Heather Spielmaker to lead Career Services Office at KU Law

Photo by Margaret Hair

Heather Spielmaker recently joined the University of Kansas School of Law as the assistant dean for career services. Working closely with her new colleagues Stacey Blakeman and Amanda Chesbrough, she looks forward to bringing students the highest level of career support from their first day of law school and throughout their careers.

It took 14 years, but Spielmaker graduated with honors from Michigan State University as a non-traditional student and single mother. After earning her undergraduate degree, she next tried public administration courses before deciding upon law school. She worked full-time as the Director of the Center for Ethics, Service, and Professionalism at Western Michigan University Cooley Law School while earning her law degree through night and weekend courses. She graduated from WMU Cooley magna cum laude.

“I recall being very excited to have finished so quickly. Law school only took 4.5 years,” Spiemaker joked.

While working for WMU Cooley, Spielmaker developed and administered one of the largest military pro bono programs in the country, for which she received the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Legion of Merit award. The program provided over $4 million in pro bono legal services for deploying and returning troops.

Before returning to law school administration, Spielmaker worked in both large and small firm settings in Lansing, Michigan and Cleveland, Ohio. However, she realized that higher education was her calling. She served as the assistant dean for career services at the West Virginia University College of Law for three years, where she doubled the size of their on-campus interview program and added new features including speed mock interviews, small firm OCIs and a title research certification program. 

“I am looking forward to working with students to find innovative ways to meet the unique career goals of the KU Law student body,” Spielmaker said.

Spielmaker has a son, Damian, who is serving in the military, and a daughter, Kennedy. She also has two sisters and 10 nieces and nephews in Michigan. She enjoys visiting them all and traveling the world. She is a certified scuba diver and recently traveled to Iceland, Thailand and Cozumel. She hopes to get to Scotland and the South Pacific soon.

DDLC: Fall semester in review

Buttons, which are available through KU Libraries, depict preferred gender pronouns. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

Last fall, the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council (DDLC) received support from the students, staff and faculty within Green Hall, as well as the greater legal community for a number of events and initiatives. The DDLC held three brown bag lunch forums in collaboration with the Faculty and Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion. These lunches strive to promote engagement in deeper conversations regarding diversity and inclusion. Additionally, the DDLC circulated two initiatives allowing the community to take personal action towards creating a more inclusive environment in Green Hall.

The first brown bag lunch asked for input on what topics the Green Hall community would like to discuss at the events, as well as a discussion on how to reach a broader audience in Green Hall, to actively engage in conversations about diversity and inclusion. The second brown bag lunch discussion, facilitated by the Faculty and Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion member Shawn Watts, took a deeper dive into how comfort – or lack thereof – plays a role in conversations about diversity and inclusion. This discussion continued to focus on ways to engage those who are consistently absent from such conversations and envisioned ways these conversations could eventually lead to action and change within Green Hall. Our final brown bag lunch of the semester was facilitated by University Ombuds Dr. D. A. Graham, which focused on empathetic communication and developing skills for engaging in difficult conversations, such as those around diversity and inclusion.

In addition to these lunches, the DDLC circulated initiatives encouraging students to support a more diverse and inclusive community within Green Hall. First, the Diversity Hiring Initiative letter was shared with students allowing them to express their support for diverse faculty hires by signing the letter, which was then sent to the Faculty Appointments Committee. The letter encouraged the committee, and faculty as a whole, to continue improving diversity within Green Hall during the recent round of faculty hires that was being made last fall. The initiative received the support of over a third of the students in Green Hall as a result of the efforts made by the DDLC and diverse student organizations. Second, the DDLC began working with the administration and members of the Faculty and Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion to educate all faculty, staff and students on pronoun awareness and ways the Green Hall community can normalize inclusive pronoun use. The DDLC and diverse student organizations encouraged students, faculty and staff to place their pronouns in their e-mail signature blocks. This simple, yet effective action, normalizes pronoun usage and helps eliminate appearance-based assumptions about a person’s pronouns that perpetuate harmful gender stereotypes.

The Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council is thrilled with the level of community engagement accomplished in the fall semester. It could not have been accomplished without the assistance of the Faculty and Staff Committee on Diversity & Inclusion, diverse student organizations, or the Green Hall community at large. We thank you for your effort and support and look forward to more successful engagement in the spring semester!

— By Aidan Graybill, a 2L from Lincoln, Nebraska and member of the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council

40 years of Rice Scholars

The first class of Rice Scholars started classes at KU Law in fall 1979. This fall, the school welcomed the 200th Rice Scholar to Green Hall.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, the Rice Scholarship provides full tuition to five students in each entering class. Professor Emeritus John Peck, L’74, describes the program as “the single most important tool we have in attracting top Kansas residents to the law school.”

Peck chaired the Rice Scholarship selection committee until his retirement in July. He estimates having conducted close to 1,000 interviews with prospective Rice Scholars. The selection committee looks for students who show promise in academics, leadership and contributions to the legal profession, Peck said.

David Seely, L’82, was in the first class of Rice Scholars. The program was a deciding factor in choosing to attend KU Law, Seely said. He is an attorney at Fleeson, Gooing, Coulson & Kitch in Wichita.

“I believe the program continues to impact the law school in a positive way by encouraging promising Kansas students to stay in Kansas for law school, rather than pursuing opportunities elsewhere,” Seely said.

Since 1979, 201 Kansans have become Rice Scholars. Peck keeps track of Rice Scholar achievements. According to Peck’s records, nearly half of past scholars graduated in the top 10% of the class. More than half have served on KU Law’s student publications. Several have received faculty awards at graduation or won moot court competitions. Three graduates have clerked for the U.S. Supreme Court.

“By encouraging leadership and service, we have hopefully helped to inculcate and promote these qualities in our Rice Scholars,” Peck said. “I believe most Rice scholars continue to make valuable contributions to the bar and the community at large.”

Rice alumni have gone on to become law firm partners, judges, law professors, and state attorneys general and Supreme Court justices.

Beyond the financial benefits of a full-tuition scholarship, Rice Scholars have the chance to interact with successful attorneys and judges who are program alumni. Brad Finkeldei, L’99, said those types of interactions help students in the classroom and after graduation. Finkeldei was a Rice Scholar and has served on the Rice Foundation board of trustees since 2017. He’s a partner with Stevens & Brand law firm in Lawrence.

“The Rice Scholarship is vital to KU Law because it keeps in Kansas highly successful students who would otherwise go to law school out of state and likely end up practicing out of state,” Finkeldei said. “By keeping those students in Kansas, it not only helps the quality of the law school. It also keeps great lawyers practicing in the state.”

Nearly half of the Rice Scholar alumni group practices law or works in Kansas. Another 20% are in Kansas City.

The Rice Scholarships were established through a gift from the Ethel and Raymond F. Rice Foundation. A 1908 graduate of the KU School of Law, Raymond Rice served as a member of the KU Law faculty from 1913 to 1926 and practiced law in Lawrence. Rice established the Ethel and Raymond F. Rice Foundation to benefit the Lawrence community following his wife’s death in 1971.

— By Margaret Hair

This story originally appeared in KU Law’s 2019 Annual Report.

International Degree Programs: Students from around the world

Degree programs aimed at international students produce scholars, teachers

Since KU Law’s Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) program launched in 2007, 34 students from 17 countries have earned the terminal degree in law. Designed for students interested in deep legal research and writing, and a career as a legal scholar or a senior public official, the program is one of three degrees at the law school aimed at international students.

KU Law also offers a Two-Year J.D. for overseas students who already hold a foreign law degree, and a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in American Legal Studies.

S.J.D. candidates go on to careers in law practice, government and academia. Graduates of the S.J.D. program have taken positions at universities across Asia, Africa and North America, in countries including China, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Japan and the United States. Many have taken government positions, among them a deputy commissioner to Bangladesh’s Ministry of Finance and a legal advisor for Saudi Arabia’s National Anti-Corruption Commission.

“Many of our international students, particularly our S.J.D. graduates, go on to contribute to the advancement of the international rule of law and the enhancement of legal education overseas,” said Virginia Harper Ho, associate dean for international and comparative law.

— By Margaret Hair

This story originally appeared in the fall 2019 issue of the KU Law magazine.

Protecting human health, the environment

Ava Azad, L’14, is pictured in front of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s headquarters. Photo courtesy of Ava Azad.

Ava Azad ensures environmental compliance, protection through role at EPA

Ava Azad’s interest in the environmental field sparked while she was in high school. After earning an undergraduate degree in environmental studies from KU, she decided to continue her studies at KU Law in order to, “have the most impact within the environmental field.”

“I saw that law and policy really governed what can and cannot be done. So, I decided to go to law school,” Azad said. “I was drawn to law and policy. Government was a really good fit for that.”

Azad, L’14, is an attorney-advisor at the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in Washington, D.C. At the EPA, Azad works in the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance and ensures that federal agencies are in compliance with the law.

As an attorney-advisor, Azad works to implement laws; make policy decisions; and pass guidance and policy to inform the choices made regarding federal and environmental laws.

Azad said that working with government and environmental issues is complicated because there are a lot of moving parts. She enjoys getting to put the pieces together and ensuring that laws are being followed as effectively and efficiently as possible.

“We ensure that the government is doing what it can to help protect people,” Azad said. “Everything that we do that goes into that is very much rewarding.”

The scope of the EPA is domestic, but the federal agency has international reach. The organization works with both domestic and international partners to address policy challenges and reduce negative environmental impacts around the globe.

“I am touched by the importance of needing to protect the environment and non-human animals. Humans use resources that are beneficial to us. Other animals don’t get to enjoy the same benefits from our use,” Azad said. “It’s important to make sure that we’re responsible and thoughtful about our actions.”

While Azad was a student at KU Law, she earned the Environment, Energy, and Natural Resources Law Certificate and was a member of the school’s Environmental Law Society. Through KU Law’s curriculum, she was prepared to think analytically, solve problems, spot issues and conduct research. Azad said these skills learned from law classes and experiences prepared her well for her career.

“In particular for environmental and natural resources matters, Professor Uma Outka was instrumental in my learning,” Azad said. “I took as many of her environmental and energy law classes as I could. She was an amazing professor and mentor.”

Azad was a research assistant for Professor Andrew Torrance during her time at Green Hall. Torrance teaches and conducts research in biotechnology law, biodiversity law and biolaw, among other topics.

“I got to explore some ethical considerations in relation to the extinction of environmental matters. That all prepared me really well to go into the environmental field,” Azad said.

Azad advises law students who are interested in the environmental field to not limit themselves to any specific type of environmental law.

“There are all sorts of opportunities out there that will get you experience working in environmental law,” she said. “You never know when you might find a position that’s an amazing fit for you.”

— By Ashley Golledge

Hazel Anderson: Librarian extraordinaire

The late Hazel Anderson, L’45, was KU Law’s first full-time librarian.

If you’ve been on the main floor of the library and stopped to peruse the Kansas City Star or the Lawrence Journal-World, you may have wondered about the clock that hangs above the couch and the picture of the woman underneath it. The woman is Hazel Anderson, and she was the first full-time librarian at KU Law.

When classes began at “Old” Green Hall (now called Lippincott Hall) in the fall of 1905, the building had a library. Any staff were listed as “attendants” who may have just been there to monitor the reading room and check books in and out. Reports indicate that the library’s collection grew slowly in the first years of the 20th century, but it wasn’t until a full-time librarian came on board that the law library really blossomed and grew to contain a significant research collection. Hazel Anderson was hired in 1936 and was known as “Andy” to colleagues and students at the law school. While working full- time, she also obtained her LL.B. (Juris Doctor) at KU in 1945.

In the late 1940s, the library was running out of space. Books were kept in classrooms, in faculty offices, in the courtroom and stored in boxes. Andy was very adept at persuading law school deans to increase the budget for the library. Not only was there an increase in the budget, but plans were made for an expansion to accommodate the significant growth of the library’s collection. Completed in 1953, the addition had seven floors of stacks, study carrels and an office for Andy. The library was officially designated the Burdick Memorial Law Library in 1954 in honor of Dr. William L. Burdick.

Even after the addition was built and the library collection continued to grow, Andy was still the only full-time library employee. She had student assistants who worked nights and weekends and may have helped out during the day, but it wasn’t until 1959 that the full-time position of Assistant Law Librarian was created. Attorneys across the state came to know Hazel Anderson as someone they could count on for excellent legal research. She taught a course called Legal Bibliography and was well liked and respected by students and faculty. Andy retired in 1967 at the age of 70. During the three decades she worked in the law library, the collection grew from about 20,000 volumes to approximately 100,000 volumes. The law library and the law school would have been a very different place without her.

Hazel Anderson passed away in November 1974. Classes in the Green Hall we know now were first held in October 1977, so Andy never saw the new building or the Wheat Law Library. Hopefully, she would be proud of the past and present faculty and staff who are carrying on her legacy of dedicated law librarianship. The First District Business and Professional Women’s Club donated a clock in Hazel’s honor in 1977. The lettering reads, “In loving memory of Hazel A. Anderson for her dedication and love for the University of Kansas and its law students.”

Special thanks to Joyce McCray Pearson, former director of the Wheat Law Library, whose article [A Brief History of the University of Kansas School of Law Library, 51 U. Kan. L. Rev. 873 (2003)] provided most of the research for this Hearsay piece.

—  By Melissa Doebele, a library assistant at KU Law

This blog originally appeared in the Fall 2019 Hearsay newsletter.

Wheat Law Library is a space for restorative practice

Photo by Ashley Golledge

As times and needs change within the law community, so changes the library. Where we were once only a gathering place for students to focus on their academic well-being, we have also become a place for mental and physical well-being.

In August of 2017, the ABA’s National Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being released its report Creating a Movement to Improve Well-Being in the Legal Profession. This report shined a spotlight on evidence that too many lawyers face mental health and substance use disorders or otherwise aren’t thriving. The task force suggested reaching out to groups that influence the legal profession: the judiciary, regulators, legal employers, law schools, bar associations, lawyers’ professional liability carriers, and lawyer assistance programs. In response, the Kansas Office of Judicial Administration announced the formation of the Kansas State Task Force on Lawyer Well-Being. Under the coordination of The Kansas Lawyers Assistance Program (KALAP), this task force was charged with implementing the national recommendations. For law schools, this includes, amongst other things, providing education opportunities on well-being-related topics. A course should be created to include various restorative practices such as mindfulness, meditation and yoga.

W. Blake Wilson

In response to the task force recommendations, the University of Kansas School of Law instituted a school-wide wellness program. This program offers students mental health and substance use disorder resources, onsite professional counselors, and discourages alcohol-centered social events. It has also opened up the door for the Wheat Law Library to take on a new role: a space for restorative practices.

As luck would have it, I have been in the mindfulness field for a dozen years. I began practicing Zen in 2007 and in 2017 was ordained, receiving certification to teach. In 2018, I became the faculty advisor for KU’s Mindfulness in Law Society and began leading the group in short meditations across the street at the Burge Union. Starting in August 2019 with the integration of the Kansas Lawyer Well-Being Task Force’s recommendation, dedicated space in the Wheat Law Library was given to host various restorative practices. The Mindfulness in Law Society’s meditations were moved from the Burge Union to Room 212 of the Wheat Law Library and have been dubbed Mindful Mondays, starting at 4:45 p.m. On Wednesdays at 5:00 p.m, former KU Law students are brought in to teach yoga.

The Wheat Law Library has always been and will remain a space that fulfills the needs of our students and faculty whether it’s setting students up for academic success, helping faculty with their research needs, or focusing on our patrons’ overall wellness. Books are just a small part of what we do.

—  By W. Blake Wilson, the Assistant Director for Instructional & Faculty Services at KU Law

This blog originally appeared in the Fall 2019 Hearsay newsletter.

Drones and security

Dr. Vivek Sehrawat researches drones from an international point of view

Dr. Vivek Sehrawat, SJD’17

As he was getting ready to apply to Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) programs, Dr. Vivek Sehrawat was looking for an angle. He had been reading about technology – specifically, drones – and came up with an idea that stood out.

“This is a hot topic right now. There’s a lot of controversy regarding the usage of drones internationally,” Sehrawat said.

Sehrawat earned his S.J.D. with distinction from KU Law in December 2017. His dissertation was titled, “Drones: The Role of LOAC, Targeted Killing, International Law, and Privacy Law.” The research looked at drone usage from a national security point of view, particularly when drones are used internationally for warfare. He looked at examples from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria and Yemen. Sehrawat’s perspective on the role of law in drone use shifted as he explored the issue, he said.

“As I went into my research and I started reading about drones, I thought, this is a great technology, and this is going to benefit the entire world,” Sehrawat said. “It depends how you handle it. It could be a boon for the society.”

He also researched privacy issues related to drones and comparative uses between the U.S., the United Kingdom and India.

“I looked into the privacy issues in domestic use by different departments, and I tried to bring a global set of laws which can be applicable in any of the countries,” he said.

After KU Law, Sehrawat continued his research as a visiting scholar at the University of California Davis School of Law. He added a new chapter to his dissertation to turn it into a book, which he plans to send out for publication. His scholarship about drone use and autonomous weapons systems has been published in the Santa Clara High Technology Journal and the Penn State Journal of Law & International Affairs.

Originally from the suburbs of Delhi, India, Sehrawat found his way to KU with support from the school’s faculty involved in international and comparative law, he said. He has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Delhi; an LL.B. in law from the University Institute of Law and Management Studies in Gurgaon, India; and an LL.M. in international human rights, immigration law and business law from the UC Davis School of Law.

During his time in Green Hall, Sehrawat was a research assistant and teaching assistant to Dr. Michael Hoeflich, John H. and John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law. Working with Hoeflich, Sehrawat developed his research abilities on a range of topics. He sat in on classes to advance his legal writing and lawyering skills. Sehrawat also benefited from faculty guidance on publishing his scholarship, he said.

“They were always willing to guide me as to what will be expected from me when I go for jobs, once I started teaching,” he said.

Sehrawat recently started as an assistant professor at BML Munjal University in Gurgaon, India, near his hometown of Delhi. He is teaching courses on Indian legal systems, English legal writing, national security, torts, international law and international humanitarian law. A few months into his position, Sehrawat said he is enjoying teaching and interacting with students.

“I was very sure from a very young age that I didn’t want to practice. Even before getting into my S.J.D., I was sure that I wanted to teach,” he said.

— By Margaret Hair

This story originally appeared in the fall 2019 issue of the KU Law magazine.

Comparing laws

Dr. Lijuan Xing, SJD’12

Dr. Lijuan Xing explores intersections of laws

When Chinese scholar Dr. Lijuan Xing decided to bolster her legal education with an American doctorate degree, she set her heart on KU Law. It is one of the few law schools in the U.S. that offers a Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree.

Xing earned an S.J.D. from KU in international and comparative law in May 2012. She delivered a dissertation titled, “Behind the Mounted Ladder Trading System: Legal Indigenization and the World Trade Organization in Comparative Perspective.” Her dissertation explored how common, civil and Chinese law traditions each influence major WTO members’ legal perspectives and their participation in the organization.

“Pursuing a doctorate degree at a place that was completely strange to me, at that time, was one of the biggest decisions I’ve made in my life,” she said. “It turned out to be one of the best decisions that I have made.”

Xing holds an LL.B. in international maritime law and an LL.M. in international law from Dalian Maritime University. She also has a Ph.D. in economics from Dongbei University of Finance and Economics.

Xing is originally from the harbor city of Dalian, China. When she looked into S.J.D. programs in the U.S., she was attracted to KU Law because of Robert W. Wagstaff Distinguished Professor John Head, and his published works in both international and Chinese law.

Head was the supervisor for Xing’s dissertation. The pair have since coauthored four books and worked on a number of research projects.

“Professor Head kindly provided me with an opportunity to work with him,” Xing said. “He is a rigorous writer and researcher. I am truly humbled to call myself his colleague.”

Since graduating from KU Law seven years ago, Xing has published five monographs; 14 journal articles and book chapters; and a number of conference papers and book reviews in various jurisdictions across the globe.

In addition to her published work, Xing has taught law courses in multiple countries. She was a visiting scholar at the University of Manitoba’s Faculty of Law in Winnipeg, Canada, where she taught the university’s first course on Chinese law in 2012. She was also an assistant professor and the associate director of the LL.M. program at City University of Hong Kong. At City U, she taught courses on the intersections of international law, common law and Chinese law.

As an educator, Xing aims to emulate the teaching styles of faculty members she took courses from or communicated with at KU Law.

“Their ways of teaching and inspiring me have influenced me a lot and made me a better teacher of the law,” she said.

Xing said earning an S.J.D. from KU Law has had an impact on her both personally and professionally.

“I am very proud to be a Jayhawk. I am truly grateful for all the time I’ve spent at KU and in Lawrence,” Xing said. “My experiences and studying at KU Law have made me a better lawyer and a better person.”

Referring to Xing’s work, John Head noted that, “she is one of the many success stories emerging from our international and comparative law program here at KU. The experience Lijuan had during her time in Green Hall helped her make important contributions through her scholarly research in a wide range of topics that include international trade, maritime law, environmental protection and global institutions.”

— By Ashley Golledge

This story originally appeared in the fall 2019 issue of the KU Law magazine.

Six law students land circuit court clerkships in recent years

KU Law’s curriculum equips law students with the legal knowledge and practice-ready skills needed to succeed.  

In the past five years, six KU Law students have been selected to clerk at a U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A circuit clerkship is a prestigious and challenging post-graduate opportunity for law students to develop a relationship with a circuit court judge and to observe the legal practice in action.

Clerkships are available in both federal and state courts. Law students interested in applying for clerkships are aided by the law school’s Judicial Clerkship Committee and the Office of Career Services.

Circuit court clerkships

Ashley Akers (center) clerked for Judge N. Randy Smith at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pocatello, Idaho. Photo courtesy of Ashley Akers.

Ashley Akers, L’16

Ashley Akers, L’16, clerked for Judge N. Randy Smith at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Pocatello, Idaho.

“During my clerkship, I learned a tremendous amount about the practice of law in a short period of time, met and interacted with brilliant law clerks and judges from across the country, and, best of all, gained a lifelong mentor,” Akers said. “I know for certain that I am a better lawyer because of my clerkship.”

Sara Fevurly (right) clerked for Judge Nancy Moritz at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Photo courtesy of Sara Fevurly.

Sara Fevurly, L’16

Sara Fevurly, L’16, clerked for Judge Nancy Moritz at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Topeka.   

“My experience as a circuit clerk was tremendously rewarding. Over the course of a year, my writing and critical thinking improved significantly,” Fevurly said. “I am eternally grateful to Judge Moritz for hiring me, teaching me and supporting me as I continue my legal career.”

In addition to Fevurly’s circuit clerkship, she also did a judicial clerkship. Fevurly clerked for Judge Julie Robinson at the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City, Kansas.

Maureen (Orth) Moeder, L’16, clerked for Judge Daniel Crabtree at the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City, Kansas. Photo courtesy of Maureen Moeder.

Maureen (Orth) Moeder, L’16

Maureen (Orth) Moeder did not one – but two – clerkships. Moeder, L’16, clerked for Judge Mary Murguia, L’85, at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in Phoenix. She also clerked for Judge Daniel Crabtree at the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas in Kansas City, Kansas.

“My clerkship experiences after law school were invaluable. Not only was I exposed to many different areas of law, I was also mentored by two extraordinary judges,” Moeder said. “Through both clerkships, I learned how to be a better legal writer and a better legal thinker.”

Michael Hayes (far right) is currently clerking for Judge Steven Grasz on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Omaha, Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Michael Hayes.

Michael Hayes, L’19

Michael Hayes, L’19, is currently clerking for Judge Steven Grasz on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Omaha, Nebraska.

“Clerking for Judge Grasz has been a great experience so far. It’s required me to dive deep into legal research and sharpen all the skills I’ve developed while in school,” Hayes said. “There are always opportunities to discuss legal questions and theories with the judge, which is an opportunity that few other legal jobs provide.”

Chris Carey, L’19

Chris Carey, L’19

Chris Carey, L’19, will clerk for Judge Nancy Moritz at the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Topeka next year. Carey is currently doing a clerkship for Judge Steve Leben at the Kansas Court of Appeals in Topeka.

“For me, pursuing a circuit clerkship was a no-brainer. The prospect of getting to research and write every day on a wide variety of complex legal issues was simply irresistible. So too was the opportunity to work through those issues in a chambers environment where I could observe how judges decide cases at the appellate level. That kind of experience will be invaluable later in my career,” Carey said.

Cara Beck, L’20

Cara Beck, L’20

Upon her graduation from law school in May, third-year law student Cara Beck will clerk for Judge Jonathan A. Kobes on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. 

“I chose to pursue a circuit court clerkship, so that I could have the opportunity to observe some of the best attorneys in the nation in action, both in brief-writing and oral arguments,” Beck said. “Clerking for Judge Kobes on the Eighth Circuit will be the most rewarding experience and will hopefully help shape me into a diligent and thoughtful advocate.”

Judicial clerkships

A considerable number of KU Law graduates accept judicial clerkships, including nine members of the Class of 2019. The school’s Judicial Clerkship Committee has overseen a doubling in the number of federal and state court clerkships obtained by law school graduates in recent years, including positions at prestigious federal courts of appeal.

Over the past five academic years, 30 students have secured clerkships.

Class of 2020

  • Cara Beck – U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Andi Leuszler – U.S. District Court of Kansas
  • Joy Merklen – U.S. District Court of Kansas

Class of 2019

  • Chris Carey – U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; Kansas Court of Appeals
  • Jeff Carmody – Kansas Court of Appeals
  • Maria Drouhard – U.S. District Court of Missouri, Western District
  • Michael Hayes – U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
  • Paul Keithley – Kansas Court of Appeals
  • Nancy Musick – U.S. District Court of Kansas
  • Ryan Ott – Kansas Court of Appeals
  • Alex Rindels – U.S. District Court of Kansas
  • Amelia Selph – Kansas Court of Appeals

Class of 2018

  • Bradley Hook – Kansas Court of Appeals
  • Sangeeta Shastry – U.S. District Court of Kansas
  • Lindsay Strong – Kansas Supreme Court
  • Ben Stueve – U.S. District Court of Missouri, Western District

Class of 2017

  • Ethan Brown – Kansas Supreme Court
  • Skyler Davenport – U.S. District Court of Kansas; Kansas Supreme Court
  • Nathan Kakazu – U.S. District Court of Kansas
  • Clay Nordsiek – U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri
  • Hannah Schoeb – U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Missouri        
  • Maggie Turek – Kansas Court of Appeals
  • Eric Witmer – Kansas Supreme Court; 16th Judicial District Court of Jackson County, Missouri

Class of 2016

  • Ashley Akers – U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • Benjamin Baumgartner – U.S. Court of International Trade
  • Reid Day – U.S. District Court, Western District of Missouri
  • Sara Fevurly – U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; U.S. District Court of Kansas
  • Maureen (Orth) Moeder – U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; U.S. District Court of Kansas
  • Kip Randall – U.S. District Court of Kansas
  • Christopher Teters – Kansas Court of Appeals

— By Ashley Golledge