Small town, high stakes

Anna Wolf serves as small town city prosecutor

The third Wednesday of each month is a busy day for Anna Wolf. That’s the only day the Tonganoxie Municipal Court is in session.

Wolf is the Tonganoxie city prosecutor.

“Everything depends on that one day, and you need to have everything ready,” said Wolf, L’12. “Otherwise, you’re going to go a whole other month before you get another opportunity. It puts a lot of pressure on that one day.”

Wolf is responsible for prosecuting all city ordinance violations, including DUIs, misdemeanors and traffic infractions.

She also performs bench trials, jury trials and other evidentiary hearings; drafts written motions; performs legal research; negotiates with attorneys and defendants; coordinates with court personnel to effectively run the monthly docket; advises the police department on best practices; and interviews witnesses.

Before prosecuting for the city of Tonganoxie, Wolf spent three and a half years as an Assistant District Attorney at the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office. She is most proud of helping victims of child sex crimes.

“It’s incredibly difficult work, and it’s so important to have good prosecutors doing it,” Wolf said. “It’s very time-consuming and emotionally exhausting, but it’s crucial that we have people out there fighting for those kids.”

Wolf fell in love with prosecution after an internship at the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office. She enjoys the rapid pace and variety of challenges inherent in the work. “I really like standing up and making an argument in court,” she said. “And I’ve always been interested in public service.”

KU Law’s Trial Advocacy course helped prepare Wolf for a career in prosecution. She said the class taught her how to communicate effectively, structure an argument and understand the rules of evidence.

“You get the ins and outs of what it’s like to be in a courtroom and making an argument,” Wolf said. “It takes a lot of preparation to be comfortable doing that.”

Like many city and county attorneys, Wolf also holds down a full-time law practice. She recently joined Payne & Jones in Overland Park as an associate and prosecutes for the city of Mission. She is excited to further develop her legal skills and experience at the firm.

Long-term, Wolf hopes to become a leader within the legal community — particularly for women, who are still underrepresented in law.

She strives for integrity in all of her legal work. As prosecutors and law enforcement have come under increased scrutiny in recent years, Wolf has focused on trying cases she believes in and holding herself to the highest standards of professionalism.

“I think the most important way to ensure the public has trust in prosecutors,” she said, “is to make sure that you’re doing the best job you can in the most ethical way possible.”

— By Ashley Hocking

Thank U, Next

As I am typing this, I only have one more final for my fall semester of 3L year. Looking back, I truly had some remarkable professors this semester and learned a great deal. To my great professors, I say thank you. I look forward to my next professors.

One taught me humor → Professor Webb Hecker, Business Associations I

Business Associations I seems like it would be a dry and boring class. How can learning about corporations and agents be exciting? With a different professor, that might be true. However, Professor Hecker brought humor to our learning. He kept us engaged and made the subject enjoyable. I enjoyed the jokes and stories Professor Hecker brought to class.

One taught me patience → Professor Kelley Sears, Contract Drafting

Drafting a contract is tedious and requires a lot of patience. Every word can make or break a contract for your client. Professor Sears made sure we knew that and understood the effect our words would have on our clients. He provided stories from his years of litigating. In the end, I learned to patiently analyze a contract and choose my words wisely.

One taught me pain → Professor B.J. Hickert, Estate Planning Principles

Anyone who tells you the Internal Revenue Code is not painful is likely lying. It has its own language and challenges. This semester, I dove into the IRC with Professor Hickert. It was painful, but he was a great teacher who broke down the estate planning provisions that are important for clients in real life and taught us how to protect our clients’ assets. He brought in his real-life practical estate planning experience, which made it much less painful and incredibly helpful for my future clients.

And one taught me creativity → Professor Thomas Stacy, Conflict of Law

On the first day of class, Professor Stacy told us we would leave class as even better lawyers because we would know how to solve conflicts of law for our clients. He challenged us to think of creative arguments for our clients and use the flexibility of choice of law analysis to our benefit. We had to think on our feet and defend our answers.

I’m so grateful for my ex-professors. I truly can’t wait for this next semester see what my next professors will teach me. Thank u, next.

— Jake Turner is a 3L from Mission and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Justice after genocide

Deborah Wilkinson, second from right, spent 5 years litigating the appeals of six high-level Rwandan officials charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

KU Law grad excels at local, state and international prosecution

At least 800,000 people were killed in 100 days during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Deborah Wilkinson, L’82, helped bring some of the perpetrators of that violence to justice.

As senior appeals counsel at the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Tanzania, Wilkinson and a team of fellow prosecutors spent 5 years litigating the appeals of six high-level Rwandan political and military officials charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

All six were found guilty in 2011.

“I feel that this case made a contribution to international law and international humanitarian law. It also provided closure for the numerous victims of these crimes,” Wilkinson said. “Many of the victims were following the case, and to know that these people were being held accountable was very significant. I’m glad I was able to contribute in that way.”

Throughout her career, Wilkinson has tried cases in three countries on three different continents, but she considers the prosecution of Rwandan atrocities her most significant work.

One of the defendants, a county executive named Sylvain Nsabimana, was prosecuted for failing to do anything to protect the ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus who spent the night near his office – seeking protection from Hutu extremists. Nsabimana did not intervene when groups descended at night to rape women and kill men and children. He was sentenced to 35 years in prison.

“It was a very interesting legal issue of liability for failing to act to prevent genocide,” Wilkinson said. “We won on that issue, which was very significant in international law. It’s called omission liability.”

Another defendant, Pauline Nyiramasuhuko, was the first woman to be found guilty of genocide by an international tribunal. She received a life sentence.

Needless to say, Wilkinson’s career in prosecution has taught her a lot about human character and values, for better and worse. “If I had done what I thought I wanted to do — which was work in an office — I probably would have stayed in my little bubble of meeting people who were like me and not been exposed to a wide variety of humanity,” the Kansas City, Missouri native said.

Prosecution was not on Wilkinson’s radar when she began pursuing legal education at KU. But the required Criminal Law course piqued her interest, and she excelled in oral advocacy. Right out of law school, Wilkinson landed a job as assistant county attorney in Barton County. She made her mark early by successfully prosecuting the state’s first felony murder case involving child abuse, leading to the 1985 conviction of Eileen Brown for the death of her 6-week-old baby.

A few years later, Wilkinson moved to the Wichita District Attorney’s Office, where she spent 15 years prosecuting a range of criminal cases as an assistant district attorney. “I discovered I did very well speaking to juries, being persuasive and arguing in front of the court,” she said. “It was fast moving – always something different.”

With a solid foundation in the U.S. legal system, Wilkinson bridged into international practice through the American Bar Association’s Central and Eastern European Law Initiative. She spent two years in Kiev helping the U.S. Department of Justice implement training programs for Ukrainian judges and lawyers.

Wilkinson went on to teach comparative criminal law and procedure to Ukrainian law students after receiving a Fulbright grant. She also served in Kosovo as a legal advisor for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and later as an international prosecutor appointed by the UN to handle cases in place of the local prosecutors.

Throughout her international career, Wilkinson benefited from her ability to pick up new languages. She speaks French and Russian proficiently, and has studied Latin. She understood enough Kinyarwanda, Ukrainian, Swahili and Albanian over the years to navigate trials with the help of translators and interpreters.

“Learning languages helps you see how other people think,” Wilkinson said. “Sometimes entire concepts are different, and it really makes you bend your mind around different ways of thinking.”

Now in private practice in Lenexa, Wilkinson encourages students to acquire language skills, pursue international opportunities and contribute their legal prowess abroad. She can attest to the value of expanding one’s horizons.

“In prosecution, I met people from all strata of society – people who were poor, people who were rich, people who had drug issues,” Wilkinson said. “It was like being in a movie with all these different characters.”

— By Ashley Hocking

The problem solver

In the summer of 2005, a jury found Lawrence carpenter and former Christian school board member Martin Miller guilty of first-degree murder in the death of his wife. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Charles Branson should have been overjoyed, but he wasn’t. Not exactly.

The newly elected Douglas County District Attorney had taken office six months prior, expecting jubilation when verdicts went his way. But two young children had lost their mother through violence.

“And now, because we had been successful, they had also lost their father,” Branson recalled. “It was such a profound moment for me, realizing there’s not the joy in victory that I thought there would be. You’re still dealing with real people and real issues in the aftermath.”

Despite the complexities and challenges of the work – or maybe because of them – Branson, L’96, still relishes the opportunity to serve the cause of justice in Douglas County after nearly 14 years on the job. As top prosecutor, he manages 16 attorneys, 18 support staff and an annual budget of just over $2 million.

He also manages change.

Over the past decade, Branson said, prosecutors have evolved from case processors to problem solvers. Statistics show that simply convicting offenders and locking them up does not ultimately reduce crime.

“Historically, our role was to prosecute, punish and move on,” he said. “Now we are really looking at making changes in how the system works to better address the needs of the people in the system.”

For example, under Branson’s leadership, Douglas County recently launched a diversion program for nonviolent female offenders with substance abuse issues. Women in the program receive comprehensive addiction treatment, including assistance with housing and child care. “We have an obligation to try to change behaviors of people who come through the criminal justice system,” Branson said, “so hopefully they won’t come through again.”

Branson never imagined a career in prosecution. The Hutchinson native was a KU business graduate who wanted to be his own boss. Within weeks of being sworn in to the Kansas Bar in May 1996, Branson hung a shingle in Lawrence. He built his practice slowly, representing a range of clients while learning to run a business. In 2002, he added part-time service as Eudora city prosecutor.

But Branson’s exposure to the criminal justice system through defense cases revealed upsetting flaws that ultimately inspired him to run for district attorney. In his view, police and prosecutors often neglected victims of domestic violence during investigation and charging, treating them as evidence.

“Then when it was time for trial, the survivor wouldn’t want to participate because she had not been supported,” Branson said. “I thought it was time to change the focus of the system.”

So when he was elected in 2004, Branson shared a simple philosophy with the attorneys in his office: A positive outcome doesn’t always mean a conviction.

“What is the best thing that can happen to this case that will make it less likely that these people will need our services again in the future? Is that charging the case? Not charging? Offering counseling and services up front? Is it going all the way through to trial?” he said. “You’re dealing with people’s relationships, and each one is different. You can’t apply a cookie cutter to those types of things.”

That maxim holds true across the spectrum of responsibilities that Branson’s office handles, including juvenile prosecution, civil litigation, child in need of care cases, mental health care and treatment matters, county code infractions and consumer protection violations. Branson and his team fulfill these duties in an era of increasing public scrutiny, elevated by recent high-profile cases questioning the conduct of law enforcement and prosecutors.

But Branson views the spotlight as an opportunity to educate the public about how the justice system works. He tries to be as forthright as possible by explaining charging decisions – always with a view toward balancing transparency and accountability with the rights of victims, witnesses and defendants.

“We have a human propensity to rush to judgment, but the nature of our work doesn’t always lend itself to being open and public about the entire process,” Branson said. “We sometimes can’t say what we believe the defendant did because our ethical obligations and rules dictate that we have to say that in court first. If we do that in the public eye, we have not honored their constitutional rights.”

— By Mindie Paget

Why I’m thankful for KU Law (but also thankful I’m almost done)

As I finish up my final semester at KU Law, I find that Thanksgiving is the perfect time to reflect on my 2.5 years here and think about what I am thankful for.

I’m thankful for all the lessons, and I’m not talking about the classes. I’m talking about learning the hard way to make studying important, but not the most important. I’m talking about learning that sleep is every bit as crucial as preparing for a presentation. I’m talking about learning how to read and really absorb the information. I’m talking about learning to live in the present and enjoy every second.

I’m thankful for the people I’ve met and the relationships that I have developed. My best friend and maid of honor. Mentors that I will feel comfortable calling for advice for years to come. Friends and peers that I know I can rely on throughout my career. Role models who give me plenty to aspire toward.

Samantha Wagner, left, and Alex Pierce, L’18.

I’m thankful for the experience. I have experienced what it is like to be in a variety of areas of law. I have experienced an amazing graduate program. I have experienced success, support and encouragement. I have the experience to recover quickly and gracefully from failure and loss. I have the experience to discuss difficult topics with people from every walk of life, regardless of our different views or stances.

I’m thankful for the strong foundation that KU Law has provided me with. I feel prepared to take the next steps as December rolls around and I get ready to leave. I’m thankful that I have people in my corner, but that I also have the knowledge and technical skill to make my own way. I’m thankful that “I’m at KU Law” opens doors and starts pleasant conversations.

And as sad as my last day will be, I’m thankful that it is almost over! I am ready to start the next chapter. I am thankful that I’m wrapping up my last papers, preparing for my last exam and giving my last student presentations, all in the next couple of weeks. I’m thankful that I won’t be counting on those student loans to keep me afloat for six months at a time. I’m thankful that I won’t feel the same level of guilt as I binge-watch Netflix on the weekends. I’m thankful that I won’t be the stereotypical stressed-out law student any more (although I may miss the excuse for my stress levels). I’m thankful that I made it through.

I’m thankful that my time at KU Law is coming to a close, but I know I will cry as I leave Green Hall for the last time because I am even more thankful for my time here.

— Samantha Wagner is a 3L from Paola and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Finding a new ‘team’

In the months leading up to orientation for KU Law, I often felt nervous about the difficulties I knew I would face in my 1L year. Among these were being cold called in class, not understanding the material as quickly or efficiently as my classmates (or worse, not understanding the material at all), and of course, the massive impending stress of final exams. Yet, I also had other smaller, (perhaps sillier) fears, including having to start over with an entirely new group of people and the seemingly daunting task of making new friends.

Sydney Buckley, third from left on the bottom row, played volleyball for Fairfield University. Buckley and her college volleyball team won their third consecutive conference championship in 2017.

For me, this fear felt magnified by the fact that as a lifetime volleyball player, I’ve always had built-in, automatic friendships in my teammates. From middle school through college, I had literally always had a core group of 10-15 girls who had my back, understood the demands of being a student-athlete, and who I spent the majority of my time with. Among the many challenges of coming back home to the Midwest and beginning law school was the nagging thought that for the first time in my life, I was no longer going to be a part of a team. Gone were the days where I would spend dozens of hours a week at daily practices, weight room sessions, team dinners, and weekend matches and road trips with the close group of girls who over the past four years inevitably became my very best friends. Realizing that law school would not provide me with this same comfort was intimidating, because I had never known anything else. While I have always considered myself an outgoing person, I found the horror stories of the harshly competitive and cutthroat environment in law school alarming. The thought of being on my own for the first time — without the ease and comfort of being a part of a team — added to the overall anxiousness I felt before beginning law school.

Sydney Buckley, fourth from left on bottom row, celebrates with her KU Law Bluebook Relays team.

Yet, now a couple of months into my first year, I can only laugh at myself as I look back at my early fears. I have found that many of the students at KU Law are among the friendliest, warmest, brightest and most genuine classmates I have ever had the pleasure of learning alongside of. I have yet to experience the aggressive or cutthroat atmosphere I had been so gravely warned about. Many of the people I sit next to in class every day have quickly become close friends, and I truly feel that the students here hold a lot of respect and understanding for one another.

I used to think that the conclusion of my final season of collegiate volleyball meant that my time of being a part of a team had come to a close. However, in the past few months, I’ve realized that that is untrue — rather, I’ve simply become a part of a new kind of team. Maybe this new “team” is a bit nontraditional (since we thankfully aren’t forced into daily group exercise); but, we are very much a team in the sense that we are all driven, focused and kind towards one another as we struggle with the seemingly endless demands on our time. Though many of my early expectations about law school have been met — I have been cold called in class, the course material is difficult and the stress of finals is beginning to creep in — fortunately, I’m lucky enough to have found some really wonderful new teammates to experience it all with.

— Sydney Buckley is a 1L from Kansas City, Missouri and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

From active duty to KU Law

Army veterans graduate from West Point together, end up at same law school 35 years later

Eric McMillin and John Schoen were both commissioned by the United States Military Academy — also known as West Point — as Army second lieutenants on May 26, 1982. Now, 35 years later, they are both second-year law students at the University of Kansas School of Law.

John Schoen graduated from West Point in 1982.

Though McMillin and Schoen graduated from West Point at the same time, they were in different regiments and did not meet for the first time until after they had both retired from the military. At West Point, Schoen concentrated his studies on managerial psychology and was a member of the 3rd Regiment. McMillin concentrated on military history and was a member of the 4th Regiment.

“We didn’t actually meet face-to-face until after we retired from the military,” McMillin said. “John’s been good to me. We go out to his cabin in Wyoming. We’ve done some adventures together. I’ve enjoyed that.”

Eric McMillin graduated from West Point in 1982. He is now a second-year law student at KU Law.

Schoen actively served in the U.S. Army for 28 years. Throughout his career, he served as an infantryman for 12 years, led the White House platoon under President Ronald Reagan, commanded the Army drill team, did foreign area officer work, taught physical education for four years at West Point, served as an Army logistician and concluded his military career by serving on the operational staff at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. After retiring, he taught as a civilian assistant professor for seven years at the Army Command General Staff College (CGSC) in Leavenworth.

Through his service, he was deployed or assigned to roles in seven foreign countries:  Afghanistan, Denmark, Egypt, Haiti, Iraq, Italy and West Berlin.

John Schoen commanded the Army drill team, while he was stationed in West Berlin in 1988.

“I got to do some really cool things in the Army that I wouldn’t trade for anything,” Schoen said. “It was a great experience.”

Schoen’s daughters have each followed in his footsteps by pursuing careers with the Army. His oldest daughter, Kacie, is a captain and a black hawk helicopter pilot. His middle daughter, Madison, is a lieutenant and combat engineer in Afghanistan. His youngest, Taryn, is a junior in the ROTC program at Wofford College and plans to serve in the Army after graduation.

John Schoen served in the U.S. Army for 28 years and is now a second-year law student at KU Law. His daughter Kacie, right, is a captain and a black hawk helicopter pilot. His daughter Madison is a lieutenant and combat engineer in Afghanistan.

“I think it’s a great start to adulthood for them,” Schoen said.

McMillin’s time in the Army started and ended similarly to Schoen’s, but his career was very different. McMillin was deployed to Germany during the Cold War, commanded a tank company, was assigned to the foreign area officer program, learned Hebrew at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California, earned a master’s in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Chicago, advised Iraqi Ministry of Defense organizations in Iraq, served as a liaison officer in Israel, worked as an Army attaché in Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Territories, and served in a cavalry unit. He retired from active duty to teach as a civilian assistant professor for 11 years at the CGSC.

Eric McMillin, center, is pictured during his time in the Army.

After rich and varied careers in the military, Schoen and McMillin both retired in 2017 and decided to go to law school at KU.

Schoen’s interest in the law was piqued after many interactions with the legal system throughout his time in the Army.

“I’ve always been interested in the law. I’m not in law school to build a career, although that may happen,” Schoen said. “I really am in law school to satisfy the curiosity of why we do what we do with the law.”

McMillin, similarly, gravitated toward pursuing a law degree after experiencing a lifelong fascination with the legal system.

Eric McMillin, now a second-year law student at KU Law, formerly served in the U.S. Army.

“The military gave me some opportunities to see places where there wasn’t much rule of law,” McMillin said. “I think that helped me to better value what we have here in America.”

Schoen’s favorite part about going back to school has been what he’s learned in the classroom.

“I’ve sat in many classes here and little light bulbs have gone up over my head,” Schoen said. “I’ve said, ‘Wow. That’s why our legal system is so screwed up.’ That’s been fun – the actual illuminating of things I’ve wondered about my whole life.”

John Schoen, front, is pictured in Eygpt in 1998.

Schoen, 58, and McMillin, 57, are not in a rush to figure out their post-law school plans. McMillin is interested in the idea of becoming a general practice lawyer in a small community setting, while Schoen is looking into working in the areas of estate planning, trusts and elder law.

“I am really undecided at this point. There are a lot of options,” McMillin said. “Because I’m retired from the military, I don’t have as great a financial need to find a well-paying job as soon as I graduate. The idea of being a general practice ‘country’ lawyer, or at least helping in a firm like that, seems appealing.”

Eric McMillin is pictured in his Army uniform on his wedding day.

McMillin is happy to have ended up in Kansas to continue his education.

“At my stage in life, my family was pretty firmly rooted in Leavenworth,” McMillin said. “I was attracted to KU because of its reputation, what I saw here and the strong connection between KU and the Army Command General Staff College. There is a great bond between Lawrence and Leavenworth.”

— By Ashley Hocking

Recruiting Jayhawk lawyers

When Ethan Brown touts the KU Law community, he speaks from experience

After graduating from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2017, Ethan Brown clerked for Chief Justice Lawton Nuss of the Kansas Supreme Court. Eighteen months later, he’s back in Green Hall – this time as KU Law’s Assistant Director for Recruiting. Brown hit the road right away to meet future Jayhawk lawyers. But he recently carved out time between trips to chat about his own path to law school, his favorite thing about Lawrence and why he’s excited to be KU Law’s newest recruiter.

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: I went to undergrad at Northern State University in Aberdeen, South Dakota. My undergraduate degrees are biology and environmental science. I also had minors in chemistry and geography because I just really love science. I grew up mostly in Texas. We moved around a lot. My dad was in the Air Force. The joke with my small section in law school was that we couldn’t figure out where my domicile was because my parents sold our house and RV full-time, so that’s why I say mostly from Texas.

Q: Why did you decide to go to law school?
A: I thought I was going to be a veterinarian until I interned with a vet for a year and a half. After I decided that wasn’t the career path I wanted, I frantically started trying to figure out what I was going to do. I had a biology professor talk to me about the possibility of going to law school. Ultimately, after researching it, I decided I wanted to go to law school for the academic challenge more than anything. It had not been on my radar at all. The more I learned about how it was so different from other types of education, the more I realized I needed that.

Q: Why did you pick KU Law?
A: I applied to KU partly because I had no idea where I wanted to end up. I wasn’t particularly a Jayhawk fan when I first started looking for law schools, but I had heard of them. Everyone knows what a Jayhawk is. The more I started researching, I found that there is such a strong alumni base that is fanatic about their school. Jayhawks love other Jayhawks. I felt confident, especially with the alumni network, that I could make the connections to go wherever I wanted to go. Ironically, I ended up staying in Kansas.

Q: Catch me up on the past year of your life.
A: I clerked for Chief Justice Lawton Nuss of the Kansas Supreme Court. He was an incredible mentor. There are actually quite a few KU grads at the Kansas Supreme Court. I joked while I was there that I took the positon that was the closest thing to still being in law school. I was a research attorney. I did research and writing, the same way you do in law school but with a higher intensity. I turn in work, and it’s reviewed by seven Supreme Court justices.

Q: What is your role at KU Law, and what do you do in that role?
A: I’m Assistant Director for Recruiting. My main role is to travel to all of our different recruiting events and talk to students who are interested in both law school generally and more specifically KU Law. Luckily, I can share the perspective about what it’s like at KU Law. I also do some application review once students start applying, and I’m on the Admissions Committee and the Scholarship Committee.

Ethan Brown recruits future Jayhawk lawyers at the Texas A&M Law Fair in College Station, Texas on November 7, 2018.

Q: What aspect of your role are you looking forward to the most?
A: My goal, especially for the first year, is to try to figure out how I can contribute to the program that gave me so much while also still improving myself and Green Hall. I’m definitely looking forward to traveling and getting to meet and talk to people. I loved clerking. It was such a good experience. If I hadn’t been on a limited term, I could have seen myself staying there for a while. But I think it’s good that I was on a limited term because I definitely missed people. At the core of all of your cases are issues impacting specific people. But you don’t get face time, like you might at a firm. I missed that.

Q: What do you like most about KU Law?
A: This is pretty cliché, but it’s the community. That’s what drew me in. I had a lot of good options when I was deciding on law schools. I chose KU because of the tour that I had and the community that I could see immediately, both with the students and the professors. I think that’s something unique that we do. We maintain a competitive environment that prepares you for practice and for the nature of work in the legal field. It’s competitive, but it’s a healthy competition. You can always find support.

Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Lawrence?
A: I like all of the parks in Lawrence. My background is environmental science. I worked in state national parks as a naturalist up in the Black Hills of South Dakota. I love that there are so many hidden green spaces all around Lawrence, like the trails at Rock Chalk Park, the trail up by the Kansas River and the off-leash dog park. Lawrence is not what I expected Kansas to look like, and I’m very happy to be here.

Q: What book did you read last?
A: “Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis,” by J. D. Vance. It’s a fantastic book. I highly recommend it.

Q: People would be surprised if they knew:
A: I’m ordained to do weddings. I performed the marriage of one of my law school classmates and his wife. My first official planned wedding was two of the interns I worked with in 2013 at a wildlife rehabilitation facility. They met there. I think they asked me because they thought lawyers could do it just by the nature of being lawyers. That’s judges. I got ordained online. I have two more weddings coming up within the next year, and I’m expecting a third. I enjoy doing it for fun.

Q: Before working at KU Law, did you have any unusual or interesting jobs?
A: That was actually an ongoing joke in my small section. I’ve had every job. I’ve worked since I was 16, as soon as I was old enough in Texas. I did a whole range of things. As a teenager, I worked in a coffee shop, a shipping store and Old Navy. During undergrad, I worked in a factory — 3M — in their tape department, worked in a hospital, interned at a veterinarian’s office, was a naturalist in Custer State Park in South Dakota and did wildlife rehabilitation.

— By Ashley Hocking

Alisha’s declassified law school survival guide

A few weeks ago, I was studying with a friend and we started discussing the essential items that make our law-school lives (somewhat) easier. She said she wished she had known what to buy before 1L year started, so I thought I would share my favorites.

  • Book stand: These are pretty affordable and most people I know order them from Amazon. It will definitely help your neck after hours of reading!
  • Erasable pens and erasable highlighters: These are great for note-taking, book-briefing and just about everything, especially if you use a color-coding system. They also make erasable markers, which I like to use in my planner.
  • Post-it tabs: These are especially useful to add reference tabs in your Bluebook, which you will use frequently.
  • Bluebook Online: Speaking of using your Bluebook, you can also purchase access to the online version. You can search for terms and rules in the online version fairly quickly.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones and earplugs: It’s much easier to study at school with foam earplugs, white noise or music. I stash earplugs everywhere to have on hand for days when I forget my headphones. Most professors will also allow the use of headphones and earplugs during finals.
  • Layers: The temperature in Green Hall varies considerably, so keep extra layers around. Last year, my locker-buddy brought a blanket for our locker and I used it all the time. It may sound extra, but now I keep a “study blanket” in my study carrel.
  • Locker: You will probably need to share one, so find a friend and sign up for a locker at the beginning of the semester. My locker-buddy and I didn’t use our locker for books. Instead, we kept K-cups, coffee mugs, snacks, layers, Tylenol, extra earplugs, notebooks and anything else that we needed for long days at Green Hall (including a blanket!).
  • Whiteboard: I don’t have a good place to hang one, but I know a lot of people who use a large whiteboard for studying. I use poster paper for the same effect because I like to make flowcharts for review.

You will be studying and reading a lot in law school, so you should also ask around and get advice from your fellow classmates.  Hopefully some of these suggestions will help!

— Alisha Peters is a 2L from McPherson and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Alumni law clerk honors memory of former dean, federal judge

Former KU Law Dean James Logan in 1968

Former KU Law Dean James Logan in 1968.

Brad Manson reflects on experience in Judge Logan’s chambers

Jim Logan was confirmed by the United States Senate in mid-December 1977, and a few days later he interviewed to hire law clerks. I was lucky enough to be interviewed. Jim had testified a few days earlier before the Senate Judiciary Committee. During college I worked for the Judiciary Committee, and I talked first in the interview by asking then Judge Logan, “Did you enjoy your appearance before the Committee?” We made an immediate connection, in part because we shared a liberal political ideology, and in part because Jim loved to talk about himself. Being hired Judge Logan’s law clerk was like winning the lottery for an unemployed third year law student.

Brad Manson, L'78

Brad Manson, L’78

Circuit Court Judges are allowed to office wherever they wish, so Jim wanted to have his office in Olathe, Kansas, where he lived. The only federal building in Olathe was the Post Office. The government built an office for Jim and his staff in the basement of the Post Office. Before construction was completed, Judge Logan worked out of the visiting judge’s quarters in the old Federal Courthouse in Wyandotte County. We shared the law library with Judge O’Conner. Kathy Vratil (later to become U.S. District Judge Vratil) was Earl O’Connor’s law clerk. Our desks were in a space in the law library, and it was heaven. There weren’t any computers, no computer research, and we typed all draft opinions on IBM electric typewriters. Only Judge Logan had dictation equipment, there was one secretary, and she most certainly did not work for the law clerks.

Soon we moved into our basement quarters, and filled Judge Logan’s library with an entire set of the United States Code, all of the official Supreme Court reporters, all of the West regional reporters, and all of the statues of the states in the Tenth Circuit. And the two prominent weekly tax reporters, because Judge Logan continued to keep up his expertise in tax law. I physically unboxed, stamped “US Courts” and shelved every book. Jim clerked for Judge Walter Huxman in the Tenth Circuit after graduation from Harvard, and Judge Logan located Judge Huxman’s old desk from the General Services Administration, had it refinished and put a beautiful, new burnt orange leather top on the working space. He had a spare office, in an old post office basement, and the law clerks worked in the stacks without windows, but we had a nice conference room, with windows at the top, looking onto the street above. There is no better way to begin a legal career, and Jim Logan, forever the teacher, was a wonderful boss and mentor, a role he assumed from the first day on the job, and never stopped, up through dinner last December. Every day we learned something new. That was and is the nature of appellate court work. And Jim shared all of his thinking and reasoning on the cases with his clerks.

As a law clerk working for Jim Logan you were essentially an aid de camp, at least in the early days, before there were written manuals governing federal law clerks. You were expected to do anything he needed you to do, beyond legal research and writing. Jim and Bev made a gift of undeveloped land in Douglas County to the University of Kansas, and I was sent to make sure the survey was correct, the legal description in place, and the land unencumbered by encroachments. Judge Huxman had allowed his law clerks to engage in some pro bono legal work, so Judge Logan believed learning how to practice law was important. I represented the janitor in the post office, and did some other legal aid type pro bono work, even meeting with clients in our law library, until Judge Logan learned there was a law clerk manual being written prohibiting any outside work, so that ended my short pro bono legal career.

Jim’s best friend on the Court was Monroe McKay, from Salt Lake City, Utah. Judge McKay is 90, and was confirmed by the Senate the same day Jim was confirmed. But Judge McKay’s brother was a congressman from Utah, and he convinced President Carter to sign his brother’s appointment a day before Jim’s appointment–so Judge McKay always had seniority. They were very, very close. So close that then Chief Judge Seth, from New Mexico, wouldn’t allow them to sit on the same panel for many years. Judge McKay spoke at Jim’s memorial gathering, and I talked to him about their friendship, and experiences on the Court. Judge McKay captured Jim’s spirit in his remarks, and said he had never met anyone smarter, with a great legal mind, incisive and insightful, and a good heart and belief in the best of human nature.

Jim Logan was my first employer, a teacher for life, and a trusted friend. I loved him and will miss him.

Brad Manson, L’78, is an attorney at Manson Karbank McClaflin in Overland Park.