Four Law Students Accepted into the Military JAG Corps Program

The College of Law has an unprecedented amount of students from the class of 2017 accepted into the Judge Advocate General (JAG) Corps Program following graduation. Four students Christina White, Kevin Farrelly, Hannah Toland, and Kacy Dixon will embark on a legal military career in a field that is extremely competitive to enter.

Judge Advocates are commissioned officers in the U.S. armed forces that serve as legal advisors within the branch. The scope of practice area is extensive, and Judge Advocates will likely practice a wide breadth of the law before progressing towards a specialization.

Depending on the service branch, the acceptance rate for JAG Corps applicants is typically between 4-7%. The Army, for instance, receives about 4000 applications every year and only accepts around 200.

White, Farrelly, and Toland will all be joining ranks in the U.S. Army JAG, while Dixon will be continuing a career with the U.S. Air Force.

Captain Scott Reitor of the U.S. Army JAG Corps, who performs the entrance interviews for hopeful candidates in the Mountain West region, describes what qualities an ideal candidate possesses.

“The Army JAG Corps prides itself on the ‘whole-person’ concept for applicants,” he explains. “Physical fitness and academics certainly figure prominently in the process, but we are also looking for demeanor and professional appearance. In particular, the real thing that sets people apart is the sincerity of wanting to join.”

Consistent with the ‘whole-person’ notion, the interview process is a crucial step for applicants to demonstrate their ability to work well under pressure.

“A good attorney can work at any law firm,” says Capt. Reitor. “What we are looking for is someone that we can work with on a professional level, but also someone that can cope day in and day out in a less than hospitable situation.”

Captain John Malek of the U.S. Air Force JAG Corps echoes that sentiment. “The interview is the part of the process that really impacts an applicant the most,” he says. “Things like prior military experience are helpful, but we are really looking for people that have the ability to interface well with the establishment.”

Coincidentally, White, Farrelly, and Toland all served as a Student Director for one of the College of Law’s seven legal clinics or practicums. These positions not only require a high level of professionalism, but also the ability to manage an intense workload.

“I tell people to study the area of the law that interests you because one, you will tend to excel at what you enjoy, and two, it will show that you have passion and interest and you indulge that,” says Capt. Reitor. “The take away from these three students is that their involvement in the Clinics highlighted that they had an interest in the law, and that they pursued it. It shows commitment and motivation.”

Though White, Farrelly, Toland and Dixon all share a common interest and have passionately worked towards that goal, they are each unique individuals with their own strengths and qualifications.

Christina-carouselChristina White serves as the Student Director for the Estate Planning Practicum. She is originally from Charleston, West Virginia where she studied Criminal Justice and Criminology at Marshall University. There she earned both a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree.

With three older brothers in the military, White has flirted with the idea of joining the service all her life. It wasn’t until she started law school that she felt her passion for the law and the allure of the military were reconciled with the possibility of becoming a JAG Corps Officer. With an older brother that served as an airborne Ranger, White felt a particular connection to the army.

Confident in her decision, she began the arduous application process. “It took three months to fill out the application, it is so detailed,” she explains. “You have to include all of your academic records, your employment history, meet with a filtering officer who then submits a report on you… It is similar to the character and fitness process for the Bar exam, but even more extreme.”

It was a long process, but it was worth it for White. She feels particularly self-assured with her ability to succeed as a JAG Officer because of her clinical experience. “When you are in the JAG, you are of course a solider first,” she says. “But I feel really prepared to tackle the legal side of the job because I feel like I got really good exposure and practical skills through the Clinic.”

White is in it for the long haul. A term is four years and she is planning to stay in at least twenty. “It is a relief to know that I am finally in and that I have a future,” she says. “I am anticipating it to be a long future. It’s exciting to know that my life long goal was to go into the service and it is about the begin.”

Kevin Farrelly also hails from a military background. With a father in the service for kevin-carouselthirty-plus years, it seemed like a natural fit. Kevin is a native of Portland, Oregon. He attended BYU-Idaho for his undergraduate degree and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Sociology.  Prior to entering law school, Farrelly served as a police officer in Portland for four years.

It was his experience on the force that inspired him to go to law school. “Working for the police department, I enjoyed seeing how the law was able to impact and help people,” he says. “As a police officer I felt I could help one or two people in the community, but as an attorney, I’d be able to help countless more on a wider scale.”

During his tenure at the College of Law, Farrelly has served as the Student Director for the Prosecution Assistance Clinic. Through the Clinic, he has been involved in numerous cases on behalf of the State of Wyoming, and has even argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court.

In addition to the Clinic, Farrelly also served as a Judicial Extern for the Honorable E. James Burke, of the Wyoming Supreme Court. He believes that gaining first-hand experience and working directly with the legal community in the state has been incredibly rewarding and wants to continue on that path.

“Becoming an attorney was all about helping people,” he says. “I’ve served my community; I’ve served my state. What better way is there to help people than serving my country?”

Hannah-carouselHannah Toland serves as the Student Director for the Defender Aid Program. Raised in Powell, she attended the University of Wyoming for her undergraduate degree, earning a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice.

Toland was drawn to the idea of the JAG program by the promise of seeing the world, and creating a good platform for starting a career in law.

“Joining the JAG is going to be a really good way to find out what I’m good at,” she says. “The beauty of the program is that it allows you to try a lot of different practice areas and go to a lot of different places. It really plays to your strengths, so it will be interesting to see where I end up.”

Toland hopes to be deployed right away so she can travel and feels confident that she will succeed in the program.

“My experience in the Clinic has been the best preparation I could have asked for,” she remarks. “Working in the Defender Aid Clinic specifically has made me extremely comfortable with criminal law and familiar with federal rules which are applicable everywhere. I feel like it has certainly given me the edge.”

Toland is also no stranger to the courtroom. Doing mostly appellate work in the Clinic, she has spent time regularly before a Judge and has also argued before the Wyoming Supreme Court.

“The skills I gained in law school have really prepared me for this,” she explains. “Normally I would find the JAG really intimidating, but I now feel well-prepared, confident, and excited to embark on this exciting career.”

Kacy Dixon will be joining the JAG Corps, but in a different branch of the military. With Kacy Dixonprior service in the U.S. Air Force as an Intelligence Officer, Dixon will be returning to their ranks as a JAG Officer.

“I found active duty military service to be extremely rewarding,” she says. “The opportunity to combine service with the practice of law is so appealing to me because it combines the best of both worlds.”

Dixon grew up in Cheyenne. She completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Wyoming in Criminal Justice. She also participated in the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program and graduated as the Distinguished Graduate in 2009.

With an interest in law and government, Dixon decided that law school would be a good fit after four years of active duty. She returned to Wyoming to pursue her law degree.

Dixon has gained practical legal experience during law school by participating in the externship program. She competed two different externships, both in the Department of Defense.

“The externship program was a really great way to see the world of law in terms of application,” she says. “It really allowed me to apply the theoretical knowledge I had received in class and get a feel for the law in practice.”

During her externship, Dixon was also able to shadow a JAG Officer. The experience of observing trial preparation and sitting in on a pre-trial hearing really solidified her decision to apply.

“That single day of exposure really helped to change my mind about trial work and broadened my ideas about what I’d really like to do,” she says.

With a clear picture of her goals going forward, Dixon is ready to take the next step.

“I’m very honored to have been accepted in the program and I’m really looking forward to what the future has in store for me.”

The College of Law is extremely proud of these four students and wishes them the best of luck in the future!

UW College of Law Professor Honored by the Ewing T. Kerr American Inns of Court

Professor Steve Easton was honored by the Ewing T. Kerr American Inns of Court chapter with the Thomas G. Gorman Excellence in Professionalism Award for 2017.

The award is presented to one individual each year that exemplifies the highest standards of excellence, integrity, ethics and professionalism in the practice of law. The award was created for the chapter in 2004. Past recipients include:

Judge Alan B. Johnson (J.D. ’64)

Rhonda Woodard

Greg Dyekman (J.D. ’80)

Judge Edward Grant (J.D. ’66)

Bruce Salzburg

Justice Catherine M. Fox (J.D. ’89)

Justice E. James Burke (J.D. ’77)

Judge Peter Arnold (J.D. ’73)

Ray Macchia (J.D. ’97)

Michael B. Rosenthal (J.D. ’81)

Professor Easton was nominated by his peers, and selected as this year’s recipient by the Executive Committee on the Ewing T. Kerr Inns of Court chapter.Easton4x6a_TCB6111

Sean Larson, the secretary for the Ewing T. Kerr American Inns of Court says, “The Executive Committee selects the recipient of the award from a group of nominees that best exemplify the standards of professionalism and integrity. Professor Easton was extremely deserving of this recognition.”

Easton is the William T. Schwartz Professor of Law. He came to Wyoming to serve as the Dean of the College of Law in 2009, a position he held until 2013. Prior to the deanship, Easton was a law professor at the University of Missouri School of Law, and previously served as a United States Attorney for the District of North Dakota. Since stepping out of his administrative role, Easton has remained a senior faculty member for the College of Law where he teaches Evidence, Professional Responsibility, and Trial Advocacy.

Easton has been a member of the Ewing T. Kerr American Inns of Court since he arrived in 2009. He was also instrumental in bringing forth a proposal that allowed a select few current law students to participate in the Inns of Court as well, a tradition that is still in place today.

Easton is also the creator of the Summer Trial Institute, which is a two-week long, intensive trial practice course that relies heavily on the teaching support of members from the practicing Bar in Wyoming and surrounding areas. Throughout the wildly successful program, Easton has forged some strong connections with many attorneys and judges throughout the state.

“I am fortunate to do a lot of work with members of the practicing Bar,” he says. “It is really humbling to be honored by a group of attorneys and judges that see value in what we do.”

Understandably, Easton has been a go-to resource for ethics and rules of professional responsibility. The College of Law enthusiastically supports this award and congratulates Professor Easton on this well deserved honor!

UW Law Student Advances Energy Research in Wyoming

With a recent slew of innovated and entrepreneurial projects, law student Greyson greysonBuckingham, epitomizes the word ‘driven.’

Buckingham, who is from the small town of Kelly, Wyoming, is a joint degree candidate with the College of Law and the College of Business, concurrently earning his law degree and his MBA in Energy Management at a blistering pace. In a program them normally takes four years (at least) to complete, Buckingham will have accomplished it in a total of three.

While the accelerated schedule certainly implies a heavy course load each semester, Buckingham has still found the time to be active and successful in a myriad of law school activities and competitions. He is an active soldier in the Wyoming Army National Guard and the University of Wyoming ROTC Cowboy Battalion, and he sits on the Board of Directors for the No One Left Behind Foundation, which is a national non-profit that helps Afghan and Iraqi interpreters resettle in the United States.

All the while, he has maintained his employment as the Director of Policy for Mesa Natural Gas Solutions based out of Casper, Wyoming.

“One of the main reasons the University of Wyoming’s JD/MBA in Energy Management was so appealing was the amount of offered energy related courses taught by professionals with hands-on experience,” says Buckingham. “My coursework in energy related classes has allowed me to better understand the regulatory and business context the company I work for operates in, effectively allowing me to deliver more meaningful results.”

Buckingham is a member of the Natural Resources Law Club and the Delta Theta Phi Law Fraternity. He competed in the intraschool Davis & Cannon Energy Moot Court Competition in both 2015 and 2016, and went on to represent the College of Law in the National Environmental Moot Court Competition in 2016. He also represented the College of Law at the 2015 ABA Negotiations Competition in Calgary, Canada.

Recently, Buckingham has been involved in energy related research projects. Under the supervision of Professor Tara Righetti, Buckingham presented a paper in December at the 2016 Dupont Summit on Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy in Washington D.C.. The Conference, hosted by the Policies Studies Organization, aims to promote dialogue about pressing issues related to science, technology and the environment.

His paper entitled, “Utilizing Natural Gas Generators to Reduce Emissions and Flared Gas,” explored the use of natural gas generators for on-site power sources for oil and gas sites.

“Greyson was a great representative for the University of Wyoming College of Law,” remarks Professor Righetti. “There was a lot of interest in his paper topic and his presentation brought a lot of visibility and exposure to the energy programs in Wyoming.”

His innovated research was motivated by his desire to improve the energy industry in Wyoming.

“Presenting at the Dupont Summit was a huge honor,” He says. “I credit my law and business courses for equipping me with the requisite skill set to speak at these types of conferences.”

Speaking at the conference opened the door to further development on his research. In April, Buckingham with the help of fellow business student John Lee, of Dubois, developed a business plan called Valued Energy Platform (VEP), which is an Internet marketplace for the oil & gas industry that promotes transparency and robust competition in on-site power generation.

The start-up company was entered in the 2017 John P. Ellbogen $30K Entrepreneurship Competition where it earned second place and a $10,000 cash prize.

“Based on my professional experiences and academic research in regard to the on-site power generation segment of the oil and gas value chain, I realized there was a tremendous market opportunity for a transparent and competitive e-marketplace that seamlessly connects oil and gas operators and suppliers,” says Buckingham.

Valued Energy Platform was also entered in the Fisher Innovation Challenge and the Casper Start-Up Challenge through the Wyoming Technology Business Center (WTBC). It has currently made it to the semi-final rounds. If chosen as the winning start-up company, VEP would receive up to $100,000 in seed money to get the business up and running.

Buckingham is optimistic about his prospects. VEP has generated a lot of interest and positive attention. He hopes to continue driving forward on the project.

“Using the seed money from the 30K Competition (and hopefully from the Casper Start-Up and Fisher Innovation Challenges’ seed funds), my team and I will continue to develop Valued Energy Platform in Wyoming.”


2017 – 2018 Brimmer Scholar

DSC_4454The College of Law is pleased to recognize Casey Terrell, of Pinedale, as the recipient of the Clarence A. Brimmer Scholarship for 2017-2018.

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 Brimmer, and to ensure that his renowned career serves as an inspiration to up-and-coming generations of legal professionals.

Along with the title of the 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.

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 faculty, former clerks of Judge Brimmer, and members of the Brimmer family.

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

This year’s finalists included Jennie Boulerice, of Cheyenne, Becky Farley, of Mechanicsville, Virginia, Megan Romano, of Cheyenne, Max Rerucha, of Laramie, and Catherine Young, of Casper.

Casey Terrell has been an incredibly driven and outgoing student throughout his law school career. With an interest in pursuing a career in energy and natural resource law, He has been an active participant in all of the opportunities the law school has to offer in the discipline.

Terrell is concurrently earning a Masters degree in Environment and Natural Resources though the duel-degree program offered by the College of Law and the Haub School.

When not in class, Terrell has spent a good portion of his free time during his second year participating in student competitions. Casey was part of the winning team in the Davis & Cannon Natural Resources Law Moot Court Competition, and traveled to White Plains, New York to compete in the National Environmental Moot Court Competition at Pace Law School. Additionally, he competed in the National Energy Negotiations Competition in Houston, Texas where his team finished 9th overall.

He is poised to take on even more tasks in his third and final year. In addition to defending his Master’s thesis, Terrell will be serving as an Article Editor for the Wyoming Law Review, participating in the Energy, Environmental and Natural Resources Clinic, and working as the Carbon Safe Legal Research Fellow, a grant-funded position through the School of Energy Resources.

Under the supervision of Professor Tara Righetti, Terrell will be working on the collaborative carbon safe project with people in SER, Geology, Engineering and industry workers to achieve a carbon capture method in order to minimize environmental impacts.

Terrell credits much of his interests in energy law and his success to the community in which he was raised in Pinedale. “I just want to say thank you for all of the community support,” he says. “My success would not have been possible without the encouragement I receive every time I go back home.”

Terrell is extremely humbled to be the recipient of this eminent scholarship. “I feel extremely honored to have been chosen for this scholarship,” he says. “Judge Brimmer left a lasting impact on the legal community in Wyoming and it means so much to me to be a part of that legacy.”

After graduation, Terrell is interested in doing a clerkship or potentially doing some international energy work abroad. Long-term, he hopes to return to work in the energy sector in Wyoming. As he says, “you can take the cowboy out of Wyoming, but you can’t take the Wyoming out of the cowboy.”


2017 Spence Law Firm Historic Trial

spence trial 2017The University of Wyoming College of Law will host the third annual Spence Law Firm Historic Trial on Monday, April 10, 2017 at 6:30 p.m. in the College of Law Large Moot Court Room (Room 178).

The College of Law, with collaboration from the Spence Law Firm, created the annual Historical Trial as a fun and interesting way to learn about important historical events through a legal lens, while also providing law students a way to simulate a trial of a high profile case.

The Spence Law Firm Historic Trial is a mock trial created from the facts of a chronicled historic event that never actually produced a trial, but could have. This year’s historical trial explores the conflicting ideologies surrounding the military draft of Japanese Americans incarcerated at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center near Cody and Powell during World War II.

While imprisoned in one of ten internment camps across the nation, Japanese Americans were still subject to the draft. This became a divisive issue in the camps, especially at Heart Mountain. While some believed military service was a chance to show patriotism to the United States, others felt that their constitutional rights should be restored before being required to perform a mandatory service. Those with the latter view formed the Fair Play Committee, which was led by internee Frank Emi.

Tensions between members of the Heart Mountain Fair Play Committee and anti-resister internees highlighted the difficulties faced by an entire group of people whose civil liberties were violated.

The fictional libel case of Emi v. Kawai is based upon an anti-Fair Play Committee editorial published by the Heart Mountain Sentinel, the internees’ newspaper. Mr. Emi will be suing the presumed author of the editorial for libel, alleging that the piece contained false statements.

Senator Alan Simpson (B.S. ’54, J.D.’58) will preside over the trial as the judge. Third-year law student Mikole Soto of Sheridan, Wyo. and Cheyenne attorney Terry Mackey (B.A. ’68, J.D. ’70) will represent Frank Emi and the Fair Play Committee. Second-year law student Joel Defebaugh of Casper, Wyo. and Supervising Assistant Attorney General Christyne Martens (J.D. ’10) will represent Nobu Kawai and the Heart Mountain Sentinel.

With the chosen case for this year being both so close to home and in recent history, the College of Law is fortunate to have living descendants of those actually affected by the internment camp participating in the trial, playing witnesses and serving in other roles. Special guests include Grace Kubota Ybarra (who will play the role of her mother, who served as an unofficial secretary for the Fair Play Committee), Jack Ybarra, Josh Watanabe, Kevin Inouye, and Darrell Kunitomi. Professor Aura Newlin (B.A. ’03) of Northwest College in Powell and other officials from the Heart Mountain Interpretive Center have provided substantial assistance to the College of Law on this year’s trial.

In addition to the trial, the College of Law will host as a series of panels paying homage to the 75th anniversary of the World War II internment order that created Heart Mountain and explore parallels between the past and present. Details of the events can be found on the College of Law website.

The mock trial is free and open to the public. An overflow room with a live stream of the trial will be provided in the event of high attendance. Refreshments will be provided at the break.

(Photo Credit) “Kunio Yamamoto facing Heart Mountain, 1944.” George and Frank C. Hirahara Photograph Collection, 1932-2016 (SC14). Courtesy Manuscripts, Archives & Special Collections,Washington State University, Pullman.

2017 College of Law Honors Banquet

honors banquet 2017The College of Law will be hosting the annual Honors Banquet on April 7, 2017 at the UW Conference Center at the Hilton Garden Inn in Laramie. The festivities will commence at 6:00 pm with a reception and cocktail hour, where visitors will have the opportunity to mingle with current law students. The Banquet will begin at 7:00 pm and will recognize named scholarship recipients in the current law school classes, the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, the Thurman Arnold Distinguished Supporter of the Law School Award recipient, as well as the inductees of the Order of the Coif, Honorary Order of the Coif, and the announcement of the prestigious Clarence A. Brimmer Scholarship recipient.

Each year, the Advisory Board is tasked with selecting the recipients for our Distinguished Alumni and Supporter Awards. This year, the Board has selected The Honorable William U. Hill, W. Perry Dray, and Bob C. Sigler as the Distinguished Alumni recipients, and former Dean and Law Professor Jerry R. Parkinson as the recipient of the Thurman Arnold Distinguished Supporter of the Law School Award.

Appointed by Governor Jim Geringer on November 3, 1998, Hill is a Justice on the Wyoming Supreme Court.  He served as Chief Justice from 2002 through 2006.

Justice Hill was born in Montgomery, Alabama and raised and educated in Riverton, Wyoming. He received his B.A. from the University of Wyoming in 1970 and graduated from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1974. Prior to serving on the bench, He served as the Wyoming Attorney General from 1995 up to his judicial appointment.

Earlier in his career, Justice Hill served as both an Assistant United States Attorney and an Assistant Attorney General for Wyoming, and was engaged in private practice in Riverton, Wyoming, Seattle, Washington, and Cheyenne, Wyoming. He also served as Chief of Staff-Chief Counsel for Senator Malcolm Wallop in Washington, D.C.

Hill has been an avid supporter of the College of Law throughout his career and regularly volunteers at the College. He was inducted into the Order of the Coif as an honorary member in 2011.

Perry Dray is a co-recipient of the Distinguished Alumni award this year. He is the founding partner of the Cheyenne law firm Dray, Dyekman, Reed & Healey, P.C. He started the firm in 1975 and developed a solo practice into one of Cheyenne’s most experienced, continuous law firms. His areas of expertise include transactional and litigation work, and he is one of a handful of lawyers in Wyoming who has negotiated and litigated with foreign governments on behalf of business clients.

Dray graduated from the University of Wyoming with an engineering degree in 1962 and again from the College of Law in 1964. Following law school, he served as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Army.

This year will recognize the life and career of Bob C. Sigler as a recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award, posthumously.

Sigler was raised and educated in various small towns in Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming; and graduated from Upton High School in 1943. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was assigned to the U.S.S. Berrien (APA-62) in 1944, serving until the end of World War II. Following his military career, he attended the University of Wyoming and received a bachelor’s degree from the College of Business in 1949 and his J.D. from the College of Law in 1952.

For a short time thereafter, he worked for the Department of Highways in Cheyenne before establishing his private law practice in Torrington, at one point practicing with his good friend, former Gov. Stan Hathaway. He remained in private practice for more than 50 years to serve the legal needs of residents in Wyoming, Nebraska, and surrounding states, earning a reputation of an accomplished country lawyer. In honor of his legacy as a small town lawyer, a scholarship was created in his name for College of Law students that demonstrate a desire to practice law in rural Wyoming.

The Thurman Arnold Distinguished Supporter of the Law School Award is awarded annually to a non-alumnus that has gone above and beyond the norm to promote and develop the UW College of Law. This year we are pleased to bestow this honor on one of our own, Jerry R. Parkinson.

Parkinson devoted eighteen years of service to the College of Law as a law professor since 1998 and served as Dean 1998 to 2009, one of the longest serving Deans in the College of Law’s history. He retired from the law school in the spring of 2016 and was granted Emeritus status on the faculty. Over the years he taught Civil Procedure, Civil Rights, Sports Law, and an Education Law seminar. From 2000 to 2010 he served in a volunteer capacity as Coordinator of Appeals for the NCAA Division I Committee on Infractions, and handled 28 appeals, including 22 oral arguments, on behalf of the NCAA.

Before joining the College of Law at the University of Wyoming, Parkinson was a law professor and associate dean at the University of Oklahoma, where he was a three-time recipient of the Outstanding Teacher award. Prior to teaching law, he practiced law in Portland, Oregon, for the law firm of Miller, Nash, Wiener, Hager & Carlsen LLP, and served as a law clerk for the Honorable John F. Kilkenny of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Prior to his legal career, he also served as a Deputy United States Marshal from 1978-1981.

Parkinson graduated from Northern State College with a B.S. in 1976. He earned his M.P.A. from the University of South Dakota in 1981, and his degree from the University of Iowa College of Law in 1985.

With the majority of his career devoted to Wyoming, Parkinson was voted Outstanding Law Professor for 2015-2016, and has been invited as the upcoming graduation speaker for the Class of 2017. The College of Law is excited to honor such a close friend and colleague with the Thurman Arnold Distinguished Supporter of the Law School Award.

In addition to the Distinguished Alumni and Supporter Awards, the Honors Banquet recognizes an induction of an honorary member into the Order of the Coif. The Order of the Coif is a national honorary society that recognizes excellence in legal education. Membership is limited to students who graduated in the top 10% of their class, and to honorary members selected by schools with a Coif chapter. The University of Wyoming became a Coif chapter in 1985, however, the faculty selects one honorary member each year to induct into the society that graduated prior to the Wyoming chapter’s creation.

This year’s recipient is Catherine L. MacPherson. MacPherson graduated from the University of Wyoming College of Law in 1978. She is a founding partner of the Rawlins, Wyo. law firm MacPherson, Kelly & Thompson, LLC, and continues to serve the firm of Counsel. Her career has been focused on private practice, but she has been an active member of the Wyoming State Bar Association. She has served in various capacities for the Wyoming State Bar including serving as President in 2000-01.

In addition to her practice, MacPherson has been a dedicated advocate of the College of Law. She has often served as an adjunct faculty member for the College, teaching Law Office Management, Local Government and Legal Writing. In addition, she served for several years on the Dean’s Advisory Board for the College of Law.

The College of Law is excited to recognize the achievements of these deserving honorees. The Honors Banquet is an open event and we invite anyone wishing to help celebrate the accomplishments of their friends and colleagues to attend. We ask that guests please RSVP to the event by filling out our online RSVP.

brown and gold rsvp

Student Highlight: Halinka Zolcik Lands Elite Fellowship Position

Third-year law student Halinka Zolcik has been awarded a fellowship position with the DSC_2680_Immigration Justice Corps, one of the most prestigious legal fellowship positions in the country.

The Immigration Justice Corps is a fellowship program that was created by Chief Judge Robert Katzmann of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit in partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation. The two-year fellowship matches the country’s most talented law school graduates with top host organizations in New York City and surrounding areas to serve as legal advocates in immigration.

The Fellowship is awarded to a mere twenty-five individuals out of hundreds of applications. Those coveted positions are reserved for the best of the best embarking on a career in immigration law, and are usually filled with graduates from Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown. Zolcik is the first student from the University of Wyoming to be considered for the program.

Born in Prague, Czech Republic, Zolcik and her family immigrated to the United States as a small child. She grew up in Gillette, Wyoming. As a first-generation immigrant, she was drawn to the field through her own experience. She chose to attend the University of Wyoming College of Law for it’s robust clinical programs and the opportunity to gain practical skills, a decision that has proven to be instrumental to her success.

She currently serves as the Student Director in the International Human Rights Clinic at the College of Law. In this capacity, she carries a caseload of clients seeking help through the U.S. immigration system under the supervision of the Faculty Director, Professor Suzan Pritchett.

With Pritchett at the helm, the Clinic has expanded from asylum cases into other forms of humanitarian relief efforts including special immigrant juvenile status, U visas, DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) advisement issues, green card process adjustment, and family based petitions.

Working in the clinic, Zolcik has gained valuable experience on a variety of immigration issues. She has already appeared in the Denver Immigration Court five times this semester, and has performed every aspect of representing a client from start to finish.  The Clinic is also how she learned of the Fellowship opportunity.

“Halinka is an exceptional student,” says Pritchett. “I encouraged her to apply for the Fellowship because I was confident that she would be a strong contender for one of the positions. Her hands-on experience in the IHR Clinic has guaranteed that she is ready to hit the ground running in a fast-paced advocacy environment, and I think that was a major factor in her selection for the fellowship position.”

The application process for the Fellowship was long and rigorous. Zolcik had to submit numerous essays, letters of recommendation, and go through multiple rounds of interviews. With a carefully crafted portfolio of all her work in the Clinic, she blew the interview panel away.

“The interviewers on the panel didn’t know anything about Wyoming. They were surprised that we do immigration work here, and also by the breadth and depth of the work that we do in the Clinic,” she comments. “In Wyoming you can get this experience that rivals other clinical programs on an international level. The panel said they had never seen a current law student with that much experience.”

Among her many talents, Zolcik is also an accomplished linguist, fluent in five languages – English, Czech, Polish, French and Spanish. Utilizing her skills often in the Clinic, it was also an ability that proved useful in the application process.

“During the interview, members of the panel would randomly switch to Spanish just to test that I actually spoke multiple languages,” she says. “It really throws you off to immediately switch languages, so it was a very intimidating experience.”

Professor Pritchett stresses how impressive this achievement really is.

“Not only was Halinka up against students from some of the most competitive law schools in the country, she was also up against recent graduates that have already served as immigration court clerks and federal law clerks for the past two-years,” says Pritchett. “The fact that her abilities and experience at Wyoming can rival those other people is not something that should be taken lightly.”

Suzan Pritchett joined the College of Law faculty as an Assistant Professor and the Director of the International Human Rights Clinic in the fall of 2014. Prior to joining the permanent faculty, she was a Visiting Professor and the Robert J. Golten Fellow at the College of Law, where she co-directed the Center for International Law and Advocacy. Professor Pritchett has also worked in private practice representing clients in federal immigration matters. In addition to her clinical and scholastic endeavors, Pritchett is the foremost expert on immigration law in the state of Wyoming and has been a dedicated leader in internationalization efforts within the University of Wyoming.  

Zolcik credits her success to Professor Pritchett, the International Human Rights Clinic, and her education at the College of Law.

“I am so grateful for the clinic experience,” she says. “Here we are able to take on numerous clients and have the incredible supervision of Professor Pritchett. Additionally, the small class sizes allowed me to do multiple things like the Clinic, while still being able to excel academically.”

Zolcik also acknowledges the Trial Practice Program as a contributing factor to her advocacy abilities. Through the course, she was able to polish her trial skills and feel confident in a courtroom.

“Halinka is a really good lawyer in a difficult multi-cultural lawyering environment,” notes Pritchett. “Navigating the different needs of each client, overcoming language barriers, and interpreting the legal system and communicating that to the clients so they feel well represented is a challenge. Halinka is very skilled. She advocates for her clients with compassion, but also shows real strength both in her written advocacy and in the courtroom.”

Zolcik has been paired with Prisoners Legal Services of New York as her host organization. She’ll begin the Fellowship in September after sitting for the Bar Exam.

Though Zolcik is the first ever Wyoming student to be accepted into the Immigration Justice Corps, the College of Law hopes that she is the first of many, and is exceedingly proud to produce such capable and skilled graduates.