BYU Law Graduate Cherise Bacalski Shares Her Experience Completing a Public Interest Fellowship

Cherise Bacalski at Justice John A. Pearce's Investiture Ceremony at the Utah Supreme Court.
Cherise Bacalski at Justice John A. Pearce’s Investiture Ceremony at the Utah Supreme Court.

If you were to ask BYU Law graduate Cherise Bacalski how she would describe her Public Interest Fellowship, she would say “a blessing.”

During her 3L year, Balcalski gave birth and completed around 250 hours of pro bono service, in addition to her law school coursework. However, there was one problem. “After I took the Utah bar, I put my feet up and realized . . . I didn’t have a job,” Bacalski said.

However, BYU Law announced the creation of ten yearlong fellowships. “I was able to jump on the opportunity to live my dream,” she said. Balcalski’s fellowship was sponsored by BYU Law and Laura Dupaiz, Division Chief of Criminal Appeals at the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

“Under Laura’s tutelage, I drafted ten criminal appeals, mooted many dozen arguments, and argued one case off-brief before the Utah Court of Appeals,” Bacalski said. She also wrote appeals for both state and federal issues.  “Most importantly, I learned that the standard of review is king and that each issue in a case may have a different standard. I quickly fell in love with the work and slowly fell in love with that division,” Bacalski said.

Balcaski continues to reap the benefits of her experience. “Even though my fellowship has ended, it continues to bless my life. I am positive I owe my upcoming clerkship with Justice John Pearce of the Utah Supreme Court not only to Justice Pearce for taking a chance on me, but to Laura Dupaix and BYU Law for filling me with just enough confidence, hope, and faith to apply,” she said. Bacalski was offered a position clerking with Senior Judge Pamela Greenwood during the interim between her fellowship and clerkship this summer.

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