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Conference & Speaker Program

Focuses on Student Engagement


The Initiative hosts prominent speakers from all branches of government, as well as prominent legal scholars and authors. These speakers and conference leaders are asked to engage with UK College of Law students. This focus on students enhances the stature of UK, the College of Law, and the student body that attends and so often returns to their communities to the benefit of our great Commonwealth. Past speakers include U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, and Chief Judge Roger L. Gregory, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit.

Spotlights Key Judicial Issues of the Day


The programs put a spotlight on sensitive and timely issues of importance to judges, justices, citizens and the fabric of our life in the United States. By focusing on relevant topics and providing programs of exceptional quality, the Heyburn Initiative is distinguished as a leading resource to improve the quality of the Judiciary and to inspire all participants to excellence. 

Events to Offer Uniquely Kentucky Experience​s

Every program includes a Uniquely Kentucky event designed to showcase Kentucky and enhance its stature in the eyes of participants. Past participants have attended a UK-Georgia basketball game at Rupp Arena and visited the historic Keeneland property for a private sunset dinner.

Hosts Federal Judiciary Training for New Judges

The Initiative has expanded its programming to include the Federal Judicial Center's official training program for newly-confirmed U.S. District and Circuit judges. This is the first time the FJC has placed its training program at a university campus, law school, or in association with an independent initiative.

The Heyburn Initiative in October 2018 hosted its first such training program. It was attended by 16 new U.S. District and Circuit judges, 10 sitting federal judges, and incorporated all the hallmark small-group interactions for students and a Uniquely Kentucky event. A similar program was held in 2019.


The Heyburn Initiative is proud to have been named part of the regular rotation for hosting these events in the future.

Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. Visits UK College of Law

On Feb. 1, 2017, the Initiative proudly launched its judicial conference and speaker series with Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. 


The Initiative's inaugural judicial conference explored the concept of judicial courage led by the Honorable Carl E. Stewart, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit; and University of Michigan Professor Pamela Brandwein. The Honorable Jeremy Fogel, then-Director of the Federal Judicial Center, moderated.

More than 550 judges, professors, law students, and members of the community attended the judicial conference. Additionally, a small group of UK Law students were chosen by lottery to have an intimate, hour-long conversation with the Chief Justice of the United States.

Federal judges and other judicial conference participants also fanned out into UK Law School to teach classes and/or engage in small-group conversations with students.

These interactions with students are core components of all Heyburn Initiative programs, intended to inspire both the judges and students.

The inaugural judicial conference received broad, national media attention, with more than 180 outlets in 36 states covering it.

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Heyburn Initiative Hosts Judicial Conversation with Justice Neil Gorsuch 

On Sept. 21, 2017, the Initiative hosted a conversation with Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch at the UK College of Law.

The second Heyburn Initiative event also featured a special introduction by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. 

The Honorable Gorsuch offered advice to UK Law students in an intimate, small-group setting, advising them to give back to the community and practice law in a way that they will be proud to look back upon.

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