ua law logo high res | Link                                                                                        June 19, 2013



This week's three featured members of the Arizona Law community--two of the three musicians on the side--are new graduate Alex Hecker, Adjunct Professor and alumnus Greg Sakall, and alumna Staci Vierthaler. I would also like to ask for your help in updating your contact information here. Enjoy!


Until the footnotes,




Student News

Alex Hecker (JD '13, BA '09)

Alex Hecker has been a Wildcat his entire life. Being a lawyer--particularly a corporate lawyer--is something he grew into more slowly.

Alex is a law clerk at the Tucson firm of Hecker & Muehlebach, PLLC, where his father and fellow double Wildcat Lawrence M. Hecker Jr. (JD '72, BA '69) is a principal. The firm's other partner is well-known Wildcat L. Matthew Muehlebach (JD '96, BA '91), former member of the men's basketball team and one of the first Arizona "Gumbies."


Alex Hecker also is a talented musician who played in bands throughout law school

Alex remembers, "Ever since I was young, I have been at least vaguely interested in the law because of my dad. That being said, I shifted back and forth on 'what I want to be when I grow up' on almost a week-to-week basis. By the time I got to college at the U of A, I was convinced I was going to be the next great jazz guitarist. At some point, however, I realized my passion for the guitar did not translate as well as I'd hoped into the pursuit of a music degree."

Alex earned his BA in Latin American studies and anthropology with the goal of going to law school "and advocating for the rights of some as-yet undiscovered indigenous tribe in Latin America." Specializing in corporate law was not part of the equation.

"I had pretty much ruled out joining the family business and pursuing corporate law. I feared long hours and death by suffocation under an ever-expanding mountain of paperwork. At some point in my first year of law school, however, my opinions about what my father does began to change. Perhaps it was the discovery that long, exhausting hours are not unique to transactional attorneys; or that there's a lot more to litigation than badgering witnesses and making emotional closing statements that culminate in the jurors honoring your soul-stirring argument!"

Alex grew more open-minded about corporate law. "I discovered that corporate lawyers, especially those interested in small business and entrepreneurship, help people in ways that few other lawyers can," he says. "We assist people in achieving dreams that they have had for their entire lives. We also help foster economic development in our community by helping to facilitate investment in local businesses, thereby creating new jobs."

Alex credits several Arizona Law professors with sparking his passion for business law and related fields. "Larry Ponoroff was the first teacher that really got me interested in commercial law. William Sjostrom, one of the brightest men I have ever met, got me more excited about commercial law than anyone other than my dad. Michael Curley (BA/BS '97) and Derek Bambauer, who is a great addition to the faculty, impressed upon me that a working knowledge of intellectual property is an essential arrow in the quiver of any good business lawyer."

He adds, "I would never have believed as a 1L that I would enjoy tax law, but thanks to Professor Mona Hymel, it was my favorite subject." Outside the classroom, Alex singles out his summer externship in the chambers of Federal District Court Judge Stephen McNamee (JD '69, MA '67) as a highlight of his law school career.

He worked at Hecker & Muehlebach last summer "to make sure I would like corporate law in practice," he says. "As it turns out, it's way more rewarding than I ever would have expected. The biggest thing working for my dad has taught me is that not only can corporate lawyers have an incredibly positive impact on their community; it is the very nature of the job."

You can connect with Alex at his LinkedIn page.


Faculty News
Greg Sakall (JD '01)

Greg Sakall earned his BA in Spanish and history from Hillsdale College in Michigan before returning to his hometown of Tucson to obtain his JD from Arizona Law. After graduating summa cum laude in 2001, he was a law clerk for the Hon. William D. Browning (JD '60, BS '54) and the Hon. Cindy K. Jorgenson (JD '77, BS '74) of the US District Court for the District of Arizona.

Proud father Greg Sakall

 In 2004 he joined Goldberg & Osborne as a staff attorney in the Tucson litigation office, where he focuses on insurance bad faith, commercial trucking accidents, and dramshop cases. In 2012 his partner David Diamond (JD '86, BA '82) and Greg obtained a $2.785 million judgment for their clients in a Federal Tort Claims Act case.


As a student, Greg was business editor of Arizona Law Review. He remains actively engaged with Arizona Law today, as an extremely effective and popular adjunct associate professor. His courses have included Arizona Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Insurance, Legal Analysis, and Legal Writing and Research.

"My favorite course to teach is Arizona Civil Procedure," Greg says. "I've taught it for eight years and designed it to focus on those areas in civil litigation where the Arizona state court's practices diverge from the federal court practice. The goal of the course is to help students be familiar with the Arizona rules and more ready to hit the ground running for their first job or next clerkship. The students are always engaged, as they've already had a clerkship or internship and are interested in knowing more about the differences.  Also, I always call in some favors and have several guest speakers come in during the semester, so I get to learn something new as well."


Greg also has been an active volunteer for the College, serving on several committees. In 2011 he received the University of Arizona Alumni Association's Outstanding Young Alumni Volunteer Award.  In his spare time (!) he teaches CLE courses, chairs the Rules Committee for the Pima County Bar Association, is a PCBA board member, is a volunteer judge pro tem, and is involved with several community organizations.

Greg lives in Tucson with his wife, Jennifer Wortman, and their two sons Grady and Alton. Jen is an Opening Minds through the Arts teacher with the Tucson Unified School District and an assistant director with the Tucson Girls Chorus.


You can learn more about Greg here.



Alumni News

Staci Vierthaler (JD '08, BA '02)

Staci Vierthaler is coming up on her fourth anniversary as a defense attorney with the Pima County Public Defender's Office. She was proactive in her effort to land the job.

"I applied for this job before there was an opening," she says, "sending letters to then-Public Defender Bob Hirsh (JD '64, BS '60) and to Public Defender Lori Lefferts (JD '85, BS '82), and letting them know how much I wanted to work here. Eventually, there was an opening, and I ended up being hired."

Like so many at the Pima County PD's office, Staci is an Arizona Law grad. But she shares something else with several of them: a side gig playing in the rock band the Gotes, which includes attorneys and staff in the PD's office, along with some of their friends. Members include drummer Frank Leto (JD '74, BA '70), an attorney in the office's Appellate Division; bass player Rick Kingston (JD '84, BA '78), a defense attorney specializing in sex crimes cases; and lead vocalist and Arizona Law Professor Susie Salmon.

Though with the Gotes (so named because the band formed after playing at a party on a goat farm), Staci plays keyboards, she has toured the world as a classically trained harpist and has performed with the U of A student group HarpFusion. She learned of her colleagues' work with the Gotes in her first days at the PD's office, never guessing she would one day join them onstage.

Staci Vierthaler performs with the Gotes

As Professor Salmon recalls, "Frank Leto filled in on drums at a holiday gig a few years ago, and we never allowed him to escape. Staci, failing to learn from Frank's mistake, volunteered to play keyboards for a holiday show in 2011 and has been with the band ever since."

"Staci is an incredibly accomplished musician," notes Leto, the longest-serving attorney at the Pima County PD. "She's also about three generations younger than I, so it does make things interesting when we play together." He jokes, "She thinks the Beatles are classical musicians like Bach and Mozart, while I was brought up with the British Invasion!"

A native of Kansas, Staci graduated the University of Arizona with a BA in philosophy in 2002. Before joining the PD, she had already gained invaluable legal experience working with Arizona Law's Child Advocacy Clinic and as a judicial law clerk to the Hon. Stephen C. Villarreal (JD '75, BA '72) with the Pima County Superior Court.

Staci is excited about the Gotes' show on Thursday at the "Battle of the Lawyer Bands" at the State Bar of Arizona 2013 Annual Convention. It will be the group's first time performing at the State Bar, where they will challenge Los Big Grandes, featuring Christopher J. Smith (JD '85), Hardy Smith (JD '85), Judge Philip Espinosa (JD '83, BA '78), Gene Goldsmith (JD '85, MA '81) and Peter Akmajian (JD '84, BA '80); and the band Guilty as Sin.

While the State Bar may provide the group's largest audience, the Gotes also have played for dozens of other venues, ranging from the Arizona Public Defender Association Annual Conference and Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law's "LawLawPalooza," to house parties and bars and fundraisers for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona, where Staci, an ardent dog lover, serves on the organizing committee for the annual "Putting on the Dog" gala.

Aside from debuting at the State Bar, Staci looks forward to another first: She'll be teaching legal writing to 1Ls at Arizona Law as an adjunct this fall. "I'm excited to be returning to the campus and being a part of the U of A Law community again," she says.

Learn more about Staci here.


Online Recurring Giving: Green, Great, Grateful

Are you wondering how you can make a difference? A gift to the Arizona Law Fund allows us to support student scholarships, fellowships and grants and provide new career development initiatives. Our online option to make monthly gifts using a credit card is an easier, greener way to support Arizona Law:


Every gift matters. Recurring giving is a way to show your steady support for the College of Law as we continue to guide one of the world's great public law schools through changing and challenging times.


We Need Your Help -- Update Your Contact Information!

In an effort to stay in closer contact with all of our alumni, we are asking you to update your contact information this summer. Please help us by filling out the brief form at the link below. Let us know the best way to contact you. Tell us more about your career and how we can better serve you! You can find the form here.


Movers and Shakers


Ted Vogt (JD '10) Appointed Director of State Veterans' Services

Janson "Ted" Vogt was appointed director of the Arizona Department of Veterans' Services by Governor Jan Brewer on June 11. A veteran of the US Air Force,Ted has served as an intelligence officer and commander of a 26-person unit providing counterterrorism and threat information, with posts in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as other countries. He has practiced law at the Law Offices of Gerald K. Smith and John C. Smith since 2010 and was an elected member of the Arizona House of Representatives, where he was a strong advocate for veterans, from 2010 to 2013.


Lesle Jansen (LLM '09) Appointed to Commission on Human Rights Working Group 

Lesle Jansen has been appointed to the Commission on Human and Peoples Rights' Working Group on Indigenous Populations/Communities in Africa. She is an attorney at Natural Justice, a nonprofit organization in South Africa focusing on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity through the self-determination of Indigenous peoples and local communities. Prior to completing her LLM in Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy, she was an attorney for the South African Human Rights Commission and the Legal Assistance Centre-Namibia, where she worked with the San community on land and human rights cases. She also received an LLM in Rule of Law for Development from Loyola University in Chicago.



Reception to Meet the Dean During the State Bar -- Friday, June 21

Wine and Cheese Reception hosted by Fennemore Craig, 2394 East Camelback, Suite 600, Phoenix RSVP


Other Opportunities to Meet Dean Miller:

* Seattle - June 24, Williams Kastner, 4-6pm RSVP

* Portland, OR - June 26, Stoel Rives LLP, 4-6pm RSVP

* Washington, DC - July 10

* San Francisco - July 18

* Sacramento July 29

* Chicago, NY, Boston - August 5-7


University of Arizona Alumni Association Events


*Welcome the Wildcats to Chicago -- Sunday, June 23

Join Wildcat Football Lettermen Howard Powers (BS '91) and Arden Weitzman (BA '92) for this special alumni event in Chicago. For more information, visit WindyCityCats Welcome.



 *Annual BayCats Day with the San Francisco Giants -- Saturday, July 27

Join alumni and Greg Byrne, U of A vice president of athletics, at AT&T Park. For more information, visit Annual Day. We know many of you follow our big sibling, the U of A Athletic Department's "Wildcat Wednesday" newsletter. We are working with Greg and his team to bring in more speakers in the fascinating area of sports law. To know more, you can contact me here.



Marc Signature  

Dean & Ralph W. Bilby Professor of Law

James E. Rogers College of Law

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