Student Spotlight: Jessie Pringle hopes to increase access to justice

Through a legal tech fellowship at Kansas Legal Services, Jessie Pringle spent the summer learning how technology can help close the justice gap.

“I am empowering people to navigate the justice system when they can’t afford an attorney or there aren’t enough resources for us to represent them directly,” Pringle said. “Frankly, there’s not enough resources at any legal aid organization to help everyone who applies. My job is to increase the number of people who are receiving help to resolve their legal problems.”

Pringle researches and develops legal answers for projects, researches and develops video content, assists with video production and field testing, researches legal issues, provides assistance to website users, participates in stakeholder meetings for projects and updates online legal forms.

Through her fellowship, Pringle has the opportunity to work closely Marilyn Harp, L’79, executive director of Kansas Legal Services.

“She’s a great role model,” Pringle said. “I’ve learned a lot about leadership and the legal field by working for her.”

Jessie Pringle did a fellowship at Kansas Legal Services this summer under the supervision of Research and Development Specialist Melissa Nolte (left) and Executive Director Marilyn Harp (right).

Pringle enjoys knowing the projects she is working on now will have long-lasting benefit because people will continue to use them after her fellowship ends.

“We’re seeing thousands of people use the KLS website and access legal forms,” she said. “The volume of people accessing and using what I am working on is rewarding. Making more resources available for self-representing parties is helpful for the entire legal community; it increases judicial efficiency as litigants know what they’re doing.”

Pringle said her fellowship is different from a traditional legal internship because she oscillates between legal and administrative duties.

“It requires so many more skills beyond what are taught in a traditional legal education,” she said. “While I don’t need to know how to code or anything, I do need to be quick and flexible in approaching technology projects as well as gathering and evaluating data that will help identify what clients need when using the resources.”

By the end of her fellowship, Pringle hopes to have learned as much as possible about working on tech projects and then use that knowledge to improve the community.

“I hope to help spread awareness of the impact of using technology to close the justice gap,” she said. “Any attorney can help with that.”

A Chanute native, Pringle earned her undergraduate degree in history from the University of Kansas, where she served as student body president. At KU Law, Pringle is a member of Women in Law and a student ambassador for the Office of Admissions.

When Jessie Pringle graduates from KU Law in May 2019, she will be following in her father’s footsteps. She will graduate from 29 years after her father, R. Kent Pringle, did.

“My father is a KU Law Grad, and I grew up loving KU Law,” she said. “I wanted to follow in his footsteps and pursue a J.D.”

Pringle plans to use her law degree to pursue a career in civil legal aid.

“I also want to be involved with policies that address and help those in poverty,” Pringle said. “My interests include public benefits, elder issues, housing, public health impacts and domestic violence. So many of the legal issues that legal aid clients face exist because of bad policy. I want to help find ways to improve policy for better life outcomes.”

— By Ashley Hocking

This post is the sixth 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 Strong and Arturo Garcia. 

Recent Graduate Spotlight: Arturo Garcia aims to help immigrants

Arturo Garcia has many reasons to be passionate about immigration law, and he plans to utilize his law degree to help immigrants.

“As a dual citizen of Mexico and the United States, a border-town native and a son of two immigrants, immigration has always been a part of my life,” Garcia said.

Garcia graduated from the University of Kansas School of Law in May 2018 and took the bar exam in July. He will soon start his new role as an associate attorney at Escamilla & Poneck LLP in San Antonio, Texas, focusing on business immigration law.

“I hope to better assist members of the immigrant community in obtaining or maintaining their legal status within the United States by serving as an effective counsel and leader in the San Antonio immigrant community,” Garcia said.

Arturo Garcia attends KU Law’s Diversity Banquet in March 2017.

Garcia said he is most looking forward to helping immigrants stay in the United States and pursue the American dream.

“My work will allow immigrant families to stay together and prosper within the country,” Garcia said. “It will give me great satisfaction to know that I was a part of that.”

He anticipates that his job will be challenging because he will be monitoring constant changes in immigration law. He also acknowledged that it will be trying to accept that not all of his cases will yield positive results.

Garcia said many immigrants from the Northern Triangle of Central America are arriving at the southern border through Texas, trying to gain lawful status in various ways.

“With this influx, there is a greater demand and need for immigration lawyers to be serving this population,” Garcia said. “Therefore, I intend to be an asset to alleviate this issue.”

Arturo Garcia visited the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. while he was a legal intern at the UNHCR during the summer of 2017.

Garcia is originally from El Paso, Texas. He received undergraduate degrees in government and sociology from the University of the Incarnate Word. He chose to go to law school in Kansas to get out of his comfort zone and move to a place where he did not know anyone. His favorite part about KU Law was the companionship among students.

“Whether it was hanging out at one of the law school social events or in the informal commons before class, I learned from and enjoyed interacting with these people,” Garcia said. “I am confident that our friendship will persist in future years.”

Garcia is thankful for the time he spent at KU Law and said the experience pushed him to lengths he did not think he could reach.

“Throughout the past three years, I learned more than I learned in my entire undergraduate career,” Garcia said. “Additionally, KU Law has taught me to be a better writer and researcher, which prepared me for my previous summer jobs and externships and will certainly prepare me for my upcoming job.”

— By Ashley Hocking 

This post is the fifth 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 Baker and Lindsay Strong. 

Green Hall gleams after spring cleaning

Green Hall is looking sharp after a spring cleaning that restored the exterior to its original 1978 luster.

Perched on rigging and lifts, crews from Mid-Continental Restoration out of Fort Scott replaced old caulking around joints and windows, power washed the concrete and glass inch by inch and applied a waterproof sealer designed to help the building withstand the elements and continue aging gracefully.

The $175,000 project took eight weeks, wrapping up in June after breaks for final exams and graduation. KU Law applied a portion of the gifts it received on Feb. 20 during One Day. One KU. – KU’s first 24-hour giving campaign – toward the cost of Green Hall’s facelift. The university also provided financial support for the project.

Thank you to everyone who contributed!

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Recent Graduate Spotlight: Lindsay Strong embarks on new experiences

Lindsay Strong fondly remembers her final trial as a law student.

During her last semester at KU Law, she spent countless hours strategizing, memorizing and executing skills with her trial advocacy partner, Ellen Rudolph. They were tested on a weekly basis leading up to the final trial.

“We strategized as a team, supported each other and challenged each other,” Strong said. “In the end, we were able to persuade the jury to find our client not guilty. It was a great feeling knowing that our hard work paid off and seeing ourselves grow as advocates.”

Strong is from Lincoln, Nebraska. She initially came to KU to pursue an undergraduate degree in psychology and decided to stay for three more years to earn her law degree.

“I was very impressed with the legacy KU Law had in the region,” Strong said. “I attended Admitted Students Weekend and was very impressed with the KU Law staff. The professors seemed genuinely excited to be teaching others about the law, and all had impressive qualifications.”

Strong graduated from KU Law in May 2018. With the bar exam behind her, she is set to begin a clerkship with Justice Caleb Stegall of the Kansas Supreme Court.

After taking Justice Stegall’s Appellate Advocacy class last fall, Strong sought an opportunity to continue to learn from him while serving the state of Kansas.

“I believe that this will be an irreplaceable experience for me,” Strong said. “I will have the opportunity to learn and work with some of the most accomplished individuals in the legal field in the state of Kansas.”

Strong advises current law students to take advantage of every opportunity provided and to not be afraid to branch out to new areas of the law.

Lindsay Strong (left) and Carly Masenthin walk down the hill at commencement on May 13, 2018.

“Law school is the best time to explore areas of the law that you wouldn’t necessarily picture yourself in,” Strong said. “Pick the classes that you think will challenge you — these are the classes you will grow the most from. If you get nervous talking in front of people, take as many simulation classes as you can. This is your opportunity to conquer those fears and practice in a safe environment before you have to exercise these skills in real practice.”

Strong said KU Law provided her with unique experiences to develop as a young attorney and exposed her to the local legal community.

“Whether it was taking a class from a Supreme Court justice, conducting expert witness examinations in front of respected attorneys in KU’s Expert Witness Skills Workshop or being in court for Legal Aid, I was able to meet and learn from practicing attorneys,” Strong said.

One of her favorite memories from law school was the final exam for the Appellate Advocacy class, which took place at the Kansas Supreme Court. The exam consisted of completing a two-issue brief and presenting oral arguments in front of a panel of state appellate court judges.

“Although entirely nerve-racking, it was an unforgettable experience,” Strong said. “Most attorneys strive for the experience of arguing in front of these respected judges. As just second-year and third-year law students, we were fortunate enough to already get the experience.”

— By Ashley Hocking

This post is the fourth 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 Hampton and Malika Baker.

KU Law offers students hands-on experience in electronic discovery

Amii CastleKU Law is among only a handful of law schools offering electronic discovery as a stand-alone class.

Coming from two decades of practice, Professor Amii Castle teaches students how to preserve, ask for, search and produce electronic documents and data. Students learn about advising clients on records retention policies, drafting litigation holds, the Rule 26(f) conference, requesting and producing ESI, search methods, discovery motions, discovery about discovery and requesting electronically stored information (ESI) from third parties.

“Let’s face it: Most young civil litigators spend their first years doing discovery,” Castle said. “In my Electronic Discovery I class, students learn how to conduct discovery in the digital age, and I provide instruction on the best practices in litigating issues involving ESI.”

KU Law also now offers Electronic Discovery II, a second semester of electronic discovery where students put the skills they learn in Electronic Discovery I into practice. Castle strives to present low-stakes opportunities for students to gain practical experience. For example, students conduct a Rule 26(f) conference, draft a planning report and appear before Magistrate Judge Teresa James in a mock Rule 16 conference. Students also draft a motion to compel ESI and then present oral argument on their motions to practicing attorneys. In addition, students in Electronic Discovery II draft requests for production of documents, draft a client letter explaining the duty to preserve and learn the potential arguments surrounding technology-assisted review.

“Employers want young attorneys who are prepared on day one to handle ESI in discovery, and KU’s electronic discovery courses give students that valuable education,” said Castle, who also teaches Business Law at the KU School of Business.

“I think electronic discovery is essential for anyone considering practicing litigation,” said Carly Masenthin, L’18. “Professor Castle is a wealth of information about this subject, and you are guaranteed an edge over competition in the civil litigation workplace after taking her class.”

Student Spotlight: Malika Baker excels in Jayhawk community

Deciding where to attend law school was an easy choice for Malika Baker. After earning her undergraduate degree at the University of Kansas, she decided to continue her education at KU because of the Jayhawk community.

“I ran cross country and track and field at KU as an undergraduate student, and I really embraced the tight-knit Lawrence community,” Baker said. “No matter where I travel across the country, people always recognize the Jayhawk and that resonated with me. I wanted to continue my education at a place where I felt a connection to the institution and network.”

As the daughter of a retired Army officer, Baker moved around a lot as a child but considers Lansing her hometown. Baker is a second-year law student, and she is involved in Women in Law and the Black Law Students Association.

“I am grateful to be a member of both organizations because each has strong ties to the community and unique ways of bringing law students together,” Baker said.

Starting this fall, she will also join members of the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council to promote diversity and inclusion within the KU Law community.

This summer, she is serving as an intern for Judge Steve Leben at the Kansas Court of Appeals as part of the school’s Judicial Field Placement Program.

“It has been very rewarding to work with such experienced and insightful people every day,” Baker said. “Judge Leben and all of the judges that I have met at the Kansas Court of Appeals share great insight on being a focused and dedicated lawyer.”

Baker was given the opportunity to work in Judge Leben’s chambers after meeting one of his law clerks at the Legal Careers with Government Agencies Fair at KU Law.

At her internship, Baker conducts legal research and writes memoranda. She is currently working on a prehearing bench memo for a three-judge panel that will include a case summary, facts, deep-issue statements, analysis and a recommendation for the ruling.

“The most rewarding part of my job is being able to foster my research and writing skills while working on real cases,” Baker said.

Baker said the most challenging part of her job is ensuring that her analysis is thorough and that she is providing judges with the most accurate case law to help them make informed decisions.

The best advice she has received at her internship? To explore any area of law that she is interested in while in law school.

“I found this to be great advice because I believe that using this time to explore my interests will provide for a fulfilling law career in the future,” Baker said.

Through her internship, Baker has figured out what she would like to do with her law degree.

“After working closely with Judge Leben’s law clerks, I am interested in possibly clerking for a judge after law school,” Baker said. “I am excited to explore this option more and other opportunities to best serve the community.”

— By Ashley Hocking

This post is the third 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 Husain and James Hampton.

Student Spotlight: James Hampton strives for equality

James Hampton plans to build a career out of helping others.

Hampton is spending his summer as a Legal Fellow at the Human Rights Campaign, a LGBTQ civil rights advocacy group and political lobbying organization in Washington D.C.

Hampton, a third-year KU Law student and Wichita native, said the most rewarding part of his fellowship is helping others.

“HRC is the largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBTQ equality,” Hampton said. “Working with amazing people who are on the ground fighting for LGBTQ rights and supporting them through the legal department is amazing. By figuring out what these laws mean, I can inform our members what the law is and they can go to their government officials and demand change.”

Hampton said the most challenging part of his fellowship is making legal terms sound simple to people who aren’t familiar with technical legal jargon. A large part of his summer has consisted of explaining the meaning of laws and the impact they have to non-legal professionals.

At Hampton’s fellowship, he has a wide array of responsibilities that include: tracking bills at the state and federal levels and the impact these laws have on the LGBTQ community; tracking Supreme Court decisions and looking at what cases the court is taking; working with the Human Rights Campaign’s communications department to break down and interpret opinions; interpreting laws, bills and city ordinances; and looking at city and state laws to determine how they affect the LGBTQ community.

“HRC is primarily focused on LGBTQ rights, but we also jump in on other areas, such as immigration, gender equality and civil rights,” Hampton said. “Since the Supreme Court has been active in all these areas this past summer, it’s been busy but very exciting.”

Hampton initially decided to go to Washington, D.C., after being selected by the KU Law Office of Career Services to attend the Equal Justice Works Conference last October. The conference is a KU-sponsored trip that gives law students who are passionate about public interest law the opportunity to visit the nation’s capital, interview for jobs and network.

“I hope to make more connections in D.C. and build on the ones I’ve already made this summer,” Hampton said. “Hopefully, I can secure a job for after graduation and learn more about public interest opportunities.”

He chose to attend KU Law after falling in love with the university during his undergraduate years. He earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration and was a student athlete on both the KU cross country and track teams. Hampton graduated a year early and continued to compete athletically during his 1L year.

While he is on Capitol Hill, Hampton hopes to establish a solid network of connections that will help and support him with his post-graduation search for jobs in D.C. He strives to one day do both legislative and policy work for an advocacy group or non-profit that specializes in civil rights.

“I believe no one should be discriminated against because of who they are,” Hampton said. “The best way to ensure that is by enacting laws that protect everyone.”

— By Ashley Hocking

This post is the second 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 an earlier post from this series about Omar Husain.

Student Spotlight: Omar Husain cultivates legal relationships

Omar Husain is pictured with Judge Paul Gurney and Arleen Schuman, Judge Paul Gurney’s Administrative Assistant.

To say that Omar Husain is “busy” is an understatement.

Husain is a KU Law Student Ambassador, vice president of the Student Intellectual Property Law Association, secretary of the Environmental Law Society, a research assistant for Professor Andrew Torrance and a student representative for the American Bar Association. He is also a member of KU Law’s Student Bar Association, Asian Law Students Association and the intramural basketball team.

The most recent addition to his resume? A clerkship with Judge Paul Gurney of the Johnson County District Court as part of the school’s Judicial Field Placement Program.

Husain, a second-year law student from Lenexa, has enjoyed getting firsthand experience of how the law works and seeing civil procedure, motions and hearings in action daily.

“I get to learn what the judge considers when he is making his decisions,” he said. “I get to see and hear what attorneys, judges and staff discuss when talking about an attorney, both good and bad. I am learning the ‘what-to-do’s’ and ‘what-not-to-do’s’ of being a lawyer — the savvy and experience that get added on to the academic knowledge from school that turn a ‘lawyer’ into a ‘good lawyer.’”

At his field placement, Husain researches and writes memos, observes court proceedings, and reads and proofreads orders. His favorite part of the clerkship so far has been forming connections.

“By far, the most rewarding part of the job is getting to meet and build relationships with so many people I hope to be colleagues with and interact with one day,” he said. “More so in this profession than most, it always helps to know people. Not just attorneys and judges either, it helps to know the clerks, administrative assistants and other court staff, too.”

Through Husain’s clerkship, he is gaining invaluable hands-on experience and knowledge about how court systems operate.

“There is just something about writing for a judge that is unlike anything else I have done,” Husain said. “It feels so much more important and official than doing an assignment for a professor.”

He has also learned some valuable life lessons at his clerkship. Husain said the best piece of advice he has received is to be mindful of your reputation and to always try to make a positive impression.

“If you are ever in an unfamiliar place, being nice to the assistants and clerks will help because they can fill you in on the details and rules of that court,” Husain said. “I have seen many examples of lawyers whose names are followed up with strong reactions, both good and bad. Especially as a young lawyer, it is imperative to have a positive reaction follow your name.”

Husain chose to get both his undergraduate degree and his law degree from the University of Kansas. He’s a fan of KU’s rich history and the opportunities KU Law offers to students and graduates in both the Kansas City area and across the country.

He hopes to combine his undergraduate degree in biology and his law degree to pursue a career in either patent law or intellectual property.

“Although my plans for the future are not set in stone, a combination of these areas would be ideal,” Husain said. “I am also taking everything step-by-step and trusting the process to find where I belong.”

— By Ashley Hocking

This post is the first 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. 

Alumna joins KU Law development team

A 2013 KU Law graduate and former trial attorney has joined the law school’s fundraising team at KU Endowment.

Lauren Luhrs started in late May as the school’s new director of development. She works with Malcolm Jackson, associate director of development, to build relationships with donors across the country and cultivate support for the law school. Luhrs reports to Kristen Toner, assistant vice president of development.

Lauren Luhrs A seventh-generation Kansan, Luhrs attended Kansas State University and studied apparel marketing and public relations and received minors in both leadership studies and business. An interest in trademarks and copyrights in the fashion industry led her to pursue a law degree, and she decided to attend KU Law after receiving a Rice Scholarship. “I understand the impact that scholarships have on drawing students to KU Law,” she said. “Ultimately it was the generous support of our alumni that attracted me to Lawrence.”

While at KU, Luhrs served as managing editor of the Kansas Law Review, clerked for Judge Carlos Murguia of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas, and interned with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Kansas and Martin, Pringle, Oliver, Wallace & Bauer in Overland Park. After law school, Luhrs practiced at Stueve Siegel Hanson and then a small firm in downtown Kansas City. Her passion for Kansas, higher education and the law school, and connecting with others brought her to KU Endowment.

Outside of work, Luhrs has been a K-State football season ticket-holder with her mother for more than 20 years, but also loves attending KU football and basketball games. A native of Overland Park, she now resides in bustling downtown Kansas City, Missouri. She is involved in the Kansas City community through the Junior League of Kansas City, Missouri, and BOTAR, a women’s organization focused on supporting the American Royal.

Three chief judges

Chief Judges Janice Miller-Karlin, Julie Robinson and Karen Arnold-Burger

Alumnae, friends rise to lead respective courts

First, they were KU Law students, then they were Assistant United States Attorneys, then they were judges. Today, some 28 years after they first started working together as litigators for the Department of Justice, they are all now chief judges of their respective courts.

Janice Miller Karlin, L’80, graduated first, immediately heading to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Kansas City, Kansas. Julie Robinson L’81, was next, first completing a two-year clerkship with Chief Bankruptcy Judge Benjamin E. Franklin, and then joining Karlin as an AUSA in 1983. And the triad was completed when Karen Arnold-Burger, L’82, who had worked for Shell Oil Company, then as a prosecutor and police legal advisor for the City of Overland Park, joined the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1989.

These three neophyte AUSAs navigated their early years of practice together.  They not only shared litigation strategies, but maternity and baby clothes, as well as tips on raising their collective eight children, who ranged in age from infant to 7 years old. They were too busy for lunch together, but resolved to spend one lunch hour a week together, power shopping for diapers and other child necessities.

Karlin noted, “At first, I was disappointed that in 1979 when I began interviewing, the big firms were not all that interested in hiring women. As it turns out, going to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where I was immediately assigned first chair responsibility on all of my cases, was the second best thing that ever happened to me. The first was having these two women by my side, and being able to discuss everything from the intricacies of the Federal Rules of Evidence to which brand of diapers was best.” Robinson recalled that “we counseled, affirmed and supported one another, with healthy doses of empathy and laughter.”

One by one they navigated from trial lawyer to trial judge. Arnold-Burger was the first to leave the U.S. Attorney’s Office, when she was appointed a municipal judge for the City of Overland Park in 1991. Five years later, she became the first female chief judge of that court. In 2011, Arnold-Burger was appointed to the Kansas Court of Appeals, and became chief judge of that court in 2017.

Robinson left the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 1994, when she was appointed the first female U.S. bankruptcy judge in Kansas. She also served as a judge on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2001, Robinson was appointed a U.S. District Judge in Kansas, the first African-American appointed to that position. In 2017, she became chief judge of that court.

Karlin left the U.S. Attorney’s Office in 2002, when she was appointed the second female U.S. bankruptcy judge in Kansas. In 2008 she was appointed to serve as a judge on the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals and became its first female chief judge in 2015. In 2016, Karlin was appointed the first female chief judge of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Kansas. Robinson and Arnold-Burger, thus, affectionately refer to Karlin as “Chief, Chief.”

And the constant throughout all the years? These three chiefs have remained fast friends and loyal KU Law alumni. All have served on the law school’s Board of Governors, and Robinson is a past president of the board. They know their journey started with getting an excellent education at KU Law, and they are forever grateful to the professors who prepared them for their careers.

Although they serve as chief judges on different courts, they remain a strong support group for one another. Arnold-Burger noted, “Being with two other women who were going through the same thing was incredibly empowering. We had each other to talk to about the challenges we faced from that moment on. Now we perform the weddings of each other’s children, share pictures of our grandchildren and wonder how we did it all.”