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 in 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.

Law student starts nonprofit to empower, educate Tanzanian women

In Tanzania, the government bans young mothers from attending state schools. But a KU Law student who has lived and worked in the East African nation is doing her part to ensure pregnant women can continue their education.

Third-year law student Paeten Denning recently founded a nonprofit organization called Miracles Are Real Because Love Exists (M.A.R.B.L.E.), which provides vocational education, housing and resources for pregnant young women in Tanzania.

“What I’d like to do is create a place for young mothers to go, feel safe and find stability,” said Denning, who is from Nevada, Missouri. “Our goals are educate, employ, empower. I want every girl who leaves M.A.R.B.L.E. to feel empowered.”

The text in Swahili translates to “Women’s rights are rights for all.” Photo courtesy of Paeten Denning.

A 1961 law allows state schools in Tanzania to ban young mothers from attending. Over the past decade more than 55,000 pregnant schoolgirls have been expelled from school, according to a 2013 report by the Center for Reproductive Rights. Despite condemnation from human rights groups, Tanzanian President John Magufuli has enforced this law since taking office in 2015. “As long as I am president … no pregnant student will be allowed to return to school … After getting pregnant, you are done,” he said during a public rally in 2017.

Denning has witnessed the effects of this policy firsthand on three separate trips to Tanzania. She was inspired to found M.A.R.B.L.E. during her most recent visit. Denning spent the summer between her first and second years of law school working at the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association, a local nongovernmental organization (NGO) that provides legal aid to women and children.

Paeten Denning practices beading with a local female ran co-op in Tanzania. The young women staying at M.A.R.B.L.E will learn beading at the vocational school, The Faraja Center.

“I just started noticing the lack of resources for young mothers,” she said. “I decided to find a way to provide housing for these teens who are pregnant.”

M.A.R.B.L.E. officially became an NGO in February after Denning took steps to incorporate, submit paperwork to establish nonprofit status, recruit board members and gain approval from the mayor of Arusha, Tanzania. Denning and the board aspire to help young mothers continue their education at the local Faraja Center vocational school while living in free housing provided by M.A.R.B.L.E. They hope to open a house in Arusha by May 2019 that could house up to 10 young mothers at a time.

“We figured we could help the most people in Arusha,” she said. “It is one of the biggest cities in Tanzania. Because of its location near the northern border, we could help girls from Kenya, too, as well as surrounding rural areas.”

So far, M.A.R.B.L.E. has raised more than $10,000 in donations. Denning hopes to increase that amount to $50,000 by the end of 2018 to pay for housing, educational costs, school clothes and food.

Arusha, Tanzania. Photo courtesy of Paeten Denning.

After graduation, Denning plans to move to Tanzania with her husband for a few years to manage M.A.R.B.L.E. full-time. Her husband will serve as the organization’s case coordinator. Denning holds KU undergraduate degrees in social welfare and African studies and honed her Kiswahili language skills during a 2013 trip to Tanzania on a Fulbright-Hays Scholarship.

She said her KU Law classmates have been supportive of her NGO. Two members of the board also have ties to KU Law: 3L Derek Depew and SJD candidate Bander Almohammadi, LLM’18.

“Everyone in my class knows about it and is involved in their own way,” Denning said. “It is really cool to have the support of the KU Law community.”

— By Ashley Hocking

KU Law alumnus teaches clinic students about consumer defense

Bill Walberg, L’15, speaks to the Legal Aid Clinic seminar class.

KU Legal Aid Clinic alumnus Bill Walberg, L’15, believes all consumers should have appropriate counsel when defending their rights. He recently returned to Green Hall to teach students the fundamentals of debt collection defense as the clinic considers taking on consumer defense cases.

Walberg is an associate at Evans & Mullinix in Shawnee. He practices in the areas of civil litigation, collection law, business law, corporate law, creditor rights and estate planning.

During his visit to KU Law, he told Legal Aid Clinic students that consumers should have the ability to access legal resources to understand the process and their rights. He reviewed the phases of a typical debt litigation case, which can include a contract, initial collection, pre-lawsuit negotiation, lawsuit and post-judgment execution.

Walberg remembers the Legal Aid Clinic as his best experience as a KU Law student.

“It gave me an opportunity to get real courtroom experience that you really can’t get in any other classroom situation,” he said. “I really, really believe in the clinic experience.”

Through the Legal Aid Clinic, KU Law students provide legal assistance for low-income clients at the Lawrence Municipal Court and Douglas County District Court.

“I highly encourage any law student to do some sort of clinic that gets them inside the courtroom, especially if they want to do litigation,” Walberg said. “If you get that experience in law school, you are 10 steps ahead of your competition going into the job market.”

Bill Walberg, L’15, speaks to the Legal Aid Clinic seminar class.

Clinic Director Melanie DeRousse and Associate Clinic Director Meredith Schnug taught Walberg while he was in law school.

“If I recall correctly, he had zero interest in doing litigation. He mentioned that he was pretty petrified of being in a courtroom,” Schnug said. “He was an excellent clinic student. After doing the semester and doing actual work with clients, he grew to love that type of law. Now, he’s in court all the time and loves it.”

DeRousse and Schnug approached Walberg about coming to speak to the Legal Aid Clinic seminar class because of his knowledge of consumer defense. Though this is the first time Schnug has invited a former student to teach current students, she hopes it won’t be the last. She also enjoys seeing former students in the courtroom.

“It is really neat once the students graduate,” Schnug said. “We see our former students in court, which is really rewarding when we are on a docket together.”

Through Walberg’s lecture, students enrolled in the Legal Aid Clinic seminar class had the opportunity to see how their day-to-day responsibilities in the clinic will translate into their future practice.

“When they first graduate – and even years from now – the experiences that they are having right now really shape how they perceive the practice and shape their professional identity,” Schnug said.

Going forward, the Legal Aid Clinic hopes to continue to learn about debt collection defense and potentially take on clients for this area of the practice.

— By Ashley Hocking

Three new scholars bolster KU Law faculty

Three new faculty members with diverse experience in teaching, scholarship and practice started at KU Law this fall.

Kyle VelteKyle Velte joins KU Law as an associate professor of law, teaching Evidence, Torts and Employment Discrimination.

Velte holds an LL.M. from Harvard Law School and a J.D. from American University Washington College of Law. Her scholarship – which examines the intersection of sexuality, gender and the law – has appeared in the Yale Law & Policy Review, Brooklyn Law Review and Connecticut Law Review, among other journals. Her recent work focuses on the perceived tensions between religious freedom and LGBT civil rights along three axes: law, policy and theory.

Velte previously served as a visiting assistant professor at Texas Tech University School of Law and an assistant professor of the practice in the Legal Externship Program at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. Before entering academia, Velte practiced complex commercial litigation at Reilly Pozner LLP in Denver. She completed judicial clerkships with Justice Alex Martinez of the Colorado Supreme Court and Judge Roxanne Bailin of the 20th Judicial District in Boulder, Colorado.

Shawn WattsShawn Watts joined KU Law’s outstanding Lawyering faculty, teaching three sections of Lawyering Skills. He will also conduct a mediation clinic based on the clinic he helped lead at Columbia Law School. Eventually, he will also participate in KU’s Tribal Judicial Support Clinic.

A graduate of Columbia Law School, Watts served as associate director of Columbia’s Edson Queiroz Foundation Mediation Program. He has mediated in the New York City Civil Court, Harlem Small Claims Court and the Institute for Mediation and Conflict Resolution.

Watts developed and taught a course in Native American Peacemaking, which is a traditional indigenous form of dispute resolution. Prior to joining the Columbia Law faculty, he practiced in the finance and bankruptcy group at Sheppard Mullin Richter & Hampton in New York, where he also specialized in federal Indian law and tribal finance. Watts is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma.

Franciska Coleman joins KU Law as a visiting assistant professor. She is teaching Constitutional Law and Torts, filling in for Professor Stephen McAllister during his three-year leave of absence to serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas.

Coleman comes to Green Hall from Yonsei Law School in Seoul, South Korea, where she taught courses in constitutional law, criminal procedure and political philosophy as an assistant professor. This spring, she was a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice. Her scholarship lies at the intersection of pluralism, poverty and criminal law. Coleman is interested in the ability of racial minorities and impoverished communities to obtain representation within a capitalistic democracy and to engage in authentic acts of self-governance.

A graduate of Harvard Law School and the education doctoral program at the University of Pennsylvania, Coleman previously practiced at Covington & Burling in Washington D.C., where she was a member of the insurance litigation and appellate practice groups.

Alumnus creates fund to sustain KU Law faculty excellence

James Riedy, L'77

Photo courtesy of McDermott Will & Emery law firm

James Riedy practices law in Washington, D.C. But as a Kansas native and 1977 graduate of KU Law, he’s committed to ensuring students from his home state have access to an outstanding legal education and local employment opportunities.

To that end, he created the James A. Riedy Fellowship with a $100,000 pledge to KU Endowment. The teaching fellowship will be awarded to KU Law faculty for three-year terms to cover salary support, travel and other costs.

“It is important that residents of Kansas are confident that they may remain in Kansas and obtain an excellent legal education,” said Riedy, L’77. “Financial support for KU Law faculty enables the school to hire and retain top-notch attorneys to teach, and that is one element of sending confidence to Kansas residents who want to enter the legal profession.”

Of course, top-notch faculty benefit all students. KU Law fills each year’s entering class with a mix of Kansans and nonresidents, and the school’s graduates live and work in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, three U.S. territories and 24 foreign countries. Riedy’s goal is to ensure that graduates leave Green Hall with a legal education that opens doors in the markets of their choice.

He is a partner at McDermott Will & Emery LLP in Washington, D.C., where he focuses his practice on international tax matters. Prior to entering private practice, Riedy was a lawyer in the Appellate Section of the Tax Division at the Department of Justice in Washington D.C.

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Student Spotlight: Jacob Elberg’s legal experience crosses three state lines

The experience on 3L Jacob Elberg’s resume traverses state lines. So far in his career, Elberg has held legal positions in Kansas, Florida and New Jersey.

Before going to law school, Elberg spent a year as an intern for the Douglas County District Court in Lawrence. This summer, he split his time between Florida and New Jersey.

Elberg’s hometown is Weston, Florida. For the first half of the summer, Elberg was a summer law clerk at Thomas & LoCicero PL in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Thomas & LoCicero PL is a law firm focused on business litigation, media law and intellectual property law.

At Thomas & LoCicero PL, Elberg enjoyed being exposed to situations he has not encountered in law school, such as partner meetings for case strategy, extensive preparation for oral arguments and preparation for depositions or mediation. He said a rewarding aspect of his internship was seeing his work used by the attorneys at the firm to assist them in grasping or briefing high-profile cases.

As a summer law clerk, he researched various legal matters, drafted legal memoranda, attended civil legal proceedings and edited legal briefs.

Elberg hopes to pursue a career in media and intellectual property law litigation.

“Working at TLo provided me a great opportunity to work in the specific area of law I am interested in,” Elberg said.

After the first half of the summer was over, he headed to Trenton, New Jersey for the second consecutive summer to serve as a judicial intern for Judge Freda Wolfson at the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

Jacob Elberg served as a judicial intern for Judge Freda Wolfson at the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey.

“I spent a majority of my formative legal experience over the last two years with Judge Wolfson,” Elberg said. “I experienced immense personal growth. My research skills, writing skills and academic achievements have dramatically improved.”

Elberg’s responsibilities as a judicial intern included drafting opinions, orders and legal memoranda, researching legal doctrines, completing various assignments, observing civil and criminal legal proceedings and observing settlement conferences.

“It seemed daunting at first, but Judge Wolfson and her law clerks are hands on in helping the interns in any way to comprehend an issue and complete an assignment,” Elberg said. “In that regard, the open-door policy in chambers was nice. So while there is pressure to meet high expectations with the work we turn out, there is plenty of comfort because we have the support of everyone in chambers to help improve our work product.”

Completing both of his summer internships helped Elberg gain confidence and become a more strategic legal thinker.

“My love and respect for the law has also been further solidified,” he said.

Elberg said the best professional advice he’s ever received is to use every internship and legal experience to foster meaningful relationships with those he meets.

“Whether it is other lawyers or legal assistants, that particular relationship could lead to a myriad of opportunities,” Elberg said. “So, in that regard, this could extend to being kind and humble with everyone you meet because you never know where it could lead you.”

Elberg received his undergraduate degree in communications studies from KU in 2016.

“After having a great experience as an undergrad, KU Law seemed like the right place for me,” Elberg said.

At KU Law, he is co-founder and director of communications for the Mindfulness in Law Society, co-founder and former president of the Jewish Legal Society and a member of the Student Intellectual Property Law Association.

Last semester, he co-authored a scholarly paper called, “Making @YourState ‘Friends’ With #Privacy: Rights and Wrongs In State Social Media Privacy Password Statutes” with Genelle Belmas, a media law scholar and associate professor of journalism at KU.

Professor Genelle Belmas, Jacob Elberg and Professor Clay Calvert from the University of Florida attend the 2018 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference. Belmas and Elberg co-authored a scholarly paper.

The paper evaluates the legal landscape of social media privacy in terms of vintage communication laws, cases and state statutes, and makes recommendations for crafting new statutes. Elberg and Belmas were inspired to write the paper after talking about hot topics in media law over coffee.

The paper was selected by the Law and Policy Division of the 2018 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication conference. Elberg and Belmas presented it at the conference on Aug. 8, 2018 in Washington, D.C.

“A donor sponsored me to go to the conference, and I am thankful to Dean Stephen Mazza and Dean Crystal Mai for their help in sorting everything out,” Elberg said.

In addition to editing and preparing the paper for publication this fall, Elberg will be taking classes for his third year of law school and working at Legal Services for Students as a legal intern. After he graduates and takes the bar exam, Elberg plans to apply for judicial clerkships and other legal opportunities.

— By Ashley Hocking

This post is the eleventh and final in a series highlighting the diverse internships and jobs KU Law students and recent graduates were engaged in over the summer and early in their careers. Check out earlier posts from this series about Omar HusainJames HamptonMalika BakerLindsay StrongArturo GarciaJessie PringleMadeline HeerenMiranda LusterBecky Howlett and Caroline Kastor.