UW College of Law Establishes New Fund to Support Trial Practice Education

Buoyed by the generous gift of two alumni, the University of Wyoming College of Law has created a new fund for the support of trial practice education, the Trial Practice Success Fund. Alums Nick Murdock (J.D. ’77) of Casper and Cody Balzer (J.D. ’95) of Loveland, Colorado, contributed $50,000 to launch the fund.

The initial gift from Murdock and Balzer was made possible by their success in a series of class action lawsuits they litigated together on behalf of Wyoming mineral owners.  They hope to start a tradition among UW College of Law alums of donating to the Trial Practice Success Fund to celebrate success in litigation.

“The University of Wyoming College of Law has long been known for producing strong trial lawyers,” noted Balzer. “Nick and I wanted to support its trial advocacy education efforts, so the College of Law can continue to be a leader in the education of future trial lawyers.”

Murdock noted that the alumni of the College of Law have supported the College’s trial advocacy education efforts through volunteer teaching for some time. The College of Law’s well-established Summer Trial Institute, for example, brings about roughly seventy prominent trial attorney and judicial alumni to the College of Law each year. “The volunteer efforts of our alumni to educate those who will represent the citizens of Wyoming and other states are already remarkable,” Murdock said. “This new Trial Practice Success Fund will allow our alumni to also contribute financially to the law school’s trial advocacy education program.”

By their example, Murdock and Balzer hope to establish a tradition where trial attorneys celebrate their success by supporting the College of Law. “In the career of a trial attorney, there is nothing quite as wonderful as a successful result in litigation,” reflects Balzer.  “When that moment happens for us, we should remember that the education we received at Wyoming’s law school got us started on the path to that success.”

The Trial Practice Success Fund will be used to provide scholarships for students studying trial advocacy and other financial support of the Trial Practice program at the College of Law. The first expenditures from the new fund, for example, provided scholarships to help UW law students defray the expenses of participating in the College of Law’s new Alaska Summer Trial Institute program in Anchorage.

UW College of Law Dean Klint Alexander expressed the law school’s gratitude and enthusiasm for the new fund created by Murdock and Balzer. “Trial practice education is one of the things our law school is known for,” noted Alexander.  “We graduate students who are practice ready and better able to represent their clients upon graduation, because they have had the chance to learn how to try cases while in law school.  The Trial Practice Success Fund will provide the financial underpinning to strengthen these efforts.  Moreover, reducing the cost of law school through scholarships such as the Trial Practice Success Fund will also help our students graduate with lower debt loads, thus allowing them to pursue their dream of a career in the courtroom.”

Professor of Law Steve Easton, who serves as the director of the College’s Summer Trial Institute, urges College of Law alumni and other friends to follow Murdock’s and Balzer’s lead in contributing to the Trial Practice Success Fund to celebrate their victories in court. “We would love to have the support from all of the trial bar, including plaintiff’s attorneys and defense attorneys in civil cases and prosecutors and defense attorneys in criminal cases. This new Trial Practice Success Fund is a great way for our alumni and friends to let us know about their litigation successes. We love to hear about those victories.”

Balzer, who currently practices law in Loveland, Colorado, urged those practicing “in Wyoming and elsewhere” to support the Fund.  “I always remember that the foundation of my work as a trial attorney was at the University of Wyoming College of Law. I urge all Wyoming alums to support the new Trial Practice Success Fund, because we all owe part of that success to the College of Law.”

The College of Law is extremely grateful or this new fund. Anyone interested in the contributing the Trial Practice Success Fund should contact the College of Law. A gift is also made easy by donating online.