Watson replaces McCoy as UEA General Counsel


Some have called it the end of an era.

Michael McCoy retired in April 2011 after a legal career that spanned four decades, including 35 years working with the UEA and 24 years as the full-time UEA general counsel.

“It has been a truly great experience to represent and advance the cause of public education,” said McCoy as he addressed the 2011 UEA House of Delegates. “It’s been satisfying and rewarding to me personally to have worked with a great group of people representing the underdog against the rich and powerful. I was raised to believe in the rights of people and a strong system of public education.”

McCoy served as general counsel and director of teacher rights for the Utah Education Association since 1987. In that position he reviewed and investigated disciplinary actions taken against educators. He represented educators in administrative hearings before school boards and the Utah Professional Practices Advisory Commission and in state and federal district courts.

Prior to his full-time employment with the UEA, McCoy maintained a private law practice specializing in administrative and public sector and labor law. He also served as general counsel to the Utah League of Cities and Towns and legal counsel to Educators Mutual Insurance Association.

McCoy received a bachelor’s degree in history and political science in 1966 and a J.D in 1969, both from the University of Utah. He contributed to the drafting of many Utah laws and authored numerous publications and professional articles.

In his parting comments, McCoy left delegates at the House with a challenge: “You, the leaders of the Utah Education Association, and our colleagues in the National Education Association know what we are fighting for. It is not for ourselves, but to our commitment and belief that public schools are important to the success of our country and our future as a nation. We must continue that fight against whatever adversity our foes advance, for our survival depends on it.”

The UEA's new legal counsel is Tracey M. Watson. Originally born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Watson graduated in 2003 from the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. She says she “enjoyed a rather circuitous path to her practice of law,” including professional experience in higher education administration and teaching, vocational school admissions, restaurant management and coaching intercollegiate women’s basketball.

Watson began her legal practice as a member of Clawson & Falk, LLC and after three years, opened a solo practice focused on family and employment law. She earned a master’s in exercise and sport science from the University of Utah and a bachelor’s in sociology from Skidmore College, N.Y.

In 2005 and again in 2008, Watson was named to the Utah Business Legal Elite in the area of employment law. She also serves on the Board of Utah Legal Services, Equality Utah's legal panel, and as an adjunct faculty member for the University of Utah College of Health. She is a member of the Women Lawyers of Utah and previously served on its board.

As UEA general counsel, Watson will serve as corporate counsel for the UEA and affiliated UniServ units in addition to representing UEA members in disciplinary and termination proceedings.

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