Laird Kirkpatrick JD ’68, Cory Smith JD ’00, Craig Ashford JD ’11, Catherine Jedlicka JD ’13, Lauren Blaesing JD ’11 and Joel Sturm JD ‘12, are named recipients of the 2019 Oregon Law Awards.
Each honoree is recognized for their commitment to legal education, advancing justice for under-represented communities and for making significant career, leadership, or service contributions to their community, the School of Law, or the legal profession.
The recipients will be honored with awards on September 13, 2019 at the Oregon Law Awards Dinner and Reception as part ofthe annual Fall Alumni and Friends Kickoff.
The John E. Jaqua Distinguished Alumnus Award is presented to an alumnus whose personal and professional achievements and loyalty to Oregon Law exemplify the highest quality and ethical standards of the School of Law.
A former trial lawyer and federal prosecutor, Laird Kirkpatrick has taught evidence and evidence related courses at Oregon Law for more than 30 years.
Professor Kirkpatrick is the former Philip H. Knight Dean of the University of Oregon Law School (2002-2005), where he was also the Hershner Professor of Jurisprudence and later the Hollis Professor of Legal Procedure.
Professor Kirkpatrick has dedicated his career to educating future lawyers at Oregon Law and across the nation. He is the coauthor of Evidence Under the Rules (8th ed. Wolters Kluwer 2015), a coursebook adopted at more than 100 law schools.
In addition to his career in academia, Kirkpatrick is actively involved in the American Law Institute and American Bar Foundation and serves on the Evidence Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners which drafts and reviews the questions for the multi-state bar examination.
Kirkpatrick earned his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University, where he graduated cum laude. During his time as a student at Oregon Law he was Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review. He graduated as a member of the Order of the Coif.
The Oregon Law School’s Minoru Yasui Justice Award is given to an Oregon Law graduate, faculty member, or friend of Oregon Law whose commitment to advancing the cause of justice on behalf of underrepresented communities brings honor to the school. The award is named in recognition of Presidential Medal of Freedom winner and Oregon Law Alumnus, Minoru Yasui.
Cory Smith has dedicated almost twenty years of his career to protecting the rights of vulnerable populations and individual rights through policy and advocacy.
As the current Vice-President of Policy, Advocacy & Communications with Kids in Need of Defense (KIND) in Washington, DC he worked on behalf of unaccompanied children receive fair and appropriate treatment and due process while in the US immigration system.
His commitment to advancing the cause of justice was seen through his past work as Senior Policy Counsel for Humanity United. Smith led the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) coalition which led to the reauthorization of the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2013 and secured nearly $100 million dollars in federal funding to combat modern day slavery.
In his efforts to fight for underrepresented people, Smith led a national Coalition for Comprehensive Immigration Reform which was comprised of over 100 immigrant rights, labor, civil rights, faith-based, and community rights organizations. Through his leadership and the coalition’s efforts, the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act of 2006 (S.2611) was passed by in the U.S. Senate.
Smith, who is a member of the Washington State Bar, received his JD from Oregon Law and his BA from Florida State University.
Oregon Law School’s Outstanding Young Alumnus Award is awarded to an Oregon Law graduate who has made significant career, leadership, or service contributions to their community, the School of Law, or the legal profession. The award recognizes accomplishments within their first 10 years after graduation.
Craig Ashford previously worked for the Office of Chief Counsel for the Internal Revenue Service in Salt Lake City, Utah, and for Latham & Watkins in London, England, before joining the Office of the General Counsel at the University of Oregon in 2014.
His expertise is in tax law, contracts, real estate transactions, due diligence analysis on bonds, sales, and tax litigation.
He regularly guest lectures in Oregon Law classes, serves as the main coach for the law school Tax Moot Court team and recruits students for the General Counsel externship.
Whether a student is interested in pursuing a career in tax law or an externship at the General Counsel's office, Ashford is always available to support those interests by giving advice and assistance. His enthusiasm and energy are infectious.
Ashford earned a BA from Brigham Young University. He graduated first in his class from Oregon Law with honors from the Order of the Coif.
Lauren Blaesingis currently a Shareholder at Markowitz Herbold PC. As a trial lawyershe litigates cases involving partnership and commercial lease disputes, as well as financial elder abuse, business torts, breach of contract, and professional negligence claims.
Before joining Markowitz Herbold, Lauren served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable David Schuman JD ’84, of the Oregon Court of Appeals.
Since graduating, Blaesinghas remained involved in the Oregon Law community. She has served as a mentor for 1L students and she routinely organizes and hosts networking events at Markowitz Herbold for 3L students in the Portland Program.
Lauren is recognized as a Rising Star by Oregon Super Lawyers® magazine. She is the Board Vice President of St. Andrew Legal Clinic (SALC) and volunteers at SALC’s night clinic for low-income individuals and families. Lauren is a member of the Multnomah Bar Association, Oregon Association of Defense Counsel, and the Federal Bar Association.
Lauren graduated from Oregon Law as a member of the Order of the Coif. She received her BA from Barnard College.
Since graduating, Catherine Jedlicka has built a successful career. She has served as a judicial law clerk at the Lane County Circuit Court and as a Social Security Disability law clerk at the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.
Currently, Jedlicka is an Associate Attorney at Watkinson Laird Rubenstein, P.C.Her current practice focuses on estate planning and administration, including drafting wills and trusts, probate administration, and tax planning.
She has maintained a strong relationship with the School of Law, by assisting part-time in the Oregon Law Career Center where she helps students and alumni with cover letter and resume review. Jedlicka is also a mentor to current law students, using her varied legal experiences to answer questions about state and Federal clerkships and the private practice of law.
Jedlicka is the outgoing chair of Lane County Women Lawyers, and serves as mock trial coach for North Eugene High School, representing the law school to the community and building future generations of lawyers through the program.
She received her JD from Oregon Law and her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley.
Joel Sturm is a Trial Attorney at Thuemmel Uhle & Eder. Born and raised in Portland, Sturm became an attorney to advocate for a community he cares deeply about. His passion for helping people inspired him to use his experience, in the courtroom and representing a large insurance company, to aid injured people in maximizing their recoveries in a way other lawyers cannot. This passion drives him to get the best results in every case.
Sturm is an active member in the legal community serving in various positions within the Oregon New Lawyers Division promoting continuing legal education, and outreach to high schools in the community. He has been selected to speak at various continuing legal education courses for lawyers, presenting on topics such as e-filing, depositions, trial practice and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Sturm received his undergraduate degree from Gonzaga University and his JD from Oregon Law. Prior to starting his legal career, Sturm and his wife were volunteers at a school in Peru where they started a sports program for elementary age students.