Monthly Archives

July 2013

Diversity, Student Perspective

Diversity on the Bench: The Importance of the Call to Duty

Jabari Barner (3L), Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Wilhelmina Wright, Dr. Artika Tyner and Miriam Elrashidi (2L) at Diversity on the Bench

Jabari Barner (3L), Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Wilhelmina Wright, Dr. Artika Tyner and Miriam Elrashidi (2L) at Diversity on the Bench

University of St. Thomas School of Law students, Jabari Barner (3L) and Mariam Elrashidi (2L), attended the Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association sponsored CLE; “Diversity on the Bench: The Importance of the Call to Duty,” which was hosted by Lindquist and Vennum on June 25, 2013. The event featured a distinguished panel of judges; Minnesota Supreme Court Associate Justice Wilhelmina Wright, Judge Leonardo Castro, Judge David Piper, and Judge Manuel Cervantes. Jesse Bethke Gomez of the Minnesota Commission on Judicial Selection moderated the event. In addition to his introspective questions to the panel, the information Bethke Gomez shared on many of the factors the commission considers when selecting candidates to recommend to the governor was a highlight of the event. Both Barner and Elrashidi enjoyed the event, saying they gained valuable insights and added contacts to their professional networks.

Elrashidi said the event reiterated the importance of presenting oneself in a professional manner at all times because you never know who is watching you, who you might meet at any given time, or when significant opportunities might be presented. She went on to say that Justice Wright’s idea of setting a “standard of excellence” in all endeavors is something Elrashidi will remember from the event. Elrashidi stressed the importance of students taking advantage of CLEs such as this because although she had heard Justice Wright speak on several previous occasions, this was a wonderful time to formally meet and converse on a personal level.

Barner said he looked forward to connecting with his UST Law faculty mentor, Judge Leonardo Castro, outside of the classroom. Barner said he will remember Judge Castro’s thoughts for people who aspire to be appointed to the bench, students and practicing attorneys alike, that having a reputation as someone who works well with different groups and people to resolve issues in a calm demeanor is key. Barner appreciated Judge Castro’s willingness to introduce him to people such as Judge Manuel Cervantes, who took time after the event to discuss his thoughts on juvenile justice and family law with Barner.

Both Barner and Elrashidi highlighted Judge David Piper’s sentiments, saying his presentation was very honest and practical. His sense of awareness, his thoughts on juvenile justice, and how he approaches the issues presented in his courtroom were interesting, especially when he talked about how he manages his personal feelings and emotional reactions while he does his job.

Overall, Diversity on the Bench was a great event and a fabulous way to get involved with the legal community to meet amazing lawyers, judges, and Supreme Court justices. Barner and Elrashidi cannot stress enough how invaluable CLE events are and the importance of molding your legal career path from the beginning of your first year of law school. Take advantage and seize opportunities that come in your direction, you will be surprised and pleased with the experience and knowledge you have obtained.

Faith, Mission in Action

Mission in Action: Giving Back With the Tools We Have Been Given

Guest Blogger: Kristina M. Gigstad (’06)
Senior Associate, Sackett Law Firm, Milford, Iowa
Treasurer and Board Member, Lakes Regional Healthcare Foundation Board

PictureThe St. Thomas Law mission to integrate faith and reason was planted like a seed at the root of everything else I learned in law school, shaping who I am and what I do.  It affects how I see things and what I think.  It was because of this mission that I saw an adversity as a calling to do more for others.

Our 2 year old daughter was born with a rare medical condition.  It has been one of the most overwhelming things I have ever been through.  My battle began with just trying to understand her condition and consulting with countless doctors.  When we finally found a doctor, we were told insurance would not cover the treatment our daughter needed even though it was medically necessary.  I had to use the entire breadth of my legal training, fighting insurance for months, before we were able to get the treatment covered.  When we eventually got insurance approval I knew it was only because God had given me the tools to reach that outcome.

Facing the prospect of not being able to help our daughter seemed impossible for me to imagine.  Yet I could recall many law school teachings about this very type of injustice and our duty as UST lawyers to correct them.  As difficult as our situation felt, I felt lucky because I had the education to read a hundred page insurance policy and to understand it.  I couldn’t help but think of all of the other mothers in my situation that did not have those tools or the money to hire an attorney.

When I was asked to join the Lakes Regional Healthcare Foundation Board I knew this was my opportunity to help give to others as God had given to me.  In the midst of healthcare reform, our goal is to provide continued access to quality healthcare.  Though federal funding has been drastically reduced, we refuse to sacrifice our standards.  Instead, we are pursuing private funding and a number of measures to ensure that the health of our community is put first.  It feels wonderful to be able to try to make a difference in this way.

I remember when I applied to St. Thomas I wrote in my admissions essay that I felt called to go there.  Today I can see why I was called to be there: so that I would grow in my faith; so that I would see my duties to God and His people; and so that I would have the tools for the many other callings God has planned for me.