UMBA Banquet Celebrating Accomplishments Honors U Law Graduates

On September 25, the Utah Minority Bar Association (UMBA) held its annual Scholarship and Awards Banquet at the Natural History Museum of Utah. A capacity crowd of 250 celebrated the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Achievements of Utah’s Minority Attorneys.

The University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law was well represented at the event, with both individuals and entities being recognized for their contributions.

Narda Beas-Nordell, ‘92, receives the Pete Suazo Community Service Award from UMBA President Melinda Bowen (right). ©2014 All Smiles Photography

Narda Beas-Nordell, ‘92, receives the Pete Suazo Community Service Award from UMBA President Melinda Bowen (right). ©2014 All Smiles Photography

After the event, Narda Beas-Nordell, ‘92, recipient of the Pete Suazo Community Service Award (named in honor of the late Utah state senator), expressed her appreciation to faculty and other mentors. “I want to thank professors Flores and John Martinez and Dean Teitelbaum for believing in me when I doubted myself in law school. I also need to thank those individuals in the old vanguard of retired or deceased UMBA members, including Judge Ray Uno, Jimi Mitsunaga, Mike Martinez, Judge William Thorne, Judge Glen Iwasaki, Judge Paul Iwasaki, Judge Tyrone Medley, Robert Archuleta (deceased) and Steven Payton (deceased) for helping me make my way through the legal profession. They too believed in me when I often doubted myself. Also, thanks to all the current active members of UMBA for acknowledging my hard work that was given freely and lovingly by me to the community that I serve.

Angelina Tsu,, ‘02, recipient of the Distinguished Lawyer of the Year award, said, “In addition to providing a fabulous education, the College of Law provided me a network of incredible lawyers in SLC and across the country. I met two of my mentors during my time at the College of Law—Cheryl Mori and Judge Benson—one of them gave me my first job (as a judicial clerk); both are great friends who have inspired and mentored me throughout my career. I also have an incredible class that has remained close through the years. They are some of my biggest advocates, closest confidants and best friends. When I think about my best friends, most all of them are people I know through my connection with the College of Law. If what I’ve done professionally can be considered ‘success,’ they are the reason. I am very fortunate to be the beneficiary of so much kindness, support and generosity..”

In addition to individual award recipients, the representatives who accepted the awards on behalf of awarded entities were also College of Law alums. Patrick Anderson , ‘86, manager of the Salt Lake Legal Defender Association (LDA), accepted the award on behalf of LDA.

The Utah Bar Young Lawyers Division, and Women Lawyers of Utah jointly received the Honorees of the Year Award. The accepting representatives were alums Aida Neimarlija, ’08, and Katt Judd, ’07.

Stoel Rives awarded as Law Firm of the Year, accepting representatives included Matt Durham, ‘92, and non-alum  Scott Young.

The UMBA past-president and master of ceremonies at banquet was alum Jesse Nix, ’10.  The newly elected President-elect of UMBA is alum Michelle Kennedy, ’13.

Student scholarship recipients from the College of Law were Jasmine Fierro, Shaun Mathur, Isabel Moreno, Nubia Pena, Veronica Davis, Nick Wilde, and Laura Leon.

Although this was a celebratory occasion, after the fact, Beas-Nordell and Tsu each reflected on the crucial role UMBA has played in providing support to minority law students and attorneys in our community. “UMBA literally changed my life.,” Tsu details. “Many minority attorneys are first generation attorneys. I am a first-generation attorney. There are so many things that I didn’t know about being a law student or a lawyer. The support of UMBA members helped to put me on more equal footing with my peers. But for their good advice, I wouldn’t have written on to law review, applied for a judicial clerkship or taken a job at Ray Quinney. I also would not have run for bar president without the encouragement of UMBA members and could not have won without their support. My life would be dramatically different without them. I owe them a huge debt of gratitude.

Adds Beas-Nordell: “I recall years ago when UMBA was still in what I would call the formative years, we on the Executive Committee felt we needed to make physical appearances in the offices of the leading law firms as well as government entities to help to enlighten them as to the lack of color in their employee pool. We even had to rely on holding a press conference to get one large government entity to change its hiring practices with some success. However, we aren’t done yet in our local legal community. The inroads have been slow, but that shouldn’t make us complacent. “