Utah YLD Pro Bono Lawyer of the Year: Kate Conyers

Vol. 39 No. 6

By

Jodi McShan is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and a member of the Dallas, Texas, firm of Withers & Withers, P.C.

The Utah State Bar’s Pro Bono Publico Awards annually recognize those who have provided or enabled the direct provision of legal services, free of charge, to Utah’s most vulnerable citizens. This year, the State Bar honored Kate Conyers for her pro bono work and named her the Pro-Bono Young Lawyer of the Year.

For Conyers, this award is much more than a title. Conyers began her law career as a lawyer in a large firm—the job of many law students’ and young lawyers’ dreams. The experience at a large firm proved to be unfulfilling, however. She quit her Big Law job and began working at the Salt Lake City public defender’s office approximately three years ago. Her role at the public defender’s office is a much more rewarding experience to her; it is a job that fits her personality, goals, and sense of community.

But how did she become the Pro Bono Young Lawyer of the Year? Conyers devotes her life to helping others—in more than just her job at the public defender’s office. She works with her local young lawyers group and assists with Wills for Heroes and Serving Our Seniors in her home state of Utah and has done so for the past five years. Ms. Conyers recognized an unmet need of our veterans. While her area provided the services offered by Project Salute, Ms. Conyers saw the veterans’ need for general legal help and took action. To close this gap, Ms. Conyers founded a veterans’ legal clinic that serves local veterans, providing general legal advice at the monthly VA clinic. In addition to starting an entire legal clinic and working on Wills for Heroes and Serving Our Seniors, she aids the Tuesday night general services clinic and remains active in the street law general services clinic. Finally, Ms. Conyers helps with family law services and other needs of low-income individuals, including handling pro bono cases in a variety of areas.

She contributes to the legal community in other ways as well. Ms. Conyers serves as a volunteer small claims judge in Salt Lake City, Utah. She takes the bench a few times a month to preside over claims of up to $10,000 in controversy. It is an honor she looks forward to each time she serves. Small claims court takes place during the evenings and operates with volunteer judges.

Conyers’ willingness to help the community extends beyond the legal field. She also works with the Girl Scouts and leads a local troop, helping the girls learn about their community and teaching them to give back. Another nonlegal success is the launch of the Cinderella Boutique. The Cinderella Boutique, founded locally by the Utah YLD, offers prom dresses and formal attire to low-income girls so they will have something nice to wear to prom. It offers the girls a place to go so they can be a part of the tradition and not put their family in financial hardship so they can have a “normal” high school experience. Ms. Conyers has been running the program for approximately four years.

In addition to her pro bono and volunteer activities, Kate Conyers is the immediate past president for the Utah Young Lawyers Division. She has served as a leader in the ABA YLD as a member of the Affiliate Assistance Team and a District Representative for Utah and Nevada. In the 2014–2015 bar year, Ms. Conyers will be ABA YLD Affiliate Assistance Team Director.

In her spare time, she enjoys traveling and seeing her state and the rest of the world. Ms. Conyers hopes to get back to Europe and India. Her goal is to see all five of the national parks in Utah—two down and three to go! She enjoys camping and hiking with her husband and two dogs and is happy to do just about any outdoor activity, including improving her skiing and snowboarding.

Kate Conyers is a well-deserving recipient of the Pro Bono Young Lawyer of the Year Award. On behalf of The Affiliate, we salute the hard work and dedication Conyers has made to the profession—congratulations!

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