Denise O’Donnell Day Pro Bono Awards

Published August 2022

George Bevan, Sarah J. Clemens, Tricia J. Daigle, Mariah R. Dunham, and Leland K. Faux. Bottom row from left to right: Jennifer S. Franz, Alex S. Grande, Kris J. Ormseth, Craig W. Parrish, and Paul N.J. Ross.

The late Denise O’Donnell Day, and namesake of this award, was a titan of pro bono service to underrepresented Idahoans. Her legacy of service, dedication to her community, and overall standard of professionalism in practice are pillars for any member of the Idaho State Bar to aspire to. Each year, we honor Denise’s legacy by awarding attorneys in each judicial district with the Denise O’Donnell Day Pro Bono Award, recognizing their admirable decisions to prioritize pro bono service in their practices. In addition to providing biographical information, this years’ recipients were asked the following two questions:

First, why is pro bono work important to you?

And, what advice would you give your younger self as you entered your law practice or began your career?

Mariah R. Dunham – First District

Why Pro Bono: “In addition to being imperative to the functioning of our system of justice, if given freely and without expectations, pro bono work allows the attorney a real sense of commitment to the practice of law and community.”

Advice: “Accept pro bono cases willingly, without regret or expectation, when you are able to both personally and professionally. It will be one of the most rewarding things you do.”

Mariah was born and raised in Benewah County. She received her B.S. at the University of Idaho in 2002 and graduated law school from Gonzaga University in 2005. She was admitted to the Idaho State Bar, U.S. District Court – District of Idaho, U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, and the U.S. Supreme Court in 2005. She has been practicing with the firm of Dunham & Wolff, P.A. (formerly Morris & Wolff, P.A.) located in St. Maries, Idaho since 2010. In addition to her private practice, Mariah also serves as the Benewah County Prosecutor, having been appointed to the position in December 2021. When not working, Mariah enjoys spending time with her family, including her husband, Larry, and son, Aiden.

Jennifer S. Franz – Second District

Why Pro Bono: “Everyone should have access to quality, affordable legal services.”

Advice: “Enjoy! You are still your younger self!”

Jennifer graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law in December of 2019. She was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in the Spring of 2020. She is committed to public service and is grateful for the Idaho Volunteer Lawyers Program’s organization and efficiency in helping her to provide pro bono services for all Idahoans.

George Bevan – Third District

Why Pro Bono: “There are so many Americans who are struggling to get by – food, housing, transportation costs to and from their job site, especially day labor jobs that oftentimes pay minimum wage. So when they encounter an issue or situation in their life, often not of their own doing, where attorney services could easily resolve the situation, they simply don’t have the means to obtain professional help. They just give up, figuring there is no affordable alternative. My believe is that pro bono legal services – a life line to those in that situation – are life altering in so many ways. Not only will the client experience a deep sense of relief and motivation to go forward with their everyday life and challenges, the pro bono attorney will be rewarded, knowing that his/her assistance made a positive, impactful difference in the client’s life. There is no better feeling than that.”

Advice: “To be aware of those who are less fortunate, and to be willing to set aside time to step up and make the necessary commitment to assist in a meaningful way and make a difference  in others’ lives.”

George Bevan graduated from Stanford University in 1969 with a bachelor’s of art in economics. He served for three years in the U.S. Marines from 1969 to 1972 as an infantry platoon commander, including combat service in Vietnam followed by a post of duty training Marine recruits in San Diego, California. He then graduated from the University of San Diego with a J.D. in 1975. Thereafter, George graduated from the Georgetown Law Center with an LLM in taxation in 1977. He was employed as a tax attorney for the Internal Revenue Service from 1975 to 1982 and then worked as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. He retired in January 2008 with 35 years of government service.

Tricia J. Daigle – Fourth District

Why Pro Bono: “I had the great good fortune to be born of two of the best parents in the world. When you come from that background there is the tendency to believe everyone else is equally blessed. Then you get out in the world and realize that isn’t necessarily the case. My parents believed in the idea of service, and they modeled that practice for their four children. […] I believe in the dignity of others, no matter their financial circumstances. I don’t vet human beings – I care for people. As a result, a significant portion of my practice is dedicated to pro bono work. I do because I can. My greatest joy is knowing that I make a real and valuable difference in the lives of others and my aspiration is to continue to be able to fortify my own corner of the world. It’s the way I can pay tribute to my mother and father.”

Advice: “Be gentle with yourself and others. Be involved in your community. Be grateful for the advice and wisdom of others but be true to your own ideas and values.”

Tricia Daigle graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law in 2014. Prior to law school, she graduated from St. John’s College with a master’s degree in the Classics, and from Boise State University with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Before becoming an attorney, Tricia lived overseas and lectured at the university level and owned and operated a trading cooperative. Before that, she helped to establish a charter school for the study of technology and the classics.

Sarah J. Clemens – Fourth District

Why Pro Bono: “I think we all recognize that concepts like ‘access to justice’ are important in society, but to come anywhere close to reaching that requires a commitment from those of us who can do more. Pro bono work is important to me because I know that, for such a small commitment of my time, I can help someone attain that access. Even if I can only help one person, the advice and the time that I give them could have a tremendous effect on their life – maybe they aren’t evicted, or they keep custody of their child. The pro bono cases I have worked on have been some of the most rewarding experiences I have had.”

Advice: “Remember your why. On my first day of orientation at law school, a professor told our incoming class that we would face struggles throughout the next three years, and it was important for us to remember why we were there, why we wanted to be attorneys. Though none of us could have anticipated then how much we would all go through, remembering why we were there, why we get up each morning, what we were striving to achieve, and who we were aiming to be a voice for, helped keep me grounded and inspired.”

Sarah Clemens attended Concordia University School of Law for her first two years, and graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law. She was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 2021. She is a law clerk to Chief Justice G. Richard Bevan at the Idaho Supreme Court. She also serves on the board to the Idaho State Bar’s Appellate Practice Section and Young Lawyers Section.

Kris J. Ormseth – Fourth District

Why Pro Bono: “I have been very fortunate in my life and pro bono service is a way to help others who have been less fortunate.”

Advice: “Be involved in the community, be respectful of others, and have confidence in yourself.”

Kris Ormseth graduated from law school at U.C. Berkeley in 1991 and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 1992. He started at Stoel Rives in their corporate law department in 1993 and has remained there ever since.

Alex S. Grande – Fourth District

Note: Alex was traveling out of the country at the time of publication and was unable to provide answers to these questions.

Alex Grande is an associate in the Boise office of Holland & Hart practicing in a range of complex employment and commercial disputes. She graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law cum laude in 2014. During law school, Alex was the Chief Symposium Editor the Idaho Law Review, a member of the D. Craig Lewis Trial Team, and has since received the University of Idaho Alumni Excellence Award. Prior to law school, Alex received a B.A. from the College of Idaho, graduating magna cum laude in 2011. Alex’s career has include practicing employment litigation, human resources counseling, compliance, and risk management, unfair competition, and commercial litigation. She dedicated over 200 hours of pro bono service in 2020 and continues to make pro bono service a top priority.

Paul N.J. Ross – Fifth District

Why Pro Bono: “The majority of my pro bono work is for elderly clients. It is a privilege to return the favor and feel like I am serving them.”

Advice: “Get a clerkship. It will give a peek behind the curtain of how a court or firm works. I didn’t have that privilege and appreciate the advantage it gave to others.”

Paul Ross blossomed in the Magic Valley, served in England and Wales, and graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelors in Law & Constitutional Studies. He worked in press relations, mortgage underwriting, and theater management in Washington D.C.; Richmond, Virginia; and Branson, Missouri. He received his Juris Doctor at Oklahoma City University. Paul gained bankruptcy in the three districts of Oklahoma and Northern Texas. He gained admission into the Idaho State and Federal Courts and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2011. He opened a solo firm which operates Idaho Bankruptcy Law. His main areas of focus are bankruptcy, criminal, municipal, probate, and guardianship/conservatorship law. Paul is a member of the American Bankruptcy Institute and National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys. Paul seeks anthropological spelunking, enjoys historical research and writing, aids habitat renovation and reconstruction, drives classic American automobiles, contemplates religious studies, and expends excessive time at his law practice and insufficient time with his beautiful wife and four children.

Craig W. Parrish – Sixth District

Why Pro Bono: “An opportunity to use my professional skills to benefit others.”

Advice: “Be more patient, listen more, ask more questions.”

Craig Parrish graduated from Highland High School in 1983 and immediately began attending Idaho State University. He put college on pause to serve his LDS Mission in Peru from 1984 to 1986 and upon his return transferred to Brigham Young University, from which he graduated with his undergraduate degree in 1990. Craig then went on to law school, graduating from the University of Idaho College of Law in 1993. He clerked for the Honorable J. Woodland in 1994 and then moved to solo practice, which he has maintained ever since. His focus is on juvenile law, private criminal and conflict public defense, small businesses, family law, guardianship, estates, and probate.

Leland K. Faux – Seventh District

Why Pro Bono: “I like representing people who genuinely need pro bono assistance because the cases are typically more meaningful than just disputes over money. There are instances where you can help families avoid homelessness or fight against systemic abuse. And if you pick the right cases you can make money doing it.”

Advice: “Find joy in the journey, practice being optimistic, and don’t be too much of a hermit (not that I would follow it).”

Leland Faux attended law school at Brigham Young University and graduated in December of 2010. He was admitted to the Nevada Bar in 2011, where he practiced insurance defense in the niche area of public works and consumer protection bonds. Leland moved to Idaho in 2016 for a change of pace and was admitted to the Idaho State Bar in 2017. He then began a solo practice focused on consumer rights cases such as auto fraud, debt collection abuse, and tenant rights. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he began receiving more and more calls regarding housing matters. He noted, many of the stories were very disheartening. In February of 2022, Leland sold his practice and joined Idaho Legal Aid where he currently focuses exclusively on housing matters under a federal grant.