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Gift to the Alan K. Simpson Center for Legal Service Provides Experiential Education

The McMurry Foundation

A gift from the McMurry Foundation supports the new Alan K. Simpson Center for Legal Service, which will give a permanent home to the vital legal clinics at the University of Wyoming. The gift will be used to construct an addition to house the clinics and to support this clinical and experiential learning program at the UW College of Law.

“It is an alignment of the stars to be able to honor Al Simpson’s life of public service with the McMurry Foundation’s commitment to the state of Wyoming and the university in this meaningful way,” says Klint Alexander, dean of the College of Law. “Generations of law students in the future will serve the people of Wyoming through these legal clinics, especially those who cannot afford legal assistance, in a manner that truly reflects the Simpson family’s and the McMurry’s legacy of giving back to society.”

Student interns within each of eight clinic programs are supervised by faculty in one-on-one mentoringstyle relationships and learn the nuts and bolts of all aspects of the practice of law. A student director is selected for each program to help the faculty supervisor administer the clinic, and the faculty supervisor is professionally responsible for the students and their work in the program. Particular emphasis is placed on ethics when relating to the client, other attorneys, and the community. Working with real clients and solving real problems allow law students to begin the lifelong process of becoming thoughtful, responsible, and reflective lawyers.

This new legal center is named for one of Wyoming’s favorite sons and a politician who speaks his mind, retired U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson, a 1958 graduate of the College of Law who has had an immeasurable impact on the nation, the state, and the University of Wyoming. A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Senate, Senator Simpson has been known as one of the most colorful and influential American leaders in recent political history. He has never shied away from the most contentious of subjects and continues to offer audiences deep-cutting commentary, side-splitting anecdotes, and necessary pragmatism. Senator Simpson’s legacy and commitment to law and public service will inspire future generations of UW law graduates in their careers.

There are many reasons that the creation of this new center is so timely. Like Senator Simpson and the McMurry Foundation, the clinics serve Wyoming. They provide legal services to indigent Wyoming citizens, and the state’s return on investment through free legal services provided by law students to low-income Wyoming citizens is immeasurable. Not only that but accreditation of the College of Law requires six credit hours of clinical legal experience in order for law students to graduate, and these clinics provide this experience. Finally, the centennial anniversary of the founding of the Law School in 2020 is the perfect occasion to update and expand facilities and to honor its most distinguished alums.

The gift supports the construction of an addition on the College of Law building. Currently, most clinic programs are housed in an annex building a few blocks south of the UW campus, a 15-minute walk from the College of Law. Creating the Alan K. Simpson Center for Legal Service will allow students, professors, and the community centralized access to resources within the college.

The gift also supports legal academics and experiential education. Learning experiences developed through the college’s legal clinics give students opportunities to hone their skills and to gain knowledge that will help them in their lives and careers.

Founded by Mick and Susie McMurry of Casper, the McMurry Foundation was established in 1998 to have a significant and beneficial impact on the communities within Wyoming. Guided by the values of excellence and compassion, the foundation has supported multiple UW projects with more than $30 million in funding. Some of those include the Mick and Susie McMurry High Altitude Performance Center, the Marian H. Rochelle Gateway Center, UW Athletics, the College of Education, the University Plaza and Conference Center, UW–Casper, and the Wyoming Technology Business Center.

UW Legal Clinics

  • The Business Law Practicum works with the University of Wyoming Technology Transfer and Research Products Center and the University of Wyoming Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship to provide much-needed business legal services while simultaneously guiding law students through the transactional practice of law. Tasks performed for the group’s clients include advising on entity choice, drafting and filing organizational documents, employment and ethical issues, and assisting with other transactional matters.
  • In the Civil Legal Services Clinic, students represent low-income and marginalized individuals across the state who could not otherwise afford legal representation for cases about housing, consumer rights, education, veterans-connected disability benefits, and other public benefits laws.
  • The Defender Aid Program is a statewide legal assistance program for indigent persons convicted of crimes in which third-year law students assist assigned counsel and public defenders in criminal appeals or in trial court proceedings— often in the Wyoming Supreme Court where students write appellate briefs and argue before the court.
  • The Energy, Environmental, and Natural Resources Law Clinic for third-year law students has a classroom component and a clinical practice component jointly taught by professors from the College of Law and attorneys from the Wyoming Attorney General’s Office.
  • In the Family and Child Legal Advocacy Clinic, student attorneys handle civil legal matters such as divorce, child custody, domestic violence protection orders, stalking and sexual assault protection orders, adoption, and select immigration issues and represent children or their parents in child abuse and neglect, termination of parental rights, children in need of supervision, and delinquency actions.
  • The International Human Rights Clinic is the only experiential learning program in the Rocky Mountain region focused on the promotion of international human rights, including asylum representation and international human rights advocacy where students represent real clients in the U.S. and abroad.
  • In the Prosecution Assistance Program, students work under the supervision of faculty in representing the state in criminal appeals before the Wyoming Supreme Court and provide assistance to Wyoming County and Prosecuting Attorneys, to the Wyoming Attorney General, and to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming in criminal cases and selected civil cases involving questions of significant public interest.
  • Students in the Estate Planning Practicum help clients maximize control over their end-of life decisions, plan for incapacity, and declare their wishes for the distribution of assets after death, drafting wills, powers of attorney, and advance health care directives or living wills, as well as general estate planning.

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