image description

His call to arms

Law school graduate makes a difference by staying local

No stranger to juggling multiple pursuits at once, Colin Nash attended law school while working at a law firm, fulfilling externships, running for state office, providing pro bono services, and relaunching a vital legal organization on campus. A husband and father of two young children, Colin did find time to start a garden and take up beekeeping after he completed finals. 

Call to Action

The 2016 presidential election was held during Colin’s first semester at Concordia and sparked his political fire. “President Trump’s election served as my call to arms,” said Colin. “I needed a forum to counter an administration I suspected may seek to weaken human rights and the rule of law.” 

The day after the election, Colin contacted the American Constitution Society (ACS)—the nation’s leading progressive legal organization—to restart Concordia’s student chapter. Through his participation in ACS, Colin attended conferences at Duke University and in Washington, D.C. and Concordia’s chapter began hosting speakers, such as the late former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus and former state senator and LGBT rights activist Nicole LeFavour.

As he grew more politically aware, Colin began to see the truth in the adage “all politics is local” most often affiliated with the late Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill Jr. 

“Although my motivation to become more involved in politics was driven by my concern over national politics, ACS showed me that I could have the biggest influence by becoming more engaged at a local level,” said Colin. 

And that’s what he did. 

House Run 

Through Concordia’s mentorship program, Colin partnered with Concordia Law alumnus and Idaho State Representative John McCrostie.  This relationship led to Colin securing an externship with the Idaho House of Representatives Minority Caucus for the 2018 legislative session. 

While working for Representative McCrostie, another legislator in Colin’s district announced his retirement prompting Colin to run for the open seat. While Colin said he wouldn’t encourage others to run for office while in law school he saw it as a challenge and opportunity. “Not knowing when I might get another shot, I threw my hat in the ring,” said Colin. “I worked my tail off, but ultimately came up short, finishing a close second in a five-person race.” 

Legislative Journey 

During the 2019 legislative session, Colin served as an extern for Senator Grant Burgoyne. He was charged with doing research and drafting legislation. In a twist of fate during the session, Colin was asked to fill-in for Representative McCrostie when he needed to take bereavement leave. “This was an incredible experience,” said Colin of being a temporary state representative. 

During his tenure, several of the bills he previously worked on came through his committees and to the floor. One bill proposed a minimum marriage age which currently doesn’t exist in Idaho. “Protecting children was a tenet of my campaign, because of Idaho’s weak record on the issue.”  Unfortunately, the bill died on the floor but brought national media attention to the issue.

Colin was also compelled to fight against Senate Bill 1159 which would have made it significantly more difficult for Idahoans to place an initiative or referendum on the ballot. In fact, Colin explained that the bill would have made the requirements more stringent than any in the country. 

Through diligently fact checking certain claims being made by sponsors of the bill, Colin found weaknesses. And, his research revealed a “fatal flaw” in the legality of the opinion that the bill was based on. “I prepared a report of my findings, shared with a few legislators and soon I was swept up into the raucous surrounding the bill,” said Colin. He testified in committed about his findings, worked with the Governor’s office to lobby for a veto, and participated in local media interviews. 

After the bill passed, it was sent to the governor. “To my joy, he issued his only veto of the legislative session, acknowledging the legal problems I had raised in my analysis, preserving the right to initiate laws by ballot in Idaho.” “Being able to play a role in its defeat was tremendously rewarding for me personally and professionally,” concluded Colin.

The Competitive Edge

Born in Louisville, Kentucky and raised in Southern Indiana, Colin has achieved his childhood dream of becoming a lawyer. He has been offered an associate position with the estate planning firm he has worked for since starting at Concordia and eventually plans to start his own practice. 

Colin said Concordia’s class schedule was accommodating for students who choose to work while attending law school. He credits Concordia’s experiential learning program for helping him build a professional network and gaining political and government experience that will help advance his career pursuits in law and politics.

Addressing the benefits of experiential learning Colin said, “First, it helped me get an idea of what I wanted to do professionally. I’ve always had an interest in being a legislator and working there confirmed my interests.”

“Secondly, I think it’s difficult to overstate the value that legal experience adds in the job market,” he said. “Externships give students that competitive edge against others who may be similarly credentialed but lack any practical experience.” 

Learn more about Concordia Law School’s experiential learning programs, including externships.