The College of Law is back in full swing.

Of course that means students and classes, hallway, office, and patio conversations, and daily events. It also means that major college-wide and public events are on the horizon. 

This year's Constitution Day event hosted by the Rehnquist Center will be a conversation between Former White House Counsel Kathy Ruemmler and Professor Andrew Coan on September 10.

This week in Letter of the Law we feature a pair of outstanding alumni (and Double Wildcats) from the same family -- father-daughter duo Rick Unklesbay ('80) and Laura Unklesbay ('18).

Until the footnotes,
An Arizona Law Family Tradition: 
Rick Unklesbay ('80) and Laura Unklesbay ('18)
Arizona Law Class of 1980 alumnus Rick Unklesbay has spent his career with the Pima County Attorney's Office in Tucson. 

Rick's long-standing connections to the law school and Tucson legal community have also brought him back to Arizona Law as a highly regarded professor of practice.
Rick grew up in a military family and lived all over the world, finishing high school in the Philippines. He came to the University of Arizona as an undergraduate and stayed for law school. He recalls participating in the criminal prosecution clinic as a student, which exposed him to life in the courtroom: 

"This hooked me on wanting to be a trial lawyer."
A year after graduating from law school, Rick started with the Pima County Attorney's Office as a prosecutor. 

"I thought I would stay a few years and move on, but I always enjoyed the work and ended up staying for my career." 

Over nearly 40 years, he served as Deputy Attorney, Chief Criminal Deputy, and Chief Trial Counsel. He now leads the unit examining potential wrongful convictions.
Rick recently authored a book that draws on his experience, in particular with the prosecution of murder cases, titled, Arbitrary Death: A Prosecutor's Perspective on the Death Penalty(He will participate in a conversation about the book at the college on September 11 -- find out more below.)

"I wanted to use my experience to write an educational book about the death penalty. Few people outside of those practicing in the area really understand what is involved in these cases. My intent was to write a book for the lay person to understand how the capital punishment system works." 
Rick's daughter, Laura Unklesbay ('18), recalls attending an annual  College of Law Homecoming Barbecue with her father. He introduced Laura to me as "a future law student." She had not settled on law school yet, but the idea took hold.

Laura was raised in Tucson and is a Double Wildcat like her dad. After attaining her bachelor's degree with honors at the UA in Political Science and German Language, she spent a year in Austria teaching English as a Fulbright Fellow. During that year, she responded to the pull of family and friends back in Tucson and applied to Arizona Law.

While in law school, Laura served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law.

"My strongest memory of law school is all things journal. Staying late and working weekends with my fellow staff was always hard work but rewarding."
She also received several awards including the ALI-CLE Scholarship and Leadership Award, as well as being named a Distinguished Scholar and an Arizona Centennial Fellow. And, during her tenure in law school, she served as a judicial extern for the Arizona Superior Court in Tucson, clerked for the U.S. Attorneys' Office, and represented veterans in court and before the Army Review Board in Washington, DC, as part of the Veterans' Advocacy Law Clinic.
After graduating magna cum laude in 2018, Laura joined Modrall Sperling in Albuquerque, New Mexico, as an associate.
"I love that I learn something new every day with my work and that I'm not pigeon-holed into one department. I've had the opportunity to work on a large variety of legal issues and I'm excited to see what the next year brings."
Laura says her dad was always supportive of her path toward becoming a lawyer. Throughout law school the two would discuss cases and legal issues and now, even as a practicing lawyer, she enjoys still being able to call her dad with questions.

Around the College
Book Discussion Focuses on the Death Penalty
Please join us for a conversation with prosecutor and University of Arizona Law professor of practice Rick Unklesbay  ('80) about his book, Arbitrary Death: A Prosecutor's Perspective on the Death Penalty.

When:  Weds., September 11, 2019, 6:30-7:45 pm
Where:  James E. Rogers College of Law,  Lewis Roca Rothgerber Christie Lobby

Rick has tried over 100 murder cases, and 16 people whose cases he tried received the death sentence. He now argues that the death penalty doesn't work and that our system is fundamentally flawed.

Professor Jason Kreag will lead the discussion with Rick about the book, how his opinions on capital punishment evolved throughout his career, and his arguments for why it should be abandoned.

The book will be for sale at the event, and all proceeds of the sales will go to Homicide Survivors, a Tucson non-profit.

This event is free and open to the public.
Questions about this event may be directed to Bernadette Wilkinson

Health Law Reception Held in Phoenix

On Thursday, August 15, Arizona Law co-hosted an inaugural Health Law Reception in Phoenix with Health Current, the state's Health Information Exchange. 

The event included a keynote presentation on "Recent Development in Health Information Technology" from Health Current's in-house counsel and privacy officer, Chase Millea, and provided an overview of the fully online Graduate Certificates in Health Law from Professor Tara Sklar as well as the JD Health Law Certificate with Professor Roy Spece.

Professor Tara Sklar, Director of Graduate Health Sciences Programs, and Marco Schito, Scientific Director at the Critical Path Institute, welcoming reception attendees.

The event received over 100 RSVPs from across the health and life sciences from health care providers, insurers, attorneys, government representatives, and others with an  interest in learning about exciting new initiatives in the health law and policy field.

Senator Heather Carter (right) with UA Professor of Public Health Leila Barraza (left) and Assistant Dean Leah Won (center).

"It was a fantastic event with a diverse range of leading professionals throughout the city of Phoenix and surrounding areas. We received very positive feedback from participants who appreciated the opportunity to connect professionally and personally in this rapidly growing field," says Professor Sklar. 

She adds, "Given this initial success, we look forward to hosting similar health law events in the Phoenix area going forward."

Associate Dean Christopher Robertson provided the closing remarks for the reception by highlighting the expertise in the room, 

"We are healthcare providers, payors, educators, scientists, entrepreneurs, and represent fields of employment that are newly forming as technology advances. There are no limits to what we can accomplish together and improve access to quality care throughout our state."
Special thanks to Assistant Dean Leah Won ('05) for the exceptional support from the Phoenix office.

For questions or further information, contact Professor Tara Sklar or visit

Join the Bear Down Network

Join to access networking and career development opportunities exclusive to Wildcats. Once you've signed up, you can find classmates by looking for the College of Law group.

In the News

I just returned from a week in China where, among other things, I got to see some of our great alumni in Beijing, and welcomed our new dual degree BA in Law students at Ocean University of China in Qingdao.

It is good to be back home in Tucson, and to feel the buzz in our hallways as the new term unfolds. Please join us, in person or online, when your schedule and geography allow.





   Like us on Facebook   Follow us on Twitter    View our profile on LinkedIn    View our videos on YouTube

Copyright © 2019. All Rights Reserved.

Join Our Mailing List button

Confirm that you like this.

Click the "Like" button.