Similar life lessons can be learned from law school, relationships

Photo by Ashley Golledge.

I got engaged during the summer before my 3L year. Since then, I have been planning my upcoming wedding between classes. Since my mind has been constantly switching from thoughts about the assigned Jurisdiction reading to thinking about marrying my fiancé, you can understand why I recently made an interesting connection. Law school is a lot like a relationship. I know it sounds weird, but hear me out:

You think about it all the time

Just like someone in a brand new relationship, law school is constantly on your mind. You see potential tort claims at the grocery store. You actually read your apartment lease contract. You bore your non-law school friends by talking about how Conflict of Laws is “actually really cool.” Like it or not, law school takes over your brain!

It takes communication

Law school success means making meaningful connections. Whether you make an effort to visit your professor’s office to ask them about today’s lecture, meet with fellow students for a group project, or catch up with a local law firm at the Oread for a networking event, a good law student knows communication is key.

It takes compromise

Every law student has thought about how it would be easier to just ignore law school obligations and binge-watch Netflix instead. Other times, law students study too hard and forget to take care of themselves. A successful law student, however, knows how to compromise. Sure, you must study hard and put in the time and work. But you can’t forget to take some time to relax and treat yourself. Balance is important: in relationships and in law school.

It’s completely worth it

Just like with a partner, if you don’t put in the time, you won’t get anywhere. With assignments, networking events, Law Review obligations, and upcoming oral arguments, there’s a lot of work law students need to do. Once you put in the work though, you get to see how far you’ve come and how much you’ve learned! As a 3L, it’s very exciting to see all of the great things ahead of me. And my exciting future wouldn’t look the same without law school.

— Emily Leiker is a 3L from Hays and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Learning to level up

Photo by Ashley Golledge.

Muhammad Ali said, “the person who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” I believe the same should be said about the three years of law school. Half way through my third year, this experience has been much more than purely educational; it’s been life changing. I’d say my growth as a person has exceeded my growth as a legal scholar, and the growing pains have probably been worse too. While only on the verge of graduating, I know I am not even close to being done growing.

To give that growth some context, the law school experience is made up of the same few obvious stresses in various forms; grades, readings, jobs, internships, research, publications and competitions, student organizations, papers, the ever-looming bar exam, and more readings. This is all in addition to what you have going on at home. Conveniently, those stresses only grow from year to year and often stack on top of one another. So, while you’re underneath trying to carry all that weight, more and more is heaped on top each year. Only now does it make sense why they call it “3L year,” because you have taken an “L” or loss each year.

After 3“Ls,” it feels like you’ve had the weight of the world on your shoulders – pressing you down – for so long. It can be difficult to cope with this pressure, but I’ve learned to expand my perspective from focusing on just the losses to also appreciating the wins. We are so outcome driven that it is often easy for us forget that we are still standing when we have been carrying a heavy weight after all this time. Feeling the burden of the weight, it is easy to overlook how much strength you truly have. As it usually turns out, you are stronger than you think you are.

I have realized that maybe, it is because of this pressure that I have been forced to focus on my path and purpose the way I have. That maybe, this is the point of the law school process. That maybe I haven’t taken 3 losses, rather, I’ve gone up 3 levels. After all, diamonds (even very rough ones) only form under immense pressure.

Everyone has their own unique path. I know I have much to learn, and more growing to do on my path. I believe that through this experience, I have developed the mindset and the skills to keep progressing on my path and fulfilling my purpose.

Grow through your losses. Don’t belittle your successes. And NEVER, EVER get complacent. The marathon continues, and the real work is just beginning.

— Omar Husain is a 3L from Lenexa and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Chief Justice Lawton Nuss to retire after 17 years on the Kansas Supreme Court

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss listens to oral arguments in a special session held at the University of Kansas on April 1, 2019. This was the court’s first visit to Lawrence in its 158-year history. Photo by Andy White/KU Marketing Communications.

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, L’82, has dedicated his career to providing justice for Kansans. After serving on the Kansas Supreme Court for 17 years, he is retiring on Dec. 17.

Nuss was sworn in as a Kansas Supreme Court Justice on Oct. 17, 2002. He began performing chief justice duties on Jan. 29, 2010, when former Chief Justice Robert Davis entered long-term medical leave. Upon Davis’ retirement, Nuss officially assumed the title on Aug. 1 of that year.

“The greatest honor of my life has been to serve as chief justice these last 10 years,” Nuss said.

Nuss presides over the Kansas Supreme Court, which exercises authority over all courts in the state. He operates as chairman of the board of the seven justices, establishes and shapes policies, makes important administrative decisions, upholds the federal and state constitutions, and serves as the official spokesperson for the judicial branch. He also hears, discusses and makes decisions regarding cases.

As the leader of Kansas’ judicial branch, he manages 1,600 employees, 280 judges and an annual budget of more than $140 million.

“I’ve been blessed with excellent colleagues and staff within my chambers.” Nuss said. “Our nearly 2,000 dedicated judges and employees are not highly appreciated by people outside the judicial branch, and they’re all underpaid. They do a great job for the people of Kansas.”

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss is pictured during his time in the United States Marine Corps. Photo courtesy of Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.

A brief history

A fourth-generation Kansan, Nuss graduated from the University of Kansas in 1975 with degrees in English and history.

After his undergraduate studies, he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps. Nuss served as a combat engineering officer with the Fleet Marine Force Pacific for four years. During his time in the Marine Corps, he had the opportunity to do some legal work while he was overseas. His experience with legal work cemented his decision to attend law school.

“I decided when I got out of the Marine Corps, I would go to law school,” Nuss said. “I started in the fall of 1979.”

Nuss elected to pursue his legal education at KU Law in order to remain close to his hometown of Salina.

“I thought I got an excellent education at KU,” Nuss said.

After law school, Nuss practiced law for 20 years at the Salina-based firm of Clark Mize & Linville, Chartered. He was involved in a wide range of legal issues and proceedings. He represented corporations and individuals in civil cases and the government in criminal cases.

While he was a lawyer, Nuss had a variety of professional responsibilities outside of his practice including: chairman of the Board of Editors for the Journal of the Kansas Bar Association; president of the Kansas Association of Defense Counsel; president of the Saline-Ottawa County Bar Association; and mediator for the United States District Court for the District of Kansas.

In 2002, Nuss applied and was appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court by Gov. Bill Graves. Nuss was the first justice in over 20 years to move directly from practice to the Kansas Supreme Court.

Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss speaks to first-year law students this past August. Nuss delivered an oath of professionalism to the law students. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

Involvement with KU Law

Throughout his legal and judicial career, Nuss has remained involved with KU Law. He has judged moot court competitions, attended alumni dinners, participated in hooding ceremonies and delivered an oath of professionalism to new classes of law students.

 “I think it’s important to remain involved in the law school, so I can perhaps be an example to others who are still in law school or recently graduated,” Nuss said. “I’m not as active as I would have liked to have been because I have commitments here as chief justice. I owe a lot to the law school, and I want to demonstrate that to people.”

Nuss received the law school’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, in 2015. The award celebrates graduates for their professional achievements, contributions to the legal field and service to their communities and the university.

While he was a law student, Nuss served as the student justice on the KU Court of Parking Appeals or “Traffic Court.” Nuss wrote several opinions that are still binding on the court today. In 2018, Traffic Court established the Chief Justice Lawton R. Nuss Award for Excellence in Advocacy.

(From left) Cody Wright, L’19; Jamie Winningham, L’19; Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, L’82; 3L Diana Stanley; 3L Kyle Christie; and 3L Andi Leuszler participate in the KU Court of Parking Appeals awards ceremony in April 2018.

“I was very flattered to learn that some of the students involved in the Traffic Court got together and they named an award after me,” Nuss said. “I’ve gone to the awards ceremony and presented the plaque for the last couple of years. This last time, I gave the winner a $100 bill so he could take some friends out to dinner.”

Third-year law student Diana Stanley received Nuss’ namesake award in 2018, and second-year law student Robert Curtis received the award in 2019.

Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, L’82, and Kelci Weber, L’19, are pictured at the Kansas Judicial Center in Topeka in September 2019. Photo by Stacey Blakeman, L’09.

Plans for the future

When asked to summarize his attitude about retirement, Nuss recalled a quote by Thomas Jefferson: “The most sacred of the duties of a government is to do equal and impartial justice to all its citizens.”

“I would emphasize, all its citizens. The law is not here just to help the wealthy or the advantaged people. It’s for everybody,” Nuss said. “Regardless of what you look like, or where you come from, or how much money you have, you’re entitled to the protection of the law.”

Upon his retirement, Nuss aims to spend his time philanthropically. Nuss and his wife, Barbara, plan to work in the sphere of veteran’s affairs together. Nuss has been involved nationally on veteran’s treatment courts.

“My wife and I want to do something together. She hasn’t seen much of me in the last 10 years,” Nuss joked.

A few of the Nuss’ initial outreach plans include: going to local VA hospitals to visit with patients who haven’t had visitors in a long time and inviting veterans over to their house for dinner.

“It’s important to let them know that people care about them,” Nuss said.

— By Ashley Golledge

Law student gets first-hand experience working in health law through internship at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

3L Courtney Hurtig did a summer internship in the Office of Legal Services at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

This past summer, third-year law student Courtney Hurtig did a summer internship in the Office of Legal Services at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. St. Jude is a children’s hospital that treats childhood cancers and pediatric diseases.

“I really loved everything about my internship. The people were absolutely amazing,” Hurtig said. “I can’t emphasize enough how amazing of a culture St. Jude has. People there live and breathe the mission of helping kids and it really does show.”

At her internship, Hurtig worked on both long-term and short-term projects for attorneys in the office. She helped rewrite institutional policies that needed to be updated; did a nationwide policy survey; shadowed attorneys and watched them interact with the rest of the hospital; did rotations through St. Jude’s Office of Technology Licensing and Compliance Office; and attended lectures, events and meetings.

3L Courtney Hurtig and Blake Stokes, L’19, pose in front of a sign in Memphis, Tennessee. Photo courtesy of Courtney Hurtig.

“I loved being able to work on projects that felt like they were really making a difference,” Hurtig said.

Hurtig said that the most challenging part of her internship was trying to not let her emotions get the best of her when working around sick children.

“St. Jude treats the very, very sick kids that conventional approaches aren’t working for,” she said. “Sitting in a meeting where they are discussing a patient that is at end of life or has recently passed can be really hard. There were definitely times I had to choke back tears and pull it together.”

3L Courtney Hurtig enjoys lunch with coworkers from the Office of Legal Services at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Photo courtesy of Courtney Hurtig.

Hurtig – who is from Alma, Kansas originally – is concurrently pursuing her third and fourth degrees from the University of Kansas. She earned a B.A. in human biology in 2014 and a B.S. in behavioral neuroscience in 2016. In December, she will graduate a semester early from a four-year joint degree program with a J.D. from KU Law and a Master of Health Services Administration from the School of Medicine.

During her time in Green Hall, Hurtig has been involved in a variety of extracurricular activities. She was the alumni and outreach coordinator for the KU Health Law Society; treasurer for the Student Intellectual Property Law Association; staff editor for Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy; and a graduate research assistant for Professor Andrew Torrance.

In addition to her busy academic life, Hurtig is passionate about volunteer work. She has volunteered for the American Cancer Society (ACS) for the past 14 years. She is the ACS’ advocacy lead for the state of Kansas and the Kansas City area.

3L Courtney Hurtig and Blake Stokes, L’19, wear t-shirts in support of St. Jude’s concert series at a baseball game. Photo courtesy of Courtney Hurtig.

“I started my freshman year of high school and have been volunteering ever since,” Hurtig said. “My involvement with American Cancer Society definitely helped me get the internship at St. Jude.”

After coming to law school, she also became interested in Cancer Action Network – the lobbying branch of the ACS. Last summer, Hurtig went to Washington, D.C. to lobby in the annual One Voice Against Cancer Lobby Day. While in the nation’s capital, she met with legislators to discuss funding for the cancer research through the National Institute of Health (NIH) and National Cancer Institute (NCI). Locally, she has discussed important health law issues, such as KanCare Expansion, palliative care and tobacco bills with Kansas legislators.

Hurtig’s internship at St. Jude and volunteer work with the ACS have solidified her intention to pursue a career in transactional health law. Through a legal career, she aspires to help shape the health field in the U.S. She would love to work at a children’s hospital after law school, but plans to keep her mind open to opportunities in the health law field that might come her way.

— By Ashley Golledge

Alumna joins KU Law’s Office of Admissions

Bryanna Hanschu, L’15, has joined KU Law’s Office of Admissions as the director of recruiting. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

A 2015 KU Law graduate and former criminal prosecutor has joined KU Law’s Office of Admissions as the director of recruiting. Bryanna Hanschu started her new role in August and hit the road right away to meet future Jayhawk lawyers.

After graduating from KU Law in 2015, Hanschu practiced family law and did municipal prosecution at Payne and Jones law firm in Overland Park. She then did felony criminal prosecution at both the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office and the Leavenworth County Attorney’s Office. In Leavenworth, she handled the domestic violence cases for the county.   

Hanschu recently carved out time between trips across the country to various law school recruiting events to chat about why she’s excited to join the Office of Admissions at KU Law.

Q: Do you go by Bri or Bryanna?

A: My parents blessed me with a really difficult to say and spell first and last name. When I was 14, I was a piano teacher. “Bryanna” was kind of hard for a child to say, so I started going by both Bri with an “I” and Bryanna with a “Y.”

Bryanna Hanschu, L’15, attends a KU basketball game with Alison McCourt, L’15, and Dylan Long, L’15. Photo courtesy of Bryanna Hanschu.

Q: Why did you decide to go to law school at KU Law?

A: I really loved the community here. I was one of those students that actually had a lot of contact with the Admissions Office because I was really interested. I did multiple visits, every open house and every event that they had available. I loved the area, and I loved the people. Lawrence also is a gorgeous place to live, so I was sold pretty quickly. 

Q: Which class at KU Law was your favorite?

A: Looking back on law school, I think one of the classes that really changed who I was as a lawyer and really helped me was jurisdiction with Lumen Mulligan. The way that he taught the course is really what solidified more confidence in me and gave me the ability to apply for the bigger county prosecution jobs. That was probably the first class where I got actual constructive criticism that I could draw upon later in life when it came to writing and arguing. It helped me grow as a person and as a lawyer.

Bryanna Hanschu is pictured with her sister, Amber, at KU Law’s graduation ceremony in 2015. Photo courtesy of Bryanna Hanschu.

Q: What is your role at KU Law, and what do you do in that role?

A: I am the director of recruiting at KU Law. During the fall season, I travel and am rarely home. I go to various different universities and talk to students about going to law school. Going to these different schools alleviates the need for the students to have to travel to each school they’re interested in before they’re admitted. In the winter and spring, I will be reviewing applications and doing the admissions process with the students.

Q: Why do you enjoy recruiting future Jayhawks?

A: Every time I talk to somebody, I always think, “This could be the next great lawyer who changes the world.” That’s what I enjoy. KU Law offers an amazing education to its students. It’s what got me to where I was when I was prosecuting.

Q: How many U.S. states have you been to for leisure? For work?

A: In total, I’ve been to 21 states. Four of those states have been added in the past few months through my work travel. Since I started in my new role in August, I’ve recruited students in the states of Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, Indiana, Iowa, New York, Minnesota, Utah, Arizona and Washington, D.C. I enjoy the traveling. It’s really fun to get out and experience new places while I’m there.

This job goes hand-in-hand with climate adjusting. I think the most interesting periods were when I was going from a cold climate to a hot climate with only one suitcase.

Bryanna Hanschu recruits future Jayhawk lawyers at a law school forum in New York City. Photo courtesy of Bryanna Hanschu.

Q: What is the last movie that you saw?

A: I watch a lot of movies on planes. The last movie that I saw was “Avengers: Infinity War.” I watched it while I was on my way home from Washington, D.C.

Q: Do you have any interesting hobbies?

A: I really enjoy splatter-painting. It’s cathartic. I love throwing paint on a canvas. There is one in my office that I’ve painted over if anyone ever wants to see it.

I have also decided that I’ve been sedentary for too long. I am going to sign up for a half marathon next year.

Other than that, I just try to explore when and where I can. I love trying to find new places with gorgeous scenery, so I try to do that as much as possible. I also am trying to learn more about plants, I love spending time at a garden nursery with a coffee on a Sunday. And bookstores always hold a soft spot in my heart. I buy too many books. I need a bigger bookshelf in my apartment. 

— By Ashley Golledge

United Nations mediation // Shawn Watts trains diplomats in mediation, peace dialogue

Clinical Associate Professor Shawn Watts, second from right, is pictured at an international peace summit in Japan.

For the past three years, Clinical Associate Professor Shawn Watts has led interactive workshops that train diplomats in mediation and peace dialogue at the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). Watts is a recognized expert in mediation and conflict resolution.

“Mediation is fun. People have interesting stories, and their conflicts are always interesting,” Watts said. “It’s almost never the same thing twice. You get to learn a whole lot about a wide range of subject matters that you wouldn’t expect.”

Shawn Watts

To date, Watts has led more than 20 workshops at the New York Office of UNITAR. He has also designed new training methods based on interactive practice of theory and application of skills.

Each workshop explores the topic of peace dialogue principles or conflict resolution, and integrates with one of the 17 goals of the UN’s Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Last spring, his workshop topics were: Leadership and Self-Awareness for the Diplomatic Community; Guiding Diplomatic Conversations Through Asking the Right Questions; Gender Equality in Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution; and Conflict Resolution for Environmental Protection.

In addition to his work with the UN, Watts stays busy in the sphere of international law. His activities this summer included: training Japan’s resident diplomatic core in conflict resolution and peace dialogue; launching a program with India’s resident diplomatic core; working with the Delhi High Court to upskill mediators; and launching mediation clinical programs for universities in India.

Watts joined KU Law’s lawyering faculty in 2018, and serves as director of the law school’s Tribal Law & Government Center, Tribal Judicial Support Clinic and Mediation Clinic. He teaches courses in Native American peacemaking and lawyering skills. Prior to KU Law, he was associate director of the Edson Queiroz Foundation Mediation Program at Columbia Law School. Watts is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

— By Ashley Golledge

Personal, professional rewards through pro bono service

Evan Rodriguez, L’19

Everyone benefits from pro bono service. The intention is to help those in need, those without the means to help themselves. But those groups and individuals are not the only ones who benefit – you do too. Pro bono work is a symbiotic experience. The more law students and lawyers who participate in pro bono service, the more people who can be helped. There is good reason why pro bono work is a staple in the legal community.

Many people need pro bono work for daily life. There are countless situations in ordinary lives that we may take for granted because we have something to fall back on – experience, family, friends, resources. We can share that frame of reference. We can expand it. When helping someone, we ensure that they become that reference for another. Pro bono service is not simply about one person in one situation. The work spreads and affects more people than we may ever know or anticipate. That is the true value in the work – making a difference beyond what is presented. We see how the work matters in those day-to-day situations, the ones where we cannot possibly know who will be affected and to what degree. But we know that we are doing what we can do to better people’s lives.

Pro bono is encouraged and rewarded at KU. The best opportunities may not be paid nor provide class credit. The experience is far more valuable than any sort of tangible gain. I spent my 2L summer and 3L fall in the Jackson County Prosecutor’s Office in Kansas City. I saw people at the worst times in their lives, but I also saw the humanity in the law. I saw every day how everyone helped address exceptionally trying situations and emotions. It was invaluable for me to learn how I can best serve the community and confront life-changing issues.

My experience is not the only example of pro bono service. There are countless ways to make a difference. Legal training helps you see more sides of an issue, and thus more ways to help. We are in a position to do more for those around us. The work may seem small or trivial to us, but the person or group almost certainly does not see the issue that way. The breadth of the law means that there are pro bono opportunities in each area of law. Every one of us can do something.

If a student is unsure what to do, KU provides numerous pro bono opportunities. These range from the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program to the Expungement Clinic. Even minimal legal experience can provide insight for how to help others. You learn about diversity, culture, vulnerability, resources, methods and so much more. But you should never underestimate how much it means to someone else that you are available and willing to share your knowledge. Pro bono service allows all of us to become strong advocates and strong members of our communities. Even more importantly, it allows the community to trust lawyers and feel comfort in knowing that they are not alone.

—   Evan Rodriguez, L’19

Centered on sustainability

Photo by Greg Brave /

KU Law faculty research addresses environmental concerns

Sustainability is a global issue. As sustainability concerns and environmental threats occupy an ever-growing role in international affairs, KU Law faculty have placed an emphasis on scholarship, policy work and course offerings in this area.

“We see sustainability as a core focus of our international and comparative law programs,” said Virginia Harper Ho, associate dean for international and comparative law. “These issues cross not only geographic boundaries but also legal disciplines from environmental law and natural resources, to intellectual property, jurisdiction and finance, to immigration and national security.”

More than one-third of the law school’s faculty are engaged in teaching or research on international and comparative law issues. Of that group, a growing number are working on projects related to sustainability issues and impacts.

Below are highlights of recent faculty scholarship in the broad field of global sustainability.

Virginia Harper Ho: Green finance

Virginia Harper Ho

Companies and investors are increasingly concerned about the financial impacts of climate risk and other environmental, social and governance (ESG) concerns.

Professor Virginia Harper Ho’s research offers new evidence and policy solutions to help corporate boards, investors and regulators confront those challenges. Her work focuses on corporate governance, sustainability and finance from a comparative perspective, with recent projects covering green finance and shareholder activism around ESG issues and ESG disclosure reform for publicly traded companies.

“Over 60 governments around the world, and international organizations from the United Nations to the G20’s Financial Stability Board, are also developing standards that can help companies be more transparent about climate risk and help financial markets do better about taking those risks into account,” Harper Ho said.

Several of Harper Ho’s recent articles focus on the financial incentives for large investors to shape how companies address climate impacts and environmental risks. In 2017, she authored a brief report on investor priorities for The Conference Board, a global business think tank. Several of her recent articles have received research awards.

“My latest work presents empirical evidence of where the views of investors and business groups align – or not – on how the Securities and Exchange Commission should revise public company reporting rules to address ESG risks,” Harper Ho said.

Harper Ho is also an expert on contemporary Chinese legal reform. Her most recent projects shed light on how China is implementing its national policy framework for sustainable finance. Harper Ho’s article in the Cornell International Law Journal is one of the first to look at Chinese banks’ efforts to introduce green lending practices. In 2018, she was a visiting research fellow at the Central University of Finance & Economics’ International Institute of Green Finance in Beijing. While there, she joined local scholars at the Institute in conducting field research on Chinese policy proposals to align financial systems with sustainable development goals.

Harper Ho has presented her work at the United Nations’ Principles for Responsible Investment annual academic conference and at leading universities in the U.S. and abroad.

John Head: International law and environmental protection

John Head

Climate change poses challenges to global production. Meeting those challenges will require legal and institutional reform on a global scale.

That’s where John Head’s research comes in. Head is three books in on a four-book series about the intersection of international law, agricultural reform and environmental protection. In 2016, he received a Fulbright fellowship – the third in his career – from the U.S. Department of State, to further his scholarship in the area.

Head’s research aims to examine and contribute to efforts at reforming global agriculture in ways that will help address crises in the areas of climate change, ecological degradation and food insecurity. Reflecting his international law specialization, his work gives special emphasis to concepts of sovereignty, global governance and the public trust doctrine.

“My overall aim is to design new legal and institutional frameworks to facilitate a transformation of agriculture to a sustainable system,” Head said.

Head presented on the topic at the Institute for Comparative Federalism in Bolzano, Italy, during a fall 2018 research semester.

Uma Outka: Energy law and environmental law

Uma Outka

Professor Uma Outka’s research focuses on the intersection between energy systems and the environment.

“The transition to low-carbon energy sources is underway around the globe as nations strive to meet the goals of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change,” Outka said. “My work engages this transition from multiple angles, considering legal pathways and barriers to decarbonization.”

In recent work, Outka has studied the evolving role of the consumer on the electric grid. The work considers large corporate consumers’ demands for clean power on the one hand and the place of low-income households in energy law on the other, she said.

Outka traveled to India in May 2018 to explore climate change solutions rooted in renewable energy law and policy with Indian students and faculty. She co-taught a course at the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law in Kharagpur, India. She taught the course with Professor Uday Shankar.

“Collaborating on the course deepened our understanding of the context for scaling up renewable energy in the U.S. and India,” Outka said. “Climate change is a global issue, and every country has to approach climate mitigation in ways that work for its unique circumstances.”

The course was funded by the Global Initiative for Academic Networks, an effort by the Indian government to foster international connections through its higher education system. Shankar invited Outka to provide international context for India’s renewable energy law policies and to offer comparative legal perspectives.

“This is a really interesting time for energy law. Virtually every country in the world shares a goal to decarbonize the electricity system and shift to low-carbon sources,” Outka said.

— By Ashley Golledge and Margaret Hair

Mediation Clinic teaches law students how to ask the right questions

3L Hannah Lustman participated in KU Law’s Mediation Clinic. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

The first three semesters of my law school career often focused on answering questions: making sure I considered as many arguments in favor of my position as possible, considering the counterarguments, and then articulating why my arguments were better supported by the law.

Then, 18 months into my time at KU Law, I joined the first cohort of students in the Mediation Clinic. As a clinic student with an aspiration to litigate, I had a lot of breakthroughs over the course of the semester about how I can best represent my future clients when we get to mediation (where, undoubtedly, we will spend more time than a courtroom). But my first breakthrough was this: I’d spent so much time in law school answering questions, that I hadn’t thought about how to ask them.

The Mediation Clinic trains law students to serve as mediators, and good questions are a crucial tool for any mediator. Throughout my time in the Mediation Clinic, I learned how to come into a conflict I had very little background on and help the parties reach a meaningful solution. To do so, I would ask the parties alternating questions – starting broad and open-ended, then moving toward specific – so I could ascertain my own sense of the case. This was so challenging to me, but valuable. In an adversary environment, we teach ourselves to be zealous advocates for one client. This means we often don’t think enough about the merits of the other side’s argument. As a mediator who is ethically bound to be neutral, I couldn’t simply treat one side’s position as a counterargument to be torn down. I had to test my patience and critical thinking to explore the problem until I had a comprehensive sense of how both sides viewed their positions and how they envisioned a positive outcome. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to help them!

And while asking great questions was a critical skill for serving as a mediator, I know it will also serve me well in my attorney role. Professor Shawn Watts, director of the Mediation Clinic, likes to tell us that a lawyer, “can make or break a mediation.” Having learned about the mediation process, and seen in dozens of situations what it takes to make a deal, I will be confident going into a mediation that I can zealously protect my client without being obstructive to the resolution process. To do this, it will be critically important to know the true strengths and weaknesses of my client’s case – both legally and factually. My first step toward doing so will be in-depth interviews with my client designed to get as comprehensive a picture of a case I attempt to get as a mediator. In the long run, I will protect better by knowing all sides of the story, rather than just the best version of her side of the story.   

—   3L Hannah Lustman

101 things to know before coming to law school

Members of the First Generation Professionals organization meet in Green Hall. Photo by Ashley Golledge

(Front row) Peter Qiu, Professor Jean Phillips, Ashley Reece, Marisol Garcia, Misbah Karamali, Adeline Tolle, Mary McMullen, Saber Hossinei. (Back row) Michael Tuttle, Nancy Donahue, Zachary Beach, Valeria Carbajal, Kristen Dvorak, Claudia Chavarria, Austin Stout.

First Generation Professionals seeks to promote a positive atmosphere at the University of Kansas School of Law for law students who are first generation college students or first-generation law students. Our objectives are to build community among aspiring first generation legal professionals, promote strong ties between the organization, other student organizations, law faculty, students and staff and the legal community at-large through outreach and networking events, and to provide members with professional etiquette and to encourage members embrace their unique background.

Congratulations on beginning or continuing your journey towards becoming a lawyer! We hope this list and our presence in Green Hall can help alleviate some of the stresses associated with law school. Good luck with the semester and Rock Chalk!

  1. Don’t rent your Bluebook! Go ahead and buy it. You’ll use it throughout your time in law school.
  2. Most events during the lunch hour offer free lunch.
  3. Come in with an open mind.
  4. Get involved with organizations you’re passionate about.
  5. Get to know your professors, staff and the Office of Career Services.
  6. Go to office hours!!
  7. Don’t be afraid to talk to upperclassmen (they were once in your shoes).
  8. Bring ALL your business casual clothing with you to law school.
  9. Have a nice suit for interviews and networking events.
  10. Go to Student Bar Association sponsored events — you’ll get to know a lot of your peers!
  11. No one knows what they’re doing either.
  12. The open-door policy is REAL.
  13. If you don’t know what imposter syndrome is, look it up and know that EVERYONE feels the same way.
  14. Go to networking events.
  15. It’s okay to take a night off.
  16. Watch your drinking at events.
  17. People will have different political opinions than you … and that’s okay.
  18. You don’t need to feel obligated to state your opinion on everything.
  19. This is a competitive environment, but not everything needs to be a competition.
  20. Be cautious of your reputation in the law school — it sticks with you.
  21. Green Hall has a Keurig, so you can bring K-Cups.
  22. Highlights are your best friend.
  23. Get to know your peers … it could potentially be very helpful when looking for a job in the future or with life.
  24. Don’t feel down if you don’t have a job for the summer. Classes are just fine.
  25. Make sure you have extra headphones in Green Hall.
  27. Make sure to buy ear plugs for finals week.
  28. Find something that helps you de-stress from law school (working out, coloring, talking with friends, etc.)
  29. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand in class … chances are there are more people with the same question.
  30. The DeBruce Center is tempting …
  31. Try to meet someone with the same laptop charger as you because you might forget yours at home.
  32. Beware of the Starbucks vending machine.
  33. Make sure to buy your parking pass as soon as you are able to!
  34. Don’t be afraid to turn people down.
  35. It’s helpful to review outlines from older students, but you learn more when you make your own outline.
  36. Some people like studying for finals in groups. Some people do better on their own. Find what works for you.
  37. You don’t need to dress up every day.
  38. Try to get a hold of an outline early in the semester to review.
  39. Reading cases DOES get easier.
  40. You don’t need to buy supplemental books, free access online.
  41. Do your best to not procrastinate.
  42. DO take breaks and find a balance for yourself.
  43. Take advantage of extracurriculars early.
  44. Do traffic court early on. You tend to have more time first semester.
  45. Be on time to classes. Professors notice when you are consistently late.
  46. Don’t get discouraged.
  47. If you want to save money on books, try buying used books from upperclassmen or online.
  48. Try to review exams with your professors after first semester.
  49. When the weather is nice outside, try to find a table on campus and do some homework. (This gets you away from Green Hall for a while and you still get to enjoy our beautiful campus!)
  50. Participate in class! Professors will notice and appreciate when you do.
  51. Participate in the Bluebook Relays!
  52. Keep a planner (electronic or paper).
  54. Read the notes after the cases (they’ll help you understand concepts, give you some more insight).
  55. Keeping a baby stapler in your backpack helps (and will make you a very popular person, especially when everyone has to turn in assignments).
  56. TABS (from Amazon, Walmart and Target).
  57. SBA sells some really cool KU Law swag.
  58. Take notes in class! It will really help when you’re reviewing before your exam and in making your outline.
  59. If you like coffee shops, Mass Street is the place to go.
  60. Time blocking/to-do lists help, especially when you have a really busy week.
  61. The Lawrence Public Library is a really cool study spot and super underrated.
  62. Keep an extra pair of headphones in your backpack, locker, etc.
  63. Take a walk on campus if you ever feel like you need a break from the building (it’s a good workout too!)
  64. Don’t forget to treat yo’self.
  65. Appreciate your TA’s! Especially in Lawyering Skills.
  66. Go to the exam reviews!!! Seriously, can’t stress this enough.
  67. You can reserve study rooms for yourself or if you have a study group getting together.
  68. Bring some extra dry erase board markers (the ones already in the room aren’t always reliable).
  69. Be nice to the library faculty! They can be a huge help.
  70. If you have an upcoming meeting, make sure you set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget.
  71. Brush up on your grammar.
  72. Color code your highlighting, so it’s easier to pick out relevant information during class.
  73. Buy your favorite pens in bulk.
  74. Don’t forget to check out Course Reserves before your exam (they have a lot of test prep materials).
  75. If you want to look at supplemental materials, some professors will have some that students can check out so you don’t have to buy them.
  76. You don’t have to do your studying at Green Hall! A change in scenery can really help.
  77. Take advantage of the other libraries at KU.
  78. The School of Engineering, Watson Library and Anschutz Library also have study rooms you can book.
  79. Watson is quieter than Anschutz.
  80. If you’re willing to make the trek, “The Underground,” located in Wescoe Hall on Jayhawk Boulevard also has multiple food options.
  81. Take little breaks!
  82. Do traffic court.
  83. If you have a pet, invest in them.
  84. Buy scrunchies (very popular in Green Hall).
  85. Pantyhose are your friend (for on-campus interviews or when you have to dress business professional).
  86. Invest in a steamer!!
  87. Get a lint roller.
  88. Put big events/final exam times in your planner.
  89. As you approach finals, make a study schedule and stick to it.
  90. Check your email!
  91. Keep an extra sweater at the school (it gets chilly sometimes).
  92. Layers are the way to go. Some rooms are hot, and others will be freezing.
  93. Pay attention to the orientation events during the school year because it will give you a lot of useful information for interviews (and there is food).
  94.  Keep track of deadlines.
  95.  Get a head start on revising your resume over winter break.
  96.  Go to McLain’s when it’s nice outside!
  97. When you start studying for finals, find a way or someone to hold you accountable to your schedule.
  98. Don’t buy a physical Bluebook. Buy an e-version, so you can Ctrl-F.
  99. Don’t get caught up in the competitive aspect.
  100. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask.

— List compiled by the members of KU Law’s First Generation Professionals organization.