| Link                                                                                  October 22, 2014




Many alums talk with me about how their practice is changing -- how client demands and relationships are shifting, how lawyers and non-lawyers are providing or supporting legal services, and how the impact of globalization and technology affect both the supply of and demand for legal services.


The effects of these changes are compounded by the high cost of traditional legal education, and have led to the need for new ways of providing legal training. 


This fall, the University of Arizona and Arizona Law cooperatively launched the first US Bachelor of Arts in Law, with undergraduate law courses taught by law faculty. The goal of this partnership between Arizona Law and the School of Government and Public Policy in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is to empower undergraduate students to pursue jobs where legal training and an understanding of legal doctrine, analysis, and procedure will give them an employment advantage.


Arizona Law's efforts to train more people capable of working in regulatory, business, government and other legal environments are responsive to changes in legal services, and good for our students who study for the JD and become licensed attorneys. 


The new BA in Law also provides the opportunity for law majors who excel to start law school after their junior year, reducing the cost and time needed to get a JD. Nearly 100 students have already declared law as a major and upperclassmen are preparing to start taking undergraduate law courses this spring.   

This week we share how our undergraduate law program is responding to the new legal landscape by featuring our program director, Najwa Nabti, teaching fellow Jim Diamond, and two of our undergraduate students, Jesus Manuel Rosas and Reuben Canastillo.


Until the footnotes,




Najwa Nabti

Najwa with her two children
Najwa with her two children


Najwa Nabti is the director of the Undergraduate Law and Master of Legal Studies programs at the college. She brings her passion for education, appreciation for experiential learning, and international expertise to students and the entire Arizona Law community.


Najwa decided to attend law school after working for two years as a paralegal specialist with the US Department of Justice. She recalls that straight out of college:


"I knew that I was interested in seeking justice for victims, but wasn't sure that I could see myself as a lawyer. I had amazing mentors at the DOJ. I worked hard, but they invested a tremendous amount of time in training me. Had I studied law as an undergraduate -- even basic concepts -- it would have saved them a lot of time."


The experience helped steer her career path. After obtaining her JD, Najwa worked in white-collar criminal defense with partners who were former federal prosecutors. Before joining us, she worked for seven years in The Hague, Netherlands, where she served as an appeals prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. There, she also managed the prosecution's internship program, coordinating training for undergraduate and graduate law students from around the globe.


Najwa appreciates the value of working with judges, having clerked at the federal district court of Arizona (Judge Stephen McNamee '69), the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the International Court of Justice. Her passion for victim justice instilled from that very first legal job after getting her BA stayed with her. Throughout her career, Najwa has pursued accountability for gender-based violence, whether seeking asylum on behalf of a rape victim, researching domestic violence against displaced refugees, or working on prosecutions for sexual violence as a crime against humanity.


Based on her experiences, Najwa is convinced that "internships and other experiential learning opportunities are absolutely essential to preparing students to enter the workforce, whether as undergraduates or graduates." These opportunities are built into the undergraduate law curriculum, and reflect the program's vision.

Najwa and family on vacation
The whole family on vacation


"By the time students graduate with their BA in Law, they will have foundational knowledge of the law in core subject areas, know what it means to 'think like a lawyer', issue-spot, and structure sound legal arguments. They will be able to use these skills immediately after graduation in law-related jobs. They should also have a better idea about whether or not they really want to go to law school. If so, qualified law majors can start law school as seniors through our 3+3 program, saving time and money." 


Geared toward professionals in law-related careers, the Master of Legal Studies will follow a similar curriculum (without the 3+3 option), allowing graduate students to obtain this legal training in one year of full-time study, or on a part-time basis.


When she isn't working with undergrads, master's students, or studying up on the latest international issues, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Arizona Law graduate, Ed Russo ('00) and their two children. She notes that her kids are both adjusting well to the climate and learning Spanish. Najwa loves to travel, bake sweet things, and take in the Arizona sunsets and starry skies.


Jesus Manuel Rosas

Jesus at the Kukulcan Temple
Jesus at the Kukulcan Temple

When it comes to success, Jesus Rosas knows that it starts with great experiences. He is a senior at the University of Arizona and a BA in Law student.


When asked why he chose to major in law, he responded, "I get to learn from College of Law faculty while still being an undergraduate, and being part of the first law major in the country. It was perfect for my professional goals."  


Through his classes and personal experiences, Jesus has discovered a significant interest in immigration law. He is currently an immigration services intern for the International Rescue Committee, where he assists refugees with their residency and citizenship applications. He also works as a Spanish interpreter for a local Tucson business.


Even before taking law classes, he knew the College of Law well. Jesus worked as office assistance in the Alumni and Development Office, welcoming college visitors and assisting in our outreach events.


One of Jesus' most interesting talents is boxing. He describes it as his way to release stress and keep healthy. In fact, in his first amateur boxing match he was awarded the "Best Fighter of the Night." He also enjoys archery and target shooting.


He plans on attending law school after graduation.  We are confident that the skills and knowledge he gains from the BA in Law will enable Jesus to excel in any law school environment.  


Connect with Jesus on LinkedIn


Ruben Canastillo

Ruben recognized for making the Dean's List
Ruben recognized for making the Dean's List


For Ruben Canastillo, the entrepreneurial spirit is his north star. He has worked in a variety of business and law-related positions that will shape his future. He plans to use this momentum by attending law school, studying business law, and ultimately opening his own firm.


Like Jesus, he is also a senior and one of our all-star BA in Law students. 


"I decided to major in law because I want to have a positive impact on peoples' lives. Once the law major was announced, I felt like it was a great opportunity to get exposure to the legal system before attending law school."


Ruben has wasted no time making the most of his undergraduate law experience. This semester he is conducting an independent study with Jim Diamond (see below) and taking a legal writing course with Master of Legal Studies students. He explains that he decided to major in law "because the courses are actually taught by law faculty that could help guide my path towards law school." He is also volunteering at a private law firm specializing in criminal and immigration law.


In the spring, Ruben will be interning at the Pima County Legal Defender's Office. And in the realm of most childhood dreams, he spent last summer working for the professional staff at the Reid Park Zoo. 


For fun, he likes to participate in or watch boxing, football, track and field, mountain-biking, basketball, and outdoor events. He also likes to hang out with friends and family, go to church, read mystery books involving criminal cases, and go to the Pima County Superior Court to watch trials. Ruben is right -- why watch trials on TV when real trials are taking place all the time, and just down the street?


Connect with Ruben on LinkedIn


Jim Diamond

Jim and Marian in Arabian Desert
Jim and Marian in Arabian Desert

The undergraduate law program moves forward with a dedicated team of talented professionals. One of the team's crucial members is Jim Diamond, who serves as a teaching fellow at the college.  


Jim has had a varied and distinguished path to Arizona Law. He started as a speechwriter for the New York State Attorney General, and worked for nearly a decade as a state prosecutor. He then switched sides and was a criminal defense attorney for 20 years, becoming a noted advocate for clients and mental health services.


"Over the years I have been increasingly moved by the topic of mental health and criminal behavior. We need to move beyond simply warehousing and punishing offenders and need to look to make individuals and communities healthier."


After a successful career, he decided to return to law school to advance new skills by joining our LLM, and then our SJD program. His SJD dissertation looks at healing in the aftermath of mass shootings. He is studying the history of mass shootings, incorporating indigenous practices aimed at diffusing rampage killers before they kill.


As part of the undergraduate law program, he will be teaching practical skills workshops in a two-semester core course, Introduction to the American Common Law System, starting in January. Jim will teach practical advocacy skills in small, highly interactive sessions. His vast experience will animate the material, along with real-world exercises: formulating case strategies, conducting negotiations, critiquing trial transcripts, and drafting documents.


Jim with his sons, Aaron and Reuben
Jim with his sons, Aaron and Reuben

Jim is thrilled to return to the head of the classroom.


"Teaching is my professional love -- I taught part-time for 15 years at Western Connecticut State while practicing law -- and I am excited to be a full-time teacher and completely engaged in the academic side of the law. Returning to school for an SJD re-booted my passion for law and legal scholarship."


His partner, Marian Salzman, and two of his four children, Reuben and Isabelle, are slowly taking root in Tucson after many years in Connecticut. They plan to become more involved in the broader Tucson community and are starting to meet people beyond the law school.


Jim enjoys music (he was a college DJ), freshwater fishing, history and genealogy. He loves to travel, and in recent years has spent time in Paris, London, Milan, Venice, Zurich, Cannes, Amsterdam, and even Dubai, by tagging along on Marian's work travels. In Connecticut, Jim and Marian have regularly opened their home to exchange students and foreign visitors -- guests from China, Spain, the UK, the Netherlands and France.  


TONIGHT - "The Mind & the Law" Lecture Series: Memory Factory


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

7 pm
Ares Auditorium (Room 164)

Cognitive psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, known as one of the world's leading experts on human memory, will speak about how memory research is used in legal settings at an upcoming public lecture. Loftus is the Distinguished Professor of Social Ecology and Professor of Law and Cognitive Science at the University of California, Irvine. She is known internationally for groundbreaking work in memory research generally, as well as study and scholarship in the nature of false memories. 
No RSVP required. Future dates in the series: November 5, November 19, and December 3. 

Click here to learn more.


Elizabeth Loftus
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Countdown to Homecoming: 2 Weeks


Click Here for a list of all of our Homecoming Events.


If we can be of assistance in planning your return to Arizona Law, please don't hesitate to reach out to the Alumni Office. We look forward to seeing you soon!   


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Lacee Collins ('16) and benefactor, Bev Rogers
The Honorable Barney Frank meets with members of 
Arizona Law's student organization Pride Law.

The Class of 1984 -- 30 year Reunion Dinner

* * *

We are approaching Homecoming and the season for reunions.  The class of 1984 organized a reunion dinner in Phoenix last Friday night.  It was great to hear their stories -- their passion for their professors and their classmates, and for the careers they have built and lives they have lived.  They were very interested in our changing law school, and committed to helping this generation of law students succeed.   





Marc Signature  


Marc L. Miller  
Dean & Ralph W. Bilby Professor of Law  
James E. Rogers College of Law 



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