Meet KU Law’s new communications director

Margaret Hair recently joined KU Law as director of external affairs. She works with the school’s communications team to tell the KU Law story through its digital channels and publications. Hair started in mid-March, filling the position previously held by Mindie Paget.

Hair comes to KU Law with a background in journalism and marketing. She graduated from the University of North Carolina in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Out of school, she worked as a newspaper reporter in Colorado, writing stories about everything from music to ranching.

After moving to Lawrence in 2011, Hair served as a program coordinator for the KU Memorial Unions. She advised student groups including KJHK 90.7 FM, Student Union Activities and The Big Event in event planning and marketing. During that time, she earned a master’s degree in marketing communications from KU’s journalism school. Most recently, she oversaw event marketing for the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City.

“I’m excited for the chance to share all that’s happening at KU Law with students, alumni and the Lawrence community,” Hair said.

Hair lives in Lawrence with her husband, Zach Fridell – a KU Law alumnus (L’16) – and their two energetic border collie mixes.

A (realistic) look at a law student’s spring break

As a 2L, I like to think that I’ve learned from my mistakes last year. One of those mistakes was being overly ambitious about how much studying I was going to get done over spring break. Before I knew it, it was the Wednesday of break and I was watching The Office for the third time. My class notes were closed and forgotten on my desk. Ah, procrastination.

This year, I’ve got a new spring break game plan, and it still includes my beloved Netflix.

Get caught up in classes

You’ve heard the saying: 1L year: they scare you to death. 2L year: they work you to death. 3L year: they bore you to death. Is it true? Maybe a little. With classes, Law Review, job interviews and club activities, it can be difficult to stay on top of everything. That’s why I’m using some of my week off to catch up on everything I’ve had to push to the side this semester. Miss a day of class? Time to borrow a classmate’s notes from that day! Left some things out of my class outlines? Better get them updated! Making sure I’m up-to-date in my classwork is a realistic goal that will keep me productive without making me feel overwhelmed with work.

Visit my loved ones

Speaking of getting caught up, spring break will be a great opportunity for me to spend some time with my family and friends. As fascinating as the legal field is, I’m excited to hear about things that aren’t law-related! But, will someone please remind me not to bore my friends from undergrad (again) by telling them about the Fourth Amendment?

Relaaaax

I’ve only got a couple of spring breaks left before I become a Real Working Adult, so I definitely want to enjoy them as much as I can. This is where Netflix comes in. I’m happiest when I’ve got coffee in one hand and the TV remote in the other. Since I’m getting caught up in school and with loved ones, I might as well get caught up on some TV!

With all of the stress and hard work from the first half of the semester, I think everyone deserves an actual break. That’s why I’ve made plans to have some fun this week. It may not be a full week of productivity, nor will it be a full week of nonstop fun, but I know it’s going to be just enough to get me rejuvenated for the rest of my 2L year!

— Emily Leiker is a 2L from Hays and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Experience gained at MLP is invaluable

The Medical-Legal Partnership Field Placement Program was a truly invaluable experience that allowed me to work with clients as well as enhance my research and writing skills. One of the best parts about the MLP was that I never knew what type of cases would come across my desk each day. From preparing advanced directive documents and working with landlord tenant cases, to helping with guardianship and disability cases, I had the opportunity to learn about a range of various legal issues.

By far the most rewarding part of my experience at the MLP was working with the wonderful clients. It also happened to be the most challenging aspect. Oftentimes, I would be working with clients who were at their most vulnerable and needing immediate legal help. I learned from my supervising attorney how to balance being respectful, understanding and professional at the same time when working with our clients.

Another aspect about the MLP that I appreciated was seeing a client’s relief and sometimes even happiness when we completed their legal work for them. It was incredibly rewarding to help clients who otherwise may have never had the ability to address their legal issues. The best memory I have from my time at the MLP was working with an elderly client who needed a power of attorney document. After days of going back and forth with the client, the client’s family, and the social workers, we were able to successfully execute a power of attorney document. To celebrate, the client played us his favorite country song and we had a mini sing-along.

—  Kelci Weber was a legal intern during the summer of 2018 as part of the Medical-Legal Partnership Field Placement.

Teamwork is essential to law school success

Before coming to law school, I spent several years as a firefighter and paramedic. Teamwork was very important to everything we did. We trained as a team, worked as a team and ate as a team. Just about everything that we did was a group effort. Within my first few weeks in law school, I realized how different this experience would be. Those first few weeks, I felt a little lost. My classmates and I were all having the same struggles, yet we were all going at them alone. Quickly, I figured that law school was made easier through teamwork as well. I soon figured that there were three obvious areas in which building a team helps in law school: academics, fitness and social life. 

Academics

Academics is largely something that you do own your own. There is no substitute for reading your material and paying attention in class. I did find that building a small study group was a tremendous help in order to understand the material, and getting over that extra hump. My group and I meet a couple of times a week and create our outlines together. We would bounce ideas off each other, help explain concepts to each other and talk to professors together if we get stuck. I found that creating these academic teams were a vital part of being able to attack the material 1L year. 

Fitness

Going from a job where I was active the majority of the day to the sedentary lifestyle of a law student was a shock for me. This coupled with all of the free pizza really can affect your fitness and health levels. Countless studies have said that working out is crucial to academic success. A healthy fitness level helps with focus and actually increases your energy levels once you develop a routine. I quickly found that one of the best ways to continuously go to the gym was basketball. I have a core team of law students that play together 2-3 times a week. I realized that It really helps to keep you honest about going to the gym when other people are relying on you to show up.  

Social life

I was given sound advice by a former law student regarding the importance of your social life during law school. Very few people understand what it is like to go to law school. Venting with a team of law school peers was especially helpful to have. While these opportunities could range from a happy hour, pancakes at Perkins, to playing board games; it is always great to  have that opportunity to decompress with people who know exactly what you’re going through. 

Finding my team in law school has been essential to my success, but it is different for everyone. My advice to you is to be open to advice. Watch what successful students and lawyers have done that works. Watch what they have done that doesn’t work and find your own thing. At the end of the day, you have to do what works for you.

— Jeff Shull is a 2L from Lenexa and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

It’s the little things

We all know the struggle is real when it comes to maintaining motivation to plow through the week in Green. Especially now that the days are longer, the mornings are darker, and the make-up classes are piling up. However, I’ve found that focusing on the little joys in life makes the sometimes daunting tasks of law school seem much more manageable and, dare I say it, even fun (Yes, I had fun reading my property book. Judge me).

So, here’s a few of the little joys in my life that get me through the week:

Photo by Justin Sullivan of Getty Images

Starbucks – As a very wise woman once said, “buy myself all of my favorite things” – Ariana Grande. My small section knows as well as anyone how much I enjoy my morning Starbucks.  What makes it even better is most of the time I can get a free drink thanks to Westlaw research quizzes or Lexis Nexis points!


Bria’s golden retriever, Mellie. Photo by Jenna Lambertz.

My dog (and all dogs) – My favorite part of my day is coming home to my golden retriever, Mellie. She’s a constant reminder that things are never as bad as they may seem. She can bring a smile to anyone’s face and I’ve never met anyone as excited to see me after a long day.

Photo from fox.com

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – One of my favorite ways to relieve stress and just unwind at the end of the day is to watch Brooklyn Nine-Nine. This show never fails to make me laugh (even though I’ve seen it in its entirety at least five times!)

KU Law students load donations from the Black Law Students Association’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive onto a truck. Photo by Ashley Hocking/KU Law.

Student Organization Activities – One of my favorite parts of law school sometimes has nothing to do with the law. Last semester the Black Law Students Association hosted our annual Thanksgiving donation fundraiser for local shelters in the Lawrence/Kansas City area. It was fun watching my peers race to the deadline and contribute to such an amazing cause.

1Ls Bria Nelson (left) and Alissa Greenwald at a KU basketball game.

KU Basketball – ‘Tis the season for KU Basketball! Although I now, and forever, will bleed Cardinal and Gold (Go Cyclones!) one of the most exciting moments of my Fall semester was attending a KU basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse. It’s no Hilton Coliseum but let’s just say there’s a reason they say, “Beware of the Phog!” Regardless of my alliance to Iowa State, attending a basketball game the night before my 9-hour Civil Procedure final was a great way to de-stress and relieve anxiety!

We all have our own little things that make our days brighter, and maybe Brooklyn Nine-Nine doesn’t make your list. That’s fine! All that matters is you know what yours are and keep them in mind when your backpack is dragging you down a little too much. Now, excuse me, because I’ve got a Twitter thread of golden retrievers to scroll though.

— Bria Nelson is a 1L from Woodstock, Illinois and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Alumnus joins KU Law development team

Matthew Richards — a KU Law graduate, former transactional attorney and business owner — recently joined KU Endowment as a development professional for the University of Kansas School of Law. Under the direction of Assistant Vice President of Development, Kristen Toner (L’06), Matt will work alongside Lauren Luhrs (L’13) in meeting with KU Law alumni and friends across the country.

Matt graduated magna cum laude from Texas Tech University in 1996 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting. He graduated from KU Law in 1999. While at KU Law, Matt focused on transactional law courses, his favorites being tax courses taught by Martin Dickinson and secured transaction courses taught by Keith Meyer. Matt has a long association with KU Law, as his father David graduated in 1972.

After graduating from law school, Matt practiced for 12 years in Dallas, Kansas City and Lawrence, including with Shughart Thomson & Kilroy, P.C. (now Polsinelli) in Kansas City and as a partner with the Lawrence firm of Barber Emerson, L.C. His practice focused on corporate transactions, business organizations, real estate and tax. From 2011 to 2018, Matt owned and operated a retail store on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence.

“I am excited to be working in support of the law school,” Richards said. “KU, and the law school in particular, have played a big role in my professional life, and also in the lives of many people in my family.”

Matt has lived in Lawrence for the past 14 years with his wife Jennifer (a financial analyst at KU) and their two teenaged children. 

Evidence professor retires after more than 30 years on law faculty

From the beginning of his teaching career, Dennis Prater was committed to helping nervous law students transform into formidable advocates. That commitment didn’t waiver during his 34 years on the KU Law faculty. Prater retired in December.

A 1973 graduate of KU Law, Prater had been a student director of the Legal Aid Clinic and knew how invaluable the experience could be for future lawyers. When he took the helm in 1984, he became the first practicing attorney to lead the Clinic.

“It was not uncommon the first time students appeared in front of a judge for me to be standing beside them and watching them shake,” said Prater, who directed the Clinic through the summer of 1995. “By the time I got through with them, they were in control of the courtroom.”

In addition to running the Clinic, Prater also taught Evidence, Advanced Litigation and Practice in Kansas. An authority on the law of evidence, he is the lead author of “Evidence: The Objection Method,” a textbook widely adopted at U.S. law schools.

His gift for teaching did not go unrecognized. Prater received the Immel Award for Teaching Excellence in 1993, the Dean Frederick J. Moreau Award in 1989 and 1994, and a W.T. Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence in 1998. He was named Connell Teaching Professor of Law in 1999.

Time-blocking over to-do lists

There’s a massive difference between being busy and being productive. It’s one thing to spend hours sitting at a desk “working” on homework and getting things crossed off your list. When I first started law school, I thought writing out a long list of assignments to do was helpful for me. However, I quickly realized that it only put stress on me to check off the boxes, and I rarely got everything done on that list. I would spend hours sitting at a desk trying to finish all of my work and then realize I only got two out of 10 things done in a matter of three hours. There never seemed to be enough time in the day to get everything I wanted to get done, including chores and having time for myself.

I found myself overwhelmed with to-dos, and I ended up not doing any of them. I learned a new method of organization called time-blocking. Time-blocking is a method of scheduling a certain amount of time on specific tasks throughout the day. The goal of this method is to allow you to focus on one particular task at a time without distractions. It is very easy to get distracted with social media, replying to emails or texts, or falling down the rabbit hole of the latest BuzzFeed quizzes. Trust me, this has been the most helpful scheduling method I’ve ever used.

The first and only step is to use an electronic calendar and block out as much time you think will need for every task, including: getting ready, driving to and from school and even the much-needed scheduled naps! This will force you to get everything done in the time you’ve allotted. The key to this method is being strict with yourself. If you’ve set one hour to read for Criminal Law, then you have to try and get it done within one hour. This means that leaves little time is left for surfing the web and being on your phone. I recommend putting your phone on silent or “Do Not Disturb.” Don’t forget to schedule breaks in between tasks – this is crucial to not burning yourself out.

Time-blocking isn’t a method that works for everyone, but I’ve found it the most helpful out of all of the things I have tried before. This method helps me not feel extremely overwhelmed by giving me the time I need to “check off the boxes” and be productive with school and social life.

— Valeria Carbajal is a 1L from El Paso, Texas and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Annual fundraiser inspires advocacy

Since I started law school, February has become my favorite month of the year. I don’t have any secret admirers professing their love or my birthday, but KU Law’s Women in Law hosts their annual fundraiser, “Pub Night” this time of year. It’s been a tradition since some of my professors were students at KU Law and embodies the things I love most about KU Law: tradition, community, fun and advocacy.

Women in Law hosts Pub Night as a fundraiser for local organizations that promote awareness about domestic violence. The night includes student skits, fun cocktail dresses, silent and live auctions consisting of donations from downtown businesses and our professors. One year, a group of friends and I bid and won a tour of the Kansas Capitol and lunch in Topeka with our favorite public policy aficionado faculty. I helped run slideshows, put up auction items, decorate Liberty Hall and contribute to the 1L skit. In just the past two years, alongside classmates and friends, Women in Law has raised over $20,000 through event ticket sales, donations and auction items for the Willow Domestic Violence Center and Jana’s Campaign.

Jana’s Campaign: the ten-year-old organization that promotes awareness and education programming about domestic violence. Its founders are parents of KU Law student, Jana Mackey, who was killed by her ex-boyfriend after her first year. Jana’s parents attend Pub Night each year to tell Jana’s story.

KU Law students Jessie Pringle, Erica Ash and Claire Kebodeaux attend the 2018 Pub Night event.

In 2008 – while I was worried about starting high school – Jana Mackey was a victim of domestic violence. For someone I never met but have learned so much from, her legacy continues to inspire not only me, but generations of KU Law students to be passionate and zealous advocates as future lawyers.

Pub Night is not only a fun social event that brings our community together on a Friday night. Rather, it brings our school’s students, staff and faculty together as a reminder that the KU Law community is special. It’s community that celebrates, supports and remembers its students.

As I begin my legal career after graduation in May, I know I have been afforded an opportunity that was taken from Jana. And, I do not plan to waste it.

— Jessie Pringle is a 3L and KU Law Student Ambassador from Chanute, Kansas.

The 2019 Pub Night event has been rescheduled to April 5, due to inclement weather. Pub Night will be held from 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. at Liberty Hall in Lawrence. Get tickets.

Compartmentalization is key

Law school is a whirlwind, and last semester I often applied a tool I learned in flight school: compartmentalization. It was useful throughout my Navy career and has become ingrained in my thinking. Compartmentalization is a skill developed in flight students to deal with mistakes during a flight. Although, compartmentalization can be used to deal with distractions from both successes and mistakes, it is most often applied in the context of mistakes. Primarily because a series of mistakes can have serious consequences, but mainly because flight students make a lot of mistakes. This makes it essential to not allow a mistake to distract you from accomplishing your next task. For aviators, compartmentalization is a necessary tool because flights are fast-paced graded events crammed with tasks. A single mistake that ripples outward can prevent the achievement of the ultimate goal.

Distractions are often created by the emotional response from a mistake. For example, a flight student misses an important radio call directing the flight and the following thoughts begin to enter the flight student’s mind: “Man, I really screwed up”, “Did the instructor notice?” and “Will this be a re-fly?” Flight instructors encourage students to recognize those thoughts as useless distractions and to utilize compartmentalization as the solution. The act of compartmentalization is intended to prevent these emotions from affecting the remainder of the flight. Aviators are taught to box up the emotion and set it aside for review later, because it is essential for aviators to continue onto the next task. Otherwise, a single, small mistake can cascade into a series of mistakes.

Struggling flight students are often those who do not compartmentalize. Successful flight students recognize the mistake quickly, compartmentalize negative emotions, fix what they can and prepare for the next task. Preparing for the next task involves anticipating follow-on effects of the mistake, considering the next sequence of events and remembering the ultimate goal. In other words, experienced aviators don’t chastise themselves or lament their mistakes. It’s not that aviators ignore their mistakes and don’t reflect on their performance. Instead, aviators understand there’s a better time for analyzing their mistakes: post-flight. It’s a continuous process, because after the post-flight debrief aviators compartmentalize the flight and move on to the next task.

Although a student’s ultimate goal in flight school is obtaining wings of gold rather than a Juris Doctor, law school and flight school are similar in many ways. They’re both fast-paced time deficient and filled with opportunities to improve. In law school, there’s always another cold-call, assignment, memo or meeting to nail. There’s also always another class, semester and year. Since there are so many opportunities for success, I believe compartmentalization is a useful tool in law school when things don’t go as planned. You can compartmentalize in class after a failed cold-call, sub-par memo grade or bombed exam to prevent a cascade of mistakes. Compartmentalizing allows you to raise your hand again, become a better writer, crush the next exam, enjoy time off and prepare for the next semester. Give it a try. See if compartmentalizing works for you.

— Jared Jevons is a 1L from Manhattan and a KU Law Ambassador. He spent 11 years in the Navy and flew over 2,000 hours in the F/A-18F as a Weapon Systems Officer.