What Happened in Wichita

Cody Wood

It’s 12:55 PM. My web browser is open and my fingers, clammy with sweat, have just finished typing an email crafted to execute a very particular objective. My cursor hovers over the “send” button. It has to be hit precisely within 15 seconds of the clock striking 1:00 – no sooner, no later. The extensive time trials I conducted earlier through Microsoft Outlook had confirmed as much. I’ve chosen to sit on the blue couch outside the school’s Career Services Office as I’ve reasoned it would afford my data packets the shortest route to my target’s computer. I have a pretty good idea what the odds are, but I know if I can pull it off the returns will be incalculable in comparison. It’s 1 PM. I count to 10. I hit send.

Less than one minute later, my target emerges from the office. It’s already over.

No, I didn’t just launch a malware attack against KU Law’s servers. I did, however, successfully send in my RSVP for an event that, for me and 19 other victorious 1Ls, amounted to a full-scale city invasion for just under 24 hours.

An invasion in the best sense of the word, mind you. The “24 Hours of Wichita” event put on by KU Law’s Career Services department in conjunction with the Wichita legal community has by far been one of the best and most enjoyable experiences I’ve had, period. The anticipation for the event really can’t be understated. The 20 spots opened to the 1L class were filled in under a minute as Dean Thompson’s inbox was inundated with eager missives just like mine.

Given that my only familiarity with the city was driving through it on my way back from a spring break road trip, I really had no idea what to expect. In the weeks leading up discussion amongst those event-bound included what we’d be wearing, speculation about where we’d be going, and anxious feelings about what we’d be doing to try and not seem completely intimated as we mingled with partners of some of the state’s largest firms.

Fast forward to the day of and we arrive in Old Town, which is smack dab in the heart of Wichita. The place is actually super modern, we toured some recently developed apartments that can attest to the fact, but I get that “New Town” as a name doesn’t really conjure up the same sort of whimsical yearning you want tied to a sense of place. The name of the district really does capture that sort of romantic 19th-century city aesthetic of old-brick buildings and streets, adorned by grandiose lampposts luminescent with nostalgia for the past as you walked on by.

Walking actually turned out to be half the allure of the city. I’d liken it to downtown Lawrence in that you can literally walk anywhere you’d want to go on a night out and then walk back home again. After touring a little bit, we went back to check into the hotel (we got GIFT BAGS – I was like, “What is this, the Oscars?”), changed clothes, and then walked over to a fancy restaurant called Oeno (don’t try to pronounce it) to mingle with the aforementioned scary lawyers.

Put short and sweet, they all turned out to be incredibly welcoming and easy to talk to. The cocktail/tapas hour was one of the best parts, a classic good food, good drinks, better people type situation. To have these individuals take (very valuable) time out of their day just to come hang out and talk with us was both rewarding and encouraging, because it showed me that the Kansas legal community is genuinely interested in my development as a young professional despite my bewilderments and as of yet unarticulated career goals.

And the city is definitely appealing to my young professional self. After a couple hours of mingling, the 20 of us left for a night out on the town. That’s its own separate series of blog posts. It was, I’ll say, “Wichitawesome.”

We wake up early the next morning to split up and grab breakfast with more area attorneys at different local breakfast joints and later regroup to head over to the art museum. I personally love art, and although I know next to nothing about it, the museum did not disappoint. You would have never guessed that there were famous paintings by Georgia O’Keeffe and Norman Rockwell in the middle of Kansas, but they were there among many other inspirations.

There was a LOT more occurring here, there and everywhere in between. I could write a short novella about this trip and the friends I made on it, but I’d like to conclude by saying that I was indeed inspired by the lengths KU Law and the community at large will go to see to it my legal education is supplemented with intensely personal and fulfilling experiences. Did I mention the firms footed the bill for the entire thing? I really could not be more grateful. And that honestly goes for all of the opportunities Career Services has put on so far, ranging from this event to a fashion seminar to bringing in over 100 different legal employers in one night just to talk to you about what your options actually are as a KU law grad. My suggestion to any entering 1Ls would be to take advantage of as many of the prospects the Career Services office and Kansas legal community has to offer you, because they all have the potential to be just as satisfying as this 24 hours of Wichita trip ended up being for me.

Getting good at hacking computers may not hurt either. Just a thought.

— Cody Wood is a first-year law student from Leawood, Kansas, and a KU Law Student Ambassador.