ua law logo high res | Link                                                                                       August 7, 2013



This week's featured members of the Arizona Law community are student Omar Vasquez, Professor Jason Kreag, and alum Deborah Sliz.

It is always a pleasure to tell you about alumni and faculty lending a hand to students through their advice, encouragement, and referrals.

Until the footnotes,



Student News
Omar Vasquez (Class of 2014)


Omar Vasquez feels fortunate to be working as a summer associate at Davis Wright Tremaine in Seattle. But more than just good fortune, it was persistence, plus help from an Arizona Law grad, that got him the job.


Omar, originally from El Paso, Texas, earned his bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania before moving to Arizona as a member of Teach for America. He taught high school math for five years with Teach for America in the Phoenix area, where he was chair of the math department at La Joya High School in the Tolleson Union High School District, and later in Tucson.

Both the experience with Teach for America and a broad interest in politics, economics, and society led Omar to law school. With his partner attending the University's College of Medicine, Arizona Law was "a natural fit," he says.


As a 1L, Omar was determined to land a summer job in Seattle. He made several trips there for career fairs and spent the summer working at the US Attorney's Office. He attended more Seattle career fairs as a 2L and cultivated more contacts, including Arizona Law alum Matthew Clark ('07), formerly of Davis Wright Tremaine and now with Faegre Baker Daniels in Boulder, Colorado.


"I emailed Matt on a Wednesday and asked if he could meet for coffee before I left town on Sunday," Omar says. "He wrote back and said he was busy, but he would need to take a dinner break that Friday and we could meet then. Matt was incredibly informative about the Seattle legal market, and to this day I continue to speak to him about balancing big-firm life and raising a family."


Omar is grateful to Davis Wright Tremaine for letting him work pro bono. "Pro bono work and community engagement are important to me" he says, "so I feel fortunate that the firm lets me bill up to 144 hours per year for pro bono efforts."


In our own community, Omar is an active member of the Latino Law Student Association and volunteers with the Pima County Teen Court as a magistrate. He will serve as Case Notes Editor for the Arizona Law Review this year.


While he's enjoyed "every single course and every single faculty member" at Arizona Law, he makes special mention of Toni Massaro's Constitutional Law II course, which helped him win the oral argument competition and be recognized as best oral advocate at the American Bar Association's First Amendment and Media Law Diversity Moot Court Competition earlier this year,

Faculty News
Jason Kreag
From left, Innocence Project co-founder Barry Scheck, client Thomas McGowan, and Jason Kreag celebrate reversal of McGowan's wrongful conviction


Jason Kreag joined our faculty August 1 as a Visiting Assistant Professor (VAP). The VAP program brings promising young teachers and scholars to Arizona Law for two years, during which they serve as members of the faculty--teaching, doing research, and writing articles. He will teach Criminal Law.


Originally from Indiana, Jason earned his BA in economics from DePauw University, where he was a star on the basketball team. He went on to earn an MA in philanthropic studies, conducting coursework and research focused on poverty and homelessness issues, before earning his JD from Harvard Law in 2003.


He'd set his sights on public interest law and was to start work for a Federal Circuit Court of Appeals judge in St. Louis after law school, but health problems forced the judge to step down. Jason then worked for six months as an associate at King & Spaulding in Atlanta before joining the Southern Center for Human Rights as a staff attorney. After two years there, he joined the Innocence Project in New York City, working as a staff attorney and adjunct clinical professor from 2007 to 2012 and making headlines for his team's successes in overturning several wrongful convictions.


Most recently he was a law clerk for the Hon. Jon O. Newman on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, while simultaneously teaching Wrongful Convictions at Cardozo and Columbia Law Schools. He began seeking a full-time teaching position last year.


"One of my mentors, Bernard Harcourt of the University of Chicago Law School, spent his early years teaching at Arizona Law and encouraged me to apply for the two-year position," Jason says.


Jason believes his clinical and advocacy experiences will be useful in his teaching.


"The way I think about criminal law is this: When we decide someone needs to be prosecuted or punished criminally, that's an extreme step we take as a society," Jason says, "so we want to minimize the need to take that step. Having experienced firsthand how the system can fail dramatically for several individuals has given me an interesting perspective on the power of the criminal justice system--and, therefore, on how careful we need to be when using it to punish people."


Jason recently relocated to Arizona with his wife, Vanessa Buch, a fellow Harvard Law alum and civil rights and criminal lawyer, and their two little girls. "I'm excited and pleased that the law school is giving me this opportunity," he says.


You can learn more about Jason at his faculty web page. 

Alumni News
Deborah Sliz ('79)


Deborah Sliz (MA, '74) is a powerhouse in Washington, DC. As president and CEO of the lobbying firm Morgan MeGuire, she is in high demand for her expertise on issues affecting the US electric utility industry.


Originally from Massachusetts, she earned her BA in Spanish at Emory University and her MA in linguistics at the U of A and was teaching English as a Second Language before enrolling in law school, where she was an Ares Fellow. 


"My relationship with Dean Charles Ares ('52) literally changed my life," she says. "Even though I got a C in Civil Procedure, he saw something in me and offered the opportunity to come to DC to be an intern on the House Interior Committee, then chaired by the late Rep. Mo Udall ('49)."


Dean Ares obviously understood something we all appreciate--a grade in a particular course doesn't tell us much about a person; talking with them, and seeing how they analyze problems and work with others, tells us a lot more.


Deborah worked as counsel for Rep. Udall for five years. "The last issue I worked on for Mo was the 1984 reallocation of power from the Hoover Dam among customers in Arizona, Nevada, and California," she says. "Passage of the bill was a big victory for the three states, and it led to a job for me with the American Public Power Association."


She adds, "Working for Mo Udall was a privilege. As Chairman of the House Interior and Insular Affairs Committee, he had a lot of power and could get things done. He was fair, well respected, and a thoughtful legislator whom I loved working for. He also had a delightful, self-deprecating sense of humor that made it possible for him to work collaboratively with Democrats and Republicans."


Deborah went on to work as Senior Vice President and Director of Legislative Services for the global public relations firm APCO Associates, now APCO Worldwide, and joined Morgan MeGuire as a partner in 1999.


When not meeting with clients or others on their behalf in Washington, DC, Deborah is a member of our Board of Visitors and works to advance our mission and help our students and graduates find jobs in the DC area. She has been an "Arizona Law Ambassador" since the program began in 2007 and has hosted several alumni gatherings. "There is a very large U of A alumni group here in DC, and it's always fun to get together when the Dean or other faculty come to town," she says.


"It's a pleasure to continue to be involved with the U of A law school and its students," Deborah says. "I had a great education there, and it led to a more exciting career than I ever imagined. Being on the Board of Visitors, and involved in other ways with the school, gives me a chance to step out of my day-to-day work and think about the job the school does to prepare students to make a contribution in the world, whether as attorneys or in other jobs." 


Deborah lives with her husband in Arlington, Virginia.


You can connect with her on LinkedIn. 


Movers and Shakers


Michael McCoy ('01) Honored by Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership


Michael McCoy, vice president and corporate secretary at Avnet, Inc., a global distributor of electronic components, computer product and embedded technology, has received the 2013 Rising Star of Corporate Governance Award from the Ira M. Millstein Center for Global Markets and Corporate Ownership at Columbia Law School. The award recognizes "global corporate governance professionals under the age of 40 who are making their mark as outstanding analysts, experts, directors, managers, or advocates." McCoy is one of seven honorees from four countries for 2013 and was nominated by his peers and selected by a committee of global leaders who previously received the award.


Erin Byrnes ('99) Named Partner at Udall Law Firm


Congratulations to Erin Byrnes, who has become a partner at the Udall Law Firm, where her practice focuses on employment law, government liability defense, Indian law and education law. Erin is admitted to practice in state and federal courts in Arizona and Oklahoma, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and several tribal courts. She was previously Of Counsel at the Berke Law Firm.

Give to Arizona Law

Another group of Arizona Law graduates recently took Bar Examinations in the jurisdictions of their choice. The first stage of their legal careers--the foundation--is now complete. We fully prepare our grads to "think like lawyers" and solve the kinds of problems they encountered in the exam and those they will encounter in their careers.


To uphold the value of an Arizona Law education and an Arizona Law degree, we need your help. Your gift helps ensure that our faculty, clinics, and scholarships will continue to attract top students and turn out top graduates.


Consider a gift to the Arizona Law Fund, or increasing your current gift, to help our students get the opportunities they need to succeed after they graduate. You can easily support any of our programs with our online option to make monthly gifts using a credit card; visit 


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. 


Who's Number One? Lester Hayt ('40) -- and Hester Turner ('46) Is Number Two


Four of the earliest members of our community are featured in "Who's Number One? Searching for the Most Senior Arizona Attorney," a feature story in the current edition of Arizona Attorney. Author Richard Bellah (JD '80) identifies the most senior living members of the Arizona State Bar in the article: In fourth place is Henry Zipf ('47); in third place, Tom Chandler ('46); and in second place, Hester Turner ('46). In first place is Lester Hayt ('40), who is 96 years young and still practicing law.


Tom Chandler spoke with current law students this past semester and offered a model of what a rich legal career looks like. Yesterday morning, I met with Hester Turner, at left, in New York City. A talk with Hester, a Lifetime Achievement Award winner at the law school, makes clear why she served in leadership positions at Lewis & Clark College and as the head of Campfire Girls (and later, under her direction, Campfire Boys and Girls).


The very first member of the State Bar of Arizona was the late Ralph W. Bilby ('20), for whom the professorship I am honored to hold is named.


You can read the article here.   




"Death of DOMA: Implications for Arizona?"-- August 28, 4 to 5:15 pm, Arizona Law  


Professors Toni Massaro and Barbara Atwood and attorney and alum Steven Phillips ('71) will discuss the US Supreme Court Ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act and the legal implications for attorneys and same-sex couples in Arizona. The panel is in Ares Auditorium (room 164); seating is first-come, first-served. CLE is available. The program is cosponsored by the U of A Institute for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies.


For more information, contact Bernadette Wilkinson at 520-626-1629 or


We are now just two weeks away from the first day of the term, and excitement is building. Please join us in welcoming the new school year.



Marc Signature  

Dean & Ralph W. Bilby Professor of Law

James E. Rogers College of Law

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