October 2018 Alumni Newsletter


October Events

Center for Civil and Human Rights Conference

Gonzaga Law’s Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR) made its formal debut on September 28, 2018, when it hosted the all-day conference: The Pursuit of Justice: Law, Leadership, and the Role of the Civil Rights Activist. The Center’s mission is to create a nationally-recognized civil and human rights program that enriches the educational experience of students, furthers the common good, and provides significant contributions to the policy and practice of human rights. The 2018 conference was integral to the Center’s mission and the Gonzaga Law Review will be publishing the conference papers in a special symposium edition in 2019. The generosity of John Hemmingson made the Center, and its work, a reality. 

See full story here

School Safety Panel

It takes a community to create safe learning environments for today’s students. That’s the theme which emerged from Gonzaga’s forum, “School Safety: Shared Responsibility for a Safer Future.”

On October 8, the Gonzaga Schools of Education and Law presented an engaging forum on school safety to pursue wider discussions on this topic that affects each and every educational institution.

Kristina Anderson, a survivor of the Virginia Tech shooting, moderated a panel of diverse commentators on issues in school safety. Anderson shared her unique perspective on the importance of understanding techniques to help keep our schools safe.

See full story here

Red Mass for the Legal Profession

On October 9th, the 2018 Red Mass for the Legal Profession was held to bless and pray with the Gonzaga Law community. Presided by Bishop Most Reverend William S. Skylstad, Bishop Emeritus of Spokane, the mass was held in the University Chapel in College Hall.

Gonzaga Law was pleased to award the 2018 Distinguished Legal Service Award to the Honorable Annette S. Plese ('91) at the conclusion of the liturgy. Judge Plese embodies the spirit of the Distinguished Legal Service Award: service to society through a career in law.

A rare triple-Zag, Judge Plese graduated from Gonzaga Prep, Gonzaga University ('86) and Gonzaga Law School ('91). Her heart for the law was evident even during her ungraduated years when she worked for the Gonzaga Campus Police. In 1989, while still attending law school, she was a judicial assistant for the late Superior Court Judge Marcus M. Kelly.

Plese began her law career as a deputy prosecutor for Spokane County. She would go on to be selected as the Team Leader for a special unit assembled to combat domestic violence in Spokane County. 

Judge Annette S. Plese took her seat on the Spokane Superior Court in January 2009 and currently serves as a trial judge. In 2012 and again in 2017, Judge Plese was the Chief Criminal Judge handling all felony criminal matters as they were filed or appeared in the Superior Court. 

Recent News

Alumni in the News

Kutak Rock Expands Litigation Team with Prominent Spokane Hires

SPOKANE (October 1, 2018) – Kutak Rock has expanded its national litigation team by welcoming Heather C. Yakely ('98) and Geana Van Dessel ('04), two of the Spokane’s leading female litigators with more than 35 years of collective experience.

“Heather and Geana are two of the best known and most highly regarded and talented litigators in the state,” remarked Roy Koegen, managing partner of Kutak Rock’s Spokane office. “They are among the few female attorneys to appear in courtrooms as lead counsel, they bring an exceptional track record in working with clients, they aren’t afraid to go to trial and they are comfortable in any courtroom. Their years of experience will enhance the firm’s ability to serve clients in various disputes and add range and depth to our litigation practice group. We are excited to welcome them.”

For 20 years, Heather Yakely has practiced in the areas of employment and constitutional law issues, municipal law, and tort defense. She has successfully defended law enforcement and municipalities in civil rights defense throughout her career. She has also successfully defended clients, municipal and private, in various employment matters, including discrimination, sexual harassment and ADA litigation. Ms. Yakely has experience in both State and appellate courts, and is admitted to the State of Idaho, the Federal District Courts of Idaho, Washington and the Ninth Circuit. She will lead the litigation team in Spokane.

Geana Van Dessel has 15 years of experience in all phases of complex commercial litigation. She has tried both bench and jury cases and has represented clients in AAA commercial arbitration. Her litigation experience includes trademark, contract, banking, employment, and consumer protection litigation, both in federal and state court. She has defended multiple, federal class action lawsuits, and has appeared before the Washington State Supreme Court, Division III of the Washington State Court of Appeals and the Ninth Circuit.

“Joining Kutak Rock will undoubtedly provide a broader bench, additional resources and opportunities to grow beyond the Pacific Northwest,” said Heather Yakely. “The firm has an extraordinary commitment to client service and exceptional value that resonates with my own.”

“I’m excited about the ability to connect with so many well-credentialed attorneys at Kutak Rock,” said Geana Van Dessel. “The firm’s focus on the client, collaboration and a culture of collegiality means I’ll have instant access to bigger teams and immediate support.”

Both Ms. Yakely and Ms. Van Dessel received their undergraduate and law degrees from Gonzaga University.

About Kutak Rock LLP

With 500+ attorneys in 18 U.S. locations, Kutak Rock represents clients in business and corporate, public finance, litigation, and real estate law. For more information, see www.KutakRock.com.

The Monarch Train

On Wednesday, September 26, Gonzaga Law Adjunct Professor Steven Faust received an appreciation plaque from The Monarch Train for the hard work the Business Law Clinic has recently done on behalf of the nonprofit. The Monarch Train carries out the work of the Dolly Parton Foundation in Idaho. Their focus is on children's literacy and making books more accessible to kids.

The Business Law Clinic assisted the founder of The Monarch Train, Melody Alderman, in forming Monarch as a nonprofit in Idaho and obtaining recognition from the IRS as a 501(c)(3) exempt organization.

See The Monarch Train website here

Upcoming Events

General and Clark LRAP

These programs are available for only Gonzaga Law alumni working in public service across the country and around the world.

Applications for the General and John Clark LRAP Programs are due December 1, 2018. For questions and more information please contact Bryn Boorman at boorman@gonzaga.edu or 509-313-3742.

See more information here

The Gonzaga in Florence Experience

Experience the best of Gonzaga Law in Florence! This one-week program begins in Florence with our third-annual International Human Rights Symposium, which will offer world-renown scholars and professionals to address this year’s theme, Freedom of Expression as a Human Right. Conference speakers will explore topics such as academic freedom, religious expression in a plural society, hate speech in a just society, technology and human expression, and money, speech, and democracy. 

Then, escape to the Tuscany countryside, where we will spend three nights in one of the world’s most famous wine regions, learning more about the legal and business aspects of wine through on-site visits to wineries and lectures and tastings by leading experts. We will return to Florence in time for two additional nights on your own before returning to the U.S. You are not going to want to miss this extraordinary opportunity to experience Gonzaga Law in Florence at its finest! Pricing and program costs will be available on or around November 1.

The 3rd Annual Human Rights Conference will take place on June 2-3, 2019 in Florence Italy.

The Wine Law Program: The Legal and Business Aspects of Wine will take place on June 4-7, 2019 in Florence and Chianti, in Italy's famous Tuscany region.