College of Law Commencement Celebrates 110 Graduates

Friday, April 22 2011

MOSCOW, Idaho – The College of Law, home of the University of Idaho's only First Professional degree program, will hold its graduation and celebration Saturday, May 14.

The ceremony will begin at 3 p.m. on the Student Activity Field east of the ASUI-Kibbie Activity Center, 1000 Stadium Dr. in Moscow. Law degree candidates will meet, dressed in regalia, on the front steps of Menard Law Building at 2:15 p.m.

Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for the District of Idaho, will give the commencement address to graduates. Olson was born and raised in Pocatello, and graduated from Pocatello High School in 1982. She received a bachelor's degree in news/editorial journalism from Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, and received her juris doctorate from Stanford Law School.

After obtaining her law degree, Olson served as a law clerk for U.S. Chief District Court Judge Barbara Rothstein in Seattle from 1990-92. She joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in March 1997, and was serving as its senior litigation counsel at time of her appointment as U.S. Attorney. As an assistant U.S. attorney for 13 years, she prosecuted white collar crime, crimes involving the sexual exploitation of children and criminal civil rights violations. Prior to joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Olson was a trial attorney in the Criminal Section, Civil Rights Division, U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. She also served as assistant to the legal director of the National Church Arson Task Force. In June 2010, she was sworn in as U.S. attorney for the District of Idaho.

Live streaming video of the ceremony will also webcast at for guests unable to attend the event.

The ceremony is open to the public and no tickets are required. Parking is available next to the Menard Law Building or west of the Kibbie Dome. Guests may seat themselves at the activity field beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Immediately following the ceremony, law graduates, their guests, faculty, and staff are invited to a reception at the University Inn Best Western, 1516 Pullman Rd. in Moscow.

The College of Law is committed to providing opportunities for law students that emphasize the value and habit of service to the community. All members of the class completed at least 40 hours of law-related pro bono service in order to graduate. Twenty-four graduates completed at least 80 hours of service; the college recognizes these graduates with a certificate signed by the chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court and the dean of the College of Law, as well as a purple cord worn with their commencement regalia.

Complete information about all University of Idaho commencement ceremonies, including information for visitors, is available at

The college also will honor two individuals for service and commitment to the legal profession.

Sheldon Vincenti Memorial Award for Exemplary Service

The late Sheldon Vincenti served the University of Idaho College of Law for 35 years as professor and dean. In his honor and in remembrance, the faculty of the College of Law have created an award to recognize those who, like Sheldon, have given exceptional service to the College of Law.

The award will be given for the first time this year. The inaugural recipient will be former Idaho Supreme Court Chief Justice Linda Copple Trout, who received a bachelor's degree from the university in 1973 and a juris doctorate degree from the College of Law in 1977. Upon graduation from law school, Trout joined the Lewiston law firm of Blake, Feeney & Clark, where she was engaged in the private practice of law for six years.

In 1983, Trout was appointed to the position of magistrate judge. From 1987-91, she assumed additional responsibilities as the acting trial court administrator for the five counties included in the Second Judicial District. In 1990, she was elected a district judge, and handled cases in Nez Perce and Clearwater Counties. In 1992, she was appointed by Gov. Cecil Andrus to be the first woman justice on the Idaho Supreme Court. She was elected by the Supreme Court to the position of chief justice for a four-year term beginning February 1997, and was re-elected to a second term ending September 2004.

Trout is a member of the Idaho State Bar Association, and the American Inns of Court. She has previously served on the Board of Directors of the Lewiston City Library, the Northwest Children's Home, the Lewiston YWCA, plus a number of statewide administrative, judicial and bar committees. She has taught courses at the University of Idaho College of Law in family law, and she served as chair of the College of Law Advisory Council. Trout served two terms on the U.S. Court’s Committee on Federal-State Jurisdiction, to which she was appointed by Chief Justice William Rehnquist.

Trout retired from the Supreme Court in 2007, and currently serves as a senior judge for the Supreme Court and trial courts as a pro tem and as a settlement judge, as well as handling administrative matters on assignment from the administrative director of the Idaho courts.

Award of Legal Merit
Each year, the law faculty bestows its Award of Legal Merit upon an individual who has brought great credit to the College of Law and to the legal profession through a career marked by high ethical standards, exceptional achievements and contributions to the public good. This year’s award will be given to Ford Elsaesser, a 1978 graduate of the University of Idaho College of Law. He is a senior partner of the law firm of Elsaesser Jarzabek Anderson Elliott & Macdonald, with offices in Sandpoint and Coeur d’Alene.

Elsaesser developed a national practice of bankruptcy law and was involved in major national bankruptcy cases. In 1994, he successfully argued a case before the US. Supreme Court. Recently, he was instrumental in the successful reorganization and sale of Sunwest Management, involving 200 senior living facilities with over 10,000 residents.

He has served as president and chairman of the American Bankruptcy Institute, the largest organization of bankruptcy professionals, and has received the pro bono and professionalism awards from the Idaho State Bar.

In 2004, Elsaesser began teaching Advanced Bankruptcy and coaching the Bankruptcy Moot Court Team for the College of law. He is also an adjunct professor at St. John’s University School of Law in the LL.M. Bankruptcy Program.

He is involved in his community, having served as chairman of the Bonner County School Board, the Bonner County Airport Board, the Pend Oreille Basin Commission, and currently the Bonner General Hospital Board.

Elsaesser and his wife, Jean '77, have lived in Priest River since graduating. They have three children, Matt, Heidi and Katie (College of Law, Class of 2013).
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About the University of Idaho
Founded in 1889, the University of Idaho is the state’s land-grant institution and its principal graduate education and research university, bringing insight and innovation to the state, the nation and the world. University researchers attract nearly $100 million in research grants and contracts each year. The University of Idaho is classified by the prestigious Carnegie Foundation as high research activity. The student population of 12,000 includes first-generation college students and ethnically diverse scholars, who select from more than 130 degree options in the colleges of Agricultural and Life Sciences; Art and Architecture; Business and Economics; Education; Engineering; Law; Letters, Arts and Social Sciences; Natural Resources; and Science. The university also is charged with the statewide mission for medical education through the WWAMI program. The university combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities and focuses on helping students to succeed and become leaders. It is home to the Vandals, and competes in the Western Athletic Conference. For more information, visit

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit