Love the Law!: A Program Everyone Can Relate To by Anna E. Courtney and Kinzo H. Mihara

Love the Law title page.

by Anna E. Courtney and Kinzo H. Mihara

WARNING: If you are expecting a deeply thought-provoking and well-cited legal treatise, keep flipping the pages. If you want to feel good about your job – keep reading. We are lawyers, and we love the law. As Idaho lawyers, we practice in the most bountiful areas in the most beautiful and wonderful state in our Union. For the most part, we get to rise every morning and do a job which brings us a sense of purpose, satisfaction, and fulfillment. A couple of times a year, however, our jobs bring us an even greater sense of fulfillment and pride. Those are the days we receive an email from a local government-studies teacher who asks if the Idaho State Bar Diversity Section is willing to do another Love the Law! event.

Love the Law! is a subcommittee and subsection organized under the Idaho State Bar’s Diversity Section.

To develop and maintain a pipeline program that exposes Idaho high school, college, and university students from diverse, minority, and low-income backgrounds and underrepresented populations to the legal profession and encourages those students to consider pursuing a career in law. Love the Law! seeks to expand student knowledge about legal careers and pathways to the profession and to provide social support and professional role models. Through these efforts, Love the Law! will promote diversity, equality, and cultural understanding throughout the Idaho State Bar to better serve the State’s diverse citizenry.

Distilled to its essence, the message of Love the Law! is to let every student know that, regardless of their background, if they are interested in a legal profession and willing to work hard, they can achieve their dreams. The message is underscored by the countless judges, lawyers, court support staff, and law enforcement personnel who volunteer their time to one or more of the Love the Law! events.  These events introduce students, who may not otherwise be exposed to the practice of law, to the legal practice. The goal of Love the Law! is to bring new and different voices into the legal profession to the benefit of us all.

We hope this article informs readers about the history of Love the Law!, the many reasons why Love the Law! matters to the Idaho legal community, and encourages you to host a Love the Law! event.

Founders of Love the Law!

The subcommittee and subsection were founded in the late 2000s under the Diversity Section of the Idaho State Bar by many of our colleagues who are no longer with us, either through retirement, death, or job relocation. A special note of remembrance and thanks goes out to Judge Sergio Guttierez, Linda Pall, Richard “Dick” Fields, and Jennifer King. These are only some of the people who were instrumental in getting this program off the ground.  Without their vision and hope to truly “give back” to our Idaho communities, the Love the Law! events of today would not be what they are. These founding lawyers saw a need for all young students, regardless of background, to have the ability to pursue a legal career.

Love the Law! Events

Love the Law! events are put on by local attorneys for students in their communities in coordination with the Diversity Section. Any lawyer can spearhead an event; all that is needed is the desire to do so and the cooperation of like-minded volunteers in the bar or on the bench.

Love the Law! primarily works by hosting events that allow diverse groups of students to witness the actual practice of the law. A typical Love the Law! event consists of students, high school, or college level, who come into court and see actual cases litigated. Either criminal or civil cases can be on the agenda; however, students seem to gravitate toward criminal cases. It only makes sense. A good criminal case has a little more pizzaz than a run-of-the-mill property boundary argument. If minor students participate, the event is tailored to exclude cases with salacious criminal charges. Special care is taken to attempt to notify the lawyers involved with the cases so no one is surprised on the day of the event.

After the hearing, the judges, lawyers, court staff, and any involved law enforcement will remain in the courtroom and answer questions (to the extent possible) about the cases the students observed. Each legal professional will also talk about their biography and offer anecdotal stories of how they came to their respective jobs. The judges and lawyers may ask students questions about their class, what they have learned about the law, and what interests them about the law.


"Love the Law! primarily works by hosting events that allow diverse groups of students to witness the actual practice of the law."

These events often have a court tour component, which is the province of the bailiff’s offices. The students usually have a good time seeing their teachers put into irons and placed in the Court’s holding cells. Again, for obvious reasons, special security considerations apply when allowing students into the areas where criminal defendants may be held. We have found that such tours can only occur if no “in-custody” defendants are awaiting hearing or transport.

Now to the good part: a boatload of pizza and other food. Each Love the Law! event usually ends with judges, lawyers, support staff, and others sharing a meal with the students and teachers involved. The question-and-answer session usually continues during the meal. As one can imagine, some of the questions can be quite colorful. This part of the program is especially rewarding as every conversation is made better over pizza.

Diversity in Action

Love the Law! is a continuous work-in-progress to encourage diversity both internally and externally. Some of the inaugural programs were conducted with male-only legal professionals. The male-only aspect was not intentional. It was the practical reality of stumbling through the process of developing a good program for the students. The same was true for the inclusion of court staff and law enforcement personnel.

As time has gone on, Love the Law! has tailored events and participants with the help of student feedback to increase the diversity of legal professional involvement. For example, some of the female students expressed a deep interest in the law but noted that there were no female judges or lawyers to give their perspective. Other students noted that “it’s cool” that lawyers and judges presented; however, they would rather be a clerk or policeman or sheriff and were interested in the clerk’s and bailiff’s perspectives.

Today, judges, lawyers, court staff, and law enforcement of all genders, ages, and other demographic backgrounds are invited to participate in the programs. The more the better. We all have unique paths that we have taken to our respective places in the legal system.  Modeling alternative paths encourages people who might not otherwise consider the practice of law to consider it.

Events Across the State

            Love the Law! events have taken many shapes across the State. Love the Law! has hosted Boise High School students at the Idaho State Capitol Building, where students attended a Senate Judiciary and Rules Committee meeting. Shoshone Bannock Junior High and High School attended hearings at the Bingham County Courthouse. Lakeland High School attended hearings at the Kootenai County Courthouse. Skyview and Caldwell High School students spent a morning with Judge Dayo Onanubosi in Canyon County.

The U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho has hosted events where students engaged in a panel discussion including Magistrate Judges, Assistant U.S. Attorneys, Probation Officers, the Deputy Chief U.S. Marshall, and the Federal Public Defender. Where an interest is raised, a Love the Law! event can be created to meet it.

Diversity in the Law School Pipeline Still Matters

Many people have asked us why the bench and bar would support such a program. There are many reasons beyond just helping kids who may not otherwise hear the message that they can succeed. Nationally, diversity in law school classes continues to increase. The national incoming class of law students in 2022 was the most racially and ethnically diverse class in history, including 36.6% students of color.[ii] This represents a 1.9% increase over 2021 and a 3.5% increase from 2019.[iii] In 2022, 57.7% of matriculants identified as Caucasian, 10.1% identified as two or more races, 9.4% identified as Hispanic/Latinx, 8.9% identified as Asian, and 7.8% identified as Black/African American.[iv]  For the 2022 class, approximately 14% identified as LGBQ+ and 0.6% self-identified as transgender, gender nonbinary, or genderqueer/gender fluid.[v]

Yet, as of 2021, diversity in law school enrollment still lags behind the minority share of the population and potential law school candidates (college graduates between the ages of 25-34) by roughly 10%.[vi] The University of Idaho College of Law also lags 2023 national statistics by roughly 7%, with 30% of the 2023 class identifying as a student of color.[vii] Nationwide, the largest disparity between the general population and law students is among students identifying as Black and Hispanic.[viii] Further, minority law students continue to graduate from law school at lower levels.[ix] The data suggests that efforts to increase the diversity of the law school pipeline are still worth our time.

That is not to say that Idaho lacks diversity. Idaho has a strong history of perseverance through adversity that is on-par with any other place on this Earth. Its people are hard-working, generous, and noble – regardless of background. But the value of diversity cannot be over emphasized. Increased diversity in the legal profession is tied to increased public trust and confidence in the legal system as a whole.[x] There is also a statistically significant correlation between superior performance in the profitability of organizations and the increased diversity in leadership teams for those organizations.[xi] It helps participants in both the legal profession and the legal system to know that the judicial branch of government is not controlled by a single race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other social category in which we might put ourselves.


"Modeling alternative paths encourages people who might not otherwise consider the practice of law to consider it."

Consider Supporting an Event

Love the Law! events take both time and money. The typical program will run between three and five hours, inclusive of all the activities noted above. The cost to put on an event runs anywhere between $200 and $500 per event depending on the number of students and teachers involved.

 Love the Law! events are funded by a variety of sources. They have been funded in the past by grants from the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, as well as by U.S. District Court outreach grants. The events have also been funded by private law firms and their clients who hear about the events and wish to donate. The Diversity Section will also help with financial support for these events.

More important than monetary contributions, however, is the donation of time and effort by the judges, lawyers, and staff that go into these programs. Now that the program has matured, the judges, lawyers, and staff who have previously participated in the events are quick to volunteer for new events. Even judges and lawyers who have not participated in the events to-date have reached out to express an interest in bringing events to new courtrooms around the state. Our profession sees so much contention and adversarial wrangling; many participants find it nice to engage in an aspect of the legal profession that brings amazement and wonder to a young person’s life.

We would strongly encourage any of our colleagues to become involved in a great outreach program! If you or your firm, office, or department are interested in participating in, or contributing financially to, this type of event, the Love the Law! subcommittee is always welcoming new members and unrestricted funds. Please feel free to reach out to either of the authors – or to any of the Idaho State Bar’s Diversity Section leadership–if you or your firm are interested in Love the Law! events. Very few things in this profession are as rewarding as telling a kid that they can achieve their dreams… and that they are welcome to have more than one piece of pizza.

Anna E. Courtney

Anna E. Courtney is Associate Counsel for St. Luke’s Health System. Before joining St. Luke’s, she practiced commercial litigation and worked in diversity and talent management. She currently serves as the Secretary/Treasurer for the Idaho State Bar Diversity Section. A 2013 graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law, she lives and practices in Boise with her husband, 4-year-old son, and two mostly-good dogs.

Kinzo H. Mihara

Kinzo H. Mihara is a solo practitioner in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Aside from the myriad of cases he works on, he has twice served as the Chair of the Idaho State Bar Diversity Section. He is continuously involved in Love the Law! events, and serves on the boards of the Idaho Legal Aid Association, Inc.; the Intermountain Fair Housing Council, Inc.; and, Family Promise of North Idaho, Inc. He is a former U.S. Marine and Carnegie Hero. He is married to his best friend and bride, Jennifer; and, they have four children, Brodey, Lilly, Cora, and Esther.

[i] IDAHO STATE BAR ASSOCIATION, (last visited Jan. 4, 2024).

[ii] Krinksy, Susan L., Incoming Class of 2022: A Major Advance in Diversity, More Work to Do, LSAC BLOG (Dec. 20, 2022),

[iii] Id.

[iv] Id.

[v] Id.

[vi] Brooks, Richard R. W. and Rozema, Kyle and Sanga, Sarath, Affirmative Action and Racial Diversity in U.S. Law Schools, 1980-2021, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 23-50, NORTHWESTERN PRITZKER SCHOOL OF LAW (June 28, 2023), or

[vii] Standard 509 Information Report, University of Idaho College of Law, 1-4 (2023),; Leipold, James, Incoming Class of 2023 is the Most Diverse Ever, but More Work Remains, LSAC BLOG (December 15, 2023),compared%20to%208.8%25%20in%202021.

[viii] Law School Enrollment by Race & Ethnicity (2022), ENJURIS, (last visited Jan. 4, 2024).

[ix] Brooks, Richard R. W. and Rozema, Kyle and Sanga, Sarath, Affirmative Action and Racial Diversity in U.S. Law Schools, 1980-2021, Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 23-50, NORTHWESTERN PRITZKER SCHOOL OF LAW (June 28, 2023), or

[x] Hon. Phyllis D. Thompson, Focus on Diversity: Why Diversity Must Matter to the Bar Admissions Community, THE BAR EXAMINER Vol.89, No. 1, 65-57 (Fall 2020),

[xi] Vivian Hunt, Sara Prince, Sundiatu Dixon-Fyle, Lareina Yee, Delivering through Diversity (2018), 8 (“Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on their executive teams were 21% more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. For ethnic/cultural diversity, top-quartile companies were 33% more likely to outperform on profitability.”).