Meet the 2021-2022 Salt Creek Scholar

Briana Long

Briana Diane Long is the University of Wyoming College of Law Salt Creek Scholar for 2021-22.

The Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship, named for the oldest producing oil and gas field in Wyoming, was founded to encourage students who demonstrate a strong interest in energy and law. As part of the program, Salt Creek Energy Excellence scholars are also introduced into a professional community dedicated to energy law.

By connecting Salt Creek Scholars with friends and donors, the program facilitates employment and mentorship opportunities to help students enter the field of energy and natural resources law.

See all the Salt Creek Scholars HERE.

“When I was growing up, Gillette was called the ‘Energy Capital of the Nation,’ since it provided the United States with nearly 35 percent of its coal,” says Long. “Energy companies employed both my parents, and as an undergraduate student, I worked during summer and winter breaks for the coal mine to help pay for college.”

After earning a B.S. degree in chemical engineering at the University of Wyoming, Long pursued her interests in chemical engineering, mining, and clean energy technologies for a year at the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority before entering the UW College of Law.

In 2020, she served during the summer as a law clerk at Hirst Applegate, LLP, in Cheyenne, where she gained experience in a range of civil practice areas, including employment law, worker compensation and personal injury.

Long returned to the energy sector last summer with an internship with Patterson + Sheridan, a Houston law firm that specializes in prosecuting and litigating patents in the oil and gas industry.

“I believe my chemical engineering degree and work experience have given me a unique advantage in intellectual property law focused on energy,” Long says. “After graduating, I want to directly help inventors develop pioneering technologies, particularly associated with energy and carbon capture.”

Long is the 2021-2022 article editor for the Wyoming Law Review. She also published a comment in the Wyoming Law Review fall 2020 issue. Long is a teaching assistant for the 2021-2022 Legal Writing Program and is committed to helping first-year law students become stronger writers. Long is a member of Phi Alpha Delta and served as the organization’s president. She worked as a research assistant for Professor Melissa Ballengee Alexander for a year and plans to work as a research assistant for Professor Noah Novogrodsky in the spring.

Long is also working in patent litigation for Denver-based Sheridan Ross, which was named among the 2021 Best Law Firms by U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers. She plans to start full time with Sheridan Ross after graduation in May 2022.

Meet the 2021-2022 Brimmer Scholars

Jacob Vogt of Libertyville, Ill, and Celyn Whitt of Broomfield, Colo., have been named the University of Wyoming College of Law’s 2021 Brimmer Scholars.

Established in 2011, the Brimmer Scholarship honors the career and service of Judge Clarence A. Brimmer. Brimmer practiced law in Rawlins before serving as Wyoming Attorney General from 1971 to 1974 and as U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming in 1975. He was nominated by President Gerald Ford to the U.S. District Court Bench for the District of Wyoming in 1975. He served as Chief Judge from 1986 to 1992 and stepped into senior status in 2006. He continued serving until his death in 2014. 

Vogt and Whitt join the ranks of 13 other Brimmer Scholars who have held the distinction in the past ten years. (See past Brimmer Scholars HERE.) The Brimmer Scholarship is meant to ensure that Judge Brimmer’s legacy serves as an inspiration to up-and-coming generations of legal professionals. The title of Brimmer Scholar comes with an expectation that the recipient will make a lasting commitment to excellence and service throughout the remainder of their legal education and career.

In addition to Vogt and Whitt, scholarship finalists were Erick Hughes of Mankato, Minn., Joseph Layzell of Bloomington, Ill, Briana Long of Gillette and Krystle Somers of Iola, Wisconsin. All interviewed in person with the Brimmer Scholarship Selection Committee, which included representatives from the College of Law faculty, the judiciary, and the Wyoming Bar, former clerks of Judge Brimmer and members of the Brimmer family.

Jacob Vogt

Jacob Vogt

Vogt is the 2021-2022 editor-in-chief of the “Wyoming Law Review.” Vogt is editing a special issue commemorating the 150th anniversary of Yellowstone National Park, which will be celebrated with an anniversary symposium in Cody on May 19-20, 2022, in collaboration with UW’s Haub School. 

Vogt also serves as vice president of an organization he co-founded at UW, called Beyond the Law. The group has hosted more than a half dozen speakers and events based on the premise that a law education is an asset in virtually any field or profession. As a 2020 summer associate at Hirst Applegate LLP in Cheyenne, Vogt researched and analyzed legal issues, gained experience with civil law and assisted in the publication of the Wyoming Chapter of “Product Liability Desk Reference 2020.”

After law school, Vogt plans to clerk for Chief Justice Kate Fox at the Wyoming Supreme Court for a year, then move to Hirst Applegate LLP as an associate.

Celyn Whitt

Whitt’s commitment to the legal profession began long before law school, when her cousin was killed by a drunk driver. She says this tragic even guided her to her calling in life – being a lawyer. Today, Whitt volunteers as a mentor in a pipeline program called “Law School…Yes We Can!” The program was pioneered by Justice Christine Arguello, US District Court of Colorado, to provide diverse students with legal mentors.

Celyn Whitt

During the summer of 2020, Whitt served as a law clerk for Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLC, a law firm of more than 100 trial lawyers and litigators in Denver. There, she gained a first-hand introduction to high-stakes civil trials, appeals, pre-trial litigation motions and oral arguments, hearings and more. She accepted an offer with the firm to start after graduation.

During law school, Whitt externed for the Colorado Court of Appeals and UW’s NCAA compliance director. As student representative to the American Bar Association, she was named the national Representative of the Year in 2020. She also serves on the editorial staff of the “Wyoming Law Review” and mentors first- and second-year students at the College of Law. She and two other students were recognized during the 2021 Summer Trial Institute with the Judge James Barrett Excellence in Trial Skills Award.

Meet the 2020-2021 Brimmer Scholars

2020 – 2021 Brimmer Scholars (left: Brittney Bulawa; right: Brenna Fisher)

The University of Wyoming College of Law is pleased to recognize this year’s Brimmer Scholars, Brittney Bulawa of Parker, Colo., and Brenna Fisher of Manassas, Va.

Established in 2011, the Brimmer Scholarship is the largest and most prestigious scholarship offered by the College of Law. It is named to honor the long and distinguished service of Judge Clarence A. Brimmer, and to ensure that his renowned career serves as an inspiration to up-and-coming generations of legal professionals.

2020 marks the tenth year of the Brimmer Scholarship Program and Bulawa and Fisher join the ranks of an impressive list of recipients (see past recipients here).

Along with the title of Brimmer Scholar, there is a responsibility of the recipient to make a lasting commitment to excellence and service throughout the remainder of their legal education and career. It is an incredible honor to be selected as a Brimmer Scholar, let alone a finalist.

The Brimmer Scholar is selected from a pool of finalists who interview before the Brimmer Scholarship Selection Committee. The Committee consists of representatives from the judiciary, the bar, the College of Law faculty, former clerks of Judge Brimmer, and members of the Brimmer family. Under rather unusual circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s finalists underwent the intense interview process with the Brimmer Scholarship Selection Committee over zoom.

This year not only presented an uncommonly dynamic and remarkable selection of accomplished students, it was also the first time that the finalist pool was entirely comprised of women. In years when the finalist pool is particularly strong, the Committee will often select two recipients.

In addition to Bulawa and Fisher, finalists included Haley Richards of Laramie, Wyo., TaLise Hansen of Granby, Colo., Jewel Marsh of Joseph, Utah, and Emily Sloan of Aurora, Colo.

Brittney Bulawa

Bulawa’s path through law school has been less traditional. She earned her duel bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and Spanish, graduating Magna Cum Laude in both areas in 2017.  Prior to her admission to law school, she worked for several nonprofits and came with the intention of practicing law in the public interest sector. While in law school, however, she has taken advantage of all that law school has afforded her, trying to gain as much experience as possible over a diverse range of topics.

In addition to her studies, Bulawa has been involved in a myriad of student opportunities and often took on the leadership role for those organizations. She has been a member of the Women’s Law Forum, the Wyoming Trial Lawyers Association Student Chapter, the Spence Law Firm Historic Trial, the Natural Resources Law Club, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity where she served as the Pro Bono Coordinator, the Equal Justice Wyoming Student Chapter where she served as President, and the Wyoming Society for International Law where she served as Secretary. She has also run the bookstore for the Potter Law Club over the past year.

Her involvement in the law school doesn’t stop at student organizations. She has also sharpened her legal practice skills through student competitions as well as through important work experience. She competed in both the ABA Energy Negotiations Competition, as well as the Richard E. Day Client Counseling Competition, and won. She went on to represent the College of Law at the regional Client Counseling Competition in Portland, Ore. She has also worked in both the Defender Aid Clinic and the Family and Child Legal Advocacy Clinic, excelling in both civil and criminal areas of the law.

Bulawa broadened her educational net even further by gaining experience in both private practice, as well as within the walls of a judicial chamber. She spent a summer working as an associate at the Denver law firm Ritsema & Lyon, P.C. where she worked on cases ranging from immigration issues to workers’ compensation rights. She also clerked for the Honorable Robert A. Castor (B.S. ’71; J.D. ’75) in the Wyoming Circuit Court for the Second Judicial District.

One might look at Bulawa and wonder how a person could accomplish so much in such a short amount of time, but Bulawa has proven that not only can it done, it can be done exceedingly well. Her fearlessness in stepping outside her comfort zone and her passion for success has molded her into a well-rounded and highly skilled individual.

With a cheery disposition, Bulawa has persevered and strived for excellence in all of her endeavors and is on track to graduate early in December.  Following graduation, Bulawa will join the ranks of the District Attorney’s Office in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“I am so honored to be awarded the Brimmer Scholarship,” she says. “Judge Brimmer has made a lasting impact on the Wyoming legal community for his sense of fairness and service, and I hope to follow in his footsteps as a young lawyer.”

“Thank you to the Brimmer family and all of the panelists who gave me the opportunity to interview. It was a privilege to interview with such distinguished panelists, and be considered in a group of incredible female colleagues. This scholarship is truly life changing for me and I look forward to making the College of Law proud with my legal career.”

Brenna Fisher

Brenna Fisher has forged her own path of excellence. Fueled by a healthy dose of competition and a desire to prove herself, Fisher has gone above and beyond in ever aspect of her life. Not only has she continually achieved success, she has done so with grace and humility.

A 2018 graduate of Pennsylvania State University, Fisher earned dual bachelor’s degrees in Criminology and Sociology, Magna Cum Laude. She also minored in Military Studies, which led her to join the United States Army Reserves, where she is currently a First Lieutenant.

While in law school, Fisher has shined in both her academics and her involvement. She has been involved in the Equal Justice Wyoming Student Chapter, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, the Women’s Law Forum, and College of Law Mentor Program. She has competed in the Robert Rose Voir Dire Competition, the ABA Negotiations Competition, and the Richard E. Day Client Counseling Competition.

A gifted writer, Fisher is a member of the Wyoming Law Review editorial board, serving as an Article Editor. She has even published her own comment in the fall 2019 edition of the publication, a piece entitled “Losing Control: The Effect of Wyoming’s Communicable Disease Laws on Human Trafficking Victims,” (20 Wyo. L. Rev. 67 (2019).

She has also diligently worked to gain valuable legal experience. She has clerked for the Honorable Tori R. A. Kricken (B.S. ’96; J.D. ’00) in the District Court for the Second Judicial District of Wyoming, and served as an extern for the Honorable Gregory A. Phillips (B.S. ’83; J.D. ’87) in the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.  She spent a summer working at the respected law firm Holland and Hart, and she has employed her research abilities for both Professor Melissa Alexander at the College of Law, as well as Professor Lauren McLane.

Fisher’s perseverance for improving her own life is rivaled only by her drive to help improve the lives of others. She is a huge proponent of service and volunteer work. She has volunteered with the College of Law Defender Aid Clinic, and currently volunteers with the VITA Income Tax Filing Program and the Albany County SAFE Project. Additionally, she shared her desire to help with other law students, co-founding the Wyoming Law Service Organization. The student-run program arranges volunteer opportunities specifically for law students to give back to the Laramie community.

Following graduation in the spring, Fisher will be clerking for the Honorable Scott Skavdahl (B.S. ’89; J.D. ’92), Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming, and subsequently will return to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals where she will clerk for the Honorable Gregory A. Phillips.

“Being selected as a Brimmer Scholar is a tremendous honor, especially because all of the finalists were such amazing candidates,” comments Fisher. “The program is just another example of all the amazing opportunities for students at the University of Wyoming College of Law. I am so thankful for my experience at the school and for the opportunity to carry on Judge Brimmer’s incredible legacy.”

Meet the 2020-2021 Salt Creek Energy Excellence Recipients

Named for the oldest producing oil and gas field in Wyoming, the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship was founded to encourage students who demonstrate a strong interest in energy law, and to help them as they move forward in their academic endeavors towards a career in the field of energy and natural resources law.

More than just a scholarship, the Salt Creek Energy Excellence program is a community of donors and practitioners dedicated to the legal energy sector. By connecting students to a group of friends and donors, the intent is to facilitate employment and mentorship opportunities, and to provide an easier transition to practice within the field.

The scholarship has already gained substantial notoriety in the energy field, and past recipients have continued to live up to the expectations of this prestigious award.

Each year the committee selects one Salt Creek Scholar, and if the application pool is particularly impressive, selects an additional scholarship recipient(s) to welcome into the Salt Creek energy network.

2020 – 2021 Salt Creek Scholar Elizabeth Stephani

This year, the College of Law and Salt Creek Energy Excellence Committee are excited to recognize second-year law student Elizabeth “Lizzie” Stephani as the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholar for 2020-2021.

With an interest in sustainability, public land management and a passion for private property rights, Stephani came to the College of Law after earning her bachelor’s degree in Government with a minor in Environmental Science and Policy from Smith College in 2018. Prior to starting law school, she spent a 4 months in South Africa working on a waste management project, and also gained experience as a fellow at the Colorado Secretary of State’s Office, and as a Project Manager for a non-profit called AeroAngel. 

During her first year of law school, she served as a Research Assistant for the Rural Law Center where she was able to utilize her background in government regulations to develop a comprehensive research strategy for wildlife migration corridors.

An impressive student with notable writing abilities, Stephani was one of two students from the UW College of Law that were recently selected to the editorial board of the esteemed Harvard Journal of Law and Policy’s Thirty-Ninth Annual Federalist Society National Student Symposium issue.

Stefani did not let her commitment to legal writing deter her from gaining practical legal experience. Busy editing articles this summer; she also worked as an extern with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Denver, Colo. where she was able to acquire expansive litigation exposure and make valuable connections.

She took the fall 2020 semester off from law school to run an election campaign in Colorado, but will resume her studies in the spring with an eye on expanding her education in energy and natural resources.

“In law school and afterward, I am looking forward to exploring the intersections between sustainability, public land management, and private property rights,” she says. “I’m so grateful to attend the University of Wyoming College of Law and have a space to consolidate my questions about resource allocation and correlative rights, while gaining the legal acumen to contribute to the energy industry in the future. I can’ t thank the Salt Creek Network enough for their support and generosity!”

In addition to the Salt Creed Scholar, the Committee selected a second recipient of the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship this year, third-year law student Rachael Buzanowski.

Rachael Buzanowski

A native of Montana, Buzanowski grew up on her family’s ranch where she was often exposed to landowner issues as they relate to the development of natural resources. 

With an extensive background in agriculture, the draw to energy law was a natural fit for Buzanowski. She earned an associates degree in agricultural science from Butler Community College of 2016 where she was also a standout collegiate athlete in both volleyball and track & field, earning All-American and Academic All-American honors. She went on to finish bachelor’s degree in 2018 from Kansas State University in Animal Science before deciding to attend the University of Wyoming College of Law.

During law school she has been an active member of the Natural Resources Law Club, serving as President for the student organization during her 2L year. She has been extremely proactive about her energy education, taking advantage of the energy laden curricular opportunities and attended every possible industry field tour offered to better understand the inner workings of the industry in Wyoming. She has also served as a staff member for the Wyoming Law Review.

Throughout her legal education, Buzanowski gained valuable experience working as a compliance extern with the University of Wyoming Department of Athletics, and as a contract Legal Research Assistant for Righetti Consulting, LLC where she focused her time on issues relating to the determination of mineral ownership. Between her second and third year of law school, she worked as a Summer Associate with the Cheyenne-based Falen Law Offices, LLC, where she worked on land use, industry, and natural resource issues.

In addition to her aptitude for energy law research and writing, Rachael also excelled in the courtroom and was a recipient of the Judge James E. Barrett Scholarship for her outstanding performance in the Summer Trial Institute. Following graduation, she has accepted a permanent position with the Falen Law Offices, LLC.

“I am honored to receive this award and to have such an incredible support system as I begin my legal career,” comments Buzanowski. “I am so excited to be part of the natural resources field and look forward to seeing where this path takes me.”

Salt Creek Scholars are typically announced at the annual College of Law Honors Banquet, honored at the Center for Law and Energy Resources in the Rockies (CLERR) annual Landscape Discussion on Energy Law and Policy, and promoted to potential employers throughout the Salt Creek Scholars donor network.

Due to the complication that have arisen from the COVID-19 pandemic, the College of Law was unable to honor these students at the annual Honors Banquet, or at the annual CLERR Landscape Discussion on Energy Law & Policy in the Rockies Conference.  However, we would like to ensure that these phenomenal students are recognized for their hard work and dedication to energy law in Wyoming.

The College of Law congratulates the Salt Creek Energy Excellence recipients on this incredible accomplishment and looks forward to watching them excel in their legal careers.

College of Law Defender Aid Clinic Launches New Podcast, “Justice Talks in Wyoming”

Students in the Defender Aid Clinic at the UW College of Law have launched a new podcast, “Justice Talks in Wyoming.” The mission of the podcast is to educate the public about serious issues within the United States criminal justice system, in the hopes of influencing positive change.

As one of the only entities on campus that routinely works in the trenches of the criminal justice system, the Defender Aid Clinic is uniquely positioned between the worlds of academia and practice to share its experience, research, passion, knowledge, and interest. It has, therefore, seized the opportunity to use its platform to facilitate a discussion on issues that permeate the criminal justice system.

“Our goal is to critically analyze and scrutinize the law,” says Andrew Sickenberger, student director of the Defender Aid Clinic. “Systemic racial biases and racial stereotypes pervade all levels of law enforcement at all levels of government. Police brutality, and the deaths of innocent African Americans is only one facet of the complex racial disparities existing within the current system. Overall, we want to explore the law’s role in this system, and how it helps perpetuate inequality, injustice, and poverty.”

For the inaugural episode of the podcast, third-year law student Nathan Yanchek chats with Faculty Director of the Defender Aid Clinic Lauren McLane.

In their discussion, they explore concepts of racism, including implicit, unconscious bias and how that translates to the legal system as well as how minorities are expressly impacted by the criminal justice system. They even encourage listeners to participate in a study administered by Harvard University on implicit bias. The test can be taken here.

In addition to theoretical and social identity models, they delve into legal rights such as the 14th Amendment, and how those systems have aged over time within the context of racial disparities and notions of equal protection under the law. They further examine specific cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court that have been frequently cited as major precedents that have disproportionally impacted minorities.

The hope and intent of the podcast is that by listening to different views, a dialogue can be started to effectuating actual, positive change within the legal system.

In addition to the content of the actual interviews, the podcast provides further discussion and supplementary material, including show notes, citation references to cases discussed, reading lists, and authors.

Professor McLane explains that the podcast is designed to encourage open and honest discourse on complex and, perhaps, contentious subjects.

“Far too often, we choose to shy away from what we as a society believe to be contentious issues, but then nothing changes, no one grows, and injustices continue,” she says. “Students from all walks of life and political backgrounds in the Defender Aid Clinic are excited about this project. Creating a forum for civil discourse on important legal and social issues is something that the students and I unequivocally believe in.”

The podcast will utilize the diversity of the Defender Aid Clinic students to host different episodes and will interview a wide variety of speakers and guests. The podcast aims to release new episodes every two weeks.

“Justice Talks in Wyoming” will be available to listeners on all major podcast media, including Spotify, Stitcher, and Apple.

The Defender Aid Clinic hopes you will listen in, be encouraged, stay informed, keep the conversations going, and take action when necessary.

Disclaimer: It is the policy of UW College of Law to promote an environment of open discourse that welcomes all views. College of Law Students, Student Organizations, Faculty and Staff are free to express opinions publicly and privately. The expression of a diverse range of views is welcome and encouraged, as long as it does not disrupt the regular and essential operations of the College of Law or UW. Use of College of Law facilities, advertising through College of Law channels, or College of Law sponsorship does not imply approval or endorsement of any views expressed. The views and opinions shared within the context of this podcast are of those administrating and participating in the podcast alone and do not represent those of the College of Law or University of Wyoming. No information provided on this podcast should be construed as legal advice.

University of Wyoming College of Law Rakes in Accolades for High Employment, Best Value and Top Law School for Family Law

How a student begins law school and how they finish play a significant role in where they end up in their careers – and we are not just talking about grades. Finishing law school with practical experience, low student loan debt, and established relationships with regional practitioners and alumni set our graduates up for successful employment opportunities and meaningful careers.

In these difficult times, law schools across the nation have struggled to adapt to an online climate while continuing to serve students and set them up for success in the future. Here in Wyoming, the staff and faculty at the College of Law have rolled with the punches and kept the focus on doing what we do best – offering a quality education at an affordable price.

These efforts have not gone unnoticed. The College of Law was recently recognized for excellence in several different categories.

Employment Honor Roll

Based on the employment statistics from the class of 2019, the College of Law made the Employment Honor Roll by preLaw and National Jurist Magazine.  Using a linear regression model, the magazine compared the predicted employment rate of the class of 2019 to the actual employment rate to determine how it fared in comparison to other schools under the same model. This weighted employment rate places a higher value on full-time, bar passage-required jobs. Due to the broad spectrum of employment opportunities available to our graduates and the efforts of Career Services Director Ashli Tomisich, employment rates in this category have significantly increased. Wyoming even made the national shortlist of top schools for Federal Clerkship placement.

A strength of the career options for our students is that they can often pursue a job they want, rather than a high paying job they need in order to support crushing student loan bills. The affordability of the College of Law is something that is intrinsically linked to the success of our students in the job market. Many College of Law graduates go into public interest jobs, pursue general practice positions in rural areas of Wyoming, or even opt to hang their own shingle. While these jobs don’t have the glitz and glamour of big law, they are a truer representation of Wyoming law graduates who simply thrive in the practice the law.

As the only law school in the state, UW Law students have a competitive advantage for internships and clerkships. Thanks to the emphasis on experiential and clinical learning opportunities, many students at graduation already have the skills and experience of new associates. This coupled with the incredible relationships with practitioners and alumni in the state, students are able to connect with potential employers early in their education. 

The Office of Career Services and Professional Development at the College of Law has done an excellent job helping guide students in their career searches. Now it is shifting its focus to help students land jobs during a pandemic. Unable to provide in-person services, it has provided online resources through Zoom training sessions, offered digital mock interviews, and has pursued collaborative efforts with outside entities to support student job searches in this unprecedented legal market.

The College of Law is extremely grateful to those employers who are still willing to take on our students in light of the pandemic; they are a tremendous asset to our students for practical training and postgraduate employment. We hope to see another successful year of employment for the class of 2020!

Best Value Law School

National Jurist and preLaw Magazine have also recognized the UW College of Law as a Best Value Law School for seven years and counting. The rankings will be published in the forthcoming fall issue of preLaw Magazine.

Each year when the topic of tuition rates comes up for re-evaluation, the College of Law administration fights hard for our students to keep the tuition rates as low as possible. Law school is notoriously expensive, but the UW College of Law has a strong salary-to-debt ratio making our degree worthwhile and effective.

While affordability is important, value doesn’t stop at the price tag, and what the University of Wyoming College of Law has to offer in terms of its degree is priceless.  The benefits of an affordable tuition allow students to work in a wider variety of legal areas and be in the best position to pay off any student debt. The College of Law not only equips students with skills and practical training, it offers the unshackled freedom for each student to choose the right career path and enjoy their quality of life.

Best School for Family and Child Law

For the second year in a row, National Jurist and preLaw Magazines have recognized Wyoming as a Best School for Family and Child Law.

Family Law is often not glamorous or lucrative, but it is one of the most important types of law practice out there, serving often-vulnerable populations when they are in the greatest hour of need. For children, it is even more critical. Advocates in family and child legal practice are giving a voice to those who have none.

As is often the case when the stakes are high, some of the greatest rewards come with the territory – protecting children, helping victims of domestic violence escape their abusers, or bringing families together.

What really sets the College of Law family and child law programs apart is the emphasis on mental health resources for both clients and students alike, better preparing them to cope with the challenges that are unique to family law. This shift to offering “trauma-informed legal education” was spearheaded by the Faculty Director of the Family and Child Legal Advocacy ClinicDona Playton, who was recently honored by the Wyoming State Bar Association with the John M. Burman Extraordinary Service Award for her efforts.

Not shying away from the complexities of family law, it is integrated into many areas of the curriculum at the law school as well as a strong commitment to access to justice, service, and outreach.  Additionally, there has been significant overlap with the Civil Legal Services Clinic (CLCS) in matters of family issues. Under the supervision of Faculty Director Danielle Cover, the CLCS represented an incarcerated parent in a termination of parental rights case in front of a live jury in the spring 2020, and won.

The College of Law is extremely proud to be recognized in so many important areas that are consistent with our mission to serve, educate, and facilitate employment for students. Even in difficult times, the faculty and staff of the law school are dialed in to the areas that truly matter for our students.

Local Law Firm Pence and MacMillan LLC Celebrates 75th Anniversary and College of Law Alumni

Though 2020 has been a “unique” year, it is still one that serves as a marker of important milestones. While the College of Law marked its 100-year anniversary, a local law firm that shares many close ties to the law school is also celebrating it 75th anniversary. Pence and MacMillan LLC opened its doors in 1945 and has stood as a pillar of civility and service, predominantly comprised of UW College of Law graduates.

The tradition of giving back and being involved with the alma mater is what led to the formation of the firm that we know today. In short, without the College of Law, there would be no Pence and MacMillan.

Alfred A. Pence, one of the original founders and a namesake of the firm, was also one of the earliest graduates of the College of Law. After earning his law degree in 1929 in a class of four, Pence began practicing law in Laramie. He served as a city attorney, notably shutting down one of Laramie’s last brothels, before serving in the army during WWII. He returned to Laramie to embark on a life long career as a litigator.

He established the firm ‘Pence and Millet’ in 1945 with George J. Millet, a 1937 graduate of the College of Law. Hoke MacMillan, a 1970 graduate of the College of Law, joined the firm in 1974. In 1982, he joined Pence as a senior partner of the firm, and it became what it is known as today, Pence and MacMillan, LLC.

By the time MacMillan joined the firm, he was already reputable in his trade as an outstanding attorney. However, it was his ambition as a law student that first made Pence take notice of his abilities. The two first became acquainted when Pence served as a Trustee for the University of Wyoming and MacMillan served as president of the student body while in law school.

The firm has grown over the years and now is represented in multiple locations beyond Laramie, including Cheyenne and Sheridan. Utilizing the well-rounded educations of its attorneys, the practice areas of the firm have also grown to include civil litigation, criminal law defense, family law, probate and trust administration, estate planning and administration, business and financial law, real estate and landlord laws, municipal and governmental law, labor and termination law, and oil and gas law.

A unique attribute of the firm is that throughout the changes it has been through – with old and new partners at the helm, it has remained steadfast in its name, paying homage to some of its original creators and upholding a 75-year legacy.

Part of that legacy is the emphasis on service.

Known for witty and often profound one-liners, Al Pence famously remarked, “When it comes to civic involvement, do your share and a little bit more.” This pearl of wisdom has become more of a mantra for the firm and a core value to uphold for the profession. Had Pence not practiced what he preached and devoted much of himself to outside service within the University and the community, it’s highly possible that Pence and MacMillan’s paths would never have crossed.

“When we hire associates, we make it clear that they are expected to be involved in charitable organizations,” says Senior Partner Greg Weisz. “Our lawyers believe in the work and it’s a great way for the attorney to get to know the community.”

It is also a great way to usher in a new generation of practitioners and be inspired by what they have to offer. In that regard, the attorneys of the firm have been greatly involved with the College of Law.

Over the years, members of the firm have dedicated a substantial amount of their time volunteering in the Summer Trial Institute, serving on the Dean’s Advisory Board, and serving as judges for student competitions. As a local firm, the College of Law leans heavily on the availability and proximity of its attorneys, particularly in the Wyoming weather where a need for volunteers can be high on extremely short notice. The firm has also been generous with sponsorship of student events, competitions, and scholarships.

In turn, the College of Law has helped forge relationships and showcase up-and-coming talent with each new wave of graduates.

While not every employee to walk through the doors of the firm is or has been a UW law graduate, the vast majority are proud alumni of the College of Law.  Nevertheless, all have fit seamlessly into the culture of the firm, humbly representing the core values of the legal community and the state.

The College of Law would like to congratulate Pence and MacMillan on 75 years of practice and for embodying what it means to be a Wyoming Lawyer!

Pence and MacMillan Members and University of Wyoming Law Graduates

College of Law Celebrates Ten Years of Summer Trial and the Terry W. Mackey Scholarship

The College of Law recently completed its annual Summer Trial Institute Program. The Summer Trial Institute is a two-week long, intensive trial advocacy course that teaches students trial skills by practicing in a courtroom while being mentored by leading attorneys and judges from across Wyoming and the region. The course culminates with the students trying a jury trial in front of sitting Wyoming judges who have volunteered to the program, where they receive direct feedback from peers or future employers.

Created in 2010 as the brainchild of former Dean and College of Law Professor Steve Easton, the program gained support from a handful of dedicated trial attorneys, and in partnership with the American College of Trial Lawyers (ACTL) and the Wyoming Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA).  The inaugural course ran in 2011 with a class of 16 students. The year 2020 marked the 10-year anniversary of the program and has seen enrollment double.

The program has been so popular that it was expanded to run in Alaska as well and has been run three times over the years in Anchorage with local trial attorneys, judges, and the Alaska Youth Court eager to lend a hand. It was slated to run with full class in May for a fourth time before the pandemic hit.

Students conducting jury trials

This year, the program was successfully run as an in-person course with 30 students and 58 faculty volunteer practitioners, judges, and court reporters. Students and faculty volunteers alike adhered to the COVID-19 guidelines and the course was incident-free.

The beauty of the course is that it actually simulates the rigor of a two-week jury trial. Students are able to feel the intensity and time commitment it takes to be a litigator, as well as strengthen their adaptability. This year was no exception with students having to expand their reliance on technology, learn how to project through a mask, and to expect the unexpected – just like real attorneys have had to do in the time of COVID-19.

This was a particularly pivotal year for the program. With the departure of Steve Easton, College of Law Professor Lauren McLane took the reins of the program, bringing years of trial experience as a public defender with her. The successful transition further solidified the course as a fundamental, institutional program for the College of Law.

Making the year even more special was the decision to award the Terry W. Mackey Scholarship to a summer trial student.

Terry W. Mackey was an original founder and supporter of the Summer Trial Institute and a fiercely loyal advocate of the College of Law.

Terry W. Mackey

Relying on the daily input from volunteer faculty members, the scholarship is awarded to the student with the most nominations at the end of the two-week period. Each faculty member is asked to nominate the student that they witnessed each day of the program exhibit the qualities that best represent a trial attorney.

The College of Law is pleased to announce the first Terry W. Mackey Scholarship recipient from the Summer Trial Institute Program, Hunter Jones.

Jones is truly one of the most remarkable students ever to cross the threshold of the College of Law. He is the essence of resilience and persistence.

A Native of Cheyenne, Wyo., Jones earned his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Wyoming in 2016. In addition to his law degree, he is concurrently enrolled in the in the Master of Public Administration program and is on track to graduate with both degrees in the spring.

Hunter Jones

A unique characteristic about Jones is that he has cerebral palsy (CP). While it has posed some challenges for him – particularly with mobility issues, he has found a way to overcome them and has never given up on his dreams or let it stop him from doing what he wants. He wants to be a litigator.

If his experience has taught us anything, it is that he embodies all of the core qualities of a trial attorney, displaying true tenacity, grit, and heart.

Jones was inspired to attend law school after volunteering to be an attorney in a Boy’s State mock trial.

“After the trial, the judge came up to me and said that he was very impressed and that I had what it takes to be a good lawyer,” he says. “That had been in the back of my mind ever since.”

He is drawn to the courtroom in particular because it provides a certain freedom in advocacy – something that is a cornerstone lesson in the Summer Trial Institute. Students are encouraged to find an approach that allows them to be authentic and effective.

“I like the idea that there are no clear right or wrong ways to do it,” adds Jones. “I can have my own unique style, while still helping clients.”

In addition to standing out in Summer Trial, Jones has gained valuable practical experience while in law school. He spent the summer working in the District Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne, where he wrote a brief, several motions, and made bond arguments in jail court. He spent the previous summer honing his research skills as an intern at MarkWest in Denver. This fall, he is working in the Prosecution Assistance Clinic at the law school where he will undoubtedly continue to excel.

The summer trial faculty was overwhelmingly impressed by Jones’ performance throughout the program. In fact, going into the final jury trials, it was mathematically impossible for anyone else to win the scholarship.

Deputy District Attorney Caitlin Harper, who worked with Hunter both in the District Attorney’s office as well as in the Summer Trial Institute, comments on his abilities.

“Within several days of Hunter’s internship in the District Attorney’s Office, I knew that he was a born trial attorney. I was taken aback by how quickly he just ‘got it,’ immediately demonstrating skills it takes some attorneys years to learn,” she says. “Hunter knows no limitations and is a fierce advocate for himself. I know that will translate to the courtroom. Those who are Hunter’s adversaries should be prepared to face a formidable opponent.”

Surrounded by his fellow classmates, and with members of the Mackey family zoomed in for the announcement, we learned that Terry Mackey himself had written a letter of support for Jones’ admission to law school. There could be no more appropriate person to receive such a special scholarship.

“It means so much to receive the Mackey Scholarship,” says Hunter. “I knew Terry for a while before law school, and I’m honored to have called him my friend. He helped me get into law school, and he’s helping me again during my last year. I really miss him, and wish I could have worked with him professionally.”

Following law school, Jones hopes to remain in Wyoming and practice law as a prosecuting attorney.

The Summer Trial Institute exemplifies what it means to be an attorney. The age-old skills and traditions of arguing in a courtroom need to continue to thrive in legal education. Wyoming law graduates have come out ahead of the curve because of this incredible program, and they in turn are now passing on their skills and expertise to the next generations of attorneys. We are forever grateful to all of the support and help we have received in keeping this program alive. We humbly ask that our members of the Bar and Bench continue to support this program with their time, expertise, and funds into the future to continue to shape the trial advocates of tomorrow.

We would like to offer a special thanks to this year’s volunteers.

Lauren McLane, University of Wyoming College of Law

President Steve Easton, Dickinson State University

Ewa Dawson, Wyoming Attorney General’s Office, Torts Division

Kris Koski, Of Counsel, Long, Reimer, Winegar, Bepplar LLP, School of Energy Resources

Karen Hinkle, Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, United States Air Force

Paul Hickey, Hickey & Evans, LLP

Evynne Fair, Oakmont Law Group, PC

Glenn Fair, Oakmont Law Group, PC

Jason Neville, The Spence Law Firm

Cassie Craven, Longhorn Law LLC

Scott Ortiz, Williams, Porter, Day & Neville, P.C.

Shawna Geiger, The Colorado Office of Respondent Parents’ Counsel

Caitlin Harper, Laramie County District Attorney’s Office

David Singleton, Laramie County District Attorney’s Office

Grant Smith, Office of the Federal Public Defender

Isaiah Gross, Robinson, Stelting, Welch, Bramlet LLC

Amanda Hunkins-Newton, Crowley Fleck PLLP

Tracy Hucke, Office of the Federal Public Defender

Kyle Ratliff, Area Defense Counsel, United States Air Force

Darci Phillips, Davis & Cannon, LLP

Gary Shockey, Gary L. Shockey, PC

John Masterson, Welborn Sullivan Meck & Tooley P.C.

Charlie Abourezk, General Counsel and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs of the Great Plains Tribal Leaders Health Board

Bob Rose, Director, Western Trial Advocacy Institute

Christyne Martens, United States Attorney’s Office – District of Wyoming

Rob Shively, Rob Shively, P.C.

Cam Walker, Schwartz, Bon, Walker & Studer, LLC

Melissa Alexander, University of Wyoming College of Law

Jan Davis, Federal Official Court Reporter

Judge Tom Sullins, ret. Wyoming District Court of the Seventh Judicial District

Judge Tori Kricken, Wyoming District Court of the Second Judicial District

Justice Keith Kautz, Wyoming Supreme Court

Judge Marvin Tyler, Wyoming District Court of the

Tom Thompson, MacPherson & Thompson, LLC

Judge Bobbi Overfield, Wyoming District Court of the Fifth Judicial District

Ashley Schluck, Albany County City Attorney’s Office

Judge Thomas Lee, Wyoming Circuit Court of the First Judicial District

Baend Buus, Laramie County District Attorney’s Office

Justice Kate Fox, Wyoming Supreme Court

Devon O’Connell, Pence and MacMillan LLC

Judge Robert Castor, ret., Wyoming Circuit Court of the Second Judicial District

Mandy Good, Crowley Fleck PLLP

Steve Kline, Kline Law Office, PC

Judge Alan Johnson, United States District Court for the District of Wyoming

Marci Crank Bramlet, Robinson, Stelting, Welch, Bramlet LLC

Cole Sherard, Pence and MacMillan LLC

Frank Bellinghiere, Bellinghiere Law Offices

Walter Eggers, Holland & Hart LLP

Becky Farley, Albany County Prosecutor’s Office

Judge Dona Playton, Albany County Municipal Court

Chief Judge Scott Skavdahl, United States District Court for the District of Wyoming

Chief Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin, United States District Court for the District of Wyoming

Magistrate Judge Mark Carman, United States District Court for the District of Wyoming

Judge Thomas Rumpke, Wyoming District Court of the Sixth Judicial District

Brianne Phillips, Staff Attorney for the Hon. Catherine R. Rogers

Justice Lynne Boomgaarden, Wyoming Supreme Court

Judge Robert Sanford, Circuit Court of the Second Judicial District of Wyoming

Eric Limegrover, Cordell & Cordell, P.C.

Joel Defebaugh, Albany County Prosecutors Office

Charles Nye, School of Energy Resources

And a huge thank you to the ACTL and ABOTA for the their financial contribution to the program.

Uganda Constitutional Court Issues Landmark Decision on Women’s Rights

On August 19, 2020, the Constitutional Court of Uganda announced a major victory for Ugandan women, human rights, and the Kampala-based Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) in a case that University of Wyoming College of Law faculty and students have been involved in since 2012. The Constitutional Court ruled unanimously that the failure of the government to provide basic maternal health care services and emergency obstetric care in public health facilities is a violation of rights codified in the Ugandan Constitution and international human rights treaties.

The Court ordered the government to implement several immediate financial and structural remedies requested by the petitioners and to make periodic progress reports to the Court. The Court also awarded two individual petitioners (the families of women who lost their lives in childbirth) general and exemplary damages (totaling approximately $42,000 US each) to remedy “psychological torture, violation of the rights to life, health and cruel and degrading treatment of their loved ones.”

Barring appeal, the decision concludes nine years of litigation against the government. The College of Law’s Center for International Human Rights Law and Advocacy (CIHRLA), under the leadership of Professor Noah Benjamin Novogrodsky, assisted CEHURD with a successful appeal to the Supreme Court of Uganda, as well as proceedings before the Constitutional Court.

Over the years, Wyoming law students grappled with the intricacies and challenges of international human rights litigation traveled to Uganda to work directly with CEHURD and other stakeholders. The work of the students has inched the case forward, small victory after small victory as early as November 2015, and including most recently in November 2019

The work on the maternal mortality case benefitted from the efforts of more than a dozen Wyoming law students, Golten Fellows Tilman Jacobs, Adam Severson and Jamie Crawford, and the sustained assistance of the law firm of Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.  CIHRLA is also grateful for the contributions of the Human Rights Center of UC Berkeley, HealthGap, Dr. Ndola Prata and Karen Weidert of the Bixby Center for Population, Health, and Sustainability, the law firm of Arnold & Porter, Dr. Peter Waiswa, and the many individual donors and supporters to the case.

Congratulations to CEHURD, Uganda’s women’s rights community, and the other African health rights advocates who have seen the case through to the Constitutional Court decision. 

The opinion is available here.  Coverage of the case is available at https://www.independent.co.ug/constitutional-court-orders-govt-to-compile-audit-on-maternal-health/

Professor George Mocsary Releases Updated Online Chapters of “Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy”

As a Second Amendment scholar and business law connoisseur, University of Wyoming College of Law Professor George Mocsary has made significant contributions through his research and savvy legal analysis in both fields. Among many of his accomplishments, Professor Mocsary recently offered an updated version of the supplemental chapters to his co-authored publication, “Firearms Law and the Second Amendment: Regulation, Rights, and Policy” (2nd ed. 2017).

The first casebook on its topic, it provides a comprehensive history of firearms law and expands into modern case law; serving as both a traditional textbook for the growing demand of firearms law classes throughout the nation, as well as a treatise for those looking to expand their knowledge of a variety of topics within firearms law.

The casebook is available as a hard copy and offers supplementary chapters that are available online.

The release of the updated chapters is timely in the current, politically charged environment, serving as a go-to resource on important issues happening in the world. The online chapters cover a range of related topics surrounding firearms law, including a comparative analysis between U.S. firearms laws and other nations, and an in-depth look of firearms culture and policy as it relates to important social issues. The newly revised online chapters are available for free on SSRN and on the Firearms Regulation Website.

Touted as a leading expert in the field of Second Amendment issues, Professor Mocsary has also served as a value asset to a multitude of outlets, including academic institutions, publications, and mainstream media.

Professor Mocsary has established a special relationship with the newly created Duke Center for Firearms Law. The goals of the Center are to promote firearms law as a distinct area of scholarship, to serve as a resource in providing reliable and balanced scholarship, and to encourage non-partisan debates on the Second Amendment. As a recognized scholar in the field, Mocsary has been regularly approached to offer his insights and research to the Center. Most recently, he was featured in the latest episode of the Center’s Scholarship Highlight Series. The Full interview can be viewed here where he discusses his contributions to the updated online chapters in greater depth.

His work has also been cited in the other legal scholarship publications. In the past year, he has been cited in the Yale Law Journal, the Harvard Law Review Forum, the William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal, and the Duke Law Journal Online.

Mocsary has also served as a resource to national media outlets seeking to understand the nuances of firearms law as it applies to current affairs. In areas of lively debate involving firearms, he offers his explanations on how the law applies to the situation. In the current climate of protests and riots, the use of force and the right to bear arms is again at the forefront of many discussions. Over the past several months, Professor Mocsary has been sought for his professional opinion on these matters, and has been quoted in several news outlets.

Beginning in December of 2019, Mocsary was quoted in the New York Times about the prospect of multiple firearms cases appearing before the United States Supreme Court. As a follow up, he was quoted again by Route Fifty when the Supreme Court declined to hear a variety of firearms cases.

His expertise was requested once more to fact check headlines when tensions were high involving protestors and the use of force. He served as a voice of reason from the fallout of escalated tensions and remedies. He also addressed a conundrum experienced in D.C. regarding the public transfers of federally licensed firearms.

In addition to his scholarly works focused on the Second Amendment, Mocsary is an accomplished business law scholar and specialist. He serves as the Director of the College of Law’s Entrepreneurship and Business Law Practicum, as well as teaches courses in Contracts, Corporations, Securities Regulations and Agency and Partnership. 

He was a driving force in the organization of the Ostrom Discussion Colloquium with the Institute for Human Studies at George Mason University in March 2020. Offering input and guidance at the event, the Colloquium was a success in discussing the intersection between economics and law. It is the first of what is planned to be a series of law and economics colloquia.

He is currently publishing in the area of insider trading. His co-authored article “Public Perceptions of Insider Trading,” which is forthcoming.

Mocsary joined the College of Law in July of 2019 and has already made a substantial impact as a leading scholar and in elevating the profile of the college. Un-phased by the uncertainty surrounding the nation and particularly institutions of higher education, Mocsary remains steadfastly on the path to serve as an important resource through his academic research. The College of Law is extremely proud of all that his has accomplished in his short time on our faculty.