In this issue:
On May 16, in ceremonies that featured the on-stage participation of University of Idaho President Steven Daley-Laursen, Provost Douglas Baker, and Registrar Nancy Krogh, the law school community and an audience of approximately 900 persons extended their congratulations to 96 members of the Class of ’09, some of whom had completed their graduation requirements in earlier academic terms. As noted in last month’s issue of “First Monday,” these graduates have the distinction of culminating their studies during the 100th year of legal education in Idaho. Moreover, all members of the Class of ’09 have completed the College’s distinctive pro bono service requirement.
The commencement address featured the Honorable N. Randy Smith, Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Judge Smith drew a laugh at the outset of his remarks, when he said Dean Burnett had called to ask whether he believed in free speech. Judge Smith continued, “I replied that as a Ninth Circuit judge, of course I believe in free speech, and the Dean then said, ‘Well, come to Moscow and give one.’” Judge Smith, a long-time friend of the College and emeritus member of the Law Advisory Council, was happy to oblige. Turning serious, Judge Smith congratulated the students on their service and their accomplishments, but reminded them that they had only begun a life of professional responsibility. He exhorted them to extend their service to the communities where they would locate, to nurture their families, and to uphold the high values of a noble, challenging profession.
The College recognized a distinguished alumnus for outstanding contributions to the legal profession, to economic development of Idaho, and to philanthropic causes. Stephen G. Hanks (UI Law ’78), past President and Chief Executive Officer of Washington Group International (now URS Washington Division), headquartered in Boise, received the Faculty Award of Legal Merit. Steve joined the company’s corporate law department in the year of his graduation from law school, and rose through the ranks. As President and CEO, he guided the enterprise, a successor to the financially distressed Morrison Knudsen Company, through reorganization to ultimate success as a global provider of integrated engineering, construction, and management services. Steve has served as chairman of the board of the Danny Thompson Memorial Leukemia Foundation, as a national board member of the Boy Scouts of America, and in support of numerous other civic and philanthropic activities. As former member of the Idaho State Bar Professional Conduct Standards Committee, he urged graduates to safeguard integrity as their most important possession. He also noted, in light of his own experience, that their University of Idaho law degrees could take them to high levels of professional achievement anywhere.
Lacey Rammell-O’Brien, President of the Student Bar Association in 2008-09, delivered the student remarks, noting how rapidly time had passed in law school and how the students and faculty had formed a close community. After revisiting anecdotes of serious and humorous events in the law school experience, she praised her colleagues’ demonstrated commitment to serving others.
Faculty and student awards
In addition to awards presented earlier at the Class of ’09 celebration banquet (see last month’s “First Monday”), the graduation ceremony included presentation of the faculty-established “Award of Legal Achievement,” earned by the graduate with the highest cumulative grade point average in the most recently graded academic term. This year’s award went to Jana Beth Gomez, of Lewiston, Idaho. The graduating class conferred the “Peter E. Heiser Award for Excellence in Teaching” upon Professor/Associate Dean Richard Seamon. Further information about the graduation ceremony is available from Anne-Marie Fulfer (firstname.lastname@example.org), Director of Career Services.
Students Devote Summer of ’09 to Public Interest Work
The College of Law has named the following students as recipients of public interest fellowships that will help them meet basic food-and-lodging expenses as they devote their summers to pro bono work at public interest organizations and firms. The fellowships are made possible by the Idaho Law Foundation, Inc., and by private giving.
Further information about the fellowships can be obtained from Stephen Perez (email@example.com), Development Coordinator for the College of Law.
Legal Aid Clinic Secures Asylum for Victims of Abuse
In a case illustrating the human side of the law, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has concurred in a request for asylum by a mother and child who were victims of abuse in their home country. The victims were represented in the administrative proceedings by students in the College of Law Legal Aid Clinic. The mother and her young son had suffered ongoing extreme domestic violence in Mexico, a situation which the Mexican government was unable and/or unwilling to control. Mother and son now can apply to become full-fledged permanent residents of the United States in one year and for U.S. citizenship in five years. In addition to immigration law expertise provided by Professor Monica Schurtman, the case benefited from the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault program at the Legal Aid Clinic – a program funded by the U.S. Department of Justice. The client and her son were referred to the clinic by a YWCA Battered Women’s shelter whose personnel continued to assist with case preparation and social service support throughout the process.
According to Professor Schurtman, “three generations” of clinic students worked on this case. Among them were (former) students who represented the client(s) at the hearing: R.J. Linnan and Mark Coppin (the latter on “loan” from the College’s Tax Clinic supervised by instructor Trapper Stewart). Currently, R.J. is himself employed by the Department of Homeland Security’s Asylum Office in Falls Church, Va. Mark is employed by a law firm in Utah which recently asked him to set up an immigration law division. Further information is available from Professor Schurtman at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Waters of the West” Co-Founder Earns Tenure at College of Law
Upon unanimous recommendation of the law faculty and dean, Associate Professor Barbara Cosens has been approved for tenure by the Provost and President of the University. The personnel action will become effective in the 2009-10 academic year. Professor Cosens’ teaching includes property, water law, and interdisciplinary courses on science and law in water resources. She is a co-founder of the University of Idaho’s innovative and widely recognized “Waters of the West” program, which enables students to receive Juris Doctor degrees concurrently with masters or doctoral degrees in water resources management. Professor Cosens can be contacted at email@example.com.