On May 19, the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law hosted its Annual Alumni Luncheon at the City Center Marriott, Salt Lake City, to honor alumni who have demonstrated professional excellence in the legal field and have contributed their skills and services for the greater good of their communities and the world at-large.
Jeff Hunt (’90), president of the Alumni Association Board of Trustees, opened the event with high praise for Hiram Chodosh, Dean of the University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, for his “tremendous energy and vision for the law school” that has led to its rapid growth in the past four years. In his closing remarks, Dean Chodosh cited several achievements by the College of Law, of which include the completion of the Global Justice Project Iraq supported by a $10.4 million grant from the State Department; the sole-solicitation contract received by the BioLaw Project from the Department of Health and Human Services to advise Congress on the privacy challenges facing bioinformatics; a major symposium to be organized by the Family Law project on the regulation of identity and body funded by the Teitelbaum endowment; and of course, “our new ranking…this year, we are tied with BYU at 42, having risen 15 slots in just three years.” He continued, “Each of our honorees reflects the deepest commitments of the law school: our highest academic and professional standards; the courage to lead through service and dedication to improving the impact of law on the critical questions of our time; and the highest aspirations that transcend any sense of self-limitation.”
Rita Cornish (‘06) introduced the Young Alumnus of the Year recipient, Timothy Conde (’04), by highlighting his achievements as one of the founders of the Young Alumni Association (YAA). “He was the driving force behind YAA for six years and solidified the bond between young alumni and the law school by organizing key events that directly assisted them,” said Cornish. Conde, an associate at Stoel Rives LLP, said he was grateful to Professor and former Dean Scott Matheson, Jr. for urging him to form the Association, enabling him to give back to the College of Law for the “training, guidance, and care” that he received as a student. Conde’s commitment to the U was expressed when he said “the view from my office holds all of the things that matter to me: the Rice-Eccles Stadium, the Huntsman Center, and my home.”
Professor Wayne McCormack presented the Alumnus of the Year award to David Schwendiman (’76), for “being among a handful of people making a true difference by bringing law and justice” to the most troubled places in the world. McCormack recalls his first interaction with Schwendiman at strategy sessions on security for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Based on Schwendiman’s report, a highly trained special unit within the FBI was created to deal with possible hostage and terrorism situations. Soon after, he became a prominent advocate for the rule of law in emerging countries including Bangladesh, Thailand, and Vietnam. A former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Utah, Schwendiman arrived in Sarajevo in May 2006 and began working as an International Prosecutor in the Special Department for War Crimes of the Prosecutor’s Office of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and from November 2007 until December 2009, he was one of four Deputy Chief Prosecutors. McCormack concluded, “It’s not easy to understand someone’s personal challenges and losses, but David navigated that difficult terrain with kindness, as he does everything – with a human touch.”
Schwendiman accepted the honor by stating that he was “a common person who was at the right place at the right time under the right circumstances to do some extraordinary things.” He attributed his professional accomplishments to the sound legal education he received at the U through mentors like John Flynn and Ed Firmage, “who made me understand that the Law is a big world and a big challenge and to make a difference outside of my own world with the training and skills that I had received.”
Chodosh introduced the Honorary Alumnus of the Year recipient, Scott Burns, by commenting on the remarkable legacy of Scott’s father, Joe Burns, who at the age of 25, as a paraplegic and a high school dropout, went on to graduate from the U of U College of Law and to eventually become elected to the District Court bench. In the same vein, “Scott has taken a crippled organization [National District Attorney’s Association], provided it with the best talent and partnerships in the country…so that we can cross the formidable gap between our commitment to a fair and effective criminal justice system at the local level,” said Chodosh.
Thereafter, Burns relayed a witty and engaging story of what it means to be “in the people business and how doing a good thing always comes back to you in abundance.” He concluded, “I am humbled and honored to be here today.”
Photos: JAB Photography/2010