Distinguished Legal Service Award

The Distinguished Legal Service Award, formerly the Distinguished Judicial Service Award, is presented, annually, at Red Mass. The award is given to an individual who exemplifies the mission of Gonzaga University School of Law and is well connected to the Gonzaga Law community. The award honors those who show longevity of service, an active role in the judicial community and/or strong public service commitment.

Meet the 2023 Recipient: Ryan McNeice, '04 M.B.A., '05 J.D. 

Ryan McNeice Photo Cropped

We are honored to posthumously award this year's Distinguished Legal Award to Ryan McNeice (’04 M.B.A./’05 J.D.). Ryan McNeice passed away in the presence of his family after a multi-year battle with lung cancer on April 20, 2023. Ryan had a true sense for entrepreneurship and a deep passion for the legal profession. In 2005, he founded the Law Office of Ryan McNeice, PLLC—now known as McNeice Wheeler.

He was deeply committed to his community and held various voluntary positions. Throughout his legal career he was a past member of ValleyFest, HUB Sports complex, Idaho Chamber of Commerce (Priest Lake), Washington Chamber of Commerce (Spokane Valley), Central Valley School District Literacy Program, GleasonFest, Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ), and the Washington State Bar Licensure Task Force. Ryan supported and believed in the arts. He founded Spokane Talk Media (2017-2019), Fifty7 Media (2019 – 2023), and lent his voice to the Gonzaga Law School podcast, All Rise, for two seasons.

Actively involved with the Law School, he joined the Board of Advisors in 2011. In 2021, Ryan was nominated and voted by his peers to serve as president. Board member Cat Clark (’91 J.D.) shared that upon hearing the news of Ryan’s passing the legal community “lost a lion in law.”

Dean Jacob Rooksby, who considered Ryan a close friend, reflected that “Ryan was unlike anyone I have ever met. His kindness, curiosity, and love of life put him in a league of his own. I valued his wise counsel from the moment I started in the position as Dean in 2018. Through so many shared experiences together, I came to value his friendship even more. He left an indelible imprint on me and my family. Our hearts are with the McNeices as they grieve the loss of an extraordinary human.”

2022- David A. Torres, '86

2021- John Durkin, '80

2019- J. Donald Curran, '60 & Va Lena Curran, '58

2018- The Hon. Annette S. Plese, '91

2017- Howard Herman, '62

2016- The Hon. Justin L. Quackenbush, '57

2015- The Hon. James M. Murphy, '73

2014- Thomas W. Hillier, II, '73

2013- The Hon. Ellen K. Clark, '82

2012- The Hon. Gregory D. Sypolt, '76

2011- Justice Debra Stephens '93, Justice Mary Fairhurst, '84, & Chief Justice Barbara Madsen, '77

2010- The Hon. Patricia C. Williams, '74

2009- The Hon. Kathleen M. O'Connor, '75

2008- The Hon. Richard B. White, '80

2007- The Hon. Neal Q. Rielly, '75

2006- The Hon. Cynthia Imbrogno, '79

2005- The Hon. Paul A. Bastine, '64

2004- The Hon. Richard J. Schroeder, '63

2003- The Hon. John Schultheis, '61

2002- The Hon. Robert J. Doran, '57

2001- The Hon. Richard J. Richard, '56 & Ms. Kathleen M Taft

2000- The Hon. Richard P. Guy, '59

1999- The Hon. Anita G. Dupris, '81 & The hon. Joseph A. Thibodeau, '66

1998- The Hon. James M. Dolliver & The Hon. John F. Wilson, '56

1997- The Hon. J. Benjamin McInturff, '52 & The Hon. Philip J. Thompson, '62

1996- The Hon. John J. Ripple, '50 & The Hon. Marcus M. Kelley, '57 (posthumously)

1995- The Hon. Harold D. Clarke, Dr., '57 & The Hon. Franklin D. Burgess, '66

1994- Justice James Andersen & The Hon. Ricard F. Wrenn, '60

1993- The Hon. William J. Grant, '54 & The Hon. George Shields


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