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UCLI Launches Utah Law Student Mentoring Program

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On March 4, 2021, UCLI rolled out its pilot of the Utah Law Student Mentoring Program (ULSMP) for diverse law students with a kickoff Zoom event (recording found here). The main purpose of this program is to empower historically underrepresented students 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 in developing the necessary professional skills to succeed in law school and beyond.

Based on “best practices” of student mentoring programs, we assign two attorney mentors to each law student. Mentor groups meet monthly in whichever format works best for them, creating a personalized plan from the program manual. Groups rotate every six months so as to expand our law students’ networks. The next “round” will begin at the beginning of the school year.

Thus far, our attorney volunteers have made themselves available and approachable, undergoing research-informed training and preparing themselves to the best of their ability. These efforts have paid off: as one of our enrolled law students wrote, “I have tried getting mentors with no real luck […] My mentors seem like they are very dedicated to their roles as mentors, and they seem like people I would normally be friends with. They’ve made it clear that no conversation is off the table. I love this. And I’m so grateful! I’m often envious of my classmates that have parents or other family members who are lawyers that can help them figure out this strange world […] I just wanted you to know how incredibly valuable this is to those of us who are embarking on this journey somewhat blindly.

Moreover, 50 attorney mentors enrolled from 16 different firms and organizations, including Anderson & Karrenberg; Dorsey & Whitney; Fabian VanCott; Holland & Hart; Maschoff Brennan; McConkie Hales & Gunn; and Strong & Hanni. Also included are the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office, the Utah Attorney General’s Office, and the Juab County Attorney. We already have 16 additional attorneys from 12 firms and organizations–– including Pluralsight, Encircle, the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office–– on queue for the second round.

We are looking forward to continuing to expand our program – we hope with your help!

Click here to enroll as an attorney mentor.
Click here to enroll as a law student mentee.

UCLI hears from Sadé Turner and Amber Stargell

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In this week’s Wednesday Webinar, we discussed the importance of avoiding burnout while staying actively engaged. We had the opportunity to speak to Amber Stargell and Sadé Turner.  Amber Stargell is an associate at Christensen and Jensen. Sadé is a shareholder at Strong and Hanni Law firm.

Both Amber and Sadé are not initially from Utah. Some of the factors they took into consideration for coming to Utah was that S.J Quinney College of Law was a good law school, safe, and the financial support.

Amber originally transferred from a law school in Texas. During her 1L, she did an internship in Utah with her current law firm. Amber decided to transfer to the University of Utah and stay here because of the legal community. In Texas, she mentioned how the legal community is significant, and she doesn’t have the opportunity to interact with the entire bar. It can also be intimidating and can be easy to overlook your own needs and wants. Amber stayed because the bar in Utah is small, and you can interact with various people in the legal community. Both speakers also talked about different ways that they built their network. Sadé participated in a court activity while in law school. This court activity allowed her to meet judges and attorneys and speak to them about cases that were assigned while making connections. For Amber, since she had interned with her current law firm, the lawyers there supported her and were willing to invite her to specific events.

In this episode, Amber and Sadé give specific practices to maintain a healthy work-life balance. They talk about how important it is to learn how to say no. Sadé mentioned that she always wanted to say yes to everything. However, you are technically saying no to everything because you will not be able to be present and contribute in the way you want to. To solve this, she decided to say yes to tasks she was passionate about. Amber adds that you can determine what is worth your time once you understand your focus and passion. They also provide examples of how to say no while still building on your network and perhaps elevating others.









Pictured: Sadé Turner, Esq. and Amber Stargell, Esq. 

Law student spotlight: Zachary Scott

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submitted by Freddy Barrera, UCLI Intern

Zachary Scott is currently a 2L at the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law. He was born and raised in Salt Lake City and attended Westminster College, where he double majored in Finance and Business Management. After graduating from Westminster College, he received a Master of Finance at the University of Utah. Excited to continue his education, Zach decided to attend law school.

Some of his favorite experiences in law school have come in forming relationships with his professors and classmates. While law school can be rigorous, Zach appreciates the camaraderie he has experienced in working with students who think differently to achieve a similar goal. These relationships have been especially important because law school presents challenging experiences. However, Zach acknowledges that the challenging experiences are part of the learning process, which motivates him to continue his education.

Outside of academics, Zach is involved with UCLI in multiple ways. He volunteers for the Meadowlark Mentorship Program and is also part of the Tracking Progress Committee, which developed a survey tracking diversity in Utah’s legal field. Zach decided to get involved with UCLI because he realizes the power of having people in your corner to show that it is possible to pursue a legal education. Additionally, he wants to play his part in promoting diversity and inclusion in his community, and hopefully increase leadership opportunities for minority students within the legal field.

Outside of UCLI, Zach is part of the Famtorship Program at the University of Utah, where he works with first-generation and minority students interested in attending graduate school. He is also part of the Graduate School Diversity Council, where he works in promoting student rights. In addition to all these amazing pursuits, Zach is working part-time, assisting the in-house counsel at PowerSchool, where he works on data privacy and other issues.

After obtaining his law degree, Zach hopes to work in corporate law. This past summer he worked at Dorsey & Whitney where he dealt with financial matters. This, paired with his background experiences in finance and business, has increased his interest in this field of the law.

Overall, Zach has found his law school experience rewarding. When asked if he had any advice for students interested in attending law school, he mentioned that students should not be discouraged by its rigor. He believes it is important to be excited to pursue something difficult yet rewarding. He mentioned how it is important to treat the experience as an investment for your future, and to just go for it!

Pictured: Zachary Scott, S.J. Quinney 2L

UCLI Executive Director’s Message

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submitted by Melinda Bowen, UCLI Executive Director

Welcome to the 2020 edition of Mosaic!

I had the good fortune to become UCLI Executive Director in August, and I am incredibly grateful for the chance to be part of this organization, and for the chance to open this annual newsletter. 2020 has been a memorable year, to say the least. Unprecedented circumstances have created unprecedented challenges. Individually and collectively, we’ve faced a global pandemic, the related economic downturn, along with extreme weather events, an awakening surrounding racial justice, and much more. At the same time, difficult times have shown people’s humanity and fortitude. Constant change has prompted creativity and innovation. And uncertainty has revealed our ability to adapt and progress.

For the UCLI team, the events of this year have highlighted a message that is central to our mission: We all need each other. Keeping this mantra in mind, UCLI has moved forward in developing its key programs, with the hope of creating and cultivating community, even if we must do so in new ways.

Despite the whirlwind of 2020, fifty-three legal employers joined us for this inaugural year of the UCLI Certification Program. Attorneys and leadership at these firms and organizations came together and joined UCLI in assessing their own environments and considering ideas that can build better workplaces for all attorneys throughout the state. UCLI also launched its pipeline program titled Promoting Legal Education to Diverse Groups Everywhere (PLEDGE), which aims to serve students around the state through educational outreach, mentoring, and financial assistance. Working closely with teachers, students, attorneys, and other community partners, UCLI is laying the groundwork necessary to make our profession more accessible, representative, and inclusive. In addition, UCLI volunteers have rallied behind community causes in particular need right now, bringing skills and resources to serve the state and its most vulnerable populations. In short, although COVID-19 has taken a lot from many of us, it has not eliminated our ability to connect and serve.

On behalf of the UCLI team, thank you for the support you show for each other and for UCLI’s mission. UCLI hopes to create a climate where everyone can create a home in Utah’s legal profession. We all need each other in this effort, and we each have a role to play in improving our profession. I am fortunate to have a front-row seat as I watch so many of you embracing opportunities to connect and serve. Thank you for using your time, talent, and other resources to advance the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. I look forward to working with all of you and witnessing ongoing progress as we continue to take care of one another. I wish each of you the best this holiday season and into the new year


Melinda Bowen

UCLI Executive Director

UCLI releases video, “We Are UCLI,” and launches virtual student outreach

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Thanks to Erni Hernandez Armstrong’s team at the Freestyle Marketing Group, UCLI released its first-ever video yesterday morning. We are grateful for the generous donors who made this production possible, and are looking forward to continuing to work with Erni’s team. We will be focusing our next efforts on creating videos for targeted groups of students who are historically underrepresented in the legal profession, including women, Latino/Latina and Asian American/Pacific Islander (AAPI) populations. We will be working closely with and interviewing attorneys from these various backgrounds to circulate their stories to those to whom the videos will be most personal. As our programs expand and as Covid subsides in our area, we are excited to be meeting with more students from these backgrounds and to show them that being a lawyer is a real possibility.

Watch the video here!

Annual Racial Justice Series

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UCLI presented a three-session Racial Justice Series in October and November. UCLI, the Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA) and the Utah State Bar cohosted the Series, which was sponsored by Maschoff Brennan and Smith Washburn. We are grateful to these sponsors for making this wonderful series possible for the more than 75 lawyers who attended each session, along with many students from NIU Law School.

The three sessions were: (1) Counteracting Bias in the Courtroom, featuring panelists Sam Alba, Judge Clem Landau and Professor Maybell Romero; (2) Rethinking Prosecutorial Discretion, featuring Professor Carissa Hessick and Judge Michele Christiansen Foster; and (3) Addressing Disparities in Bail Pre-Trial Detention and Sentencing, featuring Monica Diaz, Rep. Stephanie Pitcher, Meghan Guevara, and Judge Todd Shaughnessy.

In Session 1, Professor Maybell Romero of the Northern Illinois School of Law shared research on manifestations of racial bias in the courtroom and the work that has been done and has yet to be done to combat such bias, which, as we know, undermines faith in both our criminal and civil judicial systems. Following her remarks, Sam Alba recounted his experiences over his long and varied career with courtroom bias as both a judge and a practitioner. Session 1’s concluding speaker was Judge Clem Landau, who discussed ongoing efforts by the bench and bar to combat courtroom bias in all its forms. Following the initial presentations, panelists responded to many questions from attendees. The Q&A session lasted well past the scheduled conclusion of the session, demonstrating both the level of interest in the topic and the willingness of our panelists to provide additional detail about their experiences and perspectives on courtroom bias. During Session 2, we had the opportunity to hear from one of the nation’s leading experts on prosecutorial discretion, Professor Carissa Byrne Hessick of the University of North Carolina School of Law. Professor Hessick shared compelling information about the powerful and often unpublicized and misunderstood role of prosecutors. Much of the information she provided stemmed from her work as the Director of UNC’s Prosecutors and Politics Project, which focuses on bringing attention to the lack of accountability of prosecutors and on increasing our understanding of the relationship between prosecutors and politics. She indicated that because so few criminal cases actually proceed to trial and instead result in guilty pleas, juries rarely serve as a check on prosecutors, leaving few avenues to review prosecutors’ decisions or take action when prosecutorial discretion is abused. Following her remarks and responses to insightful questions posed by moderator Judge Michele Christiansen-Forster, attendees once again had the opportunity to share viewpoints and raise questions about how to hold prosecutors accountable and ways to improve the trustworthiness of our criminal justice system.

Finally, in Session 3, our speakers focused on the need for increased racial justice during the pretrial portion of a criminal case. Meghan Guevara of the Pretrial Justice Institute shared national statistics and trends demonstrating stark racial disparities in pretrial outcomes both in Utah and nationally. She outlined ways that our system could be analyzed and improved at the pretrial stage to account for historic bias, bringing increased equality to the pre-trial process.

Following these remarks, Judge Shaughnessy provided the history of efforts to address pretrial disparities in Utah, particularly with respect to the bail system. Representative Pitcher built on what Judge Shaughnessy shared, highlighting HB 206, which went into effect on October 1, 2020. Prior to HB 206, the primary pretrial release tool available to Utah’s judges had been monetary bail, which is dictated by a schedule that looks at the charged offense rather than the defendant’s individual circumstances. Rep. Pitcher reported that while HB 206 preserves monetary bail, it also provides addition tools to judges to enable them to adequately address an individual’s public safety risk. However, even with those additional tools, panelists discussed ongoing challenges to employing such tools due to the lack of readily available data. Following that discussion, Monica Diaz of the Utah Sentencing Commission reported on the work of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (“CCJJ”) has undertaken in an effort to eliminate bias at each stage of the sentencing process. One such effort includes a new rule allowing for bias to be considered as a mitigating factor in sentencing. She indicated that few lawyers have used this opportunity so far, but the hope is that this tool will be more widely utilized in the future. Attendees learned that CCJJ is continuing to work with courts and the legislature to develop new and better methods to eliminate bias throughout the different stages of a criminal case.

The Racial Justice Series provided attendees with three hours of robust discussion, informative analysis, and thought-provoking insights into how all of us who are part of Utah’s justice system can work together to eliminate racial bias and provide true justice to all stakeholders. The Series embodied UCLI’s efforts to highlight the ongoing need to bring about an equitable and inclusive future for Utah’s legal institutions.

Presenting such high-quality CLE on topics central to UCLI’s mission will continue to be a focus at UCLI. Given the tremendous success of the Racial Justice series, UCLI anticipates many similar presentations on other core topics in the months and years ahead. We thank all those who attended the Racial Justice Series and look forward to seeing you again at one of our CLE events.

In 2021, UCLI will continue to develop its CLE programming. UCLI will add to these offerings several CLEs and extended trainings focused on the connections between diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) and attorney wellbeing, as well as other DEI-focused seminars.

UCLI welcomes firms and organizations interested in sponsoring and/or co-hosting CLEs with UCLI. To collaborate on a joint CLE, email .

UCLI’s Inaugural Year of Certification

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by Jamie Sorenson, Organizational Inclusion Committee Chair

From the inception of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion, the Organizational Inclusion committee was tasked with the creation and implementation of a UCLI Certification Program. The Certification Program is one of the many vehicles UCLI would use to enhance diversity and inclusion in Utah’s legal profession. By going directly to legal employers, you had the best opportunity to affect both the retention and hiring of diverse attorneys in the state of Utah.

Among other requirements for a legal employer to be certified in 2020, legal employers had to designate a UCLI representative from its own leadership; adopt and implement a diversity and inclusion policy; host an internal CLE on UCLI’s purpose, the importance of diversity and inclusion, and related issues; have two members of senior management complete at least three hours of D&I training; and complete a UCLI survey.

After launching UCLI Certification in 2020, fifty-three employers chose to enroll in the program, with the Utah Attorney General’s Office to be the first legal employer to enroll and Parr Brown Gee & Loveless to be the first Utah law firm to enroll. The Juab County Attorney’s Office was the first enrollee to complete 2020 Certification. UCLI certification is not limited to law firms and government employers, but also includes businesses with multiple attorneys such as eBay, Inc.

Throughout the year, the message of UCLI has been spread as Aida Neimarlija and Melinda Bowen, as executive directors of UCLI, have made presentations to each of these legal employers. The presentations have been well received and many have commented that their eyes were open to issues and ideas which they had not thought of previously.

Heading into 2021, UCLI Certification will continue with new requirements for certification, including a train the trainer event focused on inclusion within legal workplace. In addition, there will be a focus on growing the program among small and medium sized legal employers

Community Outreach Efforts Press on Amidst the Pandemic

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by Cliff Parkinson, Community Outreach Committee Co-Chair

This year, UCLI’s Community Outreach Committee has undertaken concerted efforts to serve three specific groups: (1) refugees, (2) the Salt Lake Valley’s homeless population, and (3) Utah’s Native American tribes.

This Fall, UCLI began working with the International Rescue Committee (the “IRC”) to provide workshops on various legal subjects to refugee entrepreneurs in the Salt Lake area. The IRC is a global NGO that resettles refugees and supports their health, education, and economic wellbeing. Salt Lake’s IRC office is home to an innovative program called the Spice Kitchen Incubator, which provides refugees with restaurant start-up opportunities. Spice Kitchen entrepreneurs navigate all the challenges inherent in getting any business off the ground, but with the additional challenge of doing it in a new country. Naturally, many of these challenges are legal in nature. UCLI has provided the Spice Kitchen Incubator program with attorneys who have held workshops introducing refugee entrepreneurs to various legal issues encountered by new businesses. UCLI’s volunteers provided training this year on business entity formation and employment law. UCLI looks forward to continuing to provide these trainings to our local refugee entrepreneurs.

UCLI’s Community Outreach Committee has also continued its efforts to help the Salt Lake Valley’s homeless population. Spearheaded by Kate Conyers, UCLI’s Proximity Task Force has created regular opportunities for attorneys to cook and serve meals to homeless youth at the Volunteers for America Homeless Youth Shelter.

Finally, UCLI has begun working to provide more dedicated support to Utah’s Native American Tribes. Over the summer, UCLI joined with the Indian Law Section of the Utah Bar and a number of other entities to raise funds and supply donations to provide Utah’s eight federally recognized tribes with food staples and hygiene necessities to address needs created by the current COVID-19 pandemic. UCLI continues to lend its support to these efforts and is enthusiastically looking for other ways to serve and support Utah’s tribes.

The Community Outreach Committee looks forward to another year of finding new and innovative ways to serve in Utah and thereby raise awareness surrounding UCLI and its mission.

Pictured: Casey Clark (Upper Right), Michael Stanger (Lower Left), and Sadé Turner (Lower Right), Volunteer Presenters to IRC Spice Kitchen refugee entrepreneurs

To volunteer to provide legal education seminars to refugee entrepreneurs with the IRC, email Cliff Parkinson at . To join or start a new “Get Proximate” effort, email Kate Conyers at . Thank you!

Lawyer Profile: LaShel Shaw

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submitted by Isa Buoscio, UCLI Intern

LaShel Shaw is the Secretary for the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion. Besides working in the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office as a civil litigator, LaShel belongs to multiple legal groups supporting diversity and inclusion within the state of Utah. To LaShel, diversity and law should go hand in hand.

Being in the 23% of women lawyers in the state of Utah is no small feat, yet it is one that LaShel may have been preparing for all her life. LaShel grew up in a working-class family. Her mom worked while putting herself through nursing school and raising kids. LaShel learned the importance of education from her mother, who taught her to read at three years old. Being homeschooled by her mom and working at her own pace led to LaShel graduating high school when she was 12 years old. Most colleges don’t have workable programs for 12-year-old first-years, so LaShel attended Eastern Oregon University online, completing an undergraduate program at age 16.

After her undergraduate degree, LaShel didn’t know she wanted to be a lawyer. “I didn’t know any lawyers growing up, I just liked to read and write; I wanted to read and write for my career,” she reflected. After receiving a master’s degree in history from Utah State University, LaShel applied to and attended Notre Dame Law School.

Deciding to practice law in Utah as a woman was an intimidating experience for LaShel. When initially researching if she wanted to work in Utah, the Women Lawyers of Utah’s report of the wage gap concerned her. According to the 2020 Civil Rights and the Gender Wage Gap Report from the Utah Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Utah has one of the country’s worst gender pay gaps at 70 cents per dollar.

To LaShel, the community of attorneys and judges in Utah is what makes practicing here worthwhile. When obstacles arise, LaShel feels she has a fantastic support network of people who understand, people who know what it’s like to experience professional challenges. “My female attorney friends get me through it,” she said. Between women lawyers in Utah, there’s a large sense of comradery. LaShel knows her coworkers are people she can lean on, turn to for advice, or reach out to for solidarity.

“For anyone feeling anxious about pursuing law, having a community is the most important thing,” she advised. LaShel believes anyone can succeed as long as they like the work and care about the profession. “No one is born knowing how to go to law school,” LaShel stated. “Law can be a great career; don’t let people scare you off.” LaShel recommends that any student thinking of pursuing law should take advantage of opportunities to get to know practicing attorneys and justices. She also mentioned that UCLI is a fantastic tool to help pair students with mentors who can support them.

“With the challenges I’ve faced as a white, cisgender woman, I can’t imagine what other groups experience. There is a genuine need for diversity in Utah, and I welcome anyone considering a career in law.”

Thank you, LaShel, for the work you do for UCLI and for Utah’s underserved, underrepresented, and marginalized communities. Your contributions to the aims of diversity, equity, and inclusion are sincerely appreciated.

Pictured: LaShel Shaw, Deputy District Attorney, Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office

UCLI Rolls Out New LSAT Diversity & Inclusion Scholarships

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by Ling Ritter, UCLI Associate Director

This year marked the launch of UCLI’s first-ever LSAT Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship, made possible by the generous support of the Utah Bar Foundation.

The scholarship is aimed at expanding opportunity for aspiring attorneys committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion. The grant provides financial assistance for costs associated with the LSAT exam. Accordingly, scholarship recipients must demonstrate financial need as well as a strong history of serving Utah’s underrepresented communities and a passion for bringing about an equitable and inclusive future for Utah’s legal profession and institutions.

This year’s scholarship recipients are Amanda Moody and Shayma Salih.

Amanda Moody is a senior at the University of Utah double majoring in Political Science and International Studies with an emphasis in Human Rights. She became interested in pursuing an education in law due to her passion for civic engagement, social justice, and interest in the U.S. legal structure. Through her coursework at the U, law-related internships, and personal experiences, Amanda’s passion for diversity and equity in the justice system has grown. She believes in an equal voice for all, particularly for those with diverse views and backgrounds and she plans to play an active role in increasing this representation. Amanda noted that UCLI’s scholarship will enable her to make her educational and career aspirations a reality.

“This scholarship represents the important work that organizations such as UCLI are doing to increase diversity and inclusivity in Utah’s legal profession. This scholarship provides me with the tools to be a part of this valuable work.” — Amanda Moody

Shayma Salih recently graduated from the University of Utah, with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. During her time as an undergraduate, she served as Director of Diversity in student government, Director of Service with the Asian American Student Association and Vice President of the Women of Tomorrow. She also interned at the Utah Attorney General’s Office as a Victim Services Advocate, where she supported and assisted minority women, refugees and other victims of crimes. She currently works with a non-profit, the Utah Muslim Civic League, as the Civic Engagement Director, where she works to engage, empower and serve her community.

We congratulate these amazing recipients and wish them all the best in their pursuit of legal education!

Pictured: UCLI LSAT Scholarship winners Amanda Moody (left), University of Utah Senior; and Shayma Salih (right), Civic Engagement Fellow at the Utah Muslim Civic League.

For more information about UCLI scholarships and financial support resources, visit

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