University of Idaho - I Banner
students walk on University of Idaho campus

Visit U of I

Learn about the many reasons the University of Idaho could be a perfect fit for you. Schedule Your Visit

Parents on campus during orientation

Homecoming Oct. 14 - 21

Join other Vandal families for a week of celebration and Vandal traditions. View Calendar

campus full of students

U of I Retirees Association

UIRA has a membership of nearly 500 from every part of the University. Learn More

Students participate in the TRX wellness class at the Student Recreation Center

Campus Recreation

Gym memberships and wellness class passes are available for faculty, staff and their spouses. Get Healthy

College of Law

Physical Address:
Menard 101
711 S. Rayburn Drive

Mailing Address:
College of Law
University of Idaho
111 Perimeter Drive MS 2321
Moscow, ID 11111-2321

Main Office: 111-111-2255
Admissions: 111-111-2300
Legal Clinic: 111-111-6541
Office of the Dean: 111-111-4977

Administration Office Fax: 111-111-5708
Office of the Dean Fax: 111-111-0979

Fax: 111-111-5709

Email: [email protected]

Physical Address:
514 W Jefferson Street
Boise, ID 83720

Mailing Address:
College of Law
University of Idaho
P.O. Box 83720-0051
Boise, ID 83720-0051

Phone: 111-364-4560

Fax: 111-334-2176

Email: [email protected]

A Passion for Law and People

College of Law graduate putting her degree to use helping people in need access legal resources.

In 2011, Jessalyn Hopkin was working as a psychosocial rehabilitation worker for people with mental illnesses.

One day, while working with a 9-year-old boy, he pulled out a binder and began showing her all of the foster homes he had lived in: Eight families in five years. The brokenness of the foster care system hit her hard.

“I could work with these kids my entire life, but I couldn’t fix the systematic problems that put kids in these situations,” she said. “It was the hardest work I’ve ever done.”

Hopkin, who earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Idaho in 2010, returned to U of I to pursue her Juris Doctor, and to change the system from the inside. She is set to graduate from the College of Law in May 2018.

Changing the Differences

After finishing her first year of law school in Moscow in 2016, Hopkin and her young son moved to Boise.

“Boise was a better option because my family is close and my son’s father is in Pocatello, so it just makes everything easier,” she said. “My professors here have been so understanding about me bringing my son to class or missing class when he’s sick, if needed.”

Living in the state capital also offered Hopkin the opportunity to explore the legal field through several internships. Hopkin has been a legal intern for the Idaho State Bar and the Currently, Hopkin works at the

“I want to be a public defense attorney for a few years and then go into law making or politics to change the way Idaho deals with people in the criminal justice system,” she said. “It makes sense for me to be closer to the capital and the legislature.”

While learning about the law, Hopkin said she noticed how differently the criminal justice system treats people.

“If you need a public defender, you are probably poor, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get what is constitutionally afforded to you,” she said.

Jessalyn Hopkin
Jessalyn Hopkin

‘An Easy Solution’

During the 2018 legislative session, Hopkin and a classmate have been working to pass a law that would require all Idaho law enforcement agencies to preserve evidence found at a crime scene for the length of the sentence of the convicted person.

“We imprison innocent people all the time,” she said. “As technology gets better, our ability to test DNA gets better and we need that evidence to test DNA to ensure the right person is in prison.”

Hopkin’s research indicates DNA evidence is already being preserved. She said she is working with a senator and a representative who have agreed to introduce the bill next year.

“We want to make it a law and provide structure so the police can better preserve evidence,” she said. “When I started law school and learning about our justice system, I realized how many problems they are. This is an easy solution to ensure people aren’t punished for a crime they didn’t commit.”

Learning to Communicate

Hopkin was inspired to write the bill through her volunteer internship with the Idaho Innocence Project.

“It has been so rewarding working for an organization that helps people who are at the end of their rope,” she said. “We take cases of people who are in prison for life, because they have fewer options than someone on death row.”

Hopkin started volunteering with the Idaho Trial Lawyers Street Law Clinic in May 2016. The bi-monthly event gives the public a chance to bring legal questions to attorneys. It helped her learn how to communicate with people.

“In law school, there aren’t many classes that teach you how to be an attorney, they teach you about the law, so these experiences helped me learn the nuance of being an attorney,” she said. “I know how to sit down with a client and get the information I need to assess what their legal issues.”

She also volunteered for the ACLU of Idaho in 2017.

In February, Hopkin was named to the NationalJurist Top 20 Law Students, a national list of 20 law students across the country.

“Law school is hard. It’s very competitive and it’s easy to feel like nothing you do is right or good enough,” she said. “But this showed me that you can work hard and you can make a difference. It was a huge surprise but I’m so grateful.”

Hopkin plans to find a job in Pocatello and continue volunteering with the Idaho Innocence Project after commencement.

“In all my experiences, I’ve learned something new every single day, and it’s helpful to be able to draw from the strong background I learned in my classes at U of I.”

 

A post shared by (@uidaholaw) on

Article by Tess Fox, University Communications & Marketing

Published in April 2018.

College of Law

Physical Address:
Menard 101
711 S. Rayburn Drive

Mailing Address:
College of Law
University of Idaho
111 Perimeter Drive MS 2321
Moscow, ID 11111-2321

Main Office: 111-111-2255
Admissions: 111-111-2300
Legal Clinic: 111-111-6541
Office of the Dean: 111-111-4977

Administration Office Fax: 111-111-5708
Office of the Dean Fax: 111-111-0979

Fax: 111-111-5709

Email: [email protected]

Physical Address:
514 W Jefferson Street
Boise, ID 83720

Mailing Address:
College of Law
University of Idaho
P.O. Box 83720-0051
Boise, ID 83720-0051

Phone: 111-364-4560

Fax: 111-334-2176

Email: [email protected]