“He believed that lawyers should use their skills to make the world more fair, more equal, more just.”
In 1970, Kenney Hegland, a public interest lawyer from California joined the faculty at University of Arizona Law. He was one of two clinicians at the law school, tasked with creating clinics.
“The law school made a perfect choice in hiring Kenney with that wide-open mission. He was a person filled with ideas. But I learned quickly that Kenney was not just an idea person. When he thought of something, he never sat on it but immediately started to work out the details and do what was needed to make the idea a reality,” wrote Professor Emeritus Andy Silverman (‘69), who was hired as a clinician at the same time as Hegland.
His first of many contributions to the college began with the creation of the Neighborhood Law Office (NLO), established to provide legal services to low-income clients. NLO sought to supplement the work being done by Southern Arizona Legal Aid by providing adjusted evening hours so people who could not access pro bono legal services during the day could attend.
“From the beginning, the NLO was swamped with clients and cases. Law students loved the experience, clients appreciated the help and Kenney was off and running with implementing his first idea, but clearly not his last, at the law school,” said Silverman.
For over five decades, Hegland helped to shape University of Arizona Law and the Arizona legal community through experiential courses that taught law in Juvenile Detention Centers, law camps for students in high school, Law & Literature class and clinics that continue to provide services to the community to this day, like the Tucson Veterans Treatment Court and the Veterans Clinic.
Professor Paul Bennett recalls casually mentioning to Hegland how two law students, both veterans, wanted to do something for others who had served.
“In an instant, Kenney and [his wife] Barbara are helping Judge Pollard create the Tucson Veterans Treatment Court. With a few shortcuts, those students were helping vets in court, and we had a Vet Clinic. Shortcuts. As Kenney would say, "To do a great right, do a little wrong,” wrote Bennett.
Barbara Sattler (‘81), Hegland’s wife, who was a judge during the time he began to work on Tucson Veterans Treatment Court and the Vet Clinic, explained how some people had doubts about the clinics.
“He thought outside of the box,” said Sattler. “Kenney would always ignore people who would say no. If he wanted to do something, he would just go ahead and keep trying and eventually he would make it happen.”
Professor Emerita Barbara Atwood (‘76) met Hegland in the 1970’s when he was her professor during her time as a student at University of Arizona Law. She would later co-teach Law & Literature and Law & Humanities classes with him after joining the faculty in 1986. “Kenney was the most creative person I have ever known,” said Atwood. “In addition to academic articles, he wrote books about law for law students, books about law for practitioners, books about law for ordinary people (non-lawyers), and novels. He made films to help young people choose the right path for themselves in life, and films for older people to help them deal with end-of-life issues.”
A prolific writer, Hegland continued to write after retiring from teaching at the University of Arizona, writing about elder law and even an award-winning novel, “Law School Chronicles.”
“One time when we returned from vacation, he said he was bored, so I told him to write a novel. He wrote a draft in three months and then he won an award for it. Many people write for their entire career and never win one. He won one right away,” shared Sattler. “He loved to write; he really did.”
His second novel, “Perez and O'Grady, Lawyers”, was co-written with his wife and published in November of 2020.
The Kenney F. Hegland Scholarship
Following Hegland’s passing in May of 2020, his wife worked with family, friends, and colleagues to establish the Kenney F. Hegland Scholarship in his memory.
The scholarship, awarded to full-time JD students with an interest in practicing public interest law, was awarded in 2022-23 to first-year law student Daniel Macdonald.
“I am very grateful for the opportunities that the Hegland Scholarship has provided me,” said Macdonald. "I'm still deciding exactly what kind of law I want to practice, but I know I want it to be something that allows me to work with people. I want to be able to help others navigate their way through their interactions with the law.”
“Kenney felt that public interest careers were very important and was committed to it. We wanted to make sure that students that were interested in pursuing public interest law had the opportunity to do so,” said Sattler.
“He was always passionate about justice -- which made him an extraordinary teacher. He believed that lawyers should use their skills to make the world more fair, more equal, more just,” said Atwood.
AND THAT'S ALL FOLKS