Making room for diversity
Guest speakers spoke on two panels, emphasizing the need for diversity in the legal system.
“We need a very diverse bar so that when laws are made, interpreted and are applied in the lives of other people, that people feel the laws are fair to them and their cultural ethnicity, race, religion, gender or socioeconomic background,” said Eileen Crane, university pre-law counselor and legal studies adjunct professor. “That doesn’t always happen.”
Currently, a legal studies program is available through the UVU Woodbury School of Business, which offers a Certificate of Proficiency, A.S., A.A.S. and a B.S. in Legal Studies, though students pursuing law school are not limited by their choice of undergraduate program.
“The conventional wisdom in law school is that it doesn’t matter what you major in, but that’s not true in terms of the skills that you have when you get there,” said Crane. “It is true in that law schools don’t care if you’re an accounting major, a theater arts major, a nursing major or a geology major, what they care about is ‘do you have the academic wherewithal to succeed in law school?’”
Following the opening introduction by Crane, students listened to panelists offer the potential future attorneys and lawyers in the audience advice on what to expect in law school.
Panelist Melba Latu, J.D., Deputy IX Coordinator at Brigham Young University, completed her undergraduate degree at BYU and went to Suffolk University Law School in Boston.
“One thing you’ve got to remember is that your reputation starts the first day of law school,” said Latu. “If you’re known as the partier, trust me, when you start calling your classmates when you get out into the field, that reputation will follow you… Wherever you end up [going to law school], know that you’re building your professional reputation in the classroom.”
After graduating from the J. Reuben Clark Law School in 2007, attorney Mario Arras, J.D., Of Counsel at Brown Law and Managing Partner at his own firm, began his post-graduate career as a broker for Fidelity Investments before coming back to law in 2010.
Knowing he would be successful in his career, Arras said he felt a responsibility to reach out to the spanish-speaking community because of his background.
“The biggest thing issue I had was that I was a first-generation Mexican immigrant,” Arras said. “Part of my complex was to reach across so that when people become prosecutors they stop and determine that the next Mexican or the next minority they bump into is not just one of those that gets covered by the media.’”
Other panelists at the Diversity in Law Night included attorney Diana Hardy, J.D., Nick Villa, a business and estate planning attorney with Haymond Law, law student Jason Harmon, Associate Professor of Law Kevin Oates, J.D. of Drexel University and attorney Maoputasi Young, J.D. respectively.
The University of Utah S. J. Quinney College of Law and the Brigham Young University J. Reuben Clark Law School are the only graduate law school programs in Utah.