Posted on November 16, 2016
Future Jayhawk lawyer relishes D.C. experience
This summer I worked and lived in D.C. and cannot wait to go back. Working with incredible D.C. and Virginia attorneys cemented my desire to be part of the legal community there. Landing an internship in D.C. was not easy. Getting advice from KU alumni in the area was a huge help in understanding the legal culture and knowing what to expect at D.C. firms. I was also helped by personal connections to lawyers in the area. I used these connections to target specific litigation firms. I sent out resumes and detailed, firm-specific cover letters. I flew to D.C. in August 2015 and spent a week going to as many interviews as I could schedule. Through these efforts, I landed an internship at Ashcraft & Gerel LLP, a great plaintiff’s civil litigation firm.
I worked in Ashcraft & Gerel’s D.C. and Alexandria offices, switching back and forth between mass torts and workers’ compensation. These two areas are very different, and I was able to get a broad range of experience. In workers’ comp I responded to interrogatories, prepared motions for court, drafted settlement demand letters, and attended hearings. Workers’ comp taught me the importance of the local bar. D.C.’s bar is not as big as you might expect, and maintaining positive working relationships across the aisle is essential.
In the mass torts division, I researched different jurisdiction’s laws, wrote memos, and compiled and organized client data. Our firm worked with firms from all over the country. Efficiently working with attorneys in different firms and time zones is a much-needed skill. I enjoyed the work and loved working with Ashcraft & Gerel.
I also loved living in D.C. The area is filled with exciting and delicious experiences. One of my favorite discoveries was Union Market, a warehouse filled with vendors serving delicious food from all over the world. D.C. also has a great sports culture. I went to a Nationals baseball game and had an incredible time surrounded by Nationals’ fans.
If I ever got home sick for Lawrence, I would visit Old Town, Alexandria. Old Town is a cute, Lawrence-esque small town within a large city. I also enjoyed getting out of the D.C. area. There are wonderful national and state parks not far from the city. Bear Island, 30 minutes outside of D.C., had the best hiking trail I have ever been on. The trail involved scrambling up cliffs, jumping from rock to rock, and taking in incredible views.
I very much enjoyed my summer and am excited to start my career in D.C. after I graduate. My internship gave me first-hand exposure to the area’s legal culture and introduced me to aspects of D.C. I had never seen before.
My advice to anyone considering a career or internship in D.C. is to find a way to travel there to network and job search. It can be difficult to convince smaller firms and government agencies to fly you out for an interview. It is a lot easier to convince a firm to interview you when you will already be in the area. Ask our KU Law Career Services Office for contacts in the D.C. area. There are many alumni living and working in D.C. who are willing to give advice and point you in the right direction.
— Ciara Malone is a 3L from Overland Park, Kansas.
Posted on November 3, 2016
Mock trial prepares undergraduates for law school
KU Law provides ample opportunities for students to gain hands-on courtroom experience, but for some future Jayhawk lawyers, the training began long before stepping foot in Green Hall. KU is home to a growing mock trial program that allows undergraduate students of all academic majors to participate in simulated courtroom trials. For some students, mock trial is a fun weekend diversion and a great opportunity to make new connections and brush up on presentation and analytical skills. For others, it’s all that plus the first step in launching a legal career.
2L David Hammack built on his undergraduate mock trial experience by pursuing law school at KU. The program provided public speaking experience and an introduction to the legal system. “The first time I stood up to give a cross examination, I remember my legs shaking so bad I thought I wouldn’t be able to walk,” Hammack said. “After a while, it became second nature. I came from a family with no legal background, so it was invaluable to learn some of the procedure and terminology.”
Classmate and former teammate Jordan Kane agrees. “It wasn’t until I was in law school that I realized how much mock trial benefited me,” Kane said. “It gave me great context for understanding the content I was learning in my courses. It also gave me practical knowledge about trials that most law students do not learn until their second or third year of law school.” Kane learned the basic structure of a trial, from how to give opening and closing statements, to questioning witnesses, to using Federal Rules of Evidence. Mock trial also teaches students proper courtroom decorum, teamwork and strategy.
Hammack and Kane note that few things compare to the rigor and intensity of the first year of law school, but mock trial offers a foundation for the practical skills lawyers need to succeed, including oral advocacy and familiarity with trial procedures.
“The first year of law school was fairly different than mock trial because most of what first year involved was studying and reading case law,” Kane said. “In my second year, there has been a lot of use for my mock trial experience. For example, I am taking evidence and I have already had four years of experience applying the Federal Rules of Evidence.”
Hammack and Kane continue to expand their practical skills experience. Hammack participated in the Judicial Field Placement and serves as chief en banc of Traffic Court, while Kane interns with the Project for Innocence. Both plan to participate in moot court and will compete as partners.
“I would absolutely recommend mock trial to anyone considering litigation,” Kane said. “During four years of undergrad, I’ve participated in over 60 mock trials. Through those experiences I developed courtroom presence and invaluable practice being an attorney in a competitive setting.”
First-year law student Tyler Fix, 2L Daniel Hilliard and 3L Eric Wilson also participated in KU’s undergraduate mock trial program. KU will host its annual Jayhawk Invitational Mock Trial Tournament in Lawrence Dec. 3-4, 2016. See our previous post about the team, and check out the latest on KU Law’s new mock trial program. Learn more about the KU mock trial program on Facebook and Twitter.
– By Emily Sharp
Posted on October 26, 2016
KU Law student leverages EJW Conference to launch legal career
As a 1L, Emily Dutcher spent a month volunteering at Cape Town’s Project Abroad Human Rights Office, providing legal aid in vast shanty towns of over a million people. Demand for assistance was so acute that client lines snaked out the clinic door.
“The disparity in wealth, education and resources simply left them without knowledge of any of their rights,” Dutcher said. “They were always so happy when we told them they weren’t allowed to be treated a certain way.”
Dutcher’s experience in South Africa cemented her passion for a legal career focused on public service.
Back in the states, she applied to attend the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair in Washington, D.C. The conference is the largest career fair of its kind, allowing students to network and interview with more than 150 employers from across the country. The KU Law Career Services Office paid all expenses for Dutcher and 12 other students to participate in 2015.
With a focus on landing a summer field placement near Charlotte, North Carolina, Dutcher interviewed with both the public defender’s and prosecutor’s office from that community and others. Before she had even returned to Kansas, Dutcher received an offer from the Mecklenburg County Public Defender’s Office – an offer she ultimately accepted.
“I spent my days in front of judges, advocating for indigent clients who were told daily that because they were poor they weren’t able to have certain things in life,” Dutcher said. “The goal of my office was to provide good, honest, hard-working counsel and to treat defendants as human beings. My clients were grateful and surprised anyone cared for them, and that firmly grounded me in the public defender world.”
Dutcher worked alongside students from law schools like Duke, Virginia, Wake Forest, NYU, George Washington and UCLA. They served adult clients charged with criminal offenses in state trial courts, learning from the more than 60 attorneys who handle cases in the office. Inspired by that experience, Dutcher hopes to secure a public defender position after graduation.
“I am certain I would not have gotten the job in Charlotte had I not attended EJW last October. It’s a great chance for those who want to work outside of the Midwest to meet with employers face to face,” Dutcher said. “Nailing down a summer job early gave me peace of mind, and Career Services made sure the trip was one to remember. There was even an alumni event that allowed students to network with Jayhawk lawyers in D.C.”
Dutcher will return to the nation’s capital this month with 16 other KU Law students attending the 2016 EJW Conference and Career Fair as guests of KU Law’s Career Services Office. Several of them are preparing to spend their final leg of law school in KU Law’s 6th Semester in D.C. Program, working in field placements at government agencies, nonprofits and NGOs while taking classes from KU Law faculty and establishing a professional network in D.C.
For Dutcher, who thoroughly enjoyed her time in Charlotte last summer, a public interest job in North or South Carolina is the ultimate goal.
“The skills we learn in law school are valuable and unique,” she said. “I want to use my skills to help others who may otherwise be at a loss.”
— By Mindie Paget
Posted on October 19, 2016
First impressions from an accelerated degree student
I am about halfway into my first semester of law school and I can say, without hesitation, that I’ve gotten myself into the most fulfilling, outrageous, exhausting, formative, wonderful journey of my life. It’s not like what I expected, though.
I am a member of the first cohort of KU’s Legal Education Accelerated Degree six-year BA+JD program. The LEAD program pre-admits students from high school, so I’ve been set on going to KU Law since I was 18 years old.
In anticipation of my ultimate foray into this law thing, the last three years I had been building up many expectations of how I thought it would be. The first months of law school have been a bull in my china shop of expectations. In order to shed some light for undergrad LEADers or those considering law school, I’d like to share some of these expectations and compare them to reality as a neophyte in the field of law.
“Law school is for people who are boring and ugly and serious.” — Elle’s dad from “Legally Blonde”
The people here are serious, no doubt. Most of my colleagues have years of work experience, amazing life stories, or other graduate degrees – and they mean business when they come to law school. Being surrounded by this caliber of people is both inspiring and humbling, and might be my favorite part of the whole thing. However, the people are anything but boring or ugly. We gather for a ton of social events such as weekly bar crawls, tailgates, Halloween parties, casino nights, happy hours with professors, and even a Law Prom. There are many opportunities to forge friendships, and the common experience of being law students strengthens these friendships to the point where I know they’ll last a lifetime.
Being a lawyer is about verbally outmaneuvering your enemies in the courtroom.
No, it is nothing like “Suits” or “Law & Order” — sorry. Being a lawyer is about diligently researching a topic by spending many hours reading previously decided cases with similar issues and looking for precedent. Moreover, the vast majority of cases will never go to trial, so the big thrill for lawyers is writing a good document, not dropping evidence bombs in front of a jury. Reading comprehension and written analysis are definitely the key skills, not being able to use “verisimilitude” conversationally. So don’t worry if public speaking isn’t your thing.
Law school probably won’t be that much harder than undergrad.
Wrong. But the work is infinitely more interesting and usable, so it is actually enjoyable. Also, although the work load is substantially higher on a daily basis, it is a blessing in disguise. One of my biggest takeaways so far is a new appreciation for the value of my time. You can definitely see this same appreciation among professors and other students as well. People in this field learn how to work hard and efficiently so they can carve out time for the things they enjoy most in life.
I never could have foreseen just what law school would be like, but so far I am anything but disappointed.
— Nate Crosser is a first-year law student and KU Law Student Ambassador from Lenexa, Kansas. He is a member of the inaugural LEAD Program class. The deadline to apply for the accelerated degree program is Dec. 1.
Posted on October 10, 2016
Roger Viola’s KU Law degree has opened many doors in his life, both professionally and personally. He and his wife recently responded by creating a scholarship.
Consider it a note of sincere thanks.
“I have had the opportunity to work in several interesting and rewarding legal fields, and none of this would have been possible without my KU Law degree,” said Viola, L’74. “I had the good fortune of having some of the best law professors in the country. The scholarship is one way to say thank you to such a great group of faculty for all they’ve done for me.”
The Violas established the Roger and Karen Viola Law Scholarship with an initial $15,000 gift and a three-year pledge to increase the fund to $30,000. The need-based award is reserved for a recipient who graduated from a Kansas high school.
“While our scholarship is currently modest in size, we hope to increase it during our lifetime and through our estate,” Viola said. “Karen and I look forward to meeting many of these students and following their progress.”
Now retired, Roger Viola worked in a variety of legal settings during his career, including private law firms, corporations, state agencies and nonprofit organizations. Most recently, he led the Topeka Community Foundation as president from 2007-2016. His daughter, Cori, graduated from KU Law in 2016.
PHOTO | Roger Viola, L’74 (right) and his wife, Karen (left), celebrate the 2016 KU Law graduation of their daughter Cori. Karen is holding granddaughter Rose Loftus (Cori’s niece), who joined the festivities.
Posted on September 22, 2016
Student finds opportunity, community and special history in Dodge City
I recently spent two days in Dodge City, Kansas, attending the 2016 Southwest Kansas Bar Association Annual Meeting. (That’s me, second from left in the photo.) The trip was arranged and sponsored by the KU Law Career Services Offices, and five KU Law students participated. For me, there was one main question: Do I want to practice law in southwest Kansas? After completing the trip and reflecting on that query, my answer is yes.
In advance of the trip, I developed a three-part elements test to answer my main question. The elements were:
- Whether there was opportunity for me to prosper practicing law in southwest Kansas;
- Whether the community was a good fit for me; and
- Whether there was something special or legendary about the place.
Per the nature of a conjunctive test, and my affirmative answer to the main question stated above, you already know that the answer to each of these questions is also yes.
Opportunity to prosper practicing law is important. Law students invest a lot of time, work, and money to become qualified to practice law, and that investment should bring a handsome return. I found that such returns are available in southwest Kansas. Sitting in an Old West saloon, practicing attorneys from Dodge City, Garden City, Liberal and other frontier towns emphasized that there is plenty of legal work in the area. One experienced attorney said, “You can make as much money as hours you are willing to work.” Given that the going rate is $150-$250 per hour – and there is as much work as a young attorney can handle – I concluded that the opportunity element was satisfied and moved on to the community element.
Community is important. I want to live happily both in my career and at home. That means more than just developing my skills and getting paid well. It means having good neighbors. If the attorneys, judges, law enforcement, and locals I met in Dodge City are any indication, the community is friendly and welcoming. In addition to those I met, there is a growing immigrant population from more than a dozen countries bringing their rich cultures to the area. There are also a number of young professionals working at hospitals, offices, and colleges in the area whom I would be sure to get along with well. I could see myself going to church, playing sports, hunting, writing, serving on boards, and doing other fulfilling things with the people of southwest Kansas. Collectively, those people satisfied the community element, so I considered the legendary element.
Legends never die. Well, the saying from “The Sandlot” goes, “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” “The Sandlot” is one of my favorite childhood movies, and since childhood I have fancied myself a legend in the making. As such, I want to be in a legendary place where legendary people have been. Southwest Kansas is legendary. I found that the area is really more akin to the American Southwest than to the prairie states of the Midwest. It looks and feels like the Old West movies I love so much, and the people there seem to fit the part with their cowboy hats and sure gazes. The legendary history of the area includes hard times during the Dust Bowl era, travels on the Santa Fe Trail, and massive cattle drives up from Texas to the railroad. Legendary lawmen like Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and Bat Masterson made their names in Dodge City. Perhaps its grandiosity, but I think I can make a name for myself there, too. I could be a legendary lawman of a different sort, I imagine. The larger-than-life history and potential for becoming noteworthy in southwest Kansas satisfied the legendary element.
When we look back on our lives, we can place dots along the timeline where significant events occurred. In my life, there are many events that were necessary to get me where I am today. Had my mother not taught me to be determined, I would not have pushed through hard times in work, life, and school. Had I not answered the call to serve in the Army, I would not have had the opportunity to witness and mimic professionals working toward a greater goal. Had I not acted on my passion for justice, I would not have taken the LSAT and applied to KU Law. Whether or not my experience in southwest Kansas this semester becomes a dot on my timeline remains to be seen. That said, because I discovered all three things I was looking for there, I suspect it will be.
— Jonathan Ehrlich is a second-year law student from Creston, Iowa, who served in the U.S. Army and earned a degree in philosophy and religion before law school. He is interested in opening a general practice in a rural area.
PHOTO | KU Law students (from left) Helen Jacober Atkinson, Jonathan Ehrlich, Alex Driskell, Austin Knoblock and Gabriella Guerena recently visited Dodge City as a guest of the Southwest Kansas Bar Association and the KU Law Office of Career Services.
Posted on September 20, 2016
Dual degree candidate studies international trade in the breadbasket of Europe
As a JD/MA candidate in Russian, East European, Eurasian Studies and Law I’ve long had an interest in Eastern Europe, but it wasn’t until I studied international trade at KU Law that I began to focus my studies on Ukraine. During my 1L year, the Euromaidan protests ensued, Crimea was annexed, and the conflict in Donbas escalated. Media outlets mentioned Ukraine nearly every day.
Ukraine and the EU signed an Association Agreement (AA), which includes the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA). I recognized new prospects and challenges would arise from these relationships, and as an aspiring international trade lawyer, I wanted to learn more. I had studied Russia and Russian language, receiving a BA in Russian and International Relations. I knew studying another Slavic language and country would give me a leg up in the field.
I focused my research on Ukraine’s international trade system, particularly its challenges in shifting from predominantly trading with Russia, to openly trading with the EU, and adjusting to a new market and requirements. I realized if I really wanted to improve my language skills and understand the complexities of the culture, economics, rule of law, and politics, I had to go to Ukraine. I researched programs from which the ABA accepted credit, and approached Dean Kronk-Warner about the possibility. I was approved by the law school and by the university (Ukraine is under a travel advisory from the State Department and required further permission), and received a scholarship. I enrolled at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy, a well-known and reputable university in the region and the oldest in Ukraine.
During my time studying, researching, and living in Ukraine, I used Russian and Ukrainian every day. Ukraine has a bilingual polity, likely more so than any other country in the world. I found it frustrating when I wanted to speak one or the other: menus in Ukrainian, waiter speaking Russian, professor speaking Ukrainian, advertisement in Russian, etc. I worried that I would speak someone’s second language or offend them. Then I had an opportunity to go to a village of my one of my friends in Central Ukraine, and everyone there spoke “surzhik” (a mixture of the two languages). I learned to relax and find common language. As a foreigner, most assume if you are going to speak a foreign language you speak Russian, but on three different occasions, people told me it touched their heart when I spoke Ukrainian.
Besides understanding the language, conversations in classes and at activities such as Ukrainian speaking club allowed me to understand diverse viewpoints about Euromaidan, politics, the tensions with Russia, Ukraine’s future, and the DCFTA, which came into force when I arrived in Kyiv. One of my professors worked at the EU Mission to Ukraine, so she informed us of the developments.
As a result of my Ukrainian studies and research, I have been awarded some great opportunities. I interned this summer at the joint United Nations/World Trade Organization agency, the International Trade Centre (ITC). I worked in the Office of East Europe and Central Asia, and one of the primary reasons ITC offered me the internship was because of the agency’s new project in Ukraine. I helped Ukrainian fruit and vegetable exporters enter the EU market and comply with DCFTA standards. I was able to convey to businesses how the system works and how it is beneficial to Ukraine and the EU. I plan to build upon these experiences to pursue a career in diplomacy and international development through trade.
Traveling around Ukraine and enjoying the culture was just as enjoyable as my professional and academic work. From seeing beautiful cities such as Lviv and Odessa, to mustering up the courage to visit Chernobyl and mourn the tragedy on its 30th anniversary, to wearing a vyshyvanka (a hand-embroidered shirt) and eating borsch with salo (a beet soup with cured pig fat), it was a truly valuable experience. I would encourage any law student to learn more about developing markets and seek opportunities there. For me, it is Ukraine, and as it is known as the breadbasket of Europe and for its sunflowers, Ukraine is not so different from Kansas.
– Josh DeMoss is a 3L from Gilmer, Texas.
Posted on September 13, 2016
I had always thought about going to law school as a kid but never truly had an opportunity to see what life is like as an attorney until I had my first legal internship as an undergraduate.
As a student at the University of Arizona, I interned in U.S. Probation and Pretrial services for three years. It was one of the best job experiences I ever had, because it gave me an intimate look at how the federal courts work, as well as how attorneys work with their clients to preserve their rights.
During this experience, I got the chance to meet the Honorable Chief Judge Raner Collins. He was the first judge I met during this internship, and I was so impressed with how intelligent, friendly and inspirational he was. I quickly made up my mind as an undergrad that sometime during law school I would try to work for him as an extern or clerk.
Sure enough, following my 1L year, I was given the opportunity to apply to work in his chambers. These positions for law students at the federal court in Tucson are competitive, especially with another law school just a few miles away. My lawyering professors helped me produce a great writing sample, and accomplished faculty members wrote me letters of recommendation, for which I am extremely grateful. It would’ve been difficult to obtain a spot in Judge Collins’ chambers without the help of KU Law.
Like many 1Ls going into their first summer jobs and internships, I was nervous at first because I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was happy to be put at ease after the first meeting in Judge Collins’ chambers. He’s personable and friendly. There was even a business casual dress code, which was convenient considering how hot Arizona summers can be!
The judicial field placement program was extremely rewarding. Not only did I learn a lot from my work in the judge’s chambers, but I also got the chance to tour two different federal corrections prisons in Tucson and Florence, Arizona. I also got an exclusive tour of the Arizona-Mexico border in Nogales, put on by U.S. Border Patrol in conjunction with the courthouse.
I am interested in a litigation career, and this field placement assured me that I’m on the right path. This summer I researched and drafted bench memoranda while researching complex legal issues. I learned a great deal from the communication I had with Judge Collins and other members of counsel, a highlight of the experience. It was truly the best summer I’ve had as a student.
– Davis Bauer is a 2L from Phoenix, Arizona.
Posted on August 29, 2016
‘There is quite a bit of nostalgia in my return’
Professor Sarah Deer has returned to the University of Kansas School of Law to serve as the 2016 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor.
Deer is a graduate of both the University of Kansas (1995) and KU Law (1999), and is currently a professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. She is recognized nationally for her expertise on sexual violence in Indian country and her advocacy on behalf of Native women.
This fall, Deer will co-teach the Sex Crimes course with KU Law Professor Corey Rayburn Yung, and the Tribal Judicial Support Clinic with Professor Elizabeth Kronk Warner. She will also teach a class on Feminist Jurisprudence.
“I am honored to have been selected for the Langston Hughes Visiting Professorship this semester,” Deer said. “I have missed Lawrence ever since graduating, and there is quite a bit of nostalgia in my return. I have strong Jayhawk heritage in my family.”
Both of Deer’s parents attended KU, and she met her husband, Neal Axton, L’98, during law school.
A citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, Deer has documented in her scholarship a history of inadequate protection for victims of physical and sexual abuse in Indian country. She has simultaneously worked with grassroots and national organizations to reform federal policies that hinder the ability of tribes to prosecute offenders. Her efforts were instrumental in the passage of the Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010 and the 2013 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. In 2014, she was named a MacArthur Fellow by the MacArthur Foundation.
Deer recently published a book, “The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America,” and participated in a conference hosted by the White House Council on Women and Girls.
“Since receiving the MacArthur fellowship in 2014, I have been focused on scholarship and activism that amplifies the voices of Native women – particularly those affected by violence and abuse,” she said. “During the last year, I co-authored two Supreme Court amicus briefs on behalf of Native women’s organizations.”
Deer’s next book project will feature the writings of young Native women who are working on social justice issues. Down the road, she plans to publish a book on indigenous feminist legal theory in American law.
“Having the opportunity to co-teach Sex Crimes and teach Feminist Jurisprudence at KU will provide even more foundation for that project,” Deer said.
The Langston Hughes Visiting Professorship was established at KU in 1977 in honor of the African-American poet, playwright and fiction writer who lived in Lawrence from 1903 to 1916. The professorship attracts prominent or emerging ethnic minority scholars to KU. This is the first Langston Hughes appointment for the law school.
Posted on July 27, 2016
A KU Law graduate who has built a successful career in the international energy sector is supporting the school where he got his start.
John P. Bowman, L’80, a partner at King & Spalding LLP in Houston, recently established the John P. Bowman Law Fund with a $125,000 gift to KU Law. The fund will provide unrestricted support to the law school.
“For many years, I have wanted to thank KU Law for teaching, training, and enabling me to pursue a truly enjoyable, always challenging career as an advocate representing international oil companies in international oil and gas disputes,” Bowman said. “I hope this gift will help KU students and faculty pursue careers in the law that they find equally rewarding.”
For 36 years, Bowman has represented international energy companies in a wide range of commercial and investment disputes. He leads King & Spalding’s upstream oil and gas practice segment and frequently writes and speaks on international arbitration and international oil and gas topics. During law school, he was editor-in-chief of the Kansas Law Review.
Bowman, who earned a bachelor’s in economics and humanities from KU in 1974, also made a $125,000 gift to the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in support of the humanities.