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. 

Student Spotlight: Caroline Kastor balances law school, athletics and family

Caroline Kastor is a woman who wears many hats.

She is an aspiring legal professional, a former professional soccer player, an academic, a wife and a mom.

Kastor is working towards the trifecta of higher education at the University of Kansas. She already has an undergraduate and a graduate degree from KU under her belt. In a few years, Kastor will have her third degree — this time in law.

Caroline Kastor (center) used to play professional soccer for the FC Kansas City Blues.

“KU Law is so reputable and well-loved that deciding to apply was a no-brainer,” Kastor said.

A second-year law student and Wichita native, Kastor spent the summer doing legal research as a law clerk at Stevens & Brand LLP in Lawrence.

“I was able to work on a variety of projects for different attorneys at the firm and learned a ton because of the array of projects that were assigned,” she said. “I was also given opportunities for hands-on experience, like the option to attend client meetings or sit in on client phone calls. It was invaluable.”

Kastor said she gained a better understanding of the practical side of law, learned about the workings of a firm and created valuable relationships with attorneys and staff through her position at Stevens & Brand. The most rewarding part of her role was helping solve problems that arose.

Caroline Kastor celebrates her baby shower with her husband Bobby and stepdaughters, Tess and Maeve.

“Being able to find answers that can help a client and really feeling like you made a difference — especially when there is an observable outcome of the work you contributed on someone’s behalf,” Kastor said.

In addition to her work at the law firm this summer, Kastor is also very involved with Kansas Athletics. During her first year of law school, she balanced her classes with a position as a graduate assistant for the women’s soccer team. Kastor’s history as a student athlete at KU and a professional soccer player for the FC Kansas City Blues made her an excellent candidate to work with the athletics department. She enjoys helping student athletes and making a positive impact on the soccer program.

“I know from experience how hard it can be to balance both school and sports,” Kastor said.

Shortly after finishing her summer clerkship at Stevens & Brand, Kastor gave birth to a baby boy. Kastor anticipates that balancing law school and a newborn will be challenging, but she has a great support system.

This summer, Caroline Kastor gave birth to Robert “Bobby” Kastor shortly after finishing up her legal clerkship.

“I imagine the advice ‘sleep when they sleep’ will be more like ‘read when they sleep’ for a law student,” Kastor joked. “Luckily, I have great immediate support from my amazing husband and two stepdaughters — as well as great support from the community at the law school and where I work.”

For the remainder of her time in law school, Kastor plans to continue working at Kansas Athletics and searching for opportunities to get more legal experience. She is also exploring her interests in the fields of estate planning, elder law and family law.

Kastor hopes to one day practice law in an area that makes a difference as well as energizes and excites her.

— By Ashley Hocking 

This post is the tenth 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 Luster and Becky Howlett. 

Recent Graduate Spotlight: Becky Howlett advocates for Navajo Nation

Earning a certificate in tribal law was pivotal in Becky Howlett’s legal education.

“Ultimately, my experiences in KU Law’s Tribal Law and Government Center were part of the underlying reason I chose to dedicate my legal career to advocating on behalf of tribal governments and indigenous peoples,” Howlett said.

A member of the Navajo Nation Bar Association, Howlett serves as outside counsel at the tribe’s Department of Justice in Window Rock, Arizona. She assists with public safety priorities, manages a working group undertaking a comprehensive analysis of the Nation’s criminal code, and drafts tribal codes, rules and procedures.

It can be difficult, she said, coordinating with people across departments and divisions.

“Improving public safety on the Nation is a multidisciplinary effort, and getting all the necessary stakeholders together in one place on a regular basis to communicate and collaborate can be a challenge,” Howlett said. “For example, many participants may be located hundreds of miles away from the meeting location or simply be unable to attend due to a general lack of staff and resources.”

Howlett said the most rewarding part of her job is developing long-term relationships and building trust among Navajo partners.

“I have been coming out to the Navajo Reservation for a couple of years now, and there is nothing better than feeling like a member of the community when I travel into Window Rock,” she said. “It warms my heart to be recognized and greeted by not only Navajo Nation Department of Justice staff, but also local hotel and restaurant workers. This small community, seemingly out in the middle of nowhere, has truly become like my second home.”

Howlett was born and raised in Kansas City, Kansas. She graduated from the University of Kansas in 2011 with bachelor’s degrees in English and journalism. She earned a KU Law degree in 2014. During law school, Howlett worked as a summer associate at two different law firms in Seattle, as well as an intern at the Kansas Native American Affairs Office in Topeka. She was also involved in KU’s Native American Law Students Association, Women in Law and the Environmental Law Society.

Howlett maintains fond memories of participating in the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition — despite almost being stranded in an ice storm on the first night of the competition.

“We somehow were able to get a ride back with some other competitors as opposed to calling Professor Elizabeth Kronk Warner at 2 a.m. to come get us,” Howlett said. “I think we would have walked rather than take the second option, to be honest.”

During her time in Green Hall, Howlett also gained practical experience through her involvement with the Kansas Law Review and the Tribal Judicial Support Clinic.

“During the clinic we drafted laws for a local tribe to enact the Tribal Law and Order Act and the Violence Against Women Act,” she said. “I have drawn upon my familiarity with these two federal laws at all of my jobs since graduation, including a nonprofit organization and a big law firm. Much of my current role is drafting tribal code amendments, so my KU Law experience is directly relevant to the work I do today.”

— By Ashley Hocking 

This post is the ninth 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 Heeren and Miranda Luster. 

Student Spotlight: Miranda Luster finds reward in helping others

This summer was a balancing act for 3L Miranda Luster.

From Monday through Wednesday, she was a legal intern at the Shawnee County Public Defender’s Office and the Capital Appeals and Conflicts Office in Topeka.

On Thursdays and Fridays, she interned for solo practitioner Betsy Mellor in Kansas City, Kansas. Mellor, L’97, practices family, criminal and municipal law in Kansas and Missouri.

At the Public Defender’s Office, Luster wrote motions and did jail intakes. She went to the jail to meet with clients and record their basic information, including health history and whether they are able to make bond.

Through this position, she found the most reward in helping others.

“I know public defenders get a bad rap, but this job is really important,” Luster said. “We help people who don’t have the money to hire an attorney get through a complicated legal system and come out with a result that’s best for rehabilitating the client and the community.”

At her internship with Mellor, she attended court, researched nuanced areas of law, attended client meetings, wrote notices of hearing and appeared in court, if necessary.

“I’m helping people through the complicated court process during a time in their life that’s normally quite a low point,” Luster said.

Miranda Luster and solo practitioner Betsy Mellor, L’97, attend the Wyandotte County Bar Association golf tournament.

Through both of her positions, her goal was to gain confidence in her abilities and become comfortable in court.

“I can learn how to write a motion or research at school, but getting comfortable with the real-world practice can only occur outside of school,” she said.

The most challenging part of each of her positions was time management.

“I’m still very new to this field, so I don’t always understand how long something will take,” Luster said. “As I gain more skills, I will be able to help more clients more quickly. But in the meantime, learning that balance has been important but difficult — and often frustrating — when I unknowingly take on too much.”

Luster is originally from Stillwater, Oklahoma. She stayed in her hometown to earn undergraduate degrees in political science and French from Oklahoma State University.

During her junior year of college, she visited Lawrence with a group of friends and fell in love with the community. She sat in on Professor Stephen McAllister’s Torts class.

“I can honestly say that when I walked out of the doors of the law school, I knew in my bones KU was where I was supposed to go,” Luster said. “It probably sounds cheesy, but I believe that what is meant to be will happen.”

Luster was so confident in her decision to go to KU Law that she did not apply to any other law schools.

“I knew KU was where I was meant to be,” she said. “So I rolled the dice and it worked out just fine.”

At KU Law, Luster is a Dean’s Fellow, the staff articles editor for the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy and a student member of the Academic Affairs Committee. She also serves as chief justice of the Student Senate Court of Appeals and is a member of both the Student Conduct and the Sexual Harassment hearing panels run through the Student Affairs office.

Luster hopes to use the experience and knowledge she gained from her internships and extracurricular involvement to launch her career.

“My goal is to join a state public defender’s office in Kansas or Missouri, so I can continue fighting the good fight,” she said.

 — By Ashley Hocking 

This post is the eighth 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 Pringle and Madeline Heeren 

KU Law professor shares renewable energy law, policy expertise in India

Professors Uday Shankar and Uma Outka co-taught a two-week course about renewable energy law and policy in May at the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law in Kharagpur, India.

Climate change is a global problem. A University of Kansas energy law scholar recently traveled to India to explore solutions rooted in renewable energy law and policy with Indian students and faculty.

KU Law Professor Uma Outka co-taught a two-week course about renewable energy law and policy in May at the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law in Kharagpur, India. She taught the course alongside 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.

The Technology Guest House is designed to house visiting faculty at the Rajiv Gandhi School of Intellectual Property Law.

“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. “Energy law is an emerging field in India, and Uday Shankar is one of the few professors beginning to regularly teach the subject in Indian law schools. It is exciting to see the field begin to expand in India.”

Outka and Shankar taught their course in an interdisciplinary manner to a mix of students studying law and engineering.

“Some students had never taken a class related to public policy and others were well-versed in legal concepts, so we structured the course to meet the students’ spectrum of preparation,” Outka said. “The feedback from students who had not been exposed previously to law and policy was really enthusiastic.”

One highlight of Outka’s trip was connecting with Dr. Gon Chaudhuri, an Indian expert on renewable energy. “He was instrumental in launching solar energy policy in India,” she said. “He has worked on climate change negotiations and was one of the lecturers in our course.”

Professor Uma Outka met Dr. Gon Chaudhuri, an Indian expert on renewable energy.

Outka appreciated the opportunity to experience higher education in a different county. She stayed in the institute’s guesthouse for visiting faculty during her visit. “I enjoyed being part of university life,” she said. “There, the faculty and staff all live on campus.”

Outka urges students and faculty alike to pursue international exchanges because they enhance understanding of others’ experiences in an increasingly globalized world.

“I think it’s important, whenever anyone has a chance, to visit a country like India,” she said. “It is a strong emerging economy with over a billion people. I plan to maintain these connections and hope to return. Engaging in this kind of cross-cultural work is a great opportunity.”

The University of Kansas School of Law has strong and growing ties to India.

  • KU Law Professors Raj Bhala, Uma Outka and John Peck have visited India, delivering major presentations and offering their scholarship and teaching expertise.
  • KU Law has hosted several Overseas Visiting Scholars from India, and a number of Indian students have graduated from KU Law’s S.J.D. and Two-Year J.D. programs.
  • KU Law has memoranda of understanding (MOU) with four Indian universities. These partnerships encourage interaction, program development and cross-marketing of degree programs:
    • National Academy of Legal Studies and Research, Hyderabad.
    • Government Law College, Mumbai.
    • Jindal Global Law School, Sonipat.
    • Indian Law Institute, New Delhi.
  • During recent Indian Society of International Law elections, several friends of KU Law won senior leadership positions. The following new officers are now or have been law professors at schools with which KU Law has an MOU or have visited KU Law as scholars:
    • Anupam Jha, professor of law, University of Delhi, former KU Law Visiting Scholar, elected executive council member.
    • J.L. Kaul, professor of law, University of Delhi, elected executive council member.
    • Y.S.R. Murthy, professor of law, Jindal Global Law School, elected vice president.
    • Dabiru Sridhar Patnaik, professor, Jindal Global Law School, elected treasurer.
    • Manoj Kumar Sinha, director, Indian Law Institute, New Delhi, elected vice president.
  • KU Law Professor Raj Bhala authors “On Point,” a monthly column in India’s BloombergQuint focusing on international legal and economic affairs.

— By Ashley Hocking

Recent Graduate Spotlight: Madeline Heeren makes a worldwide impact

As an international trade compliance specialist for the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, D.C., Madeline Heeren uses the knowledge she gained in Professor Raj Bhala’s international trade and finance classes every day.

In fact, KU Law’s strong international trade law program and distinguished professors are what drew the Lenexa native to Green Hall. During her time as a law student, she set out to gain as much international law experience as possible and to set herself apart from others.

Heeren, L’15, studied abroad in Istanbul, worked as a summer associate at law firms in both Bangladesh and India, and co-founded a nonprofit organization to help people in least developed countries obtain basic needs. She also served as president of the Student Bar Association, worked as a research assistant for Bhala and earned the International Trade and Finance Certificate.

In addition to her academic achievements, Heeren made lifelong connections during her time at KU Law.

“KU Law has had a huge impact on my life,” she said. “I met my husband in my summer starter class, and the judge I clerked for, Judge Robert Berger, officiated our wedding.”

Her spouse, Aqmar Rahman, also graduated in 2015. He is an international trade attorney in Washington, D.C.

At the Department of Commerce, Heeren leads and manages antidumping cases against large multinational organizations, trains new employees and represents the U.S. government abroad in interactions with foreign governments and multinational organizations.

One of the things Heeren enjoys most about her job is giving American businesses the opportunity to thrive through tariffs put in place by the Commerce Department.

“There has been a lot of news about steel and aluminum produced and sold by various countries at unfair values, either through dumping or subsidies, that are saturating the U.S. market and putting domestic companies out of business,” she said. “It is incredibly rewarding to know that I am helping create an even playing field for American companies to compete.”

One challenge the international trade community faces is a high volume of antidumping and countervailing duty cases by the international trade administration. Heeren said the caseload is higher than it has been in the last several decades.

“The decisions that we make have a huge impact on business abroad and locally, so it is important that even though the work has increased that these decisions are made carefully and correctly,” she said.

Heeren encourages students be as active as possible in law school.

“Participate in student organizations, clerkships and internships,” she said. “Look for opportunities that set you apart from other applicants. Sometimes the best opportunities are not the ones advertised, but ones that you find yourself.”

Even though she is hundreds of miles away from Lawrence, Heeren finds plenty of opportunities to connect with the Jayhawk network.

“KU Law continues to have a great impact on my life in Washington, D.C., where I get to work with fellow Jayhawks,” she said. “During basketball season, all the Jayhawks in the area get together at a local bar to watch all the games.”

— By Ashley Hocking

This post is the seventh in a series highlighting the diverse internships and jobs KU Law students and recent graduates are engaged in over the summer and early in their careers. Check out earlier posts from this series about Omar HusainJames HamptonMalika BakerLindsay StrongArturo Garcia and Jessie Pringle