The many roles of MLS alumna Raelene Blocker

Mar 15, 2023 | Alumni

By Suzi Morales

Raelene Blocker (MLS Class of 2019) has worn many hats. Among them: political candidate, lobbyist, advocate, and—most recently—mediator.

Blocker says the College of Law’s Master of Legal Studies gave her confidence, knowledge, and network to help her wear several of these hats.

“I always wanted to go to law school,” says Blocker, who has an undergraduate degree in international relations. She has been flexing her advocacy muscles since long before she enrolled in the MLS program. For several years, she has been involved in medical alliance associations, through which she has worked on a variety of projects, from community service to legislative lobbying.

Blocker is also particularly interested in immigration issues. Currently, she volunteers with the International Rescue Committee’s Salt Lake City office to help refugee families get and use state nutrition assistance. “I just have a big heart for [immigrants] and their situation and what they’re in and just like to help in any way I can,” she says.

MLS program opens up new opportunities

In 2018, her interests led Blocker to enroll in the MLS, a year-long program with most classes on weekends.

“I think it’s a great step into your next goal, what you want to achieve,” Blocker says of the program.

During the program, Blocker met Mike Mower (Utah Law Class of 1993), a mentor through the MLS program who at the time was the Deputy Chief of Staff to then-Governor Gary Herbert. “He really helped me network and get to know people and invited me to meetings and gave me great advice,” she recalls.

Blocker knew she wanted to run for office eventually, and her new connections and confidence led to an opportunity to run for the Utah House of Representatives in 2022. She didn’t win, but did earn 40 percent of the vote against an incumbent opponent.

Back on campus, this time as an assistant instructor

In addition to completing the MLS program, 2019 was also the year Blocker took the first steps that led to her latest role, as a mediator. At that time, she began the process of qualifying as a court-rostered mediator, but it was put on hold when courts went remote during the pandemic. As soon as she was able, she completed the training.

In 2022, she learned that the College of Law was looking for a court-rostered mediator to assist with the Conflict Resolution Clinic, which is led by Carolynn Clark, the director of the MLS program. Blocker thought it would be a good fit and applied. Spring 2023 marks her first semester with the clinic, which is currently in its pilot phase.

Through the clinic, law students work with Blocker and other mediators to handle matters arising throughout the University and, as capacity allows, to the larger Salt Lake County community. University students, staff, faculty, and others connected with the school receive the services free of charge.

Blocker doesn’t rule out some day earning her JD, noting that it would help her pursue her interest in immigration law. She also doesn’t rule out running for office again, but jokes that she’ll need a little more time to recover before considering another run.

Whatever the future holds, one thing is for sure: Blocker won’t face it standing still.