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UW Dedicates State-of-the-art Legal Facility

September 25, 2009
Statue at law building

University of Wyoming law students and the state's legal community will benefit from learning and working in one of the region's premier legal facilities with the dedication of the William N. Brimmer Legal Education Center at the UW College of Law.

Thursday's ceremony featured remarks by Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal, Chief Judge Robert Henry of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Wyoming Supreme Chief Justice Barton Voigt, UW President Tom Buchanan, UW College of Law Dean Stephen Easton and former Dean Jerry Parkinson.

The $4.5 million William N. Brimmer Legal Education Center was funded with $2.25 million in private support from 48 donors and $2.25 million in state matching funds. The single largest gift was $1 million from philanthropists Marian Rochelle and April Brimmer Kunz.

"My mother, Marian Brimmer Rochelle, and I were pleased to make this contribution in honor of our husband and father, William N. Brimmer," says Brimmer Kunz. "This project would not have been possible without a tremendous outpouring of support from all of the many donors who contributed to make this Legal Education Center a reality. This project underscores the major impact the matching funds provided by the state legislature and the governor have had on the University of Wyoming. We hope the momentum will continue."

"The University of Wyoming has been home to a college of law since 1920, but we haven't revitalized the learning environment for our law students since the current building was constructed in 1977," Buchanan says. "We are pleased to provide UW law students with a learning center that will truly enhance their educational experience."

The Brimmer Center will provide law students a venue in which to simulate trial experiences while also providing a functional courtroom for the Wyoming Second Judicial District, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Law students will receive practical legal training by observing actual trial and appellate proceedings and participating in moot court proceedings. The center also will foster relationships between students and legal professionals by serving as an updated legal facility for use by attorneys and judges.

"As a trial attorney and a teacher of trial advocacy, I have been in many courtrooms, including law school court rooms. Based upon that experience, I can report that our College of Law now has what is almost certainly the finest courtroom facility in the nation," Easton says.

This new 3,767-square-foot facility will feature a multi-dimensional space that can be configured as a high-tech courtroom, a classroom or a lecture hall seating more than 160. A second smaller room provides space for a moot courtroom or a classroom when the larger classroom is in use. A seminar room provides a place for attorneys to conduct depositions and to meet with clients. Additional features are a jury deliberation room, judge's chambers, a secure holding area for defendants and a sound booth.

The College of Law is Wyoming's primary resource for initial and continuing legal education, Parkinson says. Many of Wyoming's most distinguished attorneys and jurists graduated from UW, including several governors, attorneys general and members of the state and federal judiciary, he adds.

The exterior landscaping is funded by a $1.5 million gift-doubled to $3 million by state matching-from the Curt and Marian Rochelle Campus Beautification Fund.

Rochelle and Brimmer Kunz envision the new facility as a meaningful tribute to the late William N. Brimmer, Rochelle's first husband and Brimmer Kunz's father. After graduation in 1941, Brimmer began practicing law in Rawlins. Later, he moved to Cheyenne where he specialized in business and oil and gas law. He also received a Bronze Star for his service in World War II.

The dedication was part of Law Week activities, and included the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals hearing cases for the first time on the UW campus and the Wyoming Supreme Court holding oral arguments within the facility.


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