We're pleased to shine the Letter of the Law spotlight this week on 2005 JD graduate Tamara Mulembo, who is breaking new ground in local governance.

Until the footnotes,
Tamara Mulembo ('05), First Black Chief Deputy in History of the Pima County Attorney's Office
Photo by Colin Wolff.

Coinciding with Black History Month, University of Arizona Law recognizes alumna Tamara Mulembo ('05), newly appointed as the first Black Chief Deputy in the 109-year history of the Pima County Attorney's Office (PCAO). Tamara says,

"I have an opportunity to represent and amplify voices that weren't at the table before, and that's important because this Office cannot be a monolith in how we're thinking." 
Tamara, half Kenyan and a self-proclaimed "desert rat, through and through," was born and raised in Phoenix before coming south to Tucson to get degrees in both English and Spanish and, later, her law degree.
"My grandmother, Lorenza Mae Shankle, was from Alabama. She died when she was 91, and she lived to see a lot. She was always pushing me, and I think she believed in me the most."

Of her time at Arizona Law, Tamara says,
"Everyone during their professional journey will need three types of mentors: the person who moves your career forward; the person who teaches you how to do your job; and the person who is your sounding board and confidante. My time at Arizona Law provided me with mentors in each of these areas.

My professors guided me and counselled me throughout my career. Dr. Willie Jordan-Curtis has given me invaluable support and mentoring over the years as well as the opportunity to reach back and help those who come after me. My study group became more than colleagues but also lifelong friends."
For most of her career so far, Tamara worked as a public defender at the local and federal levels and also served for a term as president of the Arizona Minority Bar Association.
In December, Pima County Attorney and fellow Arizona Law alumna and classmate Laura Conover ('05) announced Tamara's appointment as Chief Deputy. She says,
"Having Tamara as my right hand in the office and a true partner to work on reform with has been indispensable. She was the ultimate catch for the position. She has a civil and criminal law background, she has prosecuted and defended, she has high level D.C. training from the Administrative Office of Courts on how to lead a large legal office, and she's a bilingual Arizonan. Also, she's a Wildcat, of course.

Tamara shares my desire to bring humor and joy into the most difficult places where very serious work is being done in service to the community, and during a pandemic no less. She has a unique ability to inspire people to keep pushing forward and to do so with grace. Our team is so lucky to have her at the helm."
What does it mean, in practical terms, that PCAO finally has a Black Chief Deputy? According to Tamara,

"I think that my being here is the first step toward seeing meaningful change for so many people in our community, particularly Black people. But my presence here alone isn't enough. We will demonstrate through our actions we're not being performative or just paying lip service to our values.
The table itself is more diverse, the voices are richer, and by creating that diversity, we make a better justice system, safer communities, and we improve the world around us."
Tamara has some advice for Arizona Law students who want to follow in her footsteps:
"My advice to folks starting out or anywhere along their journey would be twofold. First, when you show diligence and faithfulness in doing the small things well, more will be entrusted to you. Second, have the courage to present your authentic self to the world. You are at your most powerful and most effective when you stand in your truth."

Around the College

Join us on Tuesday, February 23, for the next Pitt Speaker Series guest Ezra Klein, founder and editor-at-large of Vox, author of the book, "Why We're Polarized," and a policy analyst for MSNBC.
The free, online series is moderated by former Tucson mayor and current Arizona Law Professor of Practice Jonathan Rothschild.

In case you missed it

Watch a replay of the first event in this series, with Princeton professor 
Eddie Glaude, Jr., held January 26. 

Glaude spoke about black communities, the difficulties of race in the United States, and the challenges facing our democracy.

Alumnus Pat McGroder ('70) Speaks to Mock Trial Tournament Participants

On the last weekend of January, Phoenix litigator Pat McGroder ('70) addressed a group of over 200 undergraduates from around the country as part of the 6th Annual Arizona Cactus Classic Invitational Mock Trial Tournament. 

Pat spoke to the students, many of whom are law school bound (and, we hope, Arizona Law bound) drawing from his experiences about what makes a great trial lawyer. Urging students to view law as a path to justice and compassion, Pat shared a powerful personal anecdote about being inspired to pursue a legal career by the Civil Rights Movement.
Naslie Rezaei, current BA in Law student and this year's tournament director, shares, 

"Mr. McGroder gave a refreshing perspective on the importance of advocacy that rekindled my passion in trial advocacy. His command of his experience and expertise was thrilling. He truly exemplified an advocate."
The College of Law has long supported the undergraduate mock trial chapter, considered among the nation's strongest and best.  Participating in the tourney were 32 teams from 26 colleges across the nation, including Stanford, Northwestern, Haverford, Brown and American University. 

Alumnus Matt Ashton ('18), who participated in mock trial as an undergraduate and excelled in trial skills competitions while a law student, continues to coach and advise the UA team.

Call to Employers -- Participate in Spring Recruiting!

Sonoran Desert Public Sector Career Fair -- back in the day.
The Arizona Law Career Development Office invites employers to participate in spring recruiting! This year, all recruiting events will take place virtually, making it easier than ever to connect with Arizona Law talent.
The Spring Interview Program, taking place now through February 12, will host law firms and corporate employers to interview 1L and 2L students for summer positions and 3L students for post-graduate positions.

The 20th annual Sonoran Desert Public Sector Career Fair will host public interest organizations and government agencies looking to hire for internships, externships, and post-graduate positions. This year's event will take place on February 18 and 19.
If you are interested in participating in our organized recruiting events, please reach out to Assistant Director for Employer Engagement, Shannon Walker, at

Spread the Love with Wildcat Valentines

Click below to download and see more Wildcat valentine options from the UA Foundation.

In the News

And for an important Zoom tip:

We were thrilled to hear about Tamara Mulembo's appointment as Chief Deputy in the Pima County Attorney's Office.
A broad sense of the direction of the office under new Pima County Attorney Laura Conover can be gained from her excellent Darrow Soll Lecture, delivered last October.
We look forward to the leadership and continued engagement that County Attorney Conover and Chief Deputy Mulembo will bring to this central part of our justice system.


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