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Screening Event ‘Balancing the Scales’

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The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion and Women Lawyers of Utah co-hosted a CLE screening event of the documentary ‘Balancing the Scales’ at the Megaplex Theatre at the Gateway on November 17, 2022. The evening included a catered dining experience by Zao’s Asian Cafe, movie snacks, the film screening, and a presentation by attorney filmmaker Sharon Rowen, moderated by former Supreme Court Justice Christine Durham. See a quick social media recap here

The evening started off with a warm welcome to Sharon Rowen, a trial lawyer and filmmaker based in Atlanta who founded both the law firm Rowen & Klonoski and the film production company R&K Productions. Her documentary, Balancing the Scales, tells the story of women lawyers in America, and has been broadcast nationwide on public television as well as presented to audiences across the globe on both gender equality and filmmaking for organizations including the US State Department, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Microsoft, Verizon and Prudential, and hundreds of law firms, bar associations and universities. We are grateful to her willingness to join us in Salt Lake City for this film screening and discussion.

We then heard from two of the event’s Gold Sponsors: Art Berger, the Managing Director of Ray Quinney & Nebekker, and Greg Matis, the Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer at Intermountain Healthcare’s legal office. Each of them underscored the importance of discussing these crucial topics and their own organizations’ commitments to gender equity. 

Then the documentary film ‘Balancing the Scales’ was shown. It depicted interviews of female legal professionals conducted over two decades – including interviewees like Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, civil rights attorney Gloria Allred, and Roe v. Wade attorney Margie Pitts Hames – and provided an insightful look at the story of women lawyers in America. Interviews also included state Supreme Court and Appellate Court justices, women equity partners, minority women, associates, and students. They tell their own remarkable and often hilarious stories that felt relatable to the audience. The film also explored how discrimination has shifted from overt to subtle, and why women are leaving the profession. Finally, the film explained why women being promoted to top positions is good for both society; and for firms’ bottom lines – ending on a hopeful and encouraging note. 

Following the film, participants had a chance to dive deeper into the topics of women in the legal profession through a moderated discussion with Sharon Rowen and former Justice Christine M. Durham. They discussed questions such as how women in the legal profession manage their work life and their home life; how women can engage men to partner as allies; and what firms can do to be more equitable.

We are incredibly grateful to our sponsors. Without them, this event would not have happened and we would like to thank them for their support of this film, the cause, and women in the legal profession in Utah. The firms and companies who sponsored the screening event are:


Workman Nydegger

Intermountain Healthcare

Ray Quinney & Nebeker



Women Lawyers of Utah

Wilson Sonsini

Hone Law

Rocky Mountain Advisory



Lone Peak Valuation Group

Kirton McConkie


If your firm or organization had an idea for an event that you would like to sponsor or partner with UCLI on, please contact us at








Thank You to Our Sponsors!


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UCLI Fall 2022 Pre-Law Symposium

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In conjunction with the J. Reuben Clark Law School at BYU and the S.J. Quinney School of Law at the University of Utah, UCLI hosted its second pre-law symposium for students from communities which have been historically underrepresented in Utah’s legal profession. The 52 students who attended the event, held on-site at BYU’s Law School, ranged from undergraduates to returning students. 

The symposium helped to close the gap between a legal education and the current place of any given student. This was in part achieved through seven scholarships for an LSAT prep course and/or LSAT fee waiver presented byUCLI. These scholarships were made possible through the generous donations of BYU Law School, Kaplan Test Prep, Utah State Bar and ACE Test Prep, and will aid seven future law school applicants in achieving their goals. One recipient, August Molina Pastora, said this scholarship will ease the burden of saving money for the LSAT and allow them to focus on other important aspects of their life as well as their application to law school. Another recipient, Sheri Edwards, is a returning student who, after a career in marketing, decided to follow her dreams and pursue law. About this scholarship she said, “I am a mom, I work full time, and I have three children so a scholarship for a test prep course is incredible. It will save hundreds for my family budget.” We are grateful for those who made this scholarship possible and look forward to August, Sheri, and people like them, to enter Utah’s legal field. The diverse perspectives and talents of all students and attorneys is what makes a robust and successful legal community. Check out what this scholarship meant to the other recipients on our Instagram.  

Reflective of the progress Utah has made, with milestones and checkpoints yet to come, the attendees of the symposium represented various identities. We are excited that attendees represented the future of the Utah legal field. Approximate results from the registration survey show that 4% of participants identified as genderqueer or demigender. 11% identified as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or pansexual. 39% identified as Hispanic or Latine. 55% identified as something other than non-Hispanic white – including 6% Asian, 10% Black, 6% Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander, 6% American Indian or Alaskan Native, and 6% of respondents identifying as two or more races. Additionally, nearly 8% responded as having a disability. Perhaps most notably, 49% of participants were first-generation college students or graduates. 

Emphasizing the ability and the necessity of having first-generation college students, the keynote speaker Aida Neimarlija shared her experience as a twice refugee and first-generation student. She did not initially consider law school as an option. It wasn’t until after her undergraduate degree that a mentor encouraged her to apply based on her apparent talent for diligence and detail. This led her to an incredible career in the legal industry and she is currently the legal counsel for Larry H. Miller Real Estate. Although Aida’s first intentions were to use a law degree to work in human rights, she shared how a legal career lent itself to change and growth. With a law degree, she was able to try out different things and find what she loved. She shared that the flexibility of a legal career would allow students to find new challenges and new adventures.

Later on, four current law students from both of Utah’s law schools participated in a panel called, “A Day in the Life of a Law Student.” They shared similar feelings about the fulfillment they have found in law school paired with the difficulty of making decisions about priorities. Attendees listened to valuable, first-hand perspectives of how both of Utah’s law schools create great environments for challenge, learning, and growth. 

After hearing first-hand experiences of law school, attendees were then given the opportunity to experience it for themselves. Professor Carolina Nuñez of the J. Reuben Clark Law School led a mock class. Attendees were given a case before the symposium and came prepared to work through it using the socratic method to better understand the case and the legal precedent. Attendees participated in the discussion, challenged each other’s assumptions, and experienced what a law school class might look like. The energy in the room elevated quickly as attendees gained confidence in their ability to learn in this way. 

Participants felt empowered as they made their way to the final session of the day. Kris Tina Karlston, the BYU pre-law advisor, gave an informative workshop on personal statements.  Participants learned the ins and outs of personal statements. Most importantly, they were reaffirmed that law schools are looking for applicants that will succeed, and all students can succeed in law school if that is their desire. 

UCLI expresses gratitude to all those who participated in creating this educational and inspirational experience for students. We express special gratitude to the wonderful sponsors who made this event possible: Brigham Young University’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney School of Law, SF Firm, the Litigation Section of the Utah State Bar, Maschoff Brennan, Kirton McConkie, and the Utah State Bar Commission. Thanks to these sponsors, each attendee left with resources and confidence to further pursue their legal education. As one participant shared, “Thank you for putting on that event, it was so helpful to hear from such great deans, law students, and lawyers. It really helped me to widen my perspectives and to get even more excited about applying for law school!” We are grateful for the participation of these incredible students and wish them well in their journeys to law school.


Thank You to Our Sponsors!


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Announcing the 2022 LSAT Scholarship Recipients

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The Utah Center for Legal Inclusion is pleased to announce this year’s recipients for the LSAT Scholarship. Congratulations to the seven recipients of UCLI’s 2022 LSAT scholarship: Valeria Jimenez, Andrea Jimenez, Emily Zárate, Luz Maria Carreño, Heidi Clawson, Mikela Ouimette, and Anna Van Noy. 

UCLI wishes each recipient the best in their journeys, and looks forward to seeing the many contributions they will make to Utah’s legal profession. Please find more information about each scholarship recipient below. 


Full Scholarship Recipients

Valeria Jimenez

Valeria Jimenez is a graduate of the University of Utah. As a first-generation college graduate, she earned an honors political science degree with minors in business and Chicana/o studies. During her time at the University of Utah, she was involved in multiple Latinx-led student organizations to empower the Latinx community through college- and career-readiness, and voter registration efforts. Valeria is currently the Public Outreach Coordinator at the Utah State Courts Office of Fairness and Accountability. She is responsible for public outreach and education of court programs to the public. Beyond her professional capacity, Valeria serves as a committee member of the Wasatch Education Foundation We Rise First-Generation Scholarship Program. She chooses to share her experience and knowledge both within her professional role and personal life with incoming first-generation students to continue a positive postsecondary trajectory of Latinx graduates. 


Andrea Jimenez

Andrea Daniela Jimenez Flores (She/Her) was five months old when she and her parents emigrated from Mexico to the United States. Her parents’ strength, resilience, and immense support made it possible for her to become the first in her family to graduate college while overcoming obstacles presented by her immigration status. Growing up as an undocumented Latina in West Valley City, Utah, enabled Andrea to see that her community was overlooked and underrepresented. The realities of her experiences with her two intertwined identities gave her a passion for social justice and a need to do everything she could to create an equitable society for underserved communities through public service.

Andrea graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah with three Bachelor’s degrees in Communication, Political Science, and Sociology. Whilst in college, she made it her mission to advocate for Latinx and immigrant populations. She became a Dream Ambassador and Student Director of the Road Home’s Book Club to emphasize the importance of education for underserved communities. Andrea interned for Utah State Senator Luz Escamilla and the Ibarra Strategy Group, where she was further exposed to the challenges faced by her community at the state and national levels and the lack of representation within government. She held many roles at Comunidades Unidas, focusing on advancing immigrants’ rights, Latinx empowerment, workers’ rights, civic engagement, and eliminating barriers placed on immigrant communities. Andrea recently completed the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute Public Policy Fellowship, wherein she worked on federal policy initiatives affecting disadvantaged communities across the nation. 

Andrea hopes to use her experience as an undocumented person of color to pursue a public interest legal career to advocate for historically disadvantaged communities. Andrea aspires to become a civil rights attorney to ensure that these communities are not overlooked. She hopes to work for a legal nonprofit that protects everyone’s civil rights and uplifts marginalized voices. Andrea dreams of founding a legal nonprofit that prioritizes underserved communities and fervently protects their rights. Andrea’s primary mission is to ensure that everyone has equitable access to representation, regardless of any obstacle they may face.”


Emily Zárate

Emily Zárate is the Administrative Coordinator of the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion. Emily attended Utah State University, where she graduated in May of 2022 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Law and Society Studies. While at USU, Emily worked at the Latinx Cultural Center, an organization which focuses on academic, educational, personal, and professional growth within the Latinx community on campus. During her time at the LCC, she worked closely with first-generation Latinx students to ensure their success on campus by helping them navigate through college. Emily intends to pursue a J.D. next year. Her interests include technology law, immigration law, and criminal justice reform. In her free time, Emily enjoys weightlifting, reading, and hanging out with her family. 


Luz Maria Carreño

Luz M. Carreño has been working with immigrants, refugees, and young female empowerment programs in her community for approximately 12 years. She holds a B.A. in Sociology from Utah State University and is originally from Tremonton, Utah. Currently, Luz is pursuing her Master’s in Peace Studies from the International Christian University in Tokyo, Japan through the Rotary Peace Fellowship. Prior to the Rotary Peace Fellowship, Luz was a case manager at Women of the World where she developed customized case management strategies for clients; advocated for clients facing housing discrimination, wage imbalances, and unfair treatment due to low English attainment; connected clients to local; and assisted with job applications, school registration, and college applications. As the proud daughter of Mexican immigrants, Luz is committed to advocating for equality, affordable housing, and access to higher education for refugee and immigrant women living in the U.S. After the completion of her master’s degree, Luz will return to Utah and attend University of Utah, S.J. Quinney College of Law to pursue the JD Program.


Partial Scholarship Recipients

Heidi Clawson 

I recently graduated from Brigham Young University with my bachelor’s in Psychology. During my undergraduate years, I participated with wonderful groups that worked to uplift and unite the community such as Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girls on the Run, CASA, 2ft Prosthetics BYU, and Mission Nutrition. In addition to volunteering, I worked professionally as a forensic technician at the Utah State Hospital and a caretaker for young adults with special needs. I currently work as a caseworker for DCFS Child Protective Services Special Victims Unit. I support young adults and children to find their voice, receive the help they need, and encourage their growth. This scholarship will not only enable me to make my educational dreams of law school a reality, but it will also help me in my efforts to promote an equal voice and treatment for all through the law.


Mikela Ouimette

Mikela is currently enrolled in the Master of Criminal Justice program at Weber State University, where she recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and Legal Studies minor. In law school, she will continue studying criminal justice, along with a dual degree Master of Public Policy program. Mikela’s personal experiences and study of criminal justice has opened her eyes to the injustices in our society and the criminal justice system. This education and experience sparked a great passion for social justice issues and promoting diversity. She believes that people should have the opportunity to reach their fullest potential in life, but societal barriers and disadvantages keep this from happening. After passing the bar, Mikela plans to work as a criminal defense attorney. She also wants to work in legislation to advance social justice reform, with a priority focus on criminal justice reform, drug reform, poverty and its subsequent issues, healthcare accessibility, affordable housing, human and equal rights, and LGBTQ+ rights.


Anna Van Noy 

Anna is a senior at Utah Valley University studying political science. She received an associate’s degree in French from Weber State University. She had the opportunity to intern for the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion and has been involved in various organizations. Anna is excited for how this scholarship will help her work toward improving equity and inclusion in Utah. She also loves to make playlists and be outside with friends and family.


Valeria Jimenez


Andrea Jimenez


Emily Zárate


Luz Maria Carreño


Heidi Clawson


Mikela Ouimette


Anna Van Noy


UCLI would like to thank the generous sponsors and partners who have made these scholarships possible:

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Meadowlark Initiative

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The Meadowlark Initiative began in the 2020 school year. Mr. John Arthur, who is known by his students as ‘Captain’, and UCLI have teamed up each year to provide mentoring to his sixth grade class. UCLI attorneys and law students are paired with sixth grade students from the class. Each Friday mentors and students meet via Zoom. Captain briefly explains the writing assignment the students have been working on, and then attorneys and students are sent to breakout rooms to work one-on-one to help improve writing skills. There are different topics every week. They may be given writing prompts like “Was it fair that women and children were given priority as the Titanic was sinking?”, or are given assignments like writing engaging and informative autobiographical essays. We are excited to aid Captain, who was designated the 2021 Utah Teacher of the Year, in his enthusiasm and vision for his students’ learning. The hope for the mentoring is to help the students build confidence and dream big for their lives as they transition into junior high school. It also provides the opportunity for these students to meet and be mentored by attorneys who are friendly and genuinely care about their success. For many of these students the mentoring is the first chance they’ve had to talk to attorneys.

Meadowlark Elementary is located in the Rose Park neighborhood of Salt Lake City and nearly 75% of the students are from a diverse background. Each year approximately 25-35 attorneys and law students participate as mentors. The commitment is minimal- 30 minutes on most Fridays during the school year – yet incredibly impactful. In letters to their mentors, students shared the following sentiments: 

“You increased my writing. Now my writing skills are better than ever! I also want to be like you when I grow up and I know what I want that to look like.”

“Thank you for helping me with my writing. I really like talking to you about the projects we did in class. Writing was hard at first, but then you helped me a lot and it got easier! I am a better student thanks to your help.”

“Captain chose me you to me because I’m speaking Spanish and now I write you a letter in English! Thank you for everything you helped me in what I did not understand.”

Recruiting for each school year runs from August through September. If you are interested please contact UCLI Associate Director, Jon Wayas at . Everyone is welcome. However, there is extra need and opportunity for mentors who speak Spanish.

Check out this 2022 video of Captain and a handful of the incredible UCLI Meadowlark volunteer mentors here

UCLI announces 2022 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.

Congratulations to the five recipients of UCLI’s 2022 Bar Review Diversity & Inclusion Scholarship: Alusine Conteh, America Andrade, Andrew Wirkus, Carolyn Sharp, and Zachariah Becerra.

UCLI wishes each recipient the best in their journeys, and looks forward to seeing the many contributions they will make to Utah’s legal profession. Please find more information about each scholarship recipient below.


Alusine Conteh – Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Class of 2022

Alusine Conteh is originally from Sierra Leone. He recently graduated from the BYU J. Reuben Clark Law School. Before law school, Alusine earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science.During his time as a law student served as president of the Black Law Students Association and a member of the BYU Law Trial Advocacy Team. Alusine has interned with the Utah SupremeCourt and Hayes Godfrey Bell, PC, and has served as a BYU Law faculty research assistant and student ambassador. Outside of law school, Alusine works with the nonprofit Future Scholars of Africa, which provides resources to African college students in Utah. After the bar, Alusine plans to continue pursuing opportunities to further equity and inclusion within the legal profession.


America Andrade – Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Class of 2022

My name is America Andrade. I am a recent law grad from BYU Law School. I did my undergrad at Utah State University (Go Aggies!) and I grew up in a small town in Idaho where I lived with my mom and younger brother. I came to law school to become a prosecutor. I’ve known that I wanted to be a prosecutor since I was around ten years old. I knew early on that I wanted to defend the law and protect those who cannot protect themselves. Specifically, I want to work within the Special Victims Unit and protect women and children. Throughout law school I have worked with the SLC DA’s office, the Utah County DA’s office, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Utah. I have been actively involved in inclusion within the legal profession all three years of law school and I hope to continue to strengthen the profession and add more diverse voices in the future. 


Andrew Wirkus – University of Utah SJ Quinney College of Law, Class of 2022

I am from Salt Lake City. I got a Bachelor’s of Science in Public Health with an International Development minor and a Social Innovation Certificate. I decided to go to law school because I wanted to marry my interests of improving the social determinants of health and social innovation, and I viewed law school as a great way to do that. I did a lot of clinics during law school and that was by far the best choice for me. I learned so much by actually doing innovative work and having my feet on the ground rather than just sitting in a room listening to a lecture or being afraid of the socratic method. I spent as much time as I could taking public interest classes and experiential learning opportunities. I worked in Immigration, in tribal affairs, on covid response with the ACLU, on disability rights with the Disability Law Center, doing data visualization for a more transparent criminal legal system, and in clinics coming up with innovative and creative ways to bridge the access to justice gap. I have accepted a job with the National Center For State Courts and I get to continue chasing the dream of a more equitable and fair legal process. This scholarship came at a critical time for me. Pursuing a career in public interest out of law school is intimidating because it doesn’t offer the same financial security that my peers have, but being able to know that my bar fees are paid for I can really take the time to study and prepare myself for success in passing the Bar.


Carolyn Sharp – Brigham Young University, J. Reuben Clark Law School, Class of 2022

Carolyn Sharp recently graduated from the J. Reuben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. Before law school, she attended the University of Utah where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a minor in Religious Studies. Shortly after starting, Carolyn decided to pursue a career in military and national security law. During her 2L year, Carolyn served as BYU Law’s first woman president of the Military and National Security Law club and focused her studies on emerging technology and warfare. Carolyn’s published works, discussing the future of warfare, intentionally cite women writers, when possible, to elevate their voices. She believes that diverse thought from diverse communities can provide unorthodox, solutions-based approaches to current and future global obstacles. Carolyn looks forward to embarking on her legal career with her two children by her side and collaborating with individuals who also seek to include and elevate diverse perspectives.


Zachariah Becerra – University of Utah, SJ Quinney College of Law, Class of 2022

Zachariah Beccera recently graduated from the University of Utah’s SJ Quinney College of Law with his Juris Doctorate. He is the son and grandson of Mexican immigrants. Prior to law school he attended Utah Valley University, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish. Zachariah served as the Vice President of the Multicultural Law Caucus during law school. In this capacity he helped raise funds for scholarships for minority students, and planned networking events among other responsibilities. Zachariah spent time clerking in the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office. He looks forward to joining the Bar and continuing his legal career.


Alusine Conteh


America Andrade


Andrew Wirkus


Carolyn Sharp


Zachariah Becerra


UCLI would like to thank the generous sponsors and partners who have made these scholarships possible:

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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

By News

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!


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