Again we are sending this on Tuesday rather than Wednesday -- but this week the reason is Vets, not votes.

In celebration of Veterans Day, we recognize the hard work of Arizona Law's Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic and profile one of its accomplished student-veterans, 3L Mario Rios.

Remember to join us for this year's Virtual Homecoming, beginning this Thursday! See details below and on our website.

An Update from the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic

Prof. Huskey

The Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic (VALC), led by Professor and Director
Kristine Huskey, provides pro bono legal services to those who have served in the United States military. 

The clinic helps veterans by removing legal barriers that hinder the transition from military service to civilian life. It is the only law school clinic in Arizona whose clientele are exclusively veterans and service members and the only non-profit program in Arizona that focuses exclusively on the legal needs of veterans.
The global pandemic has greatly affected the way the Vet Clinic teaches its students and represents clients, says Kristine. 

"In the classroom, we moved to online lectures and used breakout rooms for simulations and role-play work. Unrestricted by traditional in-person instruction, we Zoomed in experts from far-away places to teach some classes. Using technology and thinking creatively, we continued to provide top-notch legal representation and assistance to veterans and their families."
The Vet Clinic assists veterans in four areas: veterans treatment courts, benefits and discharge upgrade cases, and through a robust intake and referral program. 

The clinic kicked off 2020 with a win on behalf of a Vietnam-era veteran who had been denied disability benefits by the VA. Clinic student Mario Rios (3L, veteran) and former clinic students Elise Phalen ('20) and Reuben Dacher-Shapiro ('19) submitted briefs to the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims (CAVC), arguing that the VA had failed in its duty to consider all possible disability claims in light of the medical evidence. After two years of briefing, in February of this year, the court issued its opinion, agreeing with the clinic's briefs and remanding the case back to the VA for further review.

The Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court in action during the pandemic, with Vet Clinic fellow Lori Lewis seated to the left, Judge Thaddeus Semon ('98, veteran) behind the plexiglass, and Professor Huskey, supervising attorney Dayna Michael, and clinic students Mario Rios and Matthew Montoya on the videoconferencing screen.

According to Kristine, since the pandemic began in March, the most challenging work has been representing veterans and active service members in the two local veterans treatment courts -- the Regional Municipalities Veterans Treatment Court and the Pima County Justice Veterans Court. 

"Our students represent veterans and service members from all branches, assisting them in successfully completing the treatment program so their criminal charges are dismissed." 

Before the pandemic, Vet Clinic law students, faculty, and local supervising attorneys went to the courthouse every other week for scheduled hearings. "We met with clients, negotiated with the prosecutor, talked with treatment providers, and argued before the presiding judge -- all in-person lawyering."

When the pandemic shut down the local Arizona courts, including the veterans treatment courts, Vet Clinic students called their clients regularly to check on them, though no court hearings were held. In June, the veterans treatment courts reopened, holding hearings and bringing veterans "back to court." 

Kristine says the program adapted magnificently to the new environment to allow veterans, court staff, treatment providers, and our law students to remain safe and healthy while participating through Zoom hearings. 

The move to a digital environment was not without a few difficulties, particularly with remote supervision of law students as they worked on new lawyering skills. Now, the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic students are well-versed in "Zoom Court," having participated in over fifteen such court sessions this semester. 

Supervised by clinic fellow Lori Lewis, and attorneys Michelle Bowen ('15, veteran), Jon Leitenberger ('17, veteran), and Dayna Michael ('17, veteran), the students have adapted to interviewing clients through phone calls, negotiating with the prosecutors through emails, and arguing before the judge via Zoom. 

Despite the challenges, the students have continued to provide high quality legal representation to veterans participating in the program and have paved the way for veterans to continue to receive the best outcomes. Despite the months-long shut down, in the last year, 97 of the clinic's clients have successfully graduated from the two local veterans treatment courts and seen their criminal charges dismissed.

Law students Arizona Baskin (3L), Erik Calderon ('20), Matt Nolte (3L), Elise Phalen ('20), Josiah Rabon ('20, veteran), and Mario Rios (3L, veteran) took the Vet Clinic in the spring semester. Arizona and Mario returned to the clinic for the fall semester and were joined by Matthew Montoya (2L) and Hannah Peterson (2L).

A class session this fall

The Vet Clinic continued its service of providing telephonic intakes and referrals to the many veterans and family members who contacted the clinic. So far in 2020, they have assisted over 100 veterans with their requests, helping them find appropriate attorneys and non-profit organizations for matters such as family law, employment, benefits, and various civil matters. 

Last November, the clinic cemented its relationship with the VA and held its first-ever on-site legal clinic at the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System. It was so successful that they held two more on-site clinics, helping 34 veterans, before COVID closed the VA campus. Undergraduate interns, Tevin Williams (veteran, current MLS student) and Jasmine Kang (BA in Law), worked tirelessly to help numerous veterans find the legal help they needed. Kristine shares,

"We know that once it is safe to be on campus, the VA will welcome us back, but in the meantime we are brainstorming for a virtual VA legal clinic. Stay tuned!"

Thank you to the entire clinic for fulfilling the legal needs of so many veterans.

Q&A with 3L Mario Rios

First deployment to Afghanistan

Where are you originally from? 
I was born in Tijuana, Mexico. I moved to California when I was four years old and obtained legal residency in the United States when I was around six. My paternal grandfather is a Kumeyaay Indian -- it was through his sponsorship that my mother and I were granted residency. I lived in California before and after the Army, until law school when I moved to Tucson.
What can you tell us about your military service?
I joined the Army in October 2005 and graduated basic and advanced infantry training in February 2006. Shortly after, I deployed to Afghanistan with the 10th Mountain Division, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment (Combat Company 1-32 INF for short). My first deployment was to Afghanistan in March 2006 to June 2007. I was "stop-loss" for my second deployment to Afghanistan in 2009 (January to December). During deployment I did it all: mounted and dismounted patrols, air assault missions, humanitarian jobs like building schools and hospitals, and providing security for voting sites, and much more. I was in a light infantry unit, which meant walking and climbing the Hindu Kush Mountains.
A combat deployment is like law school; there are many neat and exciting experiences, but on the other hand, every day is full of stress, uncertainty, and you come across some difficult and bad people along the way. Overall, except for two specific days in Afghanistan, I would not trade any of those experiences. 

I have so many deployment stories I can tell, but I normally do not because some are so incredible, they are hard to believe.  Here is one, something funny from my first deployment -- I went 45 days without a shower. I was on top of a mountain in an observation point, providing overwatch for the rest of my platoon. During this time, I also turned 19 years old. The 13 months or so I was deployed I only used two bars of soap, two bars because I lost one of them. Funny thing, I do not remember smelling bad!

Second deployment
In court through the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic

Why did you choose the University of Arizona for law school?
I knew that the James E. Rogers College of Law had an amazing IPLP program that was top in the nation; although I did not want to specialize in Federal Indian Law, I wanted the opportunity to learn from some of the best professors in the field. I also chose this law school because they had a Veterans Clinic.
Are you part of any student groups?
Last year I was Vice-President of the Latino Law Student Association, and this year I am their 3L delegate. I am also a member of NALSA and LWA.
What are your plans after graduating?
I am open to different types of employment after graduation. I am most interested in personal injury, prosecution, immigration, and JAG. Ultimately, I would like my own personal injury firm -- so get used to seeing my face on buses, park benches, and billboards. Regardless of where I work or my specific job title, I will always lend a hand to help anyone in need, including veterans.
Can you tell us about your experience working in the Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic?
Veterans, just like other people, struggle with mental health, addiction, and other issues, so I knew I wanted to help those veterans who were currently in Veterans Court or fighting against the VA or Army/Navy Review Boards. Our Vet Clinic has about 67 clients in the Regional Municipalities Veterans Court and Justice Court. I personally have about a dozen clients who I communicate with and represent in court. 

Receiving a certificate of recognition from Tucson City Court Judge Michael Pollard (ret., '72, veteran).

Most of our court work is done in Tucson City Court (RMVTC), which we attend every other week. Our clinic, our students, and our supervising attorneys do so much for these veterans. We work as mental health counselors, confidants, friends, parents -- you name it. The needs of each veteran are unique to them. In court, our team has huge wins like advocating for early graduation, reinstating driver's licenses, and helping veterans overcome their drug and alcohol addictions. 
My biggest victory thus far was obtaining a remand on a brief Elise Phalen ('20) and I wrote, which we filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims in Washington, DC. Here, we filed a response against the Secretary of Veterans Affairs in a benefits case for our client who was a Vietnam veteran. We were more than happy with the remand because we thought our chances of winning were slim to none. VALC is 4-0 with a perfect track record when litigating in federal court.
This semester, another student and I are working on a discharge upgrade for a Navy Veteran. Before the end of the year, we anticipate filing our brief to the Board for Correction of Naval Records.
I know the U.S. is not perfect, but there is no other country I would rather live in. I am proud of serving the greatest country in the world. Happy Veterans Day -- I salute you.

Around the College

Join us for our first-ever Virtual Homecoming. It will be the pride of YOUR house! #BEARDOWNEVERYWHERE

See more details on each event on the College of Law Homecoming webpage or the UA Homecoming webpage
Highlighted Events

Thursday, November 12

The University of Arizona's first-ever campus-wide Day of Giving is this Thursday.

Arizona Law will be raising funds to support student scholarships. Any gift to the College of Law Student Scholarship Fund during the Day of Giving comes with an exclusive t-shirt!


Join University of Arizona Law back in the classroom. This is an opportunity for you to see firsthand how Arizona Law faculty deliver engaging and challenging classes in the middle of a pandemic. MORE>>

Professor Albertina Antognini
Thursday, November 12
10:30 - 11:45 a.m. MST

Professor Barbara Bergman
Thursday, November 12
3 - 4:50 p.m. MST


Presented by the Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) as part of their Wellness Series. All alumni are invited to this virtual event with Well For Culture, a grassroots initiative aimed at reclaiming and revitalizing Indigenous wellness. MORE>>
Thursday, November 12
12 - 1 p.m. MST

Friday, November 13

Justice Gorsuch

Prof. Bublick

Members of the Arizona Law community are invited to join United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch as he discusses his bestselling book, "A Republic, If You Can Keep It." 

The Justice's book focuses on our remarkable Constitution, its design and the judge's role within it. The Justice also reveals events that have shaped his outlook and the pivotal importance of civic education and civil discourse.
Justice Gorsuch will be joined by Arizona Law's own Dan B. Dobbs Professor of Law Ellen Bublick, who was the Justice's law school classmate and moot court partner.
NOTE: This special engagement is being made available only to Arizona Law students, faculty, staff, and alumni. This is a private event. Please do not forward this invitation or the registration link.
Advance registration is required; registration will close at 10 a.m. on November 13 and soon afterward the Zoom webinar link will be sent to registrants.
Friday, November 13
11:15 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. MST


Join the Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and the Arizona Law Review as they co-host a conversation with UCLA Law Assistant Professor LaToya Baldwin-Clark on "Racial Disparities in Access to Education." This is part of BLSA's monthly Coffee Conversation Series. MORE>>
Friday, November 13
12:30 - 1:30 p.m. MST



Join Arizona Law past and present faculty members and deans for an informal, drop-in virtual reunion. Catch up on what's new at your College of Law and take a walk down memory lane. MORE>>
Friday, November 13
5:30-6:30 p.m. MST


Saturday, November 14

Get your alumni team together and join University of Arizona Law's top-ranked legal-writing program for a sneak preview of its famous end-of-semester escape room! 

All you need is a squad of three or four friends with computers logged into Zoom, an hour or so to spare at 11 a.m. on Saturday, November 14, and an appetite for adventure!

Instead of a garden-variety review session, we end the first semester of our 1L Legal Research, Analysis, and Writing course with an escape-room activity that requires teams of students to use the skills and knowledge they've gained in the class--plus a little common sense and initiative -- to solve a series of puzzles and "escape the semester." 

This year, our creative team of professors and writing fellows--led by Professor Joy Herr-Cardillo ('84) -- has turned the escape room into a virtual activity, and you can be among the first to experience it in an exclusive, alumni-only session. We have 2L writing fellows ready to serve as your guides. 

Questions? Feel free to email Professor Susie Salmon at

Saturday, November 14
11 a.m. - noon MST


Arizona Football will take on USC at Arizona Stadium. Check out the full season schedule and get more information:

See all College of Law Homecoming events:

See all UA Homecoming events:

Corrina Eklund
Alumni and Events Coordinator
(520) 621-7409

Seeking Mock Jurors from the Arizona Law Community
Director of Advocacy Barbara Bergman invites alumni to serve as jurors for several mock trials as part of this semester's Basic Trial Advocacy class. 

Eight jury trials will be conducted on the Zoom platform on Saturday, November 21, between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. The students will be trying State v. Rausch, a murder case with a self-defense claim. 

If you are available and interested in participating, please contact Professor Bergman at

Download Your Arizona Law Digital Wallpaper 

If you'd like to project a visual reminder of your pride in Arizona Law, you can select one of our digital wallpapers to use as your Zoom background. There are over a dozen to choose from.

In the News

Bloomberg Government, quoting professor Justin Pidot

COVID-related updates

From UA administration:

From the College of Law:

College of Law Coronavirus Response Information, including current College of Law status.

COVID-19 and Law Coalition, mobilizing University of Arizona Law expertise in response to the pandemic
COVID-19 Health Law Resources, with new video resources added frequently

Please join me in recognizing the service of our alumni, faculty, staff, and students in support of veterans in our Veterans Advocacy Law Clinic -- or, as Mario says, VALC! 

And my deepest thanks and respect go to Mario and his classmates who are veterans, for their service to our country, and their decision to continue to serve others through the law.


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