Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009
If you’re not familiar with some of the country’s most prestigious places to practice law, a study of where Utah State University graduates are now can help.
Well over a thousand currently practicing attorneys chose USU for their undergraduate careers, valuing a well-rounded education over the privilege of watching law students amble past to a remote corner of campus. In fact, since the current Law & Constitutional Studies (LCS) major is a relatively recent institution, many of the most successful alumni lawyers graduated in English, philosophy, history, economics and other programs. Not surprisingly, many pre-law students still do.
Those who do choose the LCS track immerse themselves in a rare program of study which focuses not only on case law, but promotes significant research on the law’s theoretical and constitutional origins. In this manner, says Dr. Anthony Peacock, the USU program is unique to the Mountain West. By the time they’re done, students cultivate a depth of legal understanding which paves the way to real success in law school and beyond.
But don’t think for a moment that those who major in other areas are left out. Students all across campus are brought together for events like the Freedom and Rule of Law Conference, which in 2008 featured a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. It’s all part of the Project on Liberty and American Constitutionalism, which crosses departmental lines, and which has been named one of 40 “Excellent Programs” by the National Association of Scholars. For law school in the state of Utah, there are other options. But for proven excellence in pre-law, look no further.
Alumni spotlight: Joey Lynn Blanch ‘93
A counterpoint to the world’s lawyer jokes, Joey Blanch takes her responsibility to justice seriously. As a criminal prosecutor for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles, Blanch has the obligation to cease if she believes her side is in the wrong.
“What I love about my job is that I get to do the right thing every day,” she says.
Blanch says criminal law is also rewarding because it’s “interesting to find out who did it, why they did it.” It’s an interest she developed as early as junior high, while participating in an ABA-sponsored mock trial program, complete with real judges and courtrooms. In this setting, the young Blanch once cross-examined a fellow female student in the witness chair. She had recently learned that when cross-examining, “you don’t have to be hostile,” and opting for that approach, she began a benevolent line of questioning, leading the witness along unsuspecting. Before long, the girl was backed into a corner and began to cry.
Seeing her in tears must have had an effect. More than 20 years later, following a double bachelor’s from USU and a JD from Harvard, Blanch now fights for children, prosecuting child predators. She’s California’s central district coordinator of Project Safe Childhood, and winner of a high-profile Department of Justice award for her work.
Since her post is in federal court, which works in interstate cases only, the majority of her opponents are internet-related child pornography offenders. As a result, Blanch doesn’t often receive the satisfaction of seeing or speaking with grateful victims now freed from their nightmares. For her, though, it’s the absence of such victims that makes it worthwhile. “We know they’re there, and we know there are many more who won’t become victims now,” she says.
USU Law Legacy
-H. Reese Hansen ’64: President, Association of American Law Schools
-Seven Rivera ‘96: Partner at Chadbourne & Parke, New York; General Editor, Harvard Journal
of Law and Public Policy
-Michael Mosman ‘81: U.S. Federal Judge, District of Oregon
-Ted Stewart ’72: U.S. Federal Judge, District of Utah
-Brian Rupp ‘95: Senior Counsel, The Walt Disney Company
-Michael Evans ‘78: Senior Legal Counsel, Shell Oil Company
-Sam Alba ’69: Chief Magistrate Judge, District of Utah
-Janet Hugie Smith ‘67: Director, Ray Quinney & Nebeker, Salt Lake City; Award for the
Advancement of Women in the Legal Profession; Associate Editor, Utah Law Review
-Nate Alder ‘91: President, Utah State Bar; Director, Christensen & Jensen, Salt Lake City
-Bruce Lithgow ‘92: Partner at Baker & McKenzie, Chicago
-Greg Watts ‘95: Partner at Wilson Sonsini, Palo Alto, CA
-Landon Yost ’06: Tax Division, Department of Justice; Attorney General’s Honors Program at
Writer: Jeff Carr, 435-797-1350, email@example.com