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Published March 23, 2018
The College of Law will be hosting the annual Honors Banquet on April 13, 2018 at the UW Conference Center at the Hilton Garden Inn in Laramie. The festivities will commence at 6:00 pm with a reception and cocktail hour, where visitors will have the opportunity to mingle with current law students and prestigious alumni. The Banquet will begin at 7:00 pm and will recognize named scholarship recipients in the current law school classes, the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients, the Thurman Arnold Distinguished Supporter of the Law School Award recipient, as well as the inductees of the Order of the Coif, Honorary Order of the Coif, the Salt Creek Energy Excellence Scholarship recipient, and the announcement of the prestigious Clarence A. Brimmer Scholarship recipient.
Each year, the Dean’s Advisory Board, which also functions as the Law Alumni Board, is tasked with selecting the recipients for our Distinguished Alumni Awards. This year, the Board has selected the Honorable J. Wade Brorby, as well as James L. Applegate and Donald E. Chapin who are being honored posthumously.
Judge Brorby is originally from Omaha, Neb. He attended the University of Wyoming where he received his bachelor’s degree in 1956 and a Juris Doctor from the College of Law in 1958. Immediately following graduation, he served in the United States Air Force for three years before returning to Wyoming and opened a private law practice in Gillette. He was a partner in the firm Morgan & Brorby from 1961 to 1988, and also served as a County and Prosecuting Attorney for Campbell County from 1963 to 1970.
Nominated by President Ronald Reagan to the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in 1987, Judge Broby replaced Judge James E. Barrett on the Bench. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate in 1988, Judge Brorby actively served on the Tenth Circuit for 23 years before electing to take senior status in 2001 and remains a Senior Judge to this day.
A Wyoming native, James Applegate grew up in Torrington. He attended Notre Dame University for his undergraduate education, earning his bachelor’s degree in 1953. He then enlisted in the United States Marine Corp Reserves and served on active duty from 1953 to 1955. Upon completion of his term, he enrolled at the University of Wyoming College of Law and earned his LL.B. in 1958.
After graduating, Applegate embarked on a career in private practice and public service by helping to found the law firm Hirst & Applegate, LLP in Cheyenne, Wyo., in which he practiced law for over 50 years. In addition to his practice, Applegate also served as an Assistant City Attorney for Cheyenne from 1959 to 1962. Specializing in trial advocacy, Applegate earned a reputation of being a skilled litigator, arbitrator and advocate.
Applegate also spent time in the Wyoming Legislator, serving two terms in the Wyoming House of Representatives for District 8 from 1989 to 1997. During his time in the legislature, he was the minority floor leader.
A pillar of the Cheyenne community, Applegate was named Person of the Year by the Greater Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce in 1988, and he received the Community Spirit Award in 2011 from the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. Mr. Applegate passed away at the age of 75 in 2016.
Donald E. Chapin, who passed away in 2009, is the third recipient of the 2018 College of Law Distinguished Alumni Award. Born in St. Louis, Mo. and raised in Casper, Wyo., Chapin attended the University of Nebraska for his undergraduate work, before attending the University of Wyoming College of Law. He graduated with his law degree in 1949.
Following graduation, Chapin returned to Casper where he started the law firm Crowell & Chapin P.C. (which later became Crowell, Chapin & Dixon) where he practiced law for over 60 years.
In addition to the practice of law, he was a longtime philanthropist and supporter of education and the humanities. He was a founding member of the Tate Charitable Foundation in Casper, which is a non-profit that supports projects for children and the arts & humanities. In 2013, Chapin was honored for his work in the Foundation by the Natrona County Public Library which installed a statue in its entrance in his memory.
His areas of service extended to the greater University as well. Chapin served as a Board member for University of Wyoming Trustees from 1977 to 1989. He was awarded the Trustees’ Award of Merit in 1989 for his service to the University.
Also selected by the Dean’s Advisory Board annually, the Thurman Arnold Distinguished Supporter of the Law School Award is awarded to a non-alumnus that has gone above and beyond the norm to promote and develop the UW College of Law. This year is particularly special to the law school as former Professor Diane Courselle will be honored for her service and dedication to the College of Law. Courselle tragically passed away in September 2016 after a lengthy illness. She continued to work with her students, right up until the end.
Originally from Saugerties, N. York, Professor Courselle served as a Professor at the College of Law for eighteen years and ran the Defender Aid Program. She was extremely passionate about her work, always believing that people deserve a second chance, and continuously represented those in need that could not help themselves.
Professor Courselle earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1987 from Fordham University, graduating with honors. After graduating from law school magna cum laude in 1991 from Loyola University School of Law, Professor Courselle clerked for Judge Henry A. Mentz of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and then for Judge Henry A. Politz of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. She then served as an attorney with the Office of the Appellate Defender in New York City. She also served as a visiting assistant professor at the Loyola College of Law in New Orleans. She joined the ranks of the Wyoming law faculty in 1998.
In addition to her tireless efforts as an educator, mentor and scholar, she was a firm advocate for justice. She served on the Board of Directors for the Rocky Mountain Innocence Center and was a leader in efforts to pass the Wyoming’s Post-Conviction DNA Statute.
In addition to the Distinguished Alumni and Supporter Awards, the Honors Banquet recognizes an induction of an honorary member into the Order of the Coif. The Order of the Coif is a national honorary society that recognizes excellence in legal education. Membership is limited to students who graduated in the top 10% of their class, and to honorary members selected by schools with a Coif chapter. The University of Wyoming became a Coif chapter in 1985, however, the faculty selects one honorary member each year to induct into the society that graduated prior to the Wyoming chapter.
This year’s recipient is J. Nicholas Murdock. “Nick” Murdock graduated in 1969 from Creighton University with his Bachelors of Science in Mathematics and continued his general studies at Tufts University in Medford, Mass. from 1971 to 1973. He attended the University of Wyoming College of Law where he graduated with honors in 1977. While in law school, he served as the Editor-in-Chief of the Land and Water Law Review.
Murdock is an attorney at the Murdock Law Firm, P.C. in Casper, Wyo., which has been in operation since 1996. Prior to opening up his own practice, Murdock practiced at the law firm Cardine, Vlastos & Reeves in Casper, and subsequently started the firm Reeves & Murdock before venturing out as a solo practitioner.
Murdock’s principle areas of legal interest reside in oil & gas law and civil litigation. His expertise in trial advocacy have been an asset to the College of Law and he has even served as an Adjunct Professor for trial practice. His most recent contribution to the College of Law has been the creation of the Trial Practice Success Fund, which is used to provide scholarships for students studying trial advocacy. Most recently, students benefitting from the fund have been able to take the law school’s Alaska Summer Trial Institute course.
Murdock’s philanthropic endeavors also extend beyond the law school. He and his wife Maggi are enthusiastic supports of the UW Nordic Ski Team, the Student Juried Art Exhibition, and he has even taught classes at the University of Wyoming Casper branch for free.
Having excelled in his own academic career, Murdock has made so many valuable contributions to the College of Law in order to provide students with the best opportunity to succeed in their own educations. He has used his remarkable success and experience to continue to educate the next generation of lawyers, and the College of Law faculty was extremely pleased to recognize his accomplishments.
The College of Law is excited to recognize the achievements of these deserving honorees. The Honors Banquet is an open event and we invite anyone wishing to help celebrate the accomplishments of their friends and colleagues to attend. We ask that guests please RSVP to the event by filling out this online RSVP.