Last week, we hosted the annual gathering of our National Board of Visitors (BOV).


The meeting spanned two days, beginning on Thursday with the ribbon cutting of our new "Fender and '14 Room" and a dramatic lecture by BOV member and outstanding litigator Patrick McGroder on the art of oral advocacy. Friday we discussed the state of the College, with sessions on the implementation of new degree programs including the MLS and the new BA in Law, the February bar initiative, our global partnerships, and a special emphasis on employment and alumni engagement.


Today, in the e-pages of Wildcat Wednesday-Letter of the Law, we focus on our MLS program and introduce you to two of our impressive MLS students.



Until the Footnotes,





2015 Board of Visitors Meeting


Master of Legal Studies (MLS)


Our MLS program is a one-year full-time or longer part-time degree program for non-lawyers. This innovative new degree program began in 2013 in response to longstanding requests from people with a range of interesting backgrounds who were seeking to take a focused series of law classes but not interested in practicing law.


In today's complex regulatory environment, law impacts many professions and dimensions of business and life, including health care, human resources, real estate, business management, international commerce, education, and the broad areas of gov­ernment administration and compliance.


Some students choose the MLS program as a way to define or redirect their careers. Just like a traditional JD program, the MLS helps students develop the ability to think critically about legal issues and possible solutions and hone communication, negotiating, and reasoning skills -- all skills in high demand in the job market.


In order to earn an MLS degree, students must complete a total of 30 units, including foundational courses in substantive areas of the law encompassing contracts, torts, property, constitutional law, procedure, and legal research and writing.


For the remaining 16 units, students may choose from a wide range of electives, including related courses offered by other schools or departments at the University of Arizona.


The foundational courses are taught by law faculty (presently Professors Rob Williams, Brent White, Andy Coan and library fellow Megan Austin), and offered solely to MLS and BA in Law students.



Pilar "Pila" Martinez


Pila Martinez is a part-time student in our MLS program. Like many of our MLS students, Pila is also a full-time professional. In fact, Pila is an experienced journalist and currently serves as the Senior Director of University Communications here at the U of A. Pila is pursuing the MLS degree in order to facilitate a potential career change.


"My undergraduate degree was in journalism and I spent several years as a reporter before coming to work at the University of Arizona, where I began a career in public relations. I trace  my interest in mediation to my father, who spent most of his career as an elementary school principal. He had completed mediation training while an administrator and, after he retired, put those skills to work as ombudsman for Tucson Unified School District. About 10 years ago, I went through the same training program and immediately was captivated by the idea of helping people in conflict. Within the past few years, that interest has developed into a full-blown desire to pursue a career in mediation/alternative dispute resolution. Because getting a JD isn't a feasible option for me, I enrolled in the Master of Legal Studies program, which will give me the academic background and credentials I need if I decide to switch careers once again."


Like many of our JD students, Pila is also a passionate community advocate. Her hope is to use her years of experience in journalism and her MLS degree to carve out a career in mediation/alternative dispute resolution, especially as it's used to boost collaboration or address issues in community projects.



When I asked Pila about her experience in the MLS program, she had high praise for the people and perspectives she has been exposed to in the program.


"There's a lot of wisdom in the idea that volunteering is more than just good for the soul. It's also a really valuable way to develop career skills and create networks in new areas. Since I became trained in mediation, I have volunteered as a community mediator, as a coach for mediation trainees and as a facilitator. Through those activities, and the MLS program, I have met people with amazing experiences and unique perspectives -- people I probably would not have met otherwise."


Pila, I agree. One of the powerful benefits of our expanded degree offerings is the opportunity to bring together remarkable people with diverse and rich backgrounds to learn and share from one another.


To connect with Pila,



Abe Lai


Like Pila, Abe Lai had an extensive career before returning to school to pursue an MLS.  In Abe's case, his return to school culminates a journey down a path that was unavailable to him in his younger years.  Although Abe has always had an interest in law and a desire to pursue his education, life and the obligations that often go along with it have kept Abe quite busy. 


Abe started college in 1974.  For the past forty-five years he has worked in automotive and insurance sales.  In 2013, he completed a lifelong dream when he returned to the University of Arizona to finish his BA degree in political science.  Upon graduation, Abe immediately enrolled in the MLS program.  Like Pila, Abe views the MLS as an avenue to acquire professional skills to benefit the community.  Supplementing his foundational coursework, he is intensively studying immigration and refugee law.


"I was attracted to the MLS program because it fit perfectly with what I wanted to accomplish. For the past few years, I have been participating in advocacy work, particularly around issues relevant to Asian Americans -- like immigration reform, voting registration, and Get Out the Vote. I am not looking for a new career or better earning opportunity but to be better at articulating and communicating for the issues I am passionate about. My goal is to be a better advocate for underserved communities."


Abe is an active member of the College of Law community. He has joined the Asian Pacific Law Student Association and is also investigating the running club and the ACLU.


To connect with Abe

Abe and his family


Centennial Snapshot - Three Decades in the Douglass Building

Until 1929, the law program had no building of its own. During the summer of that year, the former University library building -- known as the Douglass Building -- was remodeled for the College of Law.  Except for the addition of a stackroom wing in 1948, the building served the College well without major change for thirty years.




Do you have photos or memories of your time in the Douglass Building?  We would love to hear from you.   Please contact Emily McGovern, Centennial Coordinator to share your stories.



We are only one week away from the triumphant return of Gutter Bowl! Back by popular demand, the return of Gutter Bowl will happen on Wednesday, March 4. It is not too late to sign up to bowl or register a new team.


March 4, 2015

6 pm - 9 pm

Bowlmor Scottsdale

7300 East Thomas Road, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Alumni, faculty, staff, and students are invited to attend.


Register now! 

Western Regional Law Meet


This Friday, we host for the first time the Western Regional Transactional Law Meet. For our students who plan to pursue a career in transactional law, this competition serves as an important way to build their skills.

I appreciate the leadership of Professor Billy Sjostrom and Senior Director of Development Jonelle Vold in bringing the first Transactional Law Meet to Arizona Law, and in engaging many alumni and friends to return to campus to help the College by serving as judges.

National NALSA Moot Court Competition


March 6 and 7


Next week, led by the efforts of our Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) chapter, we are hosting nearly 100 teams from across the country in the National NALSA moot court competition. We are still looking for additional volunteers to serve as judges and bailiffs during the competition. To volunteer contact Chase Velasquez.


"Conversations with Bob Mundheim"



Beginning March 9, Professor Bob Mundheim will host his popular annual Conversations with Bob Mundheim series of informal conversations with national leaders in business and law, relating their experiences in -- and perspectives about -- corporate governance, markets, ethics, and career development. This year's speakers include


  • Dr. Wesley von Schack, Monday, March 9
  • Timothy Flynn, Monday, March 23
  • Simon Lorne, Monday, March 30
  • Brandon Becker, Monday, April 6
  • John J. Cannon III, Monday, April 13


This series is always a treat for the College of Law and Eller College of Management communities, and it is free and open to members of the wider University of Arizona community who want to join one or all of the sessions. Please let us know if you are coming (we serve lunch!) by contacting Nancy Stanley.

Mark Van Vleet '91, 

Chief Legal Officer and

Senior Vice-President of Business Development,

Fender Musical Instruments, Corp.

cuts the ribbon opening the "Fender and '14 Room"


For our friends and alumni reading this in a location outside of Arizona, please allow me to remind you what a beautiful and warm place Tucson is in the Spring. Come back to campus, meet our students, reconnect with faculty, and experience for yourself the vibrant and exceptional community that is Arizona Law.








Marc L. Miller  

Dean & Ralph W. Bilby Professor of Law
Shaping the next century of legal education
Arizona NOW campaign button


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