Meet the 2019-2020 Salt Creek Energy Excellence Recipients

Established in 2015 by University of Wyoming alums and benefactors practicing in the salt creek logoareas of oil and gas and energy law, the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship is awarded to students demonstrating academic achievement and a commitment to the study and practice of energy law.

Due to the impressive slate of applicants, this year’s Salt Creek Selection committee decided to honor three students for their dedication to energy law and the promise they showed in the field, one as the Salt Creek Scholar and two as students with honorable mention.

The College of Law and the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Committee are please to introduce Connor Thompson as the 2019-2020 Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholar.

2019-2020 Salt Creek Scholar Connor Thompson

Thompson was raised in Rawlins, Wyo., where exposure to the energy industry played an integral role throughout his youth. He attended the University of Wyoming for his undergraduate degree in Psychology, graduating in 2017. During that time, he also completed an internship with British Petroleum (BP), which helped to kindle his desire to work within the energy field. Growing up with energy development on his doorstep, Thompson was perceptive to both the advantages and the obstacles that arise within the industry. This awareness led him to law school where he felt that his path lied in service to the state of Wyoming in order to preserve jobs and the economy, while at the same time finding innovative solutions to current and future resource issues.

While in law school he has been extremely active within the energy tract in the course offerings. In addition to an energy, environmental and natural resources curriculum, Thompson has wasted no time in gaining practical experience and extracurricular opportunities.  He has served as an extern for the Honorable Alan B. Johnson of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming, shadowed the Honorable Tom Sullins of the Seventh Judicial District of Wyoming (Retired) in the Legal Liftoff Program, and served as a summer intern for the Rawlins law firm MacPherson & Thompson, LLC. He is also a member of the Natural Resources Law Club, and competed in both the ABA Negotiations Competition and the Energy Negotiations Competition.

“I want to thank the Salt Creek Committee for the honor of being named the 2019-2020 Salt Creek Scholar,” says Thompson. “My love for the state of Wyoming and for the people who live and work here helped inspire my passion for energy and natural resource law. Going forward, I hope to find work in the industry and to make a positive impact through my work. I believe that being named the Salt Creek Scholar will help me achieve these goals and I am excited for what the future holds.”

The Salt Creek Committee selected two additional students that demonstrated equally impressive backgrounds and achievements in energy as honorable mentions. As such, the students will be welcomed into the Salt Creek Network with equal enthusiasm and recognition. Honorable mentions were awarded to Tayler Heintz and Patrick Kent.

A native of Centennial, Colo., Heintz attended the University of Wyoming for her undergraduate degrees in History, and Environment & Natural Resources and completely fell in love with Wyoming. Drawn by the small town charm, the slower way of life, and the kindness and generosity of the people, she decided to stay to pursue a joint degree with the College of Law and the Haub School of Environment and Natural Resources.

Salt Creek Honorable Mention Tayler Heintz

Her experience within the JD/MA program has allowed her to analyze energy and environmental issues through an interdisciplinary lens, which has come in handy during her legal education. Heintz has leaned heavily on the energy and environmental courses offered in the law curriculum and entered her first-year of law school as a standout energy student when she finished as a finalist in the Energy Negotiation Competition as a 1L. She was a repeat finalist this past year.  She has also served as the president for the Natural Resources Law Club.

Heintz’s commitment to energy law is further evident through her work as an intern with the oil & gas firm Astrella Law in Denver, Colo. Through her position, she gained valuable experience in the lease negotiation process between mineral development companies and landowners, stoking her interest in the industry.

Heintz plans to stay in the region and pursue a career in within the energy field after completing law school.

Originally from Charleston, S.C., Patrick Kent earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in History from Clemson University where he graduated cum laude. Following a few years of post-graduate teaching as a history professor, he opted to move to the Mountain West and in particular Wyoming, to pursue a career in energy law.

Salt Creek Honorable Mention Patrick Kent

Entering his third-year of law school, Kent is well positioned to continue on that path for a successful career in the industry. Like his Salt Creek counterparts, Kent has taken advantage of all that the law school has to offer in the natural resources area – excelling in the energy topics curriculum and competing within the Energy Negotiations Competition.

Kent has gained valuable work experience as an intern at Mowry Law, LLC in Denver, working on mineral title examination.  His experience has also afforded him the opportunity to apply what he has learned in law school by performing extensive legal research and drafting documents for the firm.

Following graduation, Kent hopes to come full circle in his career by not only working as a successful attorney within the oil & gas industry, but also pursing energy law teaching opportunities within higher education where he can share his passion for natural resources, and mentor the up and coming generations in the field.

The College of Law is exceedingly proud of the caliber of the students forging a path within the energy realm and we are excited to see them develop within the Salt Creek Network.

More than just a scholarship, Salt Creek Scholars are 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. By connecting these students to a group of friends and donors, the intent is to provide an easier transition to employment and mentorship opportunities within the field. For an opportunity to meet these incredible students, mark your calendars for the upcoming CLERR conference. 2019 energy conference save the date


Judicial Clerkships and the UW College of Law

One of the most prestigious options for new lawyers embarking on their legal careers is to clerk. When it comes to looking for post-graduate employment, the College of Law is in a unique position to help a high proportion of our students into those coveted position. Due in large part to the incredible relationships with our alumni and members of the judiciary, Wyoming graduates have proven their worth repeatedly in those positions. Consequently, our employment statistics reflect a high proportion of law graduates serving in judicial clerkships.

These numbers are particularly impressive when you consider that there are far more clerkship positions available (federal and alike) in other areas of the country. In a smaller pool of regional opportunity, Wyoming graduates are exceptionally competitive.

For the class of 2017, the College of Law was flagged by “Above the Law” as one of the top schools to attend for federal clerkships. The metrics for this ranking is based simply on the proportion of the students in the class that go into federal clerkships upon graduation. In a class of 70 students, the College of Law sent 7.14% (five students total) into federal clerkships and 15.71% (eleven students total) into clerkship positions overall, including positions with the Wyoming Supreme Court and District Courts around Wyoming and surrounding states.

While the percentages of the class of 2018 where slightly lower due to a larger class size of 85, the hard number of actual clerkship hires increased with twelve students accepting offers into these esteemed positions upon graduation, two of which were federal.

The class of 2019 is currently on track to mimic that trend with eleven students placed in clerkship positions from a student body of 71. Those students entering clerkships account for 15.49% of the class, and of those, 5.6% are in federal clerkships. Students moving into clerkship positions from the class of 2019 include:

  • Keeley Cronin of Powell, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Greg Phillips (J.D. ’87) of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit;
  • Kaylee Harmon of Cheyenne, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Scott Skavdahl (J.D. ’92) Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming;
  • Madeleine Lewis of Cheyenne, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Nancy Freudenthal (J.D. ’80) of the United States District Court for the District of Wyoming;
  • Emily Madden of Torrington, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Kelly Rankin (J.D. ’94) Chief United States Magistrate Judge for the District of Wyoming;
  • John Fritz of Streetman, Tex., who will be clerking for the Honorable Lynne Boomgaarden (J.D. ’91) of the Wyoming Supreme Court;
  • Catherine Di Santo of Jackson, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Kari Jo Gray (J.D. ’87) of the Wyoming Supreme Court;
  • Samuel King of Missoula, Mont., who will be clerking for the Honorable Michael McGrath, Chief Justice  of the Montana Supreme Court;
  • David Roberts of Jackson, Wyo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Tori R.A. Kricken (J.D. ’00) of the Second Judicial District of Wyoming;
  • David Hill of La Mirada, Cali., who will be clerking for the Honorable Bobbi Overfield of the Fifth Judicial District of Wyoming;
  • Jada Garofalo of Ft. Collins, Colo., who will be clerking for the Honorable Herman Walker (J.D. ’92) of the Alaska Superior Court; and
  • Sara Waeckerle of Rapid City, SD., who will be clerking for the Honorable Michael Day of the Fourth Judicial Circuit of South Dakota.

Why are clerkships so valuable? Beyond the distinction of the position, students gain valuable mentorship from an inside perspective. This engagement with the judiciary not only enriches their education and amplifies their skills, but it also makes them better researchers, writers, and advocates in their future practice.

Recognizing the opportunity to have a positive and lasting impact on law students, many judges are able to cultivate relationships with our students by taking on multiple externs throughout the course a student’s legal education. Externships provide a snapshot for the student of life in chambers, and provides a gateway to post-graduate positions.

One such student to land a clerkship position from her externship experience is recent law graduate and Brimmer Scholar, Emily Madden.

(Above) Emily Madden (J.D. ’19); (Below) Chief Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin (J.D. ’94)

“I had the privilege of externing with Judge Rankin during the summer of 2017,” she says. “The externship was only five weeks long and, at the time, I had only completed one year of law school. Despite the position’s short duration and my limited knowledge, Judge Rankin and his staff trusted me with the responsibilities of a clerk and gave me the courage to fulfill them. That experience gave me confidence and competence that never would have manifested by just sitting in the classroom.”

Madden’s time in Judge Rankin’s chambers inspired her to complete three more judicial externships while in law school and ultimately led her to apply for the post-graduate clerkship position with Judge Rankin, which she secured.

“My experience with Judge Rankin was so positive and transformative,” she concludes. “Returning to Judge Rankin’s chambers this fall is truly my 1L-dream coming true.”

Clerkships do not only benefit the students. Recent law graduates bring a fresh perspective to the status quo and are eager to make themselves useful. Wyoming students in particular have continually proven to be tenacious problem solvers. Often demonstrating grit, resilience, and resourcefulness, our graduates are proactive in finding solutions for their judges, as well as demonstrating a steadfast work ethic.

“We have a strong preference for hiring law clerks with Wyoming roots and graduates of the University of Wyoming College of Law,” says Chief Magistrate Judge Kelly Rankin. “We find these are the people most invested in Wyoming and most likely to practice law here after their clerkship.  We also find UW trained lawyers frequently stack up better than other lawyers trained across the country.”

Interested in hiring a law clerk from Wyoming? Please contact the Director of Career Services, Ashli Tomisich to post a position the upcoming fall. The Career Services Director can arrange on campus interviews, help with the collection of applications, and facilitate communication with our students! Contact her at or by calling (307) 766-4074.

While the vast majority of the clerkship positions garnered for our students are in Wyoming, many students have gained clerkships in other states as well, including Nevada, South Dakota, Kansas, Alaska, Montana, Minnesota, and Colorado.

“Wyoming law students are extremely fortunate to have such an accessible judiciary,” adds Madden. “Every judge that I have worked for, and nearly every judge that I have met, is happy to provide students with meaningful, hands-on experience while in law school. Applying for a judicial externship as a 1L seemed like a stretch at the time, but it is easily the best decision that I’ve ever made.”

The College of Law is extremely grateful to all of our incredible judges for the graciousness in which they lend their time, the engagement they offer to our students, and the confidence they have in the education we provide. We are incredibly fortunate to enjoy such a dedicated and loyal group of amazing people.

Meet the 2019-2020 Brimmer Scholar

DSC_2649The College of Law is pleased to feature Meridith Heneage, of Lexington, S. C. as the 2019-2020 Brimmer Scholar.

A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Heneage earned her degree in Finance Summa Cum Laude while competing as a Division I athlete in Track & Field and Cross Country. With a year of eligibility left when she began law school, Heneage finished out her athletic career at the University of Wyoming. She represented the Cowgirls, competing in the 2017 cross-country season and Mountain West Championship while attending the College of Law.

Thus far in her legal education, Heneage has worked with that same diligence and ferocity. She has been an active member of the student chapters for Equal Justice Wyoming, Women in Law Forum, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, and the Student Ambassador Program. She has also worked as a research assistant for Professor Melissa Ballengee Alexander.

Heneage recently took over as the Managing Editor for the Wyoming Law Review. She is poised to publish an article she authored on compensating the wrongfully convicted in Wyoming, and will further explore that topic as she works for the Defender Aid Clinic in the fall.

In addition to being involved internally, she has gained valuable experience outside the law school. She served as an extern for the Honorable Tori R.A. Kricken in the Wyoming District Court for the Second Judicial District, and is currently working as a summer intern with the Spence Law Firm in Jackson.

With a dedication to her community and a continued passion for fitness, Heneage volunteers her time as a coach for the “She’s a Runner Girl” Program in Laramie which helps mentor young girls about the joys of running and exercise. She is also a founding member of the Laramie Downtown Running Club, as well as the Wyoming Law Service Club, which facilitates volunteer projects for law students within the community.

Heneage’s commitment to service, advocacy, and excellence is exemplified moreover by her career aspirations. Following the completion of her legal education, Heneage hopes to serve as a law clerk for a year before fulfilling her dream to serve the country as a Judge Advocate General (JAG) in the United States military.

“I think that JAG offers an incredible opportunity to serve the country, see the world, and get a wide range of legal experiences as a new attorney,” she comments.

Heneage has certainly excelled and distinguished herself among her peers as a deserving recipient of this scholarship. Along with the title and honor of being a Brimmer Scholar comes the responsibility to carry on the legacy of Judge Brimmer with a continued dedication to excellence.

Named for the Honorable Clarence A. Brimmer, the Brimmer Scholars Program was established in 2011 and is the largest and most prestigious scholarship offered by the College of Law. It is intended to honor the long and distinguished service of Judge Brimmer, and to ensure that his renowned career serves as an inspiration to up-and-coming generations of legal professionals.

The Brimmer Scholar is selected from a group of finalists that undergo an intense interview process with the distinguished Brimmer Scholarship Selection Committee. The Committee varies from year to year and consists of representatives from the judiciary, the Wyoming bar, the faculty, former clerks of Judge Brimmer, and members of the Brimmer family.

It is an exceptional honor to be a recipient of this award as well as a finalist.

This year’s group finalists included Kari Hartman, of Cheyenne; Toni Hartzel, of Cheyenne; Renee Leone, of Jackson; Jason Mitchell, of Great Falls, Mont.; Mackenzie Morrison, of Evansville; and Connor Thompson of Rawlins.

“I feel very grateful and humbled to have been selected from such an accomplished group of finalists,” says Heneage. “This scholarship and opportunity means so much to me and is truly life changing. Judge Brimmer left behind an incredible and distinguished legacy in the state of Wyoming, and it is an extraordinary honor to be a part of that through this program.”

As the most recent member of a proud legacy, the College of Law congratulates Heneage on this prestigious accomplishment, as well as all of the finalists. (See past recipients here).

Rankings and Accolades: UW College of Law Named Among the Best Schools for Practical Training, Most Affordable Law Schools, and Specialty Programs

The University of Wyoming College of Law is no stranger to recognition. With small class sizes, a low faculty to student ratio, and strong clinical programs all at a reasonable tuition, it is no wonder that others have taken notice. The College of Law has been named among the best in various categories in many different outlets highlighting these strengths.

Most Affordable Law School

Topping the list of accomplishments is the College of Law’s recognition among the Top 10 Most Affordable Law Schools in the United States. The points-based ranking system looked at a short list of schools identified through U.S. News & World Report as the most affordable schools. The ranking is especially important in the current climate where students are faced with high debt costs upon graduation. Wyoming has worked hard to maintain an affordable tuition for both in-state and out-of-state students, freezing tuition for several years where other law schools have continually increased their costs.

In addition to affordability, the College of Law offers a variety of specializations and programs making the degree not only one of the most affordable in the nation, but one of the best value. By keeping the cost of attendance low and providing students with a high quality, practical education, the College of Law is facilitating the post-graduate success of all who attend.

Best School for Practical Training

It comes as no surprise that the UW College of Law has been listed among the best in the nation for Practical Training by PreLaw and National Jurist Magazines. For the fifth year in a row, the College of Law was identified as one of the strongest law schools for training new lawyers. With other law schools stepping up to the plate and creating better practice-ready offerings within their curriculum, the College of Law has continued to remain competitive as one of the OG’s for experiential learning.

The College of Law has always prioritized clinical training as far back as 1970 with the creation of the first clinic. Currently boasting seven clinics and practicums, and poised to add more, students can gain valuable experience in the Civil Legal Services Clinic, the Defender Aid Clinic, the Prosecution Assistance Clinic, the Family and Child Legal Advocacy Clinic, the Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Clinic, the International Human Rights Practicum and the Estate Planning Practicum. The College of Law will be adding a Business Law Practicum to the curriculum in the fall of 2019.

In addition to the robust clinical programs, the College of Law offers other diverse opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience including a vibrant externship program, simulation and skills courses such as the Summer Trial Institute, and a growing number of student competitions.

Law School Specialty Rankings U.S. News & World Report

As the backbone to all higher-ed rankings, garnering extra attention from U.S. News & World Report is a particularly notable achievement. A perennial school among the Best Law Schools, Wyoming has excelled in several areas, including Clinical Training, Intellectual Property Law, International Law, Tax Law, Environmental Law, and Legal Writing.

Ranked #65 in Environmental Law, the College of Law has several programs contributing to its excellence in this area. In addition to an expansive curriculum including Environmental Law, Public Lands & Natural Resources Law, Water Law, Federal Energy Law, Agricultural Law and Land Use Law (just to name a few), the College of Law offers exceptional opportunities for students to distinguish themselves within the area of natural resources. Through the Energy, Environmental & Natural Resources Clinic students work directly with the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office in a hybrid structure consisting of a classroom component and a clinical practice component. Students can also earn a Certificate in Environmental, Energy, and Natural Resources (EENR) law, endorsing their tailored education in these fields.

Ranked #42 in Legal Writing, the College of Law is known widely for its Center for the Study of Written Advocacy. Through the labors of the Center’s Director, Professor Michael R. Smith, the Center has advanced the discipline of legal writing by producing, facilitating, and promoting research and scholarship that explores the substance, procedure, and ethics of written legal advocacy. A list of past presentations sponsored by the Center for the Study of Written Legal Advocacy can be found here. USNesw 2020 rankings

The UW College of Law continually strives to offer the best legal education possible for all of its students, and to maintain its significant institutional reputation for its alumni. The College of Law is proud that others have taken notice of the extensive expertise and incredible opportunities offered at the College of Law, and will continue to preserve the quality for years to come.

College of Law Graduation

graduation 2019A new batch of University of Wyoming law graduates will celebrate their accomplishments this Saturday, May 18, 2019. The College of Law Commencement Ceremony will take place in the Buchanan Center for the Performing Arts beginning at 10:00 AM.

judge phillipsThe program will feature Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Gregory A. Phillips as the graduation speaker. Phillips is a 1987 graduate of the College of Law where he was also selected as a recipient for the Order of the Coif. Originally from Evanston, Wyo., Phillips clerked for the Honorable Alan B. Johnson before practicing law from 1989 to 2003. From 2003 to 2010, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in Cheyenne, before being appointed as the Wyoming Attorney General. He was nominated to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2013 by President Barack Obama and has served on the bench ever since.

The ceremony will also feature remarks from Kit Jackson Wendtland, who was voted from among his peers to be the Class of 2019 Speaker.

This year’s graduating class represents a group of extremely driven and academically excellent individuals. The College of Law is excited to see what great things they achieve in their emerging legal careers.

Congratulations to the Class of 2019 at the College of Law!

Faculty Highlight: Jason Robison Honored with Chief Washakie Foundation Distinguished Leadership Award

jason_webOn April 18, 2019, Professor Jason Robison was honored with the Chief Washakie Foundation Distinguished Leadership Award. The award was ceremoniously conferred at the inaugural Native American Scholarship and Awards Banquet. Hosted by the University of Wyoming, the banquet recognized the accomplishments of Native American students, afforded the opportunity to express appreciation to scholarship donors, and served as a platform for the announcement of new scholarships and new awards.

Professor Robison was recognized for his outstanding service on President Nichols’ Native American Affairs Advisory Council, which was established in summer 2017 and responsible for the grand opening of UW’s Native American Education, Research, and Cultural Center (NAERCC) in fall 2017. Moving forward from these milestones, the Council formed a diverse, 17-person subcommittee in spring 2018 to draft a first-ever Native American and Indigenous Affairs Strategic Plan for UW. Professor Robison has chaired this subcommittee, facilitating a host of listening sessions and meetings on main campus and the Wind River Indian Reservation, as well as completing comparative research on a wide range of other universities’ policies in regards to Native American and Indigenous Affairs.

The Chair and Executive Director of the Chief Washakie Foundation, James Trosper, presented the surprise award. Trosper is also a former UW trustee, the former Director of the NAERCC, and the current director of UW’s High Plains American Indian Research Institute (HPAIRI).

The award is bestowed upon a faculty member that has shown leadership abilities similar to those of Chief Washakie.jason-award

Beyond his service role within the greater university, Professor Robison is also a member of the Working Group on Tribes and Water in the Colorado River Basin. Much of his research and teaching focuses on Native American communities, particularly the intersection of federal Indian law, public lands law, and water law in the American West. Encompassing these three areas, Professor Robison is lead editor of a forthcoming sesquicentennial volume for John Wesley Powell’s historic 1869 Expedition down the Green and Colorado rivers—Vision & Place: John Wesley Powell & Reimagining the Colorado River Basin. He regularly teaches courses at the College of Law in American Indian Law, Federal Courts, International Environmental Law, and Water Law & Policy and Advanced Water Law & Policy.

“Receiving this award is genuinely one of the highest honors of my career,” says Robison. “It has been a blessing to serve on President Nichols’ Advisory Council, and to connect with tribal leaders and members on Wind River, while putting together UW’s strategic plan. Now the words in that document need to be given life.”

Defender Aid Clinic: A Force to be Reckoned With

The Defender Aid Clinic has been continually picking up steam and spending a lot of time in the courtroom. Students have gained valuable experience both within the confines of the clinic walls as well as in front of the judiciary.  Here is just a glimpse of the Defender Aid Clinic highlight reel.

Oral-argumentsOn Tuesday, April 9, 2019, Second-year law student Emily Williams of Laramie, Wyo. argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court. The case was involving improper comments by the trial court and was an intense oral argument.

emily-bw“It was a very interesting issue because it is not that common of a scenario and was definitely an uphill battle,” says Williams. “Overall it was a really awesome experience though because the Wyoming Supreme Court was so interactive. I got to have a really good conversation with the justices, so it was a really enriching experience for me.”

Faculty Director of the Defender Aid Clinic Lauren McLane was beaming with pride after the oral argument. (More about Professor McLane).

“The justices were asking really hard questions to Emily,” says McLane. “No matter the outcome of the appeal, I am extremely proud of how well she held her own in front of the highest court in the state.”

Williams credits Professor McLane’s rigorous preparation for her success.

“Professor McLane is such a tremendous resource and mentor in terms of learning and preparing,” shares Williams. “She let me take the first pass by myself and then was there to guide me through multiple moots. She helped me to anticipate all of the different scenarios and potential questions that I might face, and forced me to react to them calmly and competently.”

DSC_6009Third-year law student and current student clinic director, Alex Cremer of Sheridan, Wyo. also argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court in March.  His case was a direct appeal to the Supreme Court, arguing on an evidentiary issue for his client.

“It was exciting to actually prepare for the case,” says Cremer. “Professor McLane did a great job of over-preparing me so that I felt confident and more readily able to appear before the justices. It was still a challenging experience, because you have to have a good grasp on thousands of pages of transcripts and be prepared to have an answer for literally any question. I felt confident in my ability to adjust on the fly after working with Professor McLane.”

Appearing before the court did not disappoint. The justices lived up to their reputation of being extremely engaging, insightful, and friendly to the students.

“We are so lucky that we are able to have to opportunity to appear before the Wyoming Supreme Court,” says Cremer. “They were very welcoming and I learned a lot in the small window of time I spent before them.”

Cremer felt that the experience was extremely validating for the three years spent learning, working, and improving during law school – an appropriate and refreshing way to tie everything together while still under the umbrella of the law school.

“It was fun to know that no matter how real you can make your moot problems, there is nothing like actually representing a client with a real case,” he says. “It is different than trying to impress a professor and get a grade when there is someone else’s life on the line. In that respect it was an honor and a privilege.”

For Professor McLane, the sentiments shared by Cremer are exactly why we have the clinics.

“This is why we are here. It’s practicing law, while you are in law school,” explains McLane. “This is the ultimate experiential learning opportunity for any student. In fact, many practicing attorneys will never appear before the Wyoming Supreme Court, so to get this experience and exposure at this point in their education is invaluable.”

resentencingIn addition to the Supreme Court arguments, Cremer and Williams joined forces on a major juvenile resentencing case that has been part of the Defender Aid Clinic for the past four years.

Originally taken into the Clinic by the late Professor Diane Courselle, the case Davis v. State of Wyoming is an extremely special one in that is not only the biggest terminal case in Wyoming, it has spanned over the course of four different directors of the Clinic.

Following the passing of Professor Courselle, Tom Fleener served as the Clinic Director when the case initially was up for resentencing in Johnson County. The team lost, but under the direction of Julianne Gern, the Clinic filed an appeal to the Wyoming Supreme Court, which they won in a landmark decision. (More about that case here).

With the case now in the hands of Professor McLane, Williams and Cremer appeared in the Johnson County Courthouse on March 4th in front of Judge Edelman (B.S. ’88, J.D. ’91) to argue for Mr. Davis’ release.

Professor McLane is extremely proud of her students.

“Emily exhibited skills that any seasoned lawyer would have exhibited which is substantial given that she is a second-year law student,” she acclaims. “Alex knows his way around the courtroom and was a great examiner already, but we had some unpredictable things happen that he dealt with like any experienced attorney would have dealt with off the cuff. If anyone walked into that courtroom, there is not a chance that they would have guessed that either of them was a law student making that argument.”

For Williams, the case felt very personal.

“This is the biggest case that I have worked on in the Clinic for the past year,” she comments. “We got to know our client really well, and since this case has involved so many past students and directors of this Clinic, they all rallied around us and offered support.”

The students still have to submit their closing statements via a written submission to the court by the end of May. It is hoped that a decision will be made on the case by the end of the summer.

While arguing in multiple courts has afforded Cremer and incredible experience and an arsenal of courtroom skills, his service as the Student Clinic Director has been equally rewarding.

“I am so grateful for the opportunity,” he says. “It was easier than I thought it would be because of the group of the students. Egos are left at the doors and everyone is receptive to my insights and help. It’s been fun working with fellow classmates on things that are a little more exciting than your average midterm paper, and fun to see people become more confident and put this stuff to the test before they are out there.”

Even though only one student appears to do an argument in the courts, it is a true collaborative effort with all of the clinic students to research the cases, gather the facts and write the briefs. An ancillary benefit to the Clinic is the community that is forged between the students as well as the professional network they encounter.

Cremer attributes this positive culture to Professor McLane.

“Professor McLane has particularly brought an invigorating energy to the Clinic and the law school in general,” says Cremer. “It has been so fun to learn and grow from someone that puts some much energy and fervor into their work. Moreover, she teaches you to take it seriously and to perform it passionately and if you’re not willing to do just that, then there is no point in getting in into this kind of work.”

supreme-court.jpgAs evidence of her dedication to expanding the knowledge of her students, Professor McLane is taking both her current and her future Student Clinic Directors with her to the Innocence Network Annual Conference taking place April 11 -13 in Atlanta, Ga.

“The conference offers incredible exposure to students on the leading causes of wrongful convictions and how to investigate and litigate such convictions as well as time with exonerees across the world,” says McLane “My first conference impacted my life in so many ways, I want the leading students in my Clinic to have that experience and carry it forth with them into their practice.”

In addition to attending with the students, McLane is presenting at the Conference on Friday. Her talk entitle In Pursuit of Just, Real Science: Deconstructing and Confronting Forensic Science in our Casework, highlights the intersection of her expertise in forensic evidence and her work in the Defender Aid Clinic.innocence conf

At the end of this year, both students will take their experiences and move on to greater things.

After passing the Bar exam, Cremer will be joining the ranks of the Colorado State Public Defenders Office, one of the nation’s top public defender programs. Meanwhile, Williams will take the reins of the Clinic and became the new student director.

“The Clinic has been my favorite part of law school by far, and I am excited to take over in the summer,” says Williams. “Part of me is nervous, but I’m eager to handle more cases, especially the trial cases. This year has been very foundational, so next year I look forward to using that knowledge and being even more involved.”

As for the rest of the students in the Defender Aid Clinic, they will continue to plow forward with a full docket.  The students are currently investigating several innocence cases alongside of the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center, as well as working on a direct appeal in the Ninth Judicial District. The Clinic has also partnered with the City of Laramie Municipal Court and will start taking cases as early as May.

The College of Law is extremely proud of the amazing work that the students have accomplished in the Clinic and cannot wait to see what exciting thing are in store for the future!