Learning litigation on the Arizona-Mexico border

Davis Bauer and Judge Collins

2L Davis Bauer and Chief Judge Raner C. Collins of the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona.

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.

Wall and road at the Arizona-Mexico border

A scene from Bauer’s Arizona-Mexico border tour.

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.

Alumna returns to KU as Langston Hughes Visiting Professor

Sarah Deer, L'99, Langston Hughes Visiting Professor at KU Law

‘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.

Oil and gas lawyer energizes KU Law with $125K gift

John P. Bowman, L'80A 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.

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Alumna becomes first woman to serve as chief bankruptcy judge in Kansas

Judge Janice Miller Karlin, L'80, of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of KansasThe Hon. Janice Miller Karlin of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Kansas has been appointed chief judge of the court, becoming the first woman to serve in the role.

“I am delighted to serve as chief judge of our court,” said Karlin, L’80. “I follow my colleague and law school classmate Bob Nugent as chief judge, and as a result of his long and efficient service in that position, I inherit a court that provides the kind of service the parties and the lawyers deserve. My hope is to continue to lead our court to achieve the just and speedy disposition of all matters.”

Karlin joined the court in 2002 and was reappointed this month to another 14-year term by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. She also serves as chief judge of the Bankruptcy Appellate Panel for the 10th Circuit; she is the first woman and the first Kansan to hold that position.

During law school, Karlin served as note and comment editor of the Kansas Law Review, then worked as an assistant U.S. attorney until she was appointed to the bankruptcy court in 2002. She becomes the fifth chief judge to lead the court since its existing structure came into existence in 1978.

2016 alumnus receives merit scholarship to attend nation’s top-ranked graduate tax program

matthew-schippers-blogA 2016 KU Law graduate has earned a scholarship awarded to only a select few students in New York University’s No. 1-ranked graduate tax program.

Matthew Schippers, L’16, has been chosen as a recipient of a Tax Law Review Scholarship at NYU School of Law for 2016-2017. The merit scholarship, which covers half of tuition, is awarded to eight outstanding entering LL.M. and joint-degree students. As a scholarship recipient, Schippers will be a graduate editor of the Tax Law Review and work closely with the publication’s faculty editors.

“Receiving a scholarship to attend NYU’s tax LL.M. program is an incredible honor,” Schippers said. “This extra year of school will deepen my knowledge as I prepare to practice law.”

Schippers has accepted post-graduate employment with Triplett, Woolf & Garretson LLC in Wichita. He is studying for the Kansas bar this summer and will move to New York at the end of August to begin the LL.M. program.

KU Law Dean Stephen Mazza received the same scholarship and served as an editor of the NYU Tax Law Review in 1992-1993. Recent KU Law students to complete NYU’s highly regarded tax LL.M. program include 2015 graduates Paul Budd and Mark Wilkins and 2012 graduate Joel Griffiths.

A native of Wichita, Kansas, Schippers earned a bachelor’s in business administration and accounting from KU in 2008. He worked for five years as a corporate accountant for Koch Industries in Wichita. He holds an active CPA license and has written two Tax Court case briefs for the Journal of Accountancy.

At KU Law, Schippers graduated in the top 10 percent of the 2016 class, completing the Tax Law Certificate and the Business and Commercial Law Certificate. He received both the UMB Bank Excellence in Estate Planning Award and the Robert E. Edmunds Prize in Corporation and Securities Law. He was also a recipient of the J.L. Weigand Scholarship. Schippers served as an articles editor on the Kansas Law Review, where his comment was published in December 2015.

Outside the classroom, Schippers led KU’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which prepared nearly 250 federal and state returns for low-income taxpayers in the Lawrence area during the 2016 tax season. He was Phi Alpha Delta treasurer for two years. He also serves as a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Scholar, leading a 1L study group for Contracts and Constitutional Law.

An education 16 years in the making

Tom Meier, L’16

Tom Meier took more than a few twists and turns on his path to graduation, but today he will earn his law degree after a 16-year journey.

Tom Meier, L'16

Tom Meier, L’16

Originally from Indiana, Lt. Col. Meier, who retired from the U.S. Army in 2009, completed his undergraduate degree as an ROTC member at Ball State, then launched his 21-year military career. He began his legal education in 2000 at George Washington University School of Law in Washington, D.C. At the time he was on active duty, pursuing law school at night.

“Literally every evening we had class, and then weekends were for studying, so pretty much all other activities came to a halt,” Meier said. Life was consumed by military duties, family commitments and coursework.

And then, during his second year of law school, the Sept. 11 attacks changed everything. The Army assigned Meier additional duties and transferred him to Fort Riley.

“I was fortunate that GW Law gave me an exception to continue my studies wherever I might be — with the understanding that I still needed to come back on campus to finish some of the credits,” Meier said. In the following years, Meier split his time between Kansas, South Carolina and Georgia, training National Guard brigades mobilized to go to Iraq. Throughout it all he never gave up his dream of finishing law school, completing military duties during the day and taking courses as a visiting law student at Washburn at night.

Meier next spent a year on deployment in Iraq, where he worked to find and bring to trial former members of the Hussein regime. The firsthand exposure to international law strengthened his determination to complete his legal degree. “It led to me thinking I wanted to do international law work,” Meier said. “Trying to help a host country implement the rule of law within their culture – that’s what I want to do after I graduate.” After he returned from Iraq, Meier was transferred to Fort Leavenworth, where he completed his military career and continued his studies as a visiting law student at KU.

When Meier retired from active duty, the prospect of returning to D.C. to finish law school seemed out of reach. But KU Law Dean Stephen Mazza had a solution: Meier could transfer to KU and take advantage of American Bar Association exceptions for various requirements in recognition of students who have served in the military. “As it worked out, not only was I accepted into KU Law,” Meier said, “but I was able to enroll in enough courses this semester to graduate and get my GI Bill to pay for the tuition.”

When Meier arrived in Green Hall as a full-time student in January 2016, he faced another transition: adjusting to life without the full-time paycheck he had been earning as a civilian military analyst. He continued working part-time, his schedule once again packed with family, career and school responsibilities. Today, he’ll gather with family and friends to celebrate the degree he began earning 16 years ago.

“The main reason for my success was the support of friends and the faculty and staff at KU Law,” Meier said. “There were so many things going on at the same time that an extra hand from time to time was really helpful. More so than I think many of them know.”

— This is the fifth and final post in a series profiling a select few among the many outstanding members of the KU Law Class of 2016. Read our profiles of Ashley Akers, Bryce Langford, Grecia Perez & Jacque Patton, and Bradley Thomas.

Lens on the law


Bradley Thomas, L’16

Bradley Thomas brings a scientist’s reason and an artist’s creativity to the study of law.

The former research scientist holds an undergraduate degree in molecular biology, but he’s as comfortable behind a camera lens as he is behind a microscope.

“In law school, it’s an analytical creativity,” said Thomas, L’16. “The outcome I desire is x. Here are the rules. How do I get there? It’s a problem-solving logic exercise. The scientific part of me just loves that.

“But art is free-form expression that I don’t get from law school or from law. That’s not a problem. I just need something else in my life that allows that.”

Scroll down to browse photos by Thomas

Photography has fulfilled that need for Thomas since he was a child. At the age of 6, he blew through several rolls of film on a drive to Colorado for a family ski trip, and then continued taking pictures with no film. “It was just kind of fun to look through and see what I could spot through the viewfinder,” the Mission Hills native said. “A lot of times it’s much less interesting than you think it’s going to be, or the things you don’t instantly find interesting turn out to be fascinating from the right angle.”

Thomas began approaching photography more seriously at Shawnee Mission East High School, where he took classes and learned his way around the darkroom. He mastered the manual settings on his Nikon FM2 and even built a darkroom in his mom’s basement.

But shooting photos took a backseat to studying when Thomas enrolled at the University of Colorado Boulder in 2002. Jobs at AG Bayer Crop Science Research and Children’s Mercy Hospital followed. Although Thomas had dabbled with his dad’s digital cameras on holiday breaks during college, it wasn’t until his scientific work led him to Romania for a medical mission trip in 2007 that he really gained confidence in his images.

“Afterward, I had about 1,000 pictures,” he said. “As I looked through them, I thought some were pretty good.” He assembled a slideshow of his photos that the trip’s organizer showed at a gathering. “They asked me back the following year as the official photographer.”

A third trip – this time to Mali – followed in 2010. Thomas served as the acting pharmacist on that mission, but he took a camera, too.

“It really put things into perspective to be in one of the poorest countries in the world,” he said. “There were kids living on piles of trash. Open cesspools were their homes. It was a life-changing, emotional experience.”

Back stateside and looking for a new direction, Thomas earned his MBA at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, where he took a business law course that piqued his interest. Next stop? Green Hall. In his three years at KU Law, Thomas took every class the school offered related to intellectual property.

He passed the Patent Bar the summer after his 1L year, will sit for the Missouri bar exam in July and then join the patent practice at Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Kansas City, Missouri – helping inventors license their best ideas. And hopefully getting back to some creative work of his own.

“Law school has limited the amount of time I can dedicate to photography,” Thomas said. “But hopefully this education will afford me a lifestyle that will allow me to go on trips and see the world and take photos.”

Medical Missions
HDR (High Dynamic Range)

— This post is the fourth in a series profiling a select few among the many outstanding members of the KU Law Class of 2016. Read our profiles of Ashley Akers, Bryce Langford, and Grecia Perez & Jacque Patton.

‘A one-woman machine’

Ashley Akers, L’16

Ashley Akers, L'16Wyoming native Ashley Akers knew she had found her home away from home the first time she visited Green Hall.

“The town was great, the school was welcoming, and the price was right,” Akers said. “From the first time I stepped foot in the law school, it was supportive and challenging. It’s everything I was looking for.”

A former student athlete, Akers played soccer and tennis in college, which she says helped prepare her for the competitive and rigorous nature of law school. “I’ve always been an overly competitive person,” Akers said. “Luckily the same lessons I’ve learned playing sports — working extremely hard and over preparing — will also be helpful when I’m practicing law.”

That competitive nature served Akers well throughout her legal education. She was president of KU Law’s student chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the 3-to-1 mentor program, won the school’s in-house moot court competition, and brought home a national championship from the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition, all while graduating among the top 10 in her class.

“My experience in the NNALSA Moot Court Competition was indescribable,” Akers said. “Winning the competition was the result of months of hard work from our entire team with the help of professors in the law school. It was a great way to end my law school career.”

Classmate Robin Randolph served as vice president of the FBA, a new student organization that Akers helped elevate rapidly.

“She is a one-woman machine when it comes to creating new ideas, organizing events with federal judges, and raising funds to support those events,” Randolph said. “She shows a lot of enthusiasm in whatever she does and works well with others.”

Despite a full schedule of courses, extracurricular activities, and her work as a teaching and research assistant, Akers also found time to volunteer with Big Brothers & Big Sisters. “I enjoy giving back to my community, especially to help children,” Akers said. “I’ve been extremely fortunate to have this experience.”

After graduation, Akers will work as a law clerk on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. “I’m so thankful that I attended KU Law because I could not have had a better experience anywhere else,” Akers said. “I’m looking forward to putting my education into practice and figuring out what being a lawyer is all about.”

— This post is the third in a series profiling a select few among the many outstanding members of the KU Law Class of 2016. Read our profiles of Bryce Langford and Grecia Perez and Jacque Patton.


A new calling

Bryce Langford, L’16

Langford Family

The Langford family gathered at Broken Arrow park for Fun Day, a KU Law tradition resurrected in 2013.

For Bryce Langford, pursuing a law degree meant giving up the family business.

“I worked as a pastor for eight years,” Langford said. “My wife’s parents and my parents and grandparents were pastors. For us as third-generation pastors, it was kind of the family business.”

Langford wasn’t unhappy as a pastor, but he sought something different. Through his ministry, he worked with immigrants and refugees, witnessing firsthand the life-changing work that lawyers do for those escaping hardship and instability.

“I saw how lawyers were able to help these amazing people get legal residency in the U.S.,” Langford said. “This is one of the reasons I moved from being a pastor to an attorney.”

Together, Langford and his wife left their jobs at a church, said goodbye to family and friends in Texas, and moved with their three children to Lawrence to embark on a new career path. The early days brought much adjustment, as Langford struggled to balance family time with the demands of school. He persevered by remembering that he was pursuing his degree for his family, not for a particular rank or GPA. He also embraced new friends and a strong community at KU Law.

Langford’s most memorable law school experience was serving as editor-in-chief of the Kansas Law Review. “It has been the most challenging but fun experience I’ve had at Green Hall,” he said. “I’m very grateful for the friendships I have gained through the Law Review.”

Langford will work as a litigation associate for the Kansas City law firm of Stinson Leonard Street after graduation. “The firm does a lot of pro bono work with refugees and immigrants, and I will get the opportunity to work with these clients,” he said. “I am very excited about that.”

Though he’s pursuing a different career path now, Langford feels that his background in ministry helped prepare him for law school. “I think it helped me get along with people,” he said. “Law school can be competitive. I tried to be kind to everyone. I didn’t always succeed, and I made many mistakes. But I hope that being a former pastor made me kinder and more empathetic to my classmates.”

— This post is the second in a series profiling a select few among the many outstanding members of the KU Law Class of 2016. Read Grecia Perez and Jacque Patton’s profile.


Sisters in law

Jacque Patton & Grecia Perez, L’16

From left: Grecia Perez, L'16, and Jacque Patton, L'16

Grecia Perez (left) and Jacque Patton, L’16

For many, the friendships born in Green Hall last long past graduation. But some students gain more than study partners, becoming roommates, colleagues and lifelong friends.

Class of 2016 members Jacque Patton and Grecia Perez plan to move to California’s Bay Area after graduation to launch their legal careers together. The pair took different paths to KU Law — Patton a Kansas native who embarked upon law school straight after earning her undergraduate degree at KU, Perez a Californian who went to college in Los Angeles and worked for six years before law school.

“I knew who Grecia was my 1L year and thought she was intimidating — in a good way,” Patton said. The women bonded through a love of food, music, politics and feminism.

Both women faced an adjustment process as they adapted to the rigors of law school. Patton let go of the need to compare herself to others in a competitive academic environment, while Perez learned that balance was essential to keep her academic aspirations in line with her personal ones. To blow off steam, the duo screened “Sex and the City” marathons during study breaks.

“We analyzed the characters’ experiences through the lens of what it’s like to be women in the legal field — a field that is mostly dominated by men,” Perez said. “We do this often: take something happening in the legal field, politics or pop culture, and analyze through lenses of feminism, social justice and more.”

“We don’t agree on everything,” Patton said. “And we always challenge each other — something that might make it seem like we’re fighting to others around us, when really we are making each other better advocates.”

Patton and Perez brought that spirit of advocacy and justice to their legal educations. Patton served as President of Law Students for Reproductive Justice and interned with Kansas Appleseed, working to create legislation to help undocumented immigrants obtain drivers licenses. She plans to leverage that experience to launch a career in the public sector. Perez served as Student Bar Association President and interns at the district attorney’s office in Kansas City, Kansas. She is pursuing a career as a prosecutor.

After wrapping up finals and graduation festivities, the friends plan to spend the summer studying for the California bar, then fly out to take the exam in July.

While their close friendship may seem unconventional to some, for Patton and Perez it’s been a key to their success in law school.

“We are each other’s sounding boards,” Patton said. “We bounce ideas off each other, help each other study, and when we combine forces, we are capable of doing a great deal.”

“We get a lot of jokes about being a couple, most of them made by us,” Perez said. “It is difficult for people to understand how two heterosexual women can be so close. The sad reality is that women are taught to be competitors instead of sisters, and that’s the best way we could define our friendship: a sisterhood.”

— This post is the first in a series profiling a select few among the many outstanding members of the KU Law Class of 2016.