Alumni Relations Director Lori Nelson retires after 30-year legal career

Dec 21, 2023 | Alumni

by Lindsay Wilcox

Lori Nelson, a middle-aged white woman with short blonde hair wearing an olive green turtleneck sweater and floral scarfCongratulations to Alumni Relations Director Lori Nelson, who will be retiring at the end of 2023! Nelson began her position at the S.J. Quinney College of Law in November 2015 after more than 20 years of law practice.

“I was serving on a committee with then-dean Robert Adler, and he suggested I create the job of alumni relations director as there had never been anyone in that role before. It was always combined with development,” Nelson recalls.

When Nelson graduated from the S.J. Quinney College of Law in 1992, she began working at a small firm in family law, which is the type of law she was initially interested in during law school.

“After that I moved a few times, working at Dart Adamson & Donovan and ending my legal career at Jones Waldo Holbrook & McDonough. During my legal career I served on the Utah State Bar’s Government Relations Committee, the Family Law Section Board, as section chair of the Bar Commission and president of the Utah State Bar,” Nelson says. “I was also active in the American Bar Association Family Law Section, served on several other Bar committees, and wrote legislation and helped it move through the Utah State Legislature.”

Nelson also helped promote the work of the courts by serving on the Utah State Court’s Judicial Council while maintaining a full-time family law practice.

“The most challenging thing about my legal career was working with people every day in the most difficult, emotionally taxing circumstances. It was hard to maintain a positive attitude but also critical for professional success to not take on my client’s emotions, but remain above the dispute to help them objectively,” Nelson recalls. “I represented several professional athletes and an actress, but the most fun thing was being able to learn every day and delve into other substantive areas of law in which my clients were involved.”

Christina Jepson, an attorney and shareholder at Salt Lake City law firm Parsons Behle & Latimer, recalls working with Lori for many years.

“Lori is a tireless advocate for the law school. One of my favorite experiences was going to Washington, D.C., with a group of alumni to be sworn in at the Supreme Court,” she says. “Lori planned such a great weekend and led us around D.C. like a professional. I will miss her!”

When Nelson joined the S.J. Quinney staff in 2015, she was happy to start work in the brand-new LEED-certified building — and happy to be back at her alma mater.

“I went to law school in the old building, and the contrast is stark. The new building is so student-focused and designed to promote student success. It’s an inspiring environment, and our professors are amazing,” Nelson says. “I enjoyed working in law firms because it is energizing to be around such intelligent people. I feel the same way about working at the law school and the quality of our professors and their teaching acumen. I also like watching the students grow and progress.”

Dean Elizabeth Kronk Warner has also worked closely with Lori at Utah Law and is grateful for Lori’s efforts in her role.

“During Lori’s tenure as director of alumni relations at the College of Law, she helped to build an alumni program that includes valuable touch points with our alums through Leadership Lunches with our students, CLEs that benefit thousands of alums and attorneys each year, reunions and other opportunities for connection,” Kronk Warner notes. “It has been an honor to work with her.”

Senior director of development Lexie Kite has served as Lori’s direct supervisor and has also been impressed with Lori’s work ethic.

“Lori has been such a valuable member of the College of Law, and that is clear in my interactions with our alumni who sing her praises,” Kite says. “She came to the college eight years ago as a leader in the legal community with close relationships, and our students and alums have benefitted greatly from her insight and her close connections. She has helped provide meaningful opportunities for our alums to maintain close contact with their alma mater and to give back through volunteering and mentoring. Her contributions as director of alumni relations have been so valuable.”

Nelson says she will miss the staff at S.J. Quinney as well as the students and alumni when she retires.

“We have the best alumni in the world. It’s been an honor and privilege to try to find ways to give back to them in meaningful ways to help them in their careers,” Nelson says. “After retirement, I’m going to take care of my family, continue to serve on Bar committees, and do all the things I’ve wanted to do, but never been able to do, because of working. Maybe I’ll even join a gym — probably not!”

Keep in touch with Lori Nelson and other alumni by sharing your accomplishments with us in Class Notes! We publish these each fall in the alumni magazine Res Gestae.