Sports and entertainment law symposium to feature Kansas Speedway president

The KU Sports & Entertainment Law Society will be putting on a symposium this Friday for the second year in a row.

The symposium, titled “Live a Life That Matters,” is in honor of the late Bob Frederick. “Dr. Bob” died June 12, 2009, after sustaining injuries in a bicycle accident. He took great pride in doing things the right way, and he positively affected many lives. Dr. Bob was was the athletics director at KU from 1987 to 2001 and taught courses in sports management, sports law and facilities in the health, sport and exercise sciences department from 2001 until his death.

The event will feature many top-quality speakers discussing current ethical and legal issues in sports, entertainment and media law. Pat Warren, president of Kansas Speedway and former associate athletics director under Frederick, will be the keynote speaker.

The event is Friday, April 9 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be held in Hadl Auditorium in the Wagnon-Student Athlete Center on campus. It is free to the general public, and $25 for attorneys seeking CLE credit (registration begins at 9 a.m. the morning of the event).

National Library Week at the Wheat Law Library

National Library Week is observed this year from April 11 through April 17 with the theme “Communities thrive @ your library.” The first sponsored National Library Week was in 1958, and the American Library Association (ALA) has continued this yearly celebration in April ever since. It’s a great time to recognize the contributions our libraries have made to our communities. And, of course, the Wheat Law Library will be celebrating in style!

  • Thursday, April 8, 12:30-1:30 pm
    Ninth Annual Paul E. Wilson Friends of the Wheat Law Library Lecture & Luncheon
    This year’s keynote speaker is none other than Green Hall’s Rick Levy. His lecture is titled “Libraries and the Future of Campaign Finance Regulation,” and he will discuss the recent Supreme Court decisions, particularly Citizen’s United v. Federal Election Commission (overruling Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce), which held that limitations on corporate spending in political campaigns violate the First Amendment. Although it’s a little late to sign up, you can find more information online. And who knows? Maybe we can squeeze you in?
  • Monday, April 12, 10:10 am
    We will be serving Cake in the Commons (first floor). I’m not sure if it will be a library-themed cake, but really, does it matter? It’s cake!
  • Tuesday, April 13
    National Library Workers Day
    This is pretty much the day when the librarians get pampered. So hug your favorite librarian! Odds are we’ll squirm a little.
  • Wednesday, April 14, 8 am-noon
    26th Annual Hazel A. Anderson Memorial Book Sale (first-floor commons)
    This is a wonderful opportunity for you to beef up your book collection while giving to the Wheat Law Library. We invite students to work the book sale and ask any faculty members to bring by books that might be cluttering up your office!
  • Thursday, April 15, 12:30 pm (Room 104)
    I will be giving a lecture on “Smart Phones and Legal Research.” It’s a brown bag, so you’ll have to bring your own food.
  • Friday, April 16
    Library Fines Amnesty Day
    I probably don’t need to go into details on this!

We hope to see you at our events! And Happy National Library Week!

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

The business of law: Knowing the basics can advance your career

Yesterday’s New York Times contained an eye-opening article about law firms’ responses to recessionary pressures.

Over the 18 months, corporate leaders reeling from bleak economic times instructed their legal departments and other divisions to reduce expenditures. Armed with this directive, in-house lawyers called upon outside counsel to pass on fewer costs and to provide more affordable legal services.

Law firms listened to their corporate clients and took measures to ensure that increased efficiency did not jeopardize their budgetary goals. Associate attorneys took a hit, as many firms laid off associates and reduced pay and bonuses.

In this cost-cutting climate, it’s more important than ever for law students to understand how the business of law operates and how to successfully navigate that first foray into the professional world.

Recently I’ve read several chapters in “From Finals to the Firm: The Top 10 Things New Associates Need to Know.” This 73-page booklet contains more than its share of good advice for law student contemplating law firm careers.

In light of the new realities described in the Times article, it’s wise to understand guiding principles of law firm economics. As stated in “From Finals”:

“[Y]ou must always do your best work, but it has to be within the resources the client can afford or is willing to spend. In other words, you have to do your best work in the amount of hours, given your billable rate, that the client can afford or that the client is willing to pay.

As a summer law clerk or new associate, you are likely to receive assignments without the benefit of extensive background information on the case. You may be asked, for example, to draft a memo explaining the legal obligations of a corporate client with respect to a new administrative regulation.

Before you launch into the project, you must understand a number of things, and primary among them in this economic climate should be—as labeled by the “From Finals” authors—Key Cost Constraints.

In a nutshell this means, “What are the client’s expectations regarding the scope and cost of this assignment?” A supervising attorney will know how to answer this question, and it’s the responsibility of a law clerk or new associate to ask.

Asking that question demonstrates business savvy. Asking that question shows that you’re thinking like someone who has legitimate aspirations of being an owner of the business, an equity partner. And asking that question goes a long way to ensuring that the firm’s client will be satisfied, the bill will be paid, your “client” (the assigning partner) will be impressed, and you will continue to receive good work.”

Todd Rogers, Assistant Dean for Career Services

Green building among topics of Real Estate Law Club panel today

The Real Estate Law Club will be electing new officers soon. These elected officers will lead us through next year’s events and planning.

We are also having a real estate panel today (Thursday, April 1). Todd LaSala from Stinson Morrison Hecker has volunteered to invite a few of his colleagues down to Green Hall to speak about all aspects of the real estate practice area, especially green building. We hope everyone will stop by and show Todd just how much we appreciate his time. The panel runs from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in 107 Green Hall. Food and beverages will be provided.

Andrea Gava, Real Estate Law Club president

Legal research? There’s an app for that

Picture these scenerios:

Oh man! What was that case again? I know it was in Virginia and it had something to do with comic books and obscenity law. Grrrr…

You know what would rock? If I could make this commute billable.

OK … last-minute check before I tell oposing counsel what they can do with their offer…

Well there’s an app for that, and it’s called Fastcase. Currently only available on the iPhone, Fastcase is completely free to download and use, and it contains the largest legal database available on the iPhone.

Fastcase has proven to be very intuitive, containing such features as:

  • A library of American cases and statutes, including Kansas and Missouri
  • Boolean, natural language, and citation searching
  • Browse or search statutes
  • Customizable search results that you can sort five different ways:
    1. Relevance
    2. Decision date
    3. Short name
    4. Cited generally
    5. Cited within
  • Search results automatically display number of citing cases as either “cited generally” or “cited within”
  • Jump right to most relevant paragraph of any case or statute
  • Integrated research history
  • Save favorite documents for use later

Fastcase for iPhone is connected to the Fastcase Web-based platform, which is a legal research tool used as an alternative to the larger legal research providers and is available for free for members of certain bar associations, including Missouri. This means that the statutes and the caselaw are kept up to date.

So if you have an iPhone, download Fastcase and try it out for a spin. It is completely free!

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Know thy Self: KU basketball coach’s job-hunting prowess teaches importance of persistence

At this time of year, it’s a tradition of mine to compare hunting for a job to the NCAA basketball tournament. Usually the March Madness analogy works well, but sometimes it’s more strained than the look on Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s face as he tries, once again, to rationalize a big game loss.

This year a topic was dropped into my lap. My wife read this Joe Posnanski article about Bill Self and forwarded it to me. If you have time, regardless of your interest in sports, read it in full — it’s excellent.

I was particularly intrigued by what the article had to say about Coach Self’s job-hunting prowess. Two stories jumped out.

First, consider Posnanski’s tale of how Self first came to work at KU:

Self was going into his senior year at Oklahoma State, where he was a decent player for mediocre teams. That summer, he went to Lawrence to help coach at Brown’s basketball camp — this is when Brown was coaching at Kansas. Self was playing ball up there, and he blew out his knee. Well, anyway, it SEEMED like he blew out his knee — it turned out he was fine. But in that moment, it looked like a blowout, and there was panic everywhere. An Oklahoma State starter blew out his knee at a Kansas coaching camp? Nobody in the world felt worse than Larry Brown.

“If there’s anything I can do for you, you just tell me,” Brown told Self, and the look on Brown’s face suggested that he meant ANYTHING.

Stop here. What would you do? What would any of us do? We might thank Brown for his kindness, maybe, tell him that we might just take him up on that someday.

Self said: “Well, you could hire me as a graduate assistant coach.”

Who is that guy? Where does that come from? Well, of course Brown said yes, he had just promised, well, “anything.” Only it gets better. Self took Brown at his word. Self had not shown much interest in coaching — he was going to go into business — but he was no dummy; the opportunity to coach for Brown made him think that coaching might be a fine life. He went back to Oklahoma State for his senior year, and he wrote Brown a letter every month, telling him again and again how excited he was to be the next Kansas graduate assistant coach. He did not get one letter in return, not one. He called a Kansas assistant coach he knew, R.C. Buford, now the GM of the Spurs, and said: “R.C., does Coach Brown ever mention me?”

And Buford told him: “I’ve never heard him say your name one time.”

So Self’s senior season ended, he still had not heard one word from Brown. Stop here. What would you do? What would any of us do? We might adjust our plans, call around, see if there’s a chance to coach elsewhere or a business opportunity for a recent college graduate…

Self packed up everything he owned, put it in his car, drove up to Lawrence, and walked into Brown’s office and said, “OK, I’m here. What do you need me to do?” And Brown, beaten, said: “Go sit over at that desk and start working.”

I love it. This is exactly the type of aggressive job seeking that we preach in our office. And it reminds me of 2004 KU Law grad Kyle Skillman, who knew that he wanted to practice sports law.

As a 2L, he approached 1974 KU Law grad Stephen Morgan of the Overland Park office of Bond Schoeneck & King. This office specializes in representing colleges, universities, conferences, and other organizations and individuals in matters regarding intercollegiate athletics.

At the time, the firm had expressed an interest in hiring a part-time/temporary intern, and that’s what led Kyle to Steve. Kyle was persistent, and the firm eventually hired him to clerk during the summer of 2003. Kyle continued to work for BS&K; a few days each week during the 2003-04 academic year.

Fast forward several months. Kyle graduated and passed the bar exam, but had not yet received a full-time job offer from the firm. Rather than bow out, Kyle simply continued to show up every day. Steve continued to reiterate that they didn’t have a full-time opening. Kyle would nod politely and explain that he really enjoyed the practice and appreciated the opportunity to continue to gain experience.

In the summer of 2005, he was given a small raise but was still paid hourly. Finally, in January 2006, the firm extended Kyle an offer for an associate attorney position and a desk with his name on it. He’s about to celebrate the sixth anniversary of his hiring.

Lest you think that Coach Self landing a job at Kansas as a graduate assistant was a fluke, consider the events that led to him coaching at his alma mater, Oklahoma State:

Self managed to get himself an interview, and he talked about how hard he would work, and how relentlessly he would recruit … and he noticed [Coach Leonard] Hamilton’s eyes glazing over.

Stop here. What would you do? What do any of us do when a job interview starts going bad, when it is clear that your talk is not getting through and your dream of getting the job is drowning. Maybe we panic. Maybe we try harder. Maybe we stand up and say, “I see I’m wasting your time here.”

“I’ll tell you why you should hire me,” Self told Hamilton. “Because if you hire me, I’ll get you your point guard for this season and you won’t need to give up a scholarship.”

That stopped Hamilton. “You’ll get me a point guard?” he asked.

“Yep,” Self said. “But he won’t play unless you hire me as a coach.”

And there it was. Hamilton said that if Self could really deliver a point guard, no strings attached, then he had the job. And when Self left the office he called an Oklahoma State senior named Jay Davis, a close friend who had played at his high school, and said: “Hey man, you’ve got to play basketball for Oklahoma State this year.”

Davis had been a very good high school player, but he was happy with his college life — happy as the best fraternity basketball player at the school. He had absolutely no interest at all in playing organized ball and getting yelled at and all that. He said: “No way.”

And Self said: “Um, no, you don’t understand. You have to play. I won’t get the job unless you play. So, you’re playing.”

So, Jay Davis played basketball for the 1986-87 Oklahoma State Cowboys. The team was 8-20 and lousy (“Well, what do you expect, we had a walk-on as our starting point guard,” Self says), but you can still look it up: Davis led the team in assists, steals and fouls. Self was an assistant coach at Oklahoma State for five more years and was there for the rebirth of Oklahoma State basketball.

I can’t help but think of 1982 KU Law grad Mike Seck of Fisher Patterson Sayler and Smith when I read this story. At our invitation, Mike spoke to a group of 2Ls and 3Ls in August 2009 about interviewing for a legal job.

Mike stressed that too often interviewees’ responses are indistinguishable from one another. “I’m an excellent writer.” “I’m a people person.” “I’m a perfect fit here.” “I’ll work hard.”

He commented that his firm values candidates who understand the business model of a law firm and who can, in concrete terms, explain how they can contribute to the bottom line.

He meant that instead of saying that you’re a hard worker, explain through concrete examples how you’ve worked hard in the past and — this was the key — specifically how that work ethic will translate to the law firm setting. In other words, the legal job equivalent of explaining how you’ll deliver a starting point guard to your employer.

In this tough legal market, you need to pick up inspiration from any source you can. It’s hokey, but keep working hard, apply the Bill Self principles, and soon you’ll achieve your One Shining Moment.

Note: Although this posting was written before Saturday’s second-round loss, I still hope you can gain inspiration from the video montage capturing the excitement of KU’s 2008 title run. The video is, of course, Northern Iowa free.

Todd Rogers, assistant dean for career services

Black Law Students Association hosts Thurgood Marshall Law Day, Diversity in Law Banquet

KU Law students
KU Law students Eunice Lee-Ahn,
Bennett Mbinkar and Megan McGinnis

The Black Law Students Association is an organization dedicated to promoting the educational, professional, political and social needs of black law students. In this regard, BLSA sponsors a number of activities throughout the year encouraging leadership, civic responsibility and service to our communities.

Last year, BLSA organized its annual Thanksgiving Food Drive during which members solicited food donations from students, faculty and staff and fed more than 300 local families during the holiday season. In late February, BLSA hosted the 14th Annual Thurgood Marshall Law Day, to honor the late Justice Thurgood Marshall and to create an appreciation among high school students for law and the sacrifices made by people like Marshall.

Most recently, BLSA hosted the Diversity in Law Banquet, an opportunity for professional networking as well as an avenue for students, faculty, staff and alumni to celebrate the law school’s long-standing commitment to diversity. Photos and audio of keynote speaker Reginald Robinson

BLSA looks ahead with a renewed commitment to its ideals of service and fostering an atmosphere of shared responsibility within the wider KU community.

Bennett Mbinkar, 1L and BLSA vice president

10 things about KU you probably won’t learn in law school

There are many things about KU and Lawrence that every KU student knows. The glory of games in Allen Fieldhouse, the concerts that come through town, and the nightlife on Mass Street are next to impossible to escape. However, there are many elements of KU culture that law students don’t often encounter. This list is by no means comprehensive, and I encourage KU Law students to venture on to main campus whenever possible to learn more about the KU outside of Green Hall.

The history of the Jayhawk.

Jayhawk

KU’s Jayhawk is one of the country’s most unique college mascots. The term “Jayhawker” originated as a name for guerilla abolitionists in Kansas in the late 19th century. The Lawrence Journal-World traces the name’s history to a combination of two local birds, “the blue jay, a noisy, quarrelsome thing known to rob other nests, and the sparrow hawk, a stealthy hunter. The message here: Don’t turn your back on this bird.” KU fans have held on to the spirit of the name through the evolution of the Jayhawk’s image. If you want proof, head down to the Free State Brewing Co. and see modern Jayhawkers supporting their favorite cause. More on the Jayhawk

The museums are a lot of fun.

Comanche

KU’s museums are a great place to plan an on-campus outing. The Spencer Museum of Art has more than 36,000 works of art, ranging from medieval to contemporary. Touring exhibits supplement the art museum’s permanent collections, so you can go as often as you want and always see something new. The Natural History Museum & Biodiversity Research Center boasts the world’s largest diorama of North American mammals in the world. On top of that, you can get up close and personal with taxidermied grizzlies, check out the hanging mosasaur skeleton, or visit Comanche, a horse ridden at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

There are words to the fight song.

The most dedicated sports fans at KU Law have undoubtedly learned the special clap to the fight song. Far less common is a student (in law school or elsewhere) who knows the words to the song, or that the song even has words. If you want to get the most out of your KU athletics experience and impress all of your friends, you can find the lyrics at http://www.ku.edu/about/traditions/songs.shtml.

The allure of the steam tunnels.

Running underneath the university is a network of tunnels that connects buildings all over campus. These tunnels are big enough for groups to wander through and have captivated the imagination of students since they were made. Generally, exploring the tunnels is something that is talked about more than actually done, and for good reason. These hundred-year-old tunnels are undergoing renovations because of their decayed state and can be extremely dangerous.

You can get cultured for free just across the street.

Avenue Q

The Lied Center is a wonderful venue for internationally known artists, and half-price tickets for students make attendance affordable. Even more affordable (as in free), are the student and faculty recitals just across the street from Green Hall in Murphy Hall. The performers often have graduated from or will later in their careers attend some of the best conservatories in the country, and the frequency of the recitals offers more variety of works than other venues in town. While you can see a world-famous string quartet at the Lied Center once a year, Swarthout Recital Hall in Murphy is the place to find everything from a tuba and euphonium choir to Yoko Ono’s music written for bicycles.

If your friends are any good at all, they will dunk you in the Chi Omega Fountain on your birthday.

Chi Omega Fountain

To be fair, this tradition hasn’t been consistently observed for a long time, but older generations took it very seriously. Even if you don’t take a dip in this fountain on your birthday, you would be well advised to try it some time before you graduate. It’s a familiar spot to all campus dwellers, and there are few more traditional Jayhawk pastimes out there.

Spencer Research Library has the best view on campus.

Tucked behind Strong Hall (the administrative building) on Jayhawk Boulevard is a building most KU students never realize exists. The Spencer Research Library hosts rare book collections and an extensive variety of useful primary source documents. Its collections include everything from photos of Langston Hughes as a child in Lawrence to books in the ancient and medieval manuscript collection that are over a thousand years old. Students are welcome to study in the North Gallery, which has what I believe is the best view on campus and overlooks Memorial Stadium, Potter Lake and the Campanile.

The Campanile myth.

The myth around campus is that if you walk through the Campanile before graduation, you won’t graduate at all. This only applies to walking in one door and out the other, so if you want to see the inside but you aren’t interested in risking your degree, walking out the door you came in is a safe bet. If you follow this advice, it naturally leads to the next item on the list.

You don’t graduate at KU. You “walk down the Hill.”

Walk down the Hill

At KU, we don’t call it “graduating.” It’s called “walking down the Hill” and it’s definitely unique to KU. All graduates from all schools line up at the top of the hill and process through the Campanile into Memorial Stadium. Students in the procession carry creative signs, favorite pets and the occasional baby.

The history of the Rock Chalk Chant.

I have heard more stories about where the Rock Chalk Chant came from than I can count. I hesitate to believe any of them fully, but I trust the history that KU offers on its Web site the most. This retelling traces the chant to a science club cheer that got mixed up with the words “chalk rock,” which is a nickname for limestone. Regardless of its origins, the Rock Chalk Chant is the best chant in the world. Teddy Roosevelt agreed with me, calling it the best he’d ever heard, and the U.S. Olympic team used it to show the world what a model American college yell sounds like. With all due respect to President Roosevelt, he only knew the half of it because nothing compares to getting to say the Rock Chalk Chant as a real Jayhawk. More on the chant

Alyssa Boone, 1L

Wheat Law Library’s Five Laws of the Law Library

Shiyali Ramamrita Ranganathan (1892-1972) was considered the father of library science in India. He developed what has been widely accepted as the definitive statement of ideal library service. His “Five Laws of Library Science” (1931) is a classic of library science literature, as fresh today as it was in 1931. These brief statements remain as valid, in substance if not in expression, today as when they were promulgated, concisely representing the ideal service and organizational philosophy of most libraries today:

  1. Books are for use.
  2. Every reader his or her book.
  3. Every book its reader.
  4. Save the time of the reader.
  5. The library is a growing organism.

We here at the Wheat Law Library believe that the Five Law of Library Science apply as much to the law library today as they did to Ranganathan’s libraries in 1931. Granted, with the advancement of technology, these laws need a bit of updating. So here I would like to propose…

Wheat Law Library’s Five Laws of the Law Library

1) Books and databases are for use.

All of our books are available for anyone to use. Not every piece can be checked out, but we do have copy machines and we are even willing to scan material and send it wherever it needs to go.

This holds true with electronic databases to a certain extent. Many of our databases may be accessed by the public. For those pieces that are not open to the public, we are happy to help you find alternatives or access those databases for you.

2) Every reader has his or her resource.

No matter which legal issue you are researching or task you are performing, there is a resource out there for you. Keeping this law in mind gives the law librarian drive to perform his or her duties.

3) Every resource has his or her reader.

Keeping every book on our shelf or subscribing to every single electronic database is simply not possible, but we do realize that ever single resource is needed by someone. This is why we offer inter-library loans as one of our services. If we don’t have it, we will find out who does.

4) Save time of the patron.

We are here to help you find what you need. Although we cannot answer your legal questions or write your memos, we can save you time by matching you up to the material you need to help you with your issue.

5) The law library is a growing organism.

We are constantly re-evaluating our services and materials. As new databases come out, we are on the front lines of reviewing for ease of use and relevancy of content. We keep up to date with the latest technologies, and we learn about our users and how best to serve them. The law library is not a static entity but rather one that is ever changing and ever evolving. This change is what keeps us alive and relevant.

These Five Laws of Library Science are markers we all should keep in our minds when we think of any library, not just the law library. As librarians, we must remind ourselves why we are here, what our duties are and who we are serving. As patrons, you need to know why we are here and what we can do for you.

So I hope to see you in the library. Preferably mine! And if you do come, bring us some cupcakes. Because Blake’s Rule of the Law Library is even simpler: Everyone likes cupcakes.

W. Blake Wilson, Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Interviewing advice: Tell a better story!

Our office prepares hundreds of students (and a number of alumni) each year for interviews with legal employers. During this interview prep, which often includes the review of a videotaped mock interview, we talk about strategies to enhance responses to common interview questions.

Often our advice boils down to this: Tell a better story!

Employers ask questions to evaluate an applicant’s potential for success. Sometimes an employer’s questions, while direct, don’t seem to lend themselves to effective storytelling. For example, “Who’s your favorite law school professor?” or “Why did you pursue a legal education?” are relatively easy to answer; but a short, obvious answer won’t help the interviewee’s cause.

In other instances, an employer may rely on a more probing “behavioral interviewing” type question. These tend to follow a “Tell me about a time when…” or “Please describe a situation in which…” format. Questions of this type beg for an interesting story in response, but they often tie interviewees in knots.

When responding to either type of interview inquiry, it’s important for the interviewee to capture and hold the interviewer’s attention by weaving a coherent story of accomplishment. Anecdotes that relate past accomplishments to the potential for future success with that employer are the secret to effective interviewing.

For several years now we’ve been suggesting the STAR method of responding to interviewing questions. The method is recommended by this article and is a powerful way to connect with an interviewer through an “accomplishment story.”

The STAR method is simple. In response to a question, walk an interviewer through these steps:

  • Situation or Task: Describe the situation you were in or the task you needed to accomplish. Don’t rely on a general description of a past event; be specific. Pepper your description with memorable details.
  • Action(s) you took: What steps did you take to address the situation? What tasks were necessary?
  • Results you achieved: How was the issue resolved? What happened and what did you learn?

An effective “accomplishment story” holds the interviewer’s attention and keeps the focus on you, the interviewee. It also provides an interviewee a memorable way to organize and deliver his or her thoughts.

The STAR method resonates particularly well with attorney interviewers. Our theory is that attorneys, who after all are in a customer service driven industry, like to hear about situations in which issues were resolved through concrete actions.

Resolved issues = happy clients.

An interviewee with the potential to make clients happy = a new employee.

Todd Rogers, Assistant Dean for Career Services