College of Law

Class Notes: Fall 2023

We want to celebrate Utah Law alumni's successes! Share your professional and personal accomplishments, which we’ll include in the Class Notes section of future Res Gestae issues. Submissions may be edited for length, clarity, and adherence to editorial style.

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Denise Dragoo, a woman in her 70s with light-blonde short hair cut in a bob and wearing a navy blue suitDenise Dragoo (’76)

Denise A. Dragoo was named to the inaugural edition of the 2023 Lawdragon 500 Leading U.S. Energy Lawyers guide, which recognizes attorneys who specialize in helping energy companies finance and develop new power sources, navigate regulatory frameworks, and litigate oil and gas disputes. It is an elite look at those lawyers and firms energy companies depend on most.

Dragoo is a partner in Snell & Wilmer’s Salt Lake City office, where she focuses on natural resources, coal law, water law, environmental law, mining law, public land law, issues affecting the oil and gas industry, mine safety and health law. She has done environmental permitting for mining and energy-related projects, many of which are located on public land. She also helps clients with compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act and related administrative appeals. Dragoo practices before the U.S. Department of Interior Board of Land Appeals, the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining and state and federal environmental agencies.


Tom Stromberg (’82)

After 35 years as an M&A partner at several large law firms, Tom Stromberg accepted a position with an early stage biotech company. He is now the Senior Vice President for Corporate Strategy and Legal Affairs at Cogmotos, Inc., a drug development company that focuses on conditions of the central nervous system.


Cynthia Meyer (’87)

Cynthia Meyer was appointed to Idaho Supreme Court by Governor Brad Little to fill Justice John R. Stegner's remaining terms; Stegner retired October 31. At the conclusion of the term in 2027, Meyer will be eligible to run for non-partisan election to remain on the court. Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, Meyer was sitting on the First Judicial District, and before that she was a partner in the Coeur d’Alene-based firm James, Vernon and Weeks.

Regarding the appointment, Governor Little said, “Judge Meyer’s strong intellect and writing skills are just two qualities that will maker her an excellent addition to the Idaho Supreme Court.”


James Peterson, a white man in his 50s with short brown hair wearing a grey suitJames Peterson (’88)

Higgs Fletcher & Mack (HFM) elected attorney James ("Jim") Peterson as its next managing partner on April 1, 2023. Peterson began his law career as an associate at the firm in 1988 and formed the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group in 1991. He was elevated to partner in 1993 and has built his practice at HFM over the past 35 years.

For over 25 years, Peterson has been a member of the firm’s Executive Committee and Partner Board. In his law practice, Peterson currently counsels management and litigates disputes for business clients of various sizes on claims involving the employment relationship including individual, representative and class actions. He has extensive litigation and trial experience throughout the state of California on matters involving wage and hour class action and PAGA matters, discrimination, retaliation and sexual harassment claims and general claims for wrongful termination. He also counsels clients on hiring practices, wage and hour compliance, employment agreements, policy manuals, employee handbooks, termination decisions, lay-offs, and disability management.

“Jim is an incredible attorney and an exceptional leader,” former managing partner Steve Cologne said. “His experience, temperament, and business-savviness make him the ideal attorney to fill this role. I am confident that under his leadership HFM will continue to thrive, and I look forward to seeing how Jim will guide the firm’s next chapter.”


Betsy Ross (’88)

Lynn Stegner, author of Because a Fire Was In My Head and daughter-in-law of Wallace Stegner, reviewed Utah Law alum Betsy Ross’s novel The Bones of the World. Of Bones, Stegner said:  “[The book is] an unflinching assessment of the ragged edge between good and evil, tolerance and intolerance . . . A recognition that suffering is so much more than pain.”


Charles Archer (’01)

Archer's son, Drew, was born Aug. 14, 1998, shortly before Charles began law school. Unfortunately, Drew passed away on May 1, 1999, the weekend before spring finals, and Archer's studies and life came to an abrupt halt.

"In the coming weeks, months, and years, I was repeatedly amazed at the support I received from my fellow law school students, faculty, and administration. My finals were put on hold, and I was told to take them whenever I was ready. Well before the days of GoFundMe, I received cards and donations from my fellow law school students that helped cover the medical bills, life flight, and funeral expenses I was not financially prepared to cover," Archer recalls. "Looking back, I now see how financially challenged we were that first year. All donations, no matter the amount, were extremely helpful and greatly appreciated."

Archer says he resumed law school, meeting with University of Utah and law school counselors to help with his grieving and offer encouragement.

"On numerous occasions, I was supported by the law school family. From coming to my rescue in a class when I was numb to the world (Sharieff Shaw, you know what you did. Thank you!), to helping study for finals, or in unknown ways, I was the recipient of many acts of kindness and support," he says.

During his third year of law school, Archer injured his back, which partially paralyzed his right foot. While he was recovering from back surgery, his classmates helped again by sending recordings of the class lectures, which allowed him to keep up-to-date and pass all his classes that final semester.

"I would not have continued my studies or been able to graduate with the class of 2001 had it not been for that support," Archer expresses.

After graduation, Archer worked as attorney law clerk for the Eighth District Court of Utah and then as guardian ad litem for the Eighth District. In 2006, he and his family moved back to the Salt Lake area, where he practiced family law, bankruptcy, and foreclosures at Woodall and Wasserman. While in school earning his MBA, Archer began a new career in software consulting and project management. He was hired in 2009 by HOJ Innovations as a project manager and was promoted to Chief Operations Officer in 2012.

"Thank you to everyone who supported me in one of the darkest times of my life. I hope those of you who helped see this and know how much your help is appreciated," Archer says. "For those of you in the midst of your journey, support each other and you will be able to look back at one of the most challenging times of your life with fondness."


Meredith Krannich (’05)

Meredith Krannich has joined Wilson Sonsini’s executive advisory program. In that role, Krannich will advise clients on legal, operational, and business matters. Before joining Wilson Sonsini, Krannich was vice president and general counsel (North America) at bioMerieux.


Galen Carlson Fields (’07)

Galen Carlson Fields, ’07, retired from the Ada County Prosecutor’s office and opened her own practice, Boise Law, PLLC. She now works in “happy law,” which she identifies as adoptions, guardianships, and estate planning/probate.


Alison Adams (’09)

Alison Adams was appointed general counsel of the Utah System of Higher Education. In her new role, she provides legal support to the commissioner and Board of Higher Education that oversee Utah public universities, community colleges and technical colleges.


Andrew Morgan, a white man with dark brown hair and a beard wearing a black suit jacketAndrew Morgan (’09)

Andrew Morgan was elevated to senior counsel at Wood, Smith, Henning and Berman in Northern California. His practice focuses on complex construction defect litigation, appellate law, and business litigation.

A graduate of the University of Utah School of Law, Morgan defends general contractors, developers, and design professionals in complex residential construction defect cases. He is thoroughly familiar and experienced in all aspects of these disputes, including their often complex insurance coverage issues, related breach of contract and defense and indemnity claims, and defect claims arising from violations of building standards in Civil Code sections 895 et seq. (“SB800” or “Right to Repair Act”). His representation of builders resulted in the elimination of negligence and product liability causes of action for homeowners and expanded the conditions under which builders may assert their right to repair homes before being sued. Morgan is also a speaker at national construction defect conferences and has significant appellate experience. He has successfully handled numerous appeals from orders made in civil proceedings and from orders made by administrative agencies. He obtained a unanimous California Supreme Court opinion in his client’s favor that resolved a split in authority among the Districts of the California Court of Appeal (McMillin Albany v. Superior Court (2018) 4 Cal.5th 241.).


Blake A. Klinkner (’12)

Blake A. Klinkner, Assistant Professor of Law at the University of North Dakota Law School, was honored with the 2022-2023 Professor of the Year Award by the graduating class at Washburn University School of Law, where Professor Klinkner was a Visiting Assistant Professor. In selecting Klinkner, the Class of 2023 voted on the professor who best “motivated, challenged and inspired students; who contributed to an understanding of and an advancement in legal education; and who is respected by law students and peers alike.”

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