Student Highlight: Civil Legal Services Trials

The Civil Legal Services Clinic works on a variety of civil legal issues including housing, consumer rights, education, veterans’ service-connected disability benefits, and other public benefits laws. The Clinic represents low-income and often marginalized populations that could otherwise not afford legal representation.

Though many of the students in the clinic see time before a judge arguing motions hearings, most cases are settled out of court. However, there are some cases that make it all the way to trial. Two such cases occurred this semester.

Earlier this fall, University of Wyoming Law Student, Glenn Fair, represented his client glenn-fairwith the Civil Legal Services Clinic in a full-day trial. Glenn’s performance was exemplary as he advocated zealously for his client in a child custody dispute in the First Judicial District Court in Cheyenne.

“The full-day trial was literally the culmination of everything I had hoped to learn during my time in the Civil Legal Services Clinic,” says Fair. “I am grateful because the experience allowed me to put my first two years of law school education into practice.”

Fair spent over one hundred hours working on the case from start to finish. He began the case during the summer and saw it through to completion.

Glenn Fair is a third-year law student originally from Huntington Beach, California. Glenn was formerly a Police Officer, serving 23 years with the force before retiring and applying to law school. He holds an undergraduate degree in Pre-Law and Law Enforcement from the University of Nevada, Reno. Glenn was also part of the pilot group to participate in the Summer Trial Institute in Anchorage, Alaska, which provided him with the trial skills for the case.

A second trial case this semester, was litigated by third-year law student, Jeffrey Sonntag. Sonntag is originally from Alamosa, Colorado. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Liberal Arts from Colorado State University. In addition to his time in the Clinic, he has been an extern for the First Judicial District of Cheyenne.

jeffSonntag worked on a custody establishment and modification of child support case. The case moved extremely quickly with a mere thirty-five days between mediation and trial. Sonntag and his co-counsel, third-year student Michael Gillio, tried the case before the First Judicial District Court and were victorious for their client.

“It’s an incredible experience to finally get to apply the law that I learn here in class,” says Sonntag. “Between the experience and the ability to help someone else it’s been one of the most rewarding experiences of my law school career.”

The Civil Legal Services Clinic is proud of the work and dedication that Glenn and Jeff showed towards their cases and trials. The Clinic really tried to embody the importance of seeing a person with a problem, and utilizing the skills that law school provides to help them solve it.

Faculty Clinic Supervisor, Danielle Cover, was extremely impressed by the trial work of her students.

“Both Glenn and Jeff demonstrated a commitment to working with clients whose life circumstances were vastly different than anything had ever encountered,” she says. “The level of dedication given to cases and clients was really commendable and exemplifies our objective in the Clinic, which is to help people understand that lawyering is about helping people as opposed to imposing our own judgement.”

The Civil Legal Services provides an important service to both the students and the state of Wyoming. In the past year, the Clinic has opened over 60 cases in 12 different Wyoming counties. Heading into the New Year, we’ll see many more cases of students working with unwavering determination on behalf of their clients.