was great to see so many alumni and friends at
last week's superb Marks Lecture with Justice
hope many of you will join us for tomorrow's
Richard Grand Writing Competition Awards Ceremony
and on Friday for the "Saving the Neighborhood"
Conference, featuring some of the country's top
week we feature four members of the Arizona Law
community, 3L student Michael DiGiacomo, sisters
and fellow alums January Contreras and Melanie
Rainer, and Senior Director of Development Jonelle
Michael DiGiacomo (JD
in the courtroom led 3L student Michael DiGiacomo
to the corridors and classrooms of Arizona
a Tucson native, graduated from the U of A with a
psychology degree in 2006 and started working in
behavioral health, where he spent almost five
years as a member of a mobile acute crisis team in
"Often clients required hospitalization and I was
frequently involved in filing petitions for
involuntary court ordered mental health treatment.
This usually required testifying in court hearings
to decide whether or not the person's illness and
symptoms met the standard for involuntary
treatment," Michael says.
time in court sparked his interest in attending
law school and he applied to several institutions.
He chose U of A because of the people and the
were genuinely friendly and approachable, and it
seemed like just about everyone was willing to
take the time to talk to me about the school, what
the environment was like, and why they chose
Arizona Law. Other schools I visited did not seem
as inviting or vibrant."
has never regretted his choice of law schools,
making the most of his three years. He has served
on the Arizona Law Review as an articles editor
and participated in the Arizona Law's Pro Bono
Appellate Project supervised by Dean
Jordan-Curtis. The group represented a client in
her appeal on a copyright infringement case. In
November 2013, he and another
Varela-Gradaille, argued in front of the
Ninth Circuit in Pasadena.
has also accrued great experiences during both
summers. He was an extern for federal Judge David
C. Bury (JD '67) in Tucson during his 1L summer.
During his 2L summer, he served as a summer
associate with the firm of May, Potenza, Baran
& Gillespie in Phoenix where he discovered his
fondness for litigation--particularly
graduation, Michael will clerk for Judge David T.
Thuma on the United States Bankruptcy Court for
the District of New Mexico in Albuquerque. His
goal after clerking is to begin practicing in the
area of bankruptcy.
can connect with Michael here.
Senior Director of
Development Jonelle Vold is on a
mission. "The Arizona Law community is filled with
passionate and motivated people. My mission is to
turn this goodwill and affinity for the College
into an accessible network and create resources to
benefit the entire Arizona Law community."
a young attorney, Jonelle witnessed the power of a
strong alumni network. "One of my fellow
associates made the decision to leave her job and
move across the country. This colleague was a
Notre Dame law grad. Her first call upon deciding
to move was to the alumni office. The alumni
office put in her contact with a network of
people. Within days my colleague had job
interviews, assistance locating housing, and
several offers to introduce her to her new
community. That is the type of network we are
building at Arizona Law. We already have the
people and the passion, and we are working hard on
addition to leading the alumni and
fundraising efforts at Arizona Law,
Jonelle is also an alumna with fond memories of
her time as a student. "I enjoyed every
minute of law school. The rigor of the classroom
and the warmth of the community created an
exhilarating experience." Rumor has it that
this former Student Bar Association President and
Ares Fellow "practically lived"
Law. Spending her time in
meetings, and chatting
fondness for Arizona Law extends to the entire
University. Her husband Jeff -- a high school
basketball coach and special education teacher --
and nine-year-old twins (Kaylee and JT) share her
passion for the U of A. She says, "Our lives often
revolve around what sport is in season and our
vacations have been known to track Arizona away
of Arizona Law, Jonelle is very proud of her
work with the Arizona Women Lawyer's
Association, Women 2020, and the ABA
I think there is only one thing to say, "Bear
can connect with Jonelle here.
Contreras (BA '93, JD '96) and Melanie Rainer (BA
'07, JD '10)
January Contreras and
Melanie Rainer are sisters and double Wildcats.
Although their tenures as students were at
different times, they share similar experiences
and reflections of Arizona Law.
to January, Arizona Law was a welcoming place.
Former Assistant Dean for Admissions Terry Holpert
was exceptionally helpful and an invaluable source
of guidance. Not only did Dean Holpert offer her a
scholarship to attend, but when January didn't
have the money for LSAT prep classes, she helped
January find free study books. "Her personal touch
meant a lot." January also enjoyed her time at the
U of A prior to law school, "The U of A was very
good to me as an undergraduate, providing amazing
leadership and growth opportunities,"
echoed her sister's positive
school is hard work, but having faculty to guide
you and support you in your personal goals helps.
For example, 1L year our Constitutional Law
professor brought in camel cookies, to mark the
"hump day" of our first semester in law school. It
was a small but meaningful gesture for tired 1Ls."
a law student, Melanie had a chance to work as
research assistant to Associate Dean Brent
White and assisted him in writing a
substantial research paper. Citing this as "hands
down" her favorite experience while at Arizona
Law, she says that "it afforded me one-on-one time
to learn about legal research and writing and
apply this skill to social issues, which is
important to my current work."
one point, Melanie considered pursuing a Master's
in Public Health rather than a law degree. When
asked about her choice, she says, "I am grateful
that I decided to pursue a law degree. It has
provided me with the necessary tools to work in
domestic policy. It has also given me strong
advocacy tools, as well as legal research and
career path led her to Washington, D.C. after
graduation. She worked with the U.S. Department of
Health & Human Services as an inaugural
staffer to the Medicare-Medicaid Coordination
Office, an office created by the Affordable Care
Act. Melanie helped draft
regulations, administrative policies,
and implement the ACA. "This was a fun experience,
as I was essentially working on
a start-up company in the federal
government," she says.
knowledge of the ACA's intricacies has been
helpful in her current job as the chief policy and
budget advisor on Medicaid and the ACA with U.S.
Senator Patty Murray from Washington State. "I
love my job as I get to work to increase access to
the millions of Americans without health insurance
through the new Marketplaces and Medicaid
expansion." she says.
also ended up in Washington, D.C. for a short
while, after serving as a Deputy County Attorney
for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office and an
Assistant Attorney General for the Arizona
Attorney General's office. She became an advisor
to Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, and moved
with her to the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security. January comments:
|January and her
"I have had the opportunity to sit at tables with
people I would have never dreamed of meeting,
helped make decisions that impact people all
across the state and country, and, all the while,
had the chance to learn how government should
really work from one of the smartest, most ethical
leaders of our time. I will always be grateful to
Secretary Napolitano for these opportunities."
couldn't stay away from Arizona for long. She
returned to Arizona and launched a non-profit
named ALWAYS, for Arizona Legal Women and Youth
Services. "Every time we serve one more homeless
youth or young adult, I feel enormous gratitude
for the privilege of practicing law," she says. On
the personal front, January is preparing to
celebrate 20 years of marriage to Carlos (BS '92)
her fellow Wildcat husband, and having great fun
raising two wonderful sons--Lucas (12) and Noah
are proud to claim both sisters as part of the
Arizona Law family. Click on the name to
connect with January or with Melanie.
Join us tomorrow for the
Richard Grand Writing Competition Awards
January 30th from 12:00 - 1:00
the College of Law. Call 520-621-5794 to
the ceremony we will announce the final order of
the awards. This year's finalists
finalists were selected from 20 entries. The
selection committee was impressed by the variety
and the high quality of the submissions.
Selecting the five finalists was difficult, and
the committee commends all who wrote. Five outside
judges will determine the final order of the
awards. This year's judges are:
Hon. Ann Timmer, Justice, Arizona Supreme
Mose-Mahrt, Staff Attorney, Arizona Court of
Eigo, editor, Arizona Attorney
Bullard, Attorney, Pima County Public
Laird, Attorney, Laird Law Firm,
are grateful to Marcia Grand for continuing to
inspire and fund this competition in honor of her
late husband attorney Richard
Neighborhood"-Full Day Conference.
January 31st 9a.m.-4:30p.m.
us at the law school as we celebrate the book by
our colleague Carol Rose and Columbia Law School
professor Richard Brooks, exploring the history
and continuing implications of racially
restrictive housing covenants.
Gordon (Professor of Law, Stanford and
Chancellor Kent Professor Emeritus of Law and
Legal History, (Yale Law School),
Goluboff (John Allan Love Professor of Law,
Justice Thurgood Marshall Distinguished
Professor of Law, and Professor of History at
the University of Virginia),
Guinier (Bennett Boskey Professor at Harvard Law
Torres (Bryant Smith Chair in Law at the
University of Texas at Austin),
"Jack" Chin (Professor of Law at UC Davis School
of Law and the former Chester H. Smith Professor
of Law, University of Arizona James E. Rogers
College of Law), and
V. Fishback (Thomas R. Brown Professor of
Economics at the University of Arizona Eller
College of Management).
Thomas Girardi to deliver
the inaugural Civil Justice
No Longer Decide Facts - They
February 6, 5:00-6:15 p.m.
California trial attorney Thomas V. Girardi will
give the Inaugural Lecture for the Arizona Law
Civil Justice Initiative. Thursday, February
6, 5-6:15 p.m. Ares Auditorium.
Reception to follow.
V. Girardi is known as one of the great trial
lawyers in the United States. He has been
involved in many major individual and class action
cases, including the case against Pacific Gas
& Electric portrayed in the movie Erin
Brokovich, and in a major settlement with the
pharmaceutical company Merck for injuries caused
by the drug Vioxx. Mr. Girardi is a member
of the Board of Directors and former President of
the International Academy of Trial
Lawyers. Mr. Girardi and his Los
Angeles firm, Girardi
Keese, represent many former players and their
families in the case against the National Football
League for concussions and brain injuries that
resulted in a $765 million
Option! For our many alumni and friends in Phoenix
who are not able to join us in Tucson in person,
the firm of Gallagher & Kennedy will host a
live, high-definition stream of Mr. Girardi's
Nosh at Arizona Law
be held in the Lewis Roca Rothgerber
27 4:30-6:00 p.m.
27 4:30-6:00 p.m.
between alumni and students are important part of
the Arizona Law community. To help
facilitate those connections, we are launching a
new networking series. If you are an alum willing
to return to campus to spend time with and advise
students, please sign up by emailing Marissa White.
you to all of our friends and alumni who
contribute to Arizona Law
days continue to be packed with ideas and
people--in talks, in classes, in conferences, at
awards ceremonies, and in lunchtime gatherings. We
know our alumni and friends are here every day in
spirit; please keep in mind our standing
invitation to join us in person whenever your
Dean & Ralph W. Bilby Professor of
James E. Rogers College of Law
Giving | law.arizona.edu/give | Link
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