Starting a new chapter in alumni relations

Lou Cisz arrived at the University of Utah in 1986 at a time when the market was hungry for law students to join the ranks at large law firms across the country.

He fell in love with bankruptcy law during a summer internship at Richards, Brandt, Miller and Nelson, finding himself in the courtroom on cases right away while learning from experienced mentors who helped him discover his passion for the sophistication involved with bankruptcy work. The experience, along with inspiration found in Professor Debora Threedy’s commercial law course, helped guide Cisz into what would become a thriving legal career in the bankruptcy field.

Cisz graduated from law school in 1989, entering practice at a time when boutique firms were getting the lion’s share of bankruptcy cases. He enhanced his skills with time spent at Thelen and later Thelen Reid Brown Raysman & Steiner LLP, a giant firm known for its construction practice. loucisz

Today, Cisz is a partner at Nixon Peabody in San Francisco, an international law firm, where he concentrates his practice on insolvency, restructuring debts, creditors’ remedies and related litigation. His clients include lenders, special servicers, manufacturers, vendors, contractors, health care companies, insurers, indenture trustees, buyers and sellers of assets and business ventures in a large cross-section of industries.

He is also a founding member of the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s new San Francisco Area Chapter, which launched earlier this month at an event hosted at Cisz’ firm. Several alumni from the Bay area gathered at an inaugural event, “Recognizing Gender and Implicit Bias in Legal Negotiations,” where Professor James Holbrook led a discussion on recognizing bias and implicit bias pursuant to the rules of professional conduct to help attorneys avoid ethical pitfalls in their professional lives.

The event is the first of several across the country the law school will be sponsoring as a way to better connect with U alumni practicing law.

Besides the Bay Area Chapter, upcoming events will take place at newly rejuvenated alumni chapters in Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. Additional information and details will be posted in the near future.

Cisz said he’s excited to reconnect and meet fellow U grads at alumni events, which bring both a chance to reminisce and grow professionally.

“It’s important to reconnect, as we have that common bond. It could be a social avenue, it could be a professional avenue where we refer work to one another,” said  Cisz, of the new Bay Area Chapter and others across the country that the College of Law is trying to establish.

Cisz noted he has stayed in touch with classmates over the years, recalling a tradition he had with classmates to have lunch at the Pie Pizzeria on Friday to commiserate on the rigors of law school. The lunch morphed into a “To Hell With Law School” dinner party each year, where 14 classmates pitched in for groceries and Cisz —who also has a background in cooking —would prepare a gourmet meal to celebrate surviving another year.

Memories from inside the classroom include learning juris prudence from well-known Professor John Flynn, Cisz recalled.

“He had a tremendous influence and was a mentor to me. He gave me perspective in teaching ‘Don’t take yourself too seriously, don’t take the job too seriously, but practice with a sense of striving to be the best lawyer you can be … but don’t make it your life,” said Cisz.

“The way in which he taught, and the perspective he taught, the humor he injected into the class, it was so refreshing and inspiring to me.”


 Want to know if an alumni event is headed to your state? Keep up by visiting the S.J. Quinney College of Law’s web site:  Want to bring an alumni event or reinvigorate a chapter? Contact alumni relations director Lori Nelson: