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UI law school honors 3 alumni

BY OLIVIA MORAN | MARCH 5, 2009 7:29 AM

Robert Youle rarely sleeps.

He juggles dozens of cases at his law firm in Colorado while volunteering daily for the American Cancer Society — earning him one of three alumni awards presented by the UI College of Law this year for the first time in the school’s history.

The law school recently announced Youle as the winner of the Alumni Service Award, John Wicks as the Alumni Achievement Award winner, and the late Behnaz Soulati as the Recent Alumni Award recipient.

“It’s a huge honor and a humbling experience,” Youle said.

The UI College of Law announced the Alumni Awards Program late last year to recognize more UI law graduates. Law alumni were only previously recognized if they won an award through the general university alumni program.

The law school will hold a banquet for the winners later this year.

Youle, who graduated from the UI College of Law in 1976, began practicing at a law firm in Chicago before moving to Denver in 1978 and working for the Sherman and Howard law firm, his current work place. But Youle said what likely earned him the award is his work for the American Cancer Society for the past 20 years.

“When I was only two years out of law school, I was diagnosed with terminal cancer and almost didn’t survive it, but was lucky to get into a research program that was funded by the American Cancer Society,” he said. “I feel like I owe something back.”

Youle has also been listed as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” for the past 11 years.

John Wicks, recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award who graduated in 1964, joined the staff of attorneys at the Dorsey and Whitney law firm in Minneapolis, Minn., in 1966. He retired from the same firm in 2006.

Wicks, who specialized in tax law, said he introduced the idea of branch offices. Now, Dorsey and Whitney is located in more than a dozen offices across the U.S., in addition to offices in Hong Kong, London, Sydney, among other locations.

The Iowa City native spent 14 years on the Iowa Law School Foundation Board.

The law school is also recognizing 1999 College of Law graduate Behnaz Soulati, who died at age 38 in 2008 after fighting breast cancer since 2003.

Soulati was most known for her pro bono work, dedicating hours to benefit women and help them during financial situations, according to an article on the Davis Brown Law Firm website.

After her death, she was honored with the Polk County Bar Association Volunteer Lawyers Project 2008 Pro Bono Award and was set to receive the Iowa State Bar Association Rollie Grefe Public Service Award, announced about a week before she died.

Deb Tharnish, an attorney with the Davis Brown Law Firm in Des Moines, said Soulati was “unrelentingly optimistic” about things, despite challenges in her life. A bomb blinded Soulati her senior year of high school while growing up in Iran.

“She had a special place in her heart for people who were in need,” Tharnish said. “She really had the attitude that she didn’t ever give up about things.”


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