CASA and Compassion

Student empowers change through pro bono work

Elm Beck, 3L

Whether you’re helping a college student contest their parking ticket or spending time with a child in the child welfare system, there is no question that pro bono work is all about making a positive impact on your community. At KU Law, students have the unique opportunity to engage in work that goes beyond the classroom and into the lives of people experiencing challenging life situations. Elm Beck, 3L, is one of those students and cites their work with Douglas County CASA, Inc. as one of the most fulfilling opportunities they’ve had a chance to undertake.

“I’m really passionate about the rights of kids in foster care,” said Beck. “Both of my parents were adopted and this gives me a personal connection with making sure kids in the system are being treated fairly and being taken care of.”

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate and is designed to connect children of all ages in the child welfare system with a safe, present and stable adult who can get to know them on a personal level and advocate for their best interests. The CASA volunteer will make at least bi-annual reports to the court that discuss everything from what’s going on in the child’s life to what the child needs to have a safe and healthy childhood. Many CASA volunteers are retired people who tend to have more time on their hands to do the intensive work required of a CASA volunteer. Beck wanted to do their part to offer a new viewpoint.

“I thought about who that tends to leave out in terms of having advocates who are culturally competent for certain younger communities,” said Beck. “I was really hopeful that I could get connected with a higher needs case and be able to help advocate for that child through that more unique lens as a Gen-Z person myself. I got really lucky and was matched with a child that I connect very well with. Supporting that connection has been one of the most rewarding parts about the experience.”

Beck hails from Kansas City and spent a large majority of their undergraduate career at KU looking for community activism and volunteer opportunities on campus. By the time they came to KU Law in 2021, Beck had already served as the president of the ACLU of KU and was eager to continue their acts of service within Green Hall and without.

“I knew that I wanted to do some kind of advocacy in the world,” said Beck. “When I was entering college, I realized that becoming a lawyer might be a way that I can harness advocacy. I felt that law school was a way I could get a bit more power behind what I was doing.”

Beck’s involvement in the CASA program is a time commitment, estimated about three hours a week, but a worthy one. Beck was required to attend about 35 hours of training to prepare for the program before being officially sworn in and appointed on the case by a judge.

“The time commitment is something to consider if you’re willing to take it on,” said Beck, “but for me, that paled in comparison to the importance of the work I was doing. I love getting to know my CASA child and hearing the opinions the child has about their life. I’m able to make more in-depth observations and understandings about what is in the child’s best interest.”

Through pro bono work, future lawyers like Beck can bridge the gap and provide legal support to underserved and marginalized communities. It is important that current and future lawyers realize the importance that their pro bono work serves.

“There is definitely a lot of room where we can make good work in the world,” said Beck. “Pro bono work is a great way that lawyers commit to doing something bigger than what they do just within their career. I think that is extremely important and is something the legal profession should continue to put an emphasis on now and in the future.”

Douglas County CASA, Inc. requires at least a one-year commitment from all their CASA volunteers, but Beck intends to stay with their CASA child until the child ages out of the system. As for future pro bono opportunities, Beck keeps an open mind and has some advice for anyone at KU Law interested in getting involved.

“Go talk to Professor Schnug because she had many opportunities and CASA was just the one I chose,” said Beck. “She talked me through at least four or five pro bono opportunities that you can do through KU Law. She knows a lot of resources out there to get involved.”

And for anyone in the law field, Beck stresses the importance of empathy and humility. “Always remember to be culturally competent and humble,” Beck said. “Being a lawyer is not the only thing that gives you credentials in the world. You need to be humble enough to understand that you’re not coming in to do pro bono work as some kind of savior. You are coming in to provide a service that you are capable of providing and learn from your client as well.

By Emma Herrman

Leading the Legal Discourse

Meet the leaders of KU Law’s student publications

Third-year law students Collin Studer and Jackie Jeschke.
Third-year law students Collin Studer and Jackie Jeschke.

Though the school year has only just begun, third-year law students Jackie Jeschke and Collin Studer have been hard at work this summer in preparation for their new roles as editors-in-chief of the law school’s two student-edited publications. Studer leads the University of Kansas Law Review, and Jeschke heads up the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy.

Beginning in the spring when Jeschke and Studer learned about their selections as editors-in-chief, they have been preparing for the upcoming year by setting goals, reviewing write-on submissions, contacting new staff editors and selecting and editing the articles for the first issues of the year.

“I don’t know that a lot of folks realize the amount of work and responsibility that goes into this position,” said Jeschke. “For the previous board to have appointed me as editor-in-chief was a huge compliment.”

Jeschke and Studer are no strangers to the process of editing and distributing their respective publications as both were student editors before being selected as leaders of the Journal and Review.

“It’s very rewarding to be able to influence the trend and the direction of legal scholarship,” said Studer.

The goals you set and the relationships you build

In their roles as editor-in-chief, both Jeschke and Studer are focusing on growing and maintaining the connections the publications have made between each other and the alumni who were once editors themselves.

“We’re coming into our third decade,” said Jeschke. “Our 30th anniversary happened right at the start of COVID, and I’ve talked with Dean Mazza about having a bigger banquet this year, inviting back alumni, reminding people why we started the Journal 33 years ago.”

Studer’s publication, the Kansas Law Review, was founded 72 years ago, but his goals are the same.

“I would really like to see Law Review tap into its 72-year-old tradition and connect with our alumni,” said Studer. “It would be great to bring together the previous ‘generations’ of Law Review at our next annual banquet.”

However, Jeschke and Studer want to continue to connect closer to home as well between the Review and Journal staff. This tradition has already been set in place prior to their leadership with tournaments in kickball and bowling but is something both editors would like to continue to grow.

“It’s not just the work you do, it’s the relationships you build,” said Studer.

Both publications use these tournaments as friendly competition, but even friendly matches can spur some healthy drama.

“I know that the Journal won both tournaments last year and I think the bowling win was pretty upsetting,” said Jeschke with a laugh. “It was pretty neck and neck there. But it’s just fun. In the past, I feel like there’s been this unnecessary competition between the two publications – and maybe that’s normal – but I know that Collin, Brooke [Law Review managing editor], Stephanie [Law Journal managing editor] and I have talked about how to really come together as the publications for the law school.”

Jackie Jeschke

Editor-in-chief of the Kansas Law Journal & Public Policy

Jackie Jeschke

Jeschke was born and raised here in Lawrence, Kansas, and received her undergraduate degree in Biology from KU and her master’s in healthcare administration from KU Med. Though her initial career goals included working on the clinical side of healthcare, Jeschke realized she was more interested in the administration and public policy side of things. After grad school, Jeschke spent five years working as a healthcare consultant focused on strategy and transactional-related projects before starting law school.

Now a mom of an 18-month-old daughter, Jeschke is proud of the journey she’s taken and shares her experience as a way to prove that law school can be for anyone and everyone.

“I am an example of a mom who can do law school, be involved in these organizations, be in leadership positions and pursue a big law career path,” said Jeschke. “Hopefully I can set an example that law school isn’t just one size fits all and only traditional paths.”

Jeschke spent the summer before her 3L year as a summer associate at Polsinelli and plans to join their staff full-time after her graduation in 2024.

Collin Studer

Collin Studer

Editor-in-chief of the Kansas Law Review

Studer is originally from Wathena, Kansas, close to the Missouri border. He received his undergraduate degree in History and Music from Baker University before moving to Washington D.C. where he worked at the Supreme Court as the aide to Chief Justice Roberts. Though law school wasn’t in his original career plan, Studer cites his time working with SCOTUS as what helped him make the decision to return to school and to return to Kansas as a KU Law student.

“After I spent time there and saw what lawyers do – albeit in a very specialized practice – I thought a legal career would be very rewarding and luckily that’s been true,” said Studer.

In his time since returning to Kansas and being a KU Law student, Studer has nothing but fond memories of his fellow students, his former teachers and the community of Lawrence.

“I knew that the professors took a lot of pride in mentoring students and helping them achieve their goals,” said Studer. “That’s true for every professor I have had, especially Professor McAllister and Professor Mulligan, now the law school dean at UMKC.”

Following his graduation in 2024, Studer plans to clerk for Judge Timothy Tymkovich on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

By Emma Herrman

Graduate Profile: Kristen Andrews, L’23

Former student-athlete joins law firm known for NCAA compensation support

Kristen Andrews

As a former student-athlete and recent sports dietitian, Kristen Andrews knows how to handle the trials of professional athletics. After her graduation in May, she joined Kennyhertz Perry, a prominent law firm in Kansas City.

“Kennyhertz Perry has a sports law practice group that has been at the forefront of the changes with respect to student-athlete compensation in the NCAA,” said Andrews. “In particular, student-athlete compensation for the use of their name, image and likeness. I hope to contribute to that practice group once I join the firm.”

Before attending law school, Andrews was a registered dietitian who worked with various sports teams in the Los Angeles area, including the Los Angeles Galaxy, the Los Angeles Lakers, and the U.S. Soccer team. While Andrews enjoyed working with these teams, she realized other career paths aligned better with her skills and interests.

“I started thinking about what I was good at and what I would like to spend my time doing,” said Andrews. “There are so many different types of things you can do in this field and I’m open to all of them.”

Andrews sees her position at Kennyhertz Perry as a valuable opportunity to contribute to the sports law practice group and further expand her knowledge and expertise.

“I was lucky enough to find an opportunity at Kennyhertz Perry and jumped at the chance to join them,” said Andrews. “I’m really excited about the opportunities there in the sports law space.”

During her time at Green Hall, Andrews served as a staff and articles editor for the Kansas Law Review journal and held the position of president of the Sports Law Society. These experiences, particularly in the Law Review, helped expand Andrews’ connections within her class.

“I worked closely with classmates I may not have had the opportunity to work closely with,” said Andrews. “Some of my best law school friends are people that I spent time combing through articles with on Law Review. I really look back and cherish that.”

Along with the connections she made with students, Andrews cites some professors who helped her along the way during the last three years.

“I had a lot of incredible professors,” said Andrews. “One that stands out is Professor Amii Castle. She is so knowledgeable and orientated towards teaching you things that will be practical when you get out into the real world.”

When it came to choosing a law school, there was no question that KU Law was going to be Andrews’ choice. A former Kansas City native, Andrews relocated home from California to become a Jayhawk Lawyer. At KU Law, she was quick to note the sense of community and collaboration that professors and classmates alike create.

“KU offers a nice learning environment where professors push you and classmates push you, but when you need assistance, both are there and willing to help you,” said Andrews.

For law school students, Andrews advises carefully considering their options, including where they want to practice and the networking opportunities.

“Where you want to work should influence what law school you’re looking for,” said Andrews. “On top of that, the law school environment matters a lot to how well you’re doing in school, and not every law school has the same environment.”

-By Emma Herrman

Visiting Scholar: Dr. Richard Lang

Five questions with Dr. Richard Lang, visiting scholar from the United Kingdom

Visiting scholar Dr. Richard Lang, from Wales, United Kingdom joins the University of Kansas School of Law for the summer 2023 semester.

Dr. Lang is a senior lecturer in law at Cardiff Metropolitan University in Wales. He currently serves as program director for BA (Hons) Business Law and Management and as a Module Leader for Administration Law & Human Rights, Applied Skills in Advocacy, Commercial Law & EU Law, among other courses. During his time in Lawrence, Lang plans to work on a monograph entitled “Are human rights too complex?” and continue his research and discussions on Brexit and other consequences.

Why did you choose to come to KU Law? How did you learn about our program and establish contact?

I had been following with great interest the research work of your professor of international trade, Raj Bhala, and particularly a piece he wrote in the Manchester Journal of International Economic Law about Brexit (the departure of the UK from the European Union), which is a special interest of mine. So, I contacted Raj and was delighted when he agreed to contribute to my series for Routledge, ‘Legal Perspectives on Brexit,’ which has now transmogrified into the ‘Routledge Handbook of Brexit and the Law.’ In the course of our conversations, he kindly invited me, through your Dean [Mazza], to spend three months at Green Hall over the summer. I hope my institution will also be able to welcome Raj to Cardiff at some point. Everyone else is also welcome to come, and, for that matter, to contribute to the Handbook.

What are your professional goals for your time at KU Law? What will be your next career steps after your time here?

I’m working on a monograph for Springer called (provisionally) ‘Are human rights too complex? Addressing Liberalism’s pluralism problem.’ The peace and quiet of the building (for the moment!) and your amazing libraries are both helping hugely in this process. While here I would like to speak to your Legal Aid office about the many highly commendable initiatives which your students are involved in.

Our law program in Cardiff is relatively new. So we’re only just considering branching out into this kind of experiential/clinical provision. Still, I think that we would be able to learn a lot from the giant strides which U.S. law schools have made in this area over the last decade – I think it’s fair to say you’ve really led the way on this.

Once I go home, I’ll be busy teaching and leading my program, the BA Business Law and Management, so I’m most appreciative of the chance to get some research done while in Kansas.

How does the academic and research environment at KU Law differ from your home institution?

There are a lot of differences. One of the main ones is that your law school is so much bigger than ours. This also means that you have more professors than us, which means you can cover more legal specialisms. You also have greater connections with your alumni, although that is something we’re working on.

Turning to the universities as a whole, I’d say one similarity was the focus on sport, which is rarer in the U.K. Our Cynoced campus hosts the National Indoor Athletics Centre and has produced a number of notable coaches from various sports.

What are your favorite things about Lawrence? What about your home do you miss the most?

I like that the people are so friendly! I like the downtown area which has a very cosmopolitan feel. I like that it’s quiet, peaceful, and small too, which means you can walk more-or-less anywhere you need to go. I guess I miss the slightly more predictable weather patterns.

What advice would you offer to other scholars who may want to do research abroad?

First and foremost, I would encourage them to do so. Having a change of scenery is a very good impetus to imagination and creativity, and travel brings with it lots of broadened horizons and new perspectives which influence how you look at your work. You can always learn something new, sometimes in the most unexpected places.

Graduate Profile: Steven Hendler, L’23

Non-traditional student trades in white coat for law degree

Chances are, if you’ve ever visited Green Hall, you’ve heard of Steve Hendler. Prior to obtaining his law degree, Hendler had a highly successful career in the healthcare field, but a few years ago he decided to pursue something different and return to his original career plan.

“I started college with a plan to go to law school,” Hendler said. “Imagine you’re taking a road trip because you want to go to Yellowstone, but you see a sign that says ‘Glacier National Park’ so you get off at that exit to see what that’s all about and you spend a substantial amount of time there. However, one day, you realize you still want to see Yellowstone. Law school is my Yellowstone.”

Described by Dean Stephen Mazza at the Hooding Ceremony on Saturday, May 13 as a “big personality,” Hendler dipped his toe into all kinds of law school activities to get a taste of all aspects of the law career. During his 3L year he and his classmate Lauren Page, 3L, participated in the UCLA Transactional Law Competition where they took home the award for Best Buyer.

“I’ve always liked the transactional side of business, whether healthcare or nonhealthcare-related businesses,” Hendler said. “I grew up in a family business so I’ve always enjoyed those things. I think there is a lot of opportunity for win-win outcomes.”

Hendler also put to use his medical expertise in writing and publishing articles during his time at law school with the help of Alex Platt, associate professor of law.

“I wanted to get a little more experience writing because I loved the research process in my work, and I wanted to take an opportunity to delve into something that interested me that I guessed I wouldn’t find coursework about,” said Hendler. “Professor Platt did a great job of giving me guidance. It was great to have someone with contract and litigation expertise ask questions from that perspective.”

Hendler in his former profession.
Photo courtesy of Steve Hendler

Hendler’s article “Serving Two Masters: Conflicts Between Physician Employment Contracts and the Physician’s Duty of Care” combines Hendler’s previous experience in the medical field with the law and investigates how the law can keep pace with physicians’ changing employment roles in hospitals.

“It was very interesting to start looking at where the gaps occur and trying to figure out how old case law would address this scenario,” said Hendler. “Then looking at what changes might be helpful to include in the hospital contracts to make them mesh better. It was really rewarding.”

The article has been published in several peer-reviewed journals and offers a unique exchange of knowledge between Hendler’s previous life in medicine and his peers.

“Even though my paper was accepted by one of the most prominent health law specialty journals in the country, Annals of Health Law and Life Sciences, I was working with editors who have no actual health background,” said Hendler. “Working through and explaining what some of the medical health subject matter meant was a really helpful check.”

Now officially graduated and on the hunt for his next adventure in law, Hendler looks back fondly on his time in Green Hall.

“One thing that’s great about Green Hall is how the faculty offices are strewn throughout the library,” Hendler said. “If I have questions about legal issues or life issues, particularly in how it relates to balancing practice issues I could always go down the hall and speak to Professor Outka or Professor Platt.”

As he looks forward to his new career in law, Hendler is optimistic.

“Ultimately, I would like to find a place where I can grow into a setting and within the next few years, I would love to find a situation that allows me to keep active for the foreseeable future,” Hendler said. “I have been surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed being able to tap into my subject matter knowledge when I’m applying what I’m learning as a lawyer.”

For future law students or any other non-traditional student thinking of making a career and life shift, Hendler has some advice.

Hendler and his family after the Hooding Ceremony.
Photo courtesy of Steve Hendler

“In general, I would say embrace the process,” said Hendler. “Figure out what you need and then the rest of the time just find things to enjoy. You’re going to have plenty of time when you’re practicing to write contracts or to litigate, but this is just a chance to explore something because you can.”

Forever a Jayhawk at heart, Hendler can’t help but put in a plug for KU’s award-winning basketball team.

“Get to a game! Don’t pretend you’re a fan of some other school and if you are; get rid of it, get over it, and become a Jayhawker,” said Hendler, with a laugh. “Keep track of your well-being and find the things that are not law school that you can incorporate into your life to develop those positive life habits now. Find the things in the KU community to keep you grounded.”

By Emma Herrman

Graduate Profile: Paula Lopez, L’23

Student finds her way in a career as a prosecutor

Like many students, Paula Lopez, L’23, had a self-described existential crisis when considering her future after graduation this past May.

“I always thought, going into law school, I wanted to be an ACLU attorney,” said Lopez. “But after my judicial externship in Sedgwick County with Judge Roush, I thought I maybe wanted to be a prosecutor.”

Lopez is one of many KU Law students who got a taste of different aspects of a career in law and put a lot of thought into looking toward her future.

“I talked to Stacey Blakeman, assistant dean of career services, probably a billion times because I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Lopez said. “She told me that it was OK to not know what you’re doing with your life.”

Lopez plans to join the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office after graduation. She is starting in their traffic court unit and Lopez is looking forward to where this career will take her.

“I think prosecution is a good start,” Lopez said. “Sedgwick County has a gang violence unit and a drug unit and they have teams of prosecutors that do that kind of stuff, so I think it will be interesting to see where they put me. I like Child in Need of Care (CINC) a lot, but I’m interested in doing other things too.”

Law has always been a part of Lopez’s life. Growing up, she had two career goals – dentistry and law.

Lopez and family after the 2023 Hooding Ceremony.
Picture courtesy of Paula Lopez

“When I was really little, I thought I wanted to be a dentist because my dad is a dentist,” said Lopez. “Then I started doing really bad in science and that’s when I knew dentistry wasn’t going to work out for me. I was already kind of interested in law because my mom was a lawyer in Venezuela. I think a part of me was always inspired by her.”

The decision to go to law school didn’t officially click until Lopez’s senior year of high school when the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets and former President Donald Trump enacted the Muslim Ban.

“Attorneys were going to airports to help people come back to the States and that was when I realized I wanted to go to law school,” said Lopez. “It was more than just, ‘Oh, maybe I want to go to law school.’ It was ‘I really want to go to law school.'”

Throughout her time in Green Hall, Lopez participated in the Law Journal and was a member of the Hispanic American Law Student Association (HALSA) and Women in Law, but her time serving the community in the Legal Aid Clinic will stay with her for the rest of her career.

“I had one client who was getting an expungement. The whole process was really emotional because she wanted to pursue a different career. She sent me an email after we got out of court when the expungement was approved and told me I was going to be a great lawyer someday,” said Lopez. “She was really sweet and it almost made me cry!”

As she prepares for a career in prosecution, Lopez looks back fondly on the professors who have helped her these past three years or, in some cases, even longer.

“Professor Lou Mulligan was my mentor in University Scholars in undergrad. He was monumental in helping me decide to do law and figure out where to go to school,” Lopez said. “Then, throughout law school – though I never took one of his classes – he was always so helpful in getting me started and acclimated to Green Hall. Every time I see him, he always says hi and we talk about our life updates and things.”

KU had always been the first choice for Lopez when she was looking at law schools. Not only did she have fond memories of her mother walking the hill after she received her Master’s in Latin American Studies, but she had spent a portion of her childhood in Lawrence before moving to Andover and coming back to town was always the plan.

“I was always a little Jayhawk,” said Lopez with a smile. “Maybe if I had lived in Lawrence growing up, I wouldn’t have wanted to go to KU, but I didn’t want to be in Wichita, I wanted to go back.”

Lopez has several important pieces of advice for future law students considering KU Law.

“Participate in the 3L/1L mentor program,” said Lopez. “I think it’s something that is really necessary to help you look ahead. I don’t know how much the 1L class really interacts with the 2L or 3Ls and just seeing someone at the end of it being like, ‘Oh, they’re almost done. They got through it. I can get through it,’ is huge.”

And for students like Lopez interested in law?

“Have an open mind,” Lopez said. “You might go in thinking you want to go into one type of law, but if you open yourself up to different classes, opportunities and whatnot you might change your mind like I did. If you had told me 10 years ago, I was going to be a prosecutor I would have been so confused. Having an open mind is such a huge part of law school. It makes it better in the end.”

By Emma Herrman