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