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.