Meet Seleste Wyse, Esq. – from Trial by Peers Teen Lawyer to Las Vegas Deputy City Attorney

Enjoy this profile piece about Las Vegas Deputy City Attorney Seleste Wyse written by the Las Vegas City Attorney Bryan K. Scott.
Seleste Wyse as a high school student upon being sworn in as a Peer Counselor in the Trial By Peers program by former Judge Frank Sullivan.

When I was recently interviewing a young lawyer for a Las Vegas Deputy City Attorney position in the City Attorney’s Office’s Criminal Division, I noticed the last line of her resume read “Trial by Peers, Teen Lawyer, September 2007–June 2011”. Although she was highly qualified for the position, I was even more impressed that her goal of becoming an attorney started at a very young age. I knew about the Trial by Peers Program because I had been the President of the Clark County Bar Association in 2005 and the President of the Clark County Law Foundation in 2006. If you do not know about the Trial by Peers Program (“TBP”)–it is an innovative diversion program used as an alternative for first time and some second time juvenile offenders. TBP was established in 1993 and provides students aged 12–17 with a civics and legal education, culminating in a “junior bar examination” that enables the trained students to be sworn in as “Peer Counselors.” I then started thinking about the thousands of students who had graduated from the TBP and who are now practicing attorneys. I sat down with Seleste for a Q&A to ask her about her experiences in the Trial by Peers Program and her motivations to becoming an attorney. Here is Seleste’s story:

Q: How did you first learn about TBP?
A: While I was in high school at Foothill High School, I stumbled upon a flyer in my school’s main office. I thought the program sounded interesting especially since it would involve public speaking.

Q: Why did a career as an attorney interest you?
A: While training to become a teen counselor for the program, we had the opportunity to attend various hearings at different courthouses. The first time I entered a courtroom I experienced this feeling as if this is where I was meant to be. I felt a sense of familiarity that inspired me to pursue a career in the field.

Q: Prior to participating in TBP, did you know what an attorney’s role was?
A: For the most part, I did not. I knew an attorney went to court, based on what I watched on television, but I had no actual clue what role an attorney played.

Q: Tell me a little about your TBP experience? What role did you play? 
A: Upon passing the “Bar Examination,” I was sworn in as a teen counselor. My role was to either prosecute or defend fellow teens who were charged with a crime. We made arguments regarding sentencing, and I also participated in trials.

Q: How did you stay motivated and keep your motivation to practice law from high school, through college on to law school? 
A: As a goal oriented individual, once I set my sights on something, I am determined to achieve that goal. Becoming an attorney was no exception. I knew I needed to work hard and stay on track in order to succeed.

Q: Was law school what you anticipated? 
A: Since I was the first person in my family to attend law school, I honestly did not know what to expect. Despite only knowing that I needed to attend law school to become an attorney, I enjoyed my time and appreciated the opportunities to be involved with the community that Boyd presented.

Q: What was your first experience as an attorney?
A: My very first experience was handling arraignments while I was an Appellate Law Clerk for the Clark County District Attorney’s office.

Q: Was your experience in TBP similar to actual practice?
A: Yes, it has been, especially since I decided to pursue a career in criminal law. Just like my role as a teen counselor in Trial by Peers, I am still serving my community as a prosecutor.

Q: Would you suggest that students interested in law participate in TBP? 
A: Yes, absolutely! The program does a fantastic job of introducing the legal system to students. Even if one did not have an interest in law, I would still recommend the program as it provides other valuable skills including public speaking.

Bryan K. Scott

Q: Any suggestions for improving TBP based on your experience. 
A: Personally no. While I was a participant, I appreciated the days/times that we met, especially given my parents’ work schedules. I hope students continue to consider the program and I look forward to volunteering one day.

Thank you, Seleste.

About the authors

Bryan K. Scott is the City Attorney for the City of Las Vegas and has been practicing Law in Las Vegas for 32 years.

Seleste Wyse is a Deputy City Attorney for the City of Las Vegas- Criminal Division. She earned her J.D. from the William S. Boyd School of Law and has been barred in the State of Nevada since 2018.

About this article: This article was originally published in the “Membership Matters” issue of Communiqué, the official publication of the Clark County Bar Association, (June/July. 2023). See https://clarkcountybar.org/member-benefits/communique-2023/communique-june-july-2023/.

© 2023 Clark County Bar Association (CCBA). All rights reserved. No reproduction of any portion of this issue is allowed without written permission from the publisher. Editorial policy available upon request.

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