocky Mountain Advisory

Snell & Wilmer

Strong & Hanni


Utah Bar

Utah Legal Services

Women Lawyers of Utah

University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law

Young Lawyers Division

Zimmerman Booher

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