BYU Law Grad Finds Passion in Building Inclusiveness in the Law
Melinda Bowen, a 2010 graduate of the J. Reuben Clark Law school, says her “passion in the law is promoting inclusiveness.” So, when she helped form the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion, she began a project that has been “the culmination of everything that I’ve ever wanted to do.”
Melinda’s involvement in the Utah Center for Legal Inclusion has been one of the most cherished experiences in her career. The UCLI collaborates with different segments of the legal profession including women, racial minorities, the LGBTQ community, and disabled attorneys to foster greater inclusion in the law. “We want to make sure it’s a place where people want to make a career and a life,” says Melinda.
Melinda grew up in Orem, Utah, with a Hawaiian/Filipino father and a white mother. Her heritage has helped her appreciate diverse perspectives and value inclusiveness. During her time in criminal defense she tried to apply this value by seeing people as humans and promoting them as humans in a way other people could understand. Melinda has also served as president of the Utah Minority Bar Association, helping ethnic minorities to work together to promote diversity in the law and find a place where they have community.
To Melinda, a sense of community and meaningful relationships represent another important part of law practice: “When I look back on my legal education and, frankly, the opportunities that I’ve had professionally, it all goes back to the relationships I’ve built. I’ve found that surrounding myself with the right people makes all the difference.” She credits Dean Hernandez, who helped her and her husband find a community at BYU Law, and appreciates Professors Tom Lee and Lisa Sun for having been strong mentors throughout law school. Now, Melinda tries to bolster others through her practice. “Everyone in an hour of need needs someone to have their back and advocate for them,” says Melinda. “That’s one of the beauties of the law, and one way it can really be useful and helpful to people is it can show both sides of the story and uncover aspects of the story that might be overlooked otherwise.”
Surrounding herself with the right people also helps Melinda find balance as she tries to be creative in fitting in all the things that are important. She and her husband, Dave Bowen, who is also a BYU Law alum, have three boys. They enjoy anything outdoors: hiking, camping, fishing, and hunting. Melinda loves to run, and recently finished Ragnar: “I love to run – it’s my outlet and my me time.”