Tristan Colyar – business and legal smarts


Tristan Colyar
It was the summer before he would start classes at the 150-year-old law school in Ann Arbor, Mich., when hometown boy Tristan Colyar received a call from his hometown law school at Arizona State University.
We want you, he was told.

“I was committed to Michigan Law, until the admissions office called and offered me a bigger scholarship,” said Tristan, who grew up in Phoenix. “ASU was always a top choice for me because Phoenix is where I want to have my career, and there was no better place for me to go to law school. There are so many opportunities to be connected in the Phoenix market that, for me, leaving and trying to come back just wouldn’t have given me a leg up in the competition.”

Tristan was also very familiar with the law school, having taken two law school classes, Private Property and Real Estate & Business Valuation, as an undergraduate. He enrolled in the classes through Project Excellence, a partnership between ASU’s Barrett, The Honors College and the College of Law.

“The opportunity to really get my feet wet in substantive law school courses here helped solidify both my decision to attend law school and my decision to ultimately come to ASU,” he said.

And there is this: by the time Tristan graduates from the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in May 2014, he will have been awarded three years of full tuition merit scholarships totaling nearly $77,000.

But you can’t put a price tag on the quality of education he and others are receiving at ASU, he said.

“There are smaller classes, and so you get to know your classmates better than you would otherwise,” Tristan said. “And I had opportunities in the Innovation Advancement Program that I wouldn’t have had in most other places, as well as a large number of clinical and externship opportunities in government, federal courts and elsewhere to choose from. I have been thrilled with my choice to come to law school here.”

Tristan found his first year of law school intellectually stimulating and enjoyable, despite spending more time at the law school than at home. He was a 1L summer associate at the law firm of Squire Sanders, where he gained real-world attorney experience. He researched, analyzed and briefed issues for the firm’s corporate, litigation and environmental practice groups, drafted corporate board resolutions, and reviewed real estate closing documents as buyer’s counsel and a public finance preliminary official statement as underwriter’s counsel.

Tristan was an extern for U.S. District Court Judge James Teilborg during the fall semester of his second year of law school. “It was a big time commitment, but it was the best writing experience I’ve gotten in law school,” he said. “I was able to do substantive work and drafted several opinions. Both Judge Teilborg and the clerks were fantastic at allowing me to assume as much responsibility as I felt comfortable with while also giving me very constructive feedback on my work. It made me a much better writer.”

In addition to working in the Innovation Advancement Legal Clinic, he has also been a Staff Writer for the Arizona State Law Journal, Treasurer for the Corporate and Business Law Society, and a Law Ambassador to incoming and prospective students.

“I feel like it’s been a very well-rounded experience for me – the coursework, government experience, actual client work, and exposure to corporate law,” Tristan said.

Tristan graduated, summa cum laude, from ASU in 2010 with a degree in economics from the W. P. Carey School of Business. He received the Outstanding Graduating Senior Award from the Economics Department and was a finalist for the W. P. Carey School’s Outstanding Graduating Senior Award. A soccer player since age 5 and a member of the ASU men’s soccer team, Tristan’s thesis for Barrett, The Honors College, was on sustainable business models for the expansion of Division 1 collegiate sports.

As an undergraduate, Tristan spent five months as a legislative intern in the office of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. As an integral member of the governor’s team, he tracked more than 1,400 bills moving through the Legislature, briefed her and her staff on legislation, made recommendations for favorable or unfavorable consideration of bills crossing her desk, and worked on special projects for the governor’s advisory staff.

Following that experience, Tristan spent the summer of 2010 as a business intern in the Arizona Commerce Authority, where he provided research on Arizona companies to support business outreach and federal grant writing.

“Economics explains a lot of how the world works,” he said. “I see law as the other main force – together they can be used to explain society and why people do what they do.”

Tristan is dividing his time this summer between the law firms of Squire Sanders in Phoenix and Latham & Watkins in Washington, D.C., where he will continue to build his resume in corporate and private equity work. Continuing the well-rounded theme that has become a hallmark of Tristan’s legal education, he intends to study in Italy this fall.

The future looks bright for this hometown boy.

“We have so many externship opportunities, advantages in clerking for local judges, and chances to network and become embedded in the Phoenix legal community,” he said. “Law firms know what they are getting in an ASU law graduate.