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Gentle Ironhawk Shelter Drive

By News

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

By News

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

By News

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

By News

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

By News

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

Meet Sadé Turner, co-chair of UCLI’s education committee, civil litigator and family lawyer at Strong and Hanni

By News

On Thursday, July 15, Sadé Turner met with UCLI’s summer interns to discuss her career practicing civil litigation at Strong & Hanni. Within her firm, she specializes in insurance defense litigation and family law. She also serves as UCLI’s education committee co-chair.

UCLI interns submitted questions before and during the meeting, and Sadé told her story and offered her advice. 

Sadé started her legal career as a six-year-old. While other kids were playing house, Sadé was playing court, roping her cousins into representing different sides of an important neighborhood proceeding behind her grandmother’s credenza. Sadé, of course, was the all-powerful judge. 

Sadé has worked for Strong and Hanni for the majority of her career. At the beginning of her time at Strong and Hanni, she was drawn to the case variety and daily routine in litigation. As time progressed, it is the personal impact on her clients’ lives which has kept her going and made her job all the more rewarding. 

During our team discussion, Sadé emphasized the importance of students taking advantage of different kinds of internship opportunities throughout their academic career. For pre-law students, beyond exploring career interests, these internships can also help narrow down the kinds of law that might stand out. In these recommendations, Sadé was speaking from personal experience: it is the exact process she used to find her passion for litigation.

Moving into law career exploration, Sadé suggested students establish connections within various firms, build up a rapport, and discuss what a day looks like in different firms and in different areas of law. These efforts are important in understanding the daily routines and cultures amongst different law firms. 

Different areas of law require different kinds of people. For Sadé and her family law specialty, she advised that some of the most important qualities are compassion, patience, and a skill for explaining concisely. She also noted that being a family lawyer also requires an ability to separate work and home life. Without balance, the job can easily become too taxing. Ultimately, Sadé practices law to help those at difficult points in their lives move forward, however, she does that best when she prioritizes her own needs and mental health. 

UCLI publishes data analysis of racial and gender diversity in the Utah legal profession

By News

Law is one of the least diverse professions in the country. Utah’s legal community is no exception. The US Census, Utah’s State Bar Survey, and ABA National Lawyer Population Survey compiles data that examines attorney demographics, specifically as it relates to race and gender. Additional data from both of Utah’s law schools, BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School and the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, carries this analysis further into our state’s legal education. This data emphasizes the progress to be made to connect the diversity of Utah’s population to that of its legal community.

Read about UCLI’s brief analysis here.


UCLI interns hear from Dr. Brigham Daniels, professor of law

By News

On Thursday, July 8, UCLI’s interns met Dr. Brigham Daniels, “Brig,” environmental lawyer and professor at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. According to his BYU bio, “Professor Brigham Daniels has expertise in environmental law, property law, and natural resources law. He has received several teaching awards. Prior to joining the J. Reuben Clark Law School he taught as an assistant professor at the University of Houston Law Center and as a lecturing fellow at Duke Law School.”

All of the questions Dr. Daniels answered were submitted by our interns: we do this because our interns are most proximate to and concerned about their law school application process, and they know best what they are worried about most. Their questions spanned a diverse gamut between environmental law, academic success as a student and academia as a career: What made you decide to pursue environmental law compared to another field of law? How did you navigate choosing where to go to school? What is a common misconception of environmental law? Does environmental activism play a role in your work?
Does being an environmental lawyer make you more hopeful or cynical? In your experience, what makes for a law student to have a successful law school experience? How has teaching law changed your perception of the legal field?

We sent Dr. Daniels these and other questions in advance so that he had time to consider them. He started off with this insightful piece of advice:

“For students who don’t know what to do, I ask two things: 1) “what sorts of problems speak to you? What are you trying to solve?” and 2) “What kinds of work do you want to do? How do you want to engage with work and the world?”

Watch Dr. Daniels’ entire discussion with the UCLI team here and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more discussions like this.

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