Alumna strives for change

Sarah Deer, L’99, aims to end gender-based violence in Native American communities through legislative change, legal scholarship and advocacy

Photo by Ashley Golledge.

Sarah Deer, L’99, has dedicated her career to ending violence against women in Native American communities. For nearly 30 years, she has advocated for the protection of Native women and worked with survivors. Her scholarship and advocacy focus on the intersection of federal Indian law and victims’ rights.

Deer is a citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. She was instrumental in the development and passage of landmark legislation that protects Native American women from gender-based violence, including The Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010, and the 2013 and 2019 reauthorizations of the Violence Against Women Act.

She has also testified before Congress on four occasions and filed five amicus briefs with the U.S. Supreme Court. Deer is also the chief justice of the Prairie Island Indian Community Supreme Court.

“My testimony to Congress about violence against Native women and my Supreme Court briefs advocating for the interests of Native women and children are two notable examples where I have used my legal education to ameliorate the status of underprivileged communities,” Deer said.

Deer, who grew up in Wichita, is a two-time alumna of the University of Kansas. She earned undergraduate degrees with honors in women’s studies and philosophy in 1996. Deer also earned a J.D. and a Tribal Lawyering Certificate from the University of Kansas School of Law in 1999.

“The law school at the University of Kansas is also a great value,” Deer said. “It’s an excellent education at a reasonable cost.”

Deciding where to pursue her education was an easy choice for Deer because she is a second-generation Jayhawk. Her mother, Jan Deer, graduated from KU in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in science education. Her father, Montie Deer, also went to KU.

“I already had an affinity to KU because I studied here as an undergrad,” Deer said. “Both of my parents attended KU.”

After law school, Deer worked at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and at the Tribal Law and Policy Institute in Los Angeles as a victim-advocacy legal specialist and staff attorney. She also co-directed the Indian Law Clinic at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Sarah Deer presents “Sovereignty of the Soul: Centering the Voices of Native Women” on October 1, 2019 as part of the Hall Center for the Humanities Lecture Series. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

In 2016, she served as the Langston Hughes Visiting Professor at KU.

“In the Fall of 2016, I returned to Lawrence as a visiting faculty member as part of the Langston Hughes program,” Deer said. “I enjoyed my time in Lawrence and working with other KU faculty. I was fortunate enough to be offered a permanent position at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. My positive experience with students made it an easy decision to return to KU.”

Deer is now a University Distinguished Professor in KU’s Department of Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies. She has a joint appointment in the School of Public Affairs & Administration and is a courtesy professor at KU Law.

“I like sharing my own experiences as a graduate of KU, and I encourage students to dream big,” Deer said.

Deer was awarded a “Genius Grant” from the MacArthur Fellows Program in 2014. She was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 2019. She was the first woman from KU and the fifth Kansan to receive the honor. Earlier this year, she was selected to be in the 2020 class of Andrew Carnegie Fellows. Through the fellowship, Deer will author a book, Indigenous Democracies: Native Women and the Future of Tribal Nations in the United States, about the basis of indigenous democracies in Native women’s political activism.

Deer has co-authored four tribal law textbooks. She also published a book, The Beginning and End of Rape: Confronting Sexual Violence in Native America, in 2015. Deer has published articles in law journals, including the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, the Yale Journal of Law and Feminism, and the Columbia Journal of Gender and Law.

In addition to her scholarly work, Deer serves the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma as a formal consultant on legal reform efforts.

— By Ashley Golledge

How to manage stress in law school

Photo by Ashley Golledge

Law school can be frightening because of all the unknowns, especially in these strange times. The material is challenging and it can be hard or nearly impossible to fully understand everything in the course of a semester, or even just in the course of a week. This can lead to a feeling that you don’t belong or are somehow not understanding the material as well as others. The good news is, as I’ve found it, you’re almost never alone in finding material hard to grasp. The even better news is that at KU Law, the professors are eager to ensure that you have a full grasp of the material. The open-door (or open-Zoom chat) policy at KU is real! 

That feeling of not knowing can follow some people throughout their entire career in the law. I know that at my job with a firm over the summer, it being my first legal job, I felt like I had no idea what was going on. Supreme Court Justice Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote in her memoir that even with all her success, she has dealt with what’s called “imposter syndrome” throughout her career. Imposter syndrome is essentially the feeling of not being smart enough and being worried about every little mistake you may make. It’s something that a lot of law students deal with. I find that discussing difficult topics from the day with a few of my classmates can really help. It can be difficult not to follow the urge to compare everything you do with other law students. The reality is that every person studies and learns differently. Above all, the fact that you’ve gotten good grades in undergraduate, done well on the LSAT, and gotten into law school is on its own enough to show that you belong at law school. 

What’s helped me deal with that stress is making sure that law school doesn’t consume my life. For me, a way to escape the stress of law school life has been with friends, both from the law school and elsewhere. Working and worrying yourself to death every day isn’t a recipe for success in law school. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your law school success is to take a day off from studying and go out for dinner with some friends. On a day-to-day basis, I typically try and cut myself off from studying at 9 p.m. Then I have the remainder of the evening (I stay up late) to myself, either to watch a movie or to just relax. KU Law’s atmosphere also helps take the stress out of things, as everyone is eager to help you in any way they can.  

— By James Schmidt, a 2L from Houston, Texas and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Living With The Bluebook: 4 Quick Tips

Photo by Ashley Golledge

The story of Sisyphus is a Greek myth, one that concludes with Zeus condemning Sisyphus to Tartarus and forcing him to push a boulder to the top of a hill. No matter how many times Sisyphus brings the boulder to the peak, however, the boulder falls down the other side, dooming Sisyphus to an eternity of boulder pushing.

On an unrelated note, bluebooking can sometimes seem like a daunting task. Thankfully, with my Five Star Bluebook Tips™ in tow, you can learn how to stop worrying and love not loathe everyone’s favorite somehow-not-obsolete citation guide!

Tip #1: The Quick Reference Table Is Your Friend

Located on both inside cover pages is the Bluebook’s Quick Reference Table. This table provides an example of a properly bluebooked citation for every garden variety source variant that you’re likely to stumble upon, including cases, legislative reports, and, my personal favorite, pamphlets. By looking to this table first, you may save yourself a trek through the spiral-bound hellscape that is the Bluebook’s actual text.

Tip #2: “The Power is Yours!” Go Digital!

Recently, I learned that the Bluebook has a digital edition. After enrolling in a free trial and spending some time working on some citations for Law Review, I can say with certainty that my life has been made easier. The display is clean, the Ctrl + F capabilities are life-changing, and best of all, as I cite Law Review articles that discuss how best multinational oil corporations can escape liability for their contributions to global climate change, I get to feel good that I’m saving paper! With an annual payment of $39, you too can live life with my peace of mind.

Tip #3: Don’t Trust Anyone

Sometimes you’ll hit a wall and catch the urge to coast off the work of judges and scholars to complete your citations. The temptation is understandable; these are high credential individuals citing the exact source you’re needing to cite, so why not just lift it straight from the case text on Westlaw or Lexis? Among other reasons, you shouldn’t do this because, unbelievably, one can be an extraordinary legal mind and not pay much heed to the conventions of the Bluebook. For one illustrative example, you can look to Judge Posner, who states that the Bluebook “is 560 pages of rubbish,” and states that that a proper first step for our profession is to “burn all copies” of the noble uniform system of citation. Unfortunately, such a cavalier attitude toward conformity with the Bluebook will result in a less-than desirable grade on your Open Memos, so just trust your knowledge and do the work yourself.

Tip #4: The Bluebook is Inevitable, Suffering Is Optional

Duḥkha is the First Noble Truth of Buddhism; it tells us that suffering is inextricably linked to the human experience. For the Buddhists, the paradoxical first step to disengage oneself from suffering is an acknowledgement of its inevitability. In many ways, this wisdom applies with equal force in learning to accept the Bluebook as a fixture in your life. The Bluebook is inconvenience in corporeal form; it is hundreds of pages of idiosyncrasies, counter-intuitive rules, and opaque explanations and examples. You could spend every waking minute of the next couple years trying to memorize each one of its inexplicable rules and exceptions, and even if you succeed, you’ll have just minutes to celebrate before a joyless cabal of Ivy Leaguers decides it is time to change a dozen or so rules and force everyone to pay for a new edition. True, you may never fully escape from the Bluebook’s gaping maw, but with each year your grasp on it will improve, your sense of where the proper rule is located will develop, and God willing, an unitalicized comma will matter less and less. Embrace its absurdity, understand its inevitability, and feel the stress wash away.

—  By Griffin Albaugh, a 2L from Lawrence and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Alumni gift creates new scholarship fund

A new scholarship fund at the KU School of Law will provide support to law students from diverse backgrounds.

Nathaniel Davis, L’76, has established the Nathaniel and Floydie Crawford-Davis Memorial Law Scholarship with a $50,000 gift to KU Endowment. Davis named the scholarship after his parents, who were public school teachers in Greene County, Alabama.

“I established the scholarship fund as a way to honor the memory of my parents by providing financial assistance to minority students seeking a legal education,” Davis said.

Davis graduated from KU Law in January 1976, attending two summer sessions to earn his J.D. early. He also completed academic requirements for the Master of Public Administration program. Davis started his career in private industry before joining the Parole and Community Services Division of the California Department of Corrections. He served in roles including state training director, chief of the Audit Division, and parole administrator before retiring in 2004.

Davis earned his undergraduate degree from Howard University in 1966. Before enrolling at KU Law, he served in the U.S. Army, and worked as a social worker and parole agent in California. When he decided to apply to law school, he reached out to campuses across the country.

“I made several inquiries to schools regarding possible minority recruitment programs. The University of Kansas offered the support that enabled me to attend law school,” Davis said.

“I give to KU Law because KU Law gave so much to me. I am grateful for the legal education that has been an asset both professionally and personally,” he said.

Make a gift

— By Margaret Hair

KJLPP Spotlight: Professor Jennifer Schmidt, L’94

Celebrating its 30th Year in Publication, the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy reflects on the public policy careers of alumni

With great pride, the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy (KJLPP) celebrates our 30th year in publication. Since our founding in 1990, our singular aim has been to promote analytical and provocative articles through contemporary discourse on judicial decisions; legislation; and other legal and social issues. Thirty years of publication is no small task and the consistency of our goals and personality is due to the tremendous efforts of the preceding 29 Journal volumes.

Given the type of staff members we attract as a public policy journal, we have seen Journal alumni go on to have amazing and interesting public policy careers. Throughout the academic year, we will take a look at several of the public policy careers Journal alumni have pursued after departing Green Hall.

Our first spotlight is on KU Law Professor Jennifer Schmidt. During her time as a KU Law student, Professor Schmidt was a staff editor and the managing editor for Volumes II & III, respectively. After graduating law school in 1994, Professor Schmidt went on to have a successful career in Washington, D.C. and Kansas. In our interview, Professor Schmidt reflects on her public policy career. Please enjoy.

Professor Jennifer Schmidt, L’94

KJLPP: What drew you to be on the Journal?

Schmidt: The people drew me to the Journal. When I was in law school, Journal and Law Review held separate write-on competitions. At the Journal write-on info session, the incoming editors were interesting, enthusiastic and smart. They made the Journal not just a prestigious place to be, but a welcoming place to be. I wanted and needed that. Journal was an easy first choice and a place I wanted to spend my time. I did not even try to write-on to Law Review.


KJLPP: How did public policy play a part in your career after law school?

Schmidt: My career has centered on public policy both before and after law school. My Editor-in-Chief, Don Lee, and I first became friends working in Senator Bob Dole’s Capitol Hill office before law school. Working for Sen. Dole in Washington, D.C., was both of our first jobs out of undergrad. We remained friends while at KU Law and ultimately shared an office as the senior management on the Journal our third year.

After law school, I went on to serve as counsel to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Courts, as senior counsel to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and as chief of staff to the Speaker of the Kansas House of Representatives. I also hosted and produced “Ask Your Legislator,” a statewide current events television show on Kansas Public Television. Ultimately, I ended up teaching law and public policy at KU Law.

KJLPP: How has your public policy experiences influenced your work as a Professor?

Schmidt: Among other courses and duties, I teach the Public Policy Practicum, the Legislative Simulation and have the great joy of guiding students who are interested in working in policy, politics, government and nonprofits — many of whom are Journal students.

While on the KU Law faculty, I have had the opportunity to build and direct the Sixth Semester in Washington, D.C. Program — a law school program that places KU Law 3Ls in Washington, D.C. and allows them to live, work and learn during their final semester. The purpose of the program is to give students a running start on careers in Washington.

My great hope for the program is that it gives KU Law students equal footing for Congressional, federal government and national nonprofit jobs with law students from D.C.-based and East Coast law schools. I also hope that it ultimately increases the number and volume of policymaking voices from Kansas, other Midwestern states, and KU School of Law in our nation’s capital. It is important that our life experiences and priorities are represented.

KJLPP: What did and do you value most about the Journal?

Schmidt: The Journal — the friends, the work, the Symposia, producing the excellent product — was the centerpiece and a highlight of my law school experience.

Now, being a professor gives me a broader perspective of the Journal than I had as a law student. The Journal is an important asset to KU Law, our students, Kansas, and the country. We all benefit from having so many bright students who are interested in public policy and choose to spend their time and talents producing this great publication.

Justice Carol Beier retires from Kansas Supreme Court

Justice Carol A. Beier, L’85, recently retired from the Kansas Supreme Court after serving on the high court for 17 years. Photo courtesy of the Kansas Supreme Court.

After a 20-year judicial career, Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol A. Beier retired on Sept. 18.

Beier, L’85, served on the Kansas Supreme Court for 17 years. Previously, she was a judge on the Kansas Court of Appeals for 3.5 years.

“I will be ever grateful for the opportunities I have been given to spend so much of my legal career in service to my home state and its citizens,” Beier said. “Twenty years and thousands of cases since my children helped me put on my robe for the first time, I will pack it away with pride. This is possible because I can bear personal witness to the good faith and daily striving of our Kansas courts to be and remain fair and impartial guardians of the rule of law and the rights of all.”

Beier was the first female graduate of KU Law to serve on the Kansas Supreme Court and the third woman appointed to the high court. In 2012, she was named to the KU Women’s Hall of Fame.

“It’s lovely to be someone who is helping to blaze a trail for other women,” Beier said. “I hope that there are lots of future Kansas Supreme Court justices who are female alums of KU Law.”

In addition to her work on cases, Beier had many administrative duties. She served as a departmental justice for six judicial districts and was the court’s liaison for several particular areas of the court’s supervision.

“I had the opportunity to work with some wonderful people at the Kansas Supreme Court – folks who have become lifelong friends,” Beier said.

Kansas Supreme Court Justice Carol A. Beier, L’85, participates in a Q&A session with law students at the University of Kansas on April 1, 2019. Beier and her colleagues on the Kansas Supreme Court heard oral arguments at KU later that day. This was the court’s first visit to Lawrence in its 158-year history. Photo by Andy White/KU Marketing Communications.

Background

Beier is originally from Kansas City, Kansas. She graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in journalism in 1981 and with a Juris Doctor in 1985. Beier also earned an LL.M. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2004.

Prior to her judicial career, Beier was a partner at Foulston & Siefkin law firm in Wichita. She also worked in private practice in Washington, D.C.; served as a staff attorney at the National Women’s Law Center; and clerked for the late Judge James K. Logan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

She taught at KU Law during the 1989-90 academic year at the request of former Dean Michael Davis.

“I had the good fortune to teach for a year at KU Law, shortly after I came back to Kansas,” Beier said. “I loved my year teaching at KU. It was very fun.”

While at Green Hall, Beier managed the Defender Project – now called the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies – with former KU Law Professor Kim Dayton. She also taught an appellate clinic, Gender in the Law Seminar and Advanced Torts.

“I loved running the Defender Project,” Beier said. “It was like having a small law firm of my own.”

Former Kansas Supreme Court Chief Justice Lawton Nuss, L’82, and Justice Carol A. Beier, L’85, listen to oral arguments in a special session held at the University of Kansas on April 1, 2019. This was the court’s first visit to Lawrence in its 158-year history. Photo by Andy White/KU Marketing Communications.

Service

Beier has been actively involved with the legal community for many years. She was a founding member of the Kansas Women Attorneys Association in 1994.

“The Kansas Women Attorneys Association has continued to grow and strengthen over the years,” Beier said. “I’m very proud of my early and frequent involvement with it.”

She has also served as the District 10 Director of the National Association of Women Judges. While living in Wichita, she was the president of the Wichita Women Attorneys Association and involved with the Wichita Bar Association.

Beier has remained loyally involved with KU Law throughout her legal and judicial career. She has served on the law school’s Board of Governors for 20 years, including a year as president of the organization.  

Beier received the law school’s highest honor, the Distinguished Alumni Award, in 2013. The award celebrates graduates for their professional achievements, contributions to the legal field and service to their communities and the university.

Plans for the future

After more than 35 years of public service, Beier is looking forward to retirement. She plans to spend time with her family and travel.

Beier is grateful to have spent the majority of her legal career in service to Kansans. She encourages fellow public servants to consider following in her footsteps.

“I hope that many of my fellow capable and dedicated lawyers who revere the rule of law, those who want to preserve reason and civil discourse, those who know that the elusive perfection of our union takes constancy and care from all of us – will consider taking a chance on becoming my successor,” Beier said. “Our system of justice needs them.”

— By Ashley Golledge

Law professor, alumni teach Legal Ethics CLE to more than 1,500 attorneys in six months

Professor Michael H. Hoeflich

Michael H. Hoeflich has taught Legal Ethics Continuing Legal Education (CLE) programs to more than 1,500 attorneys in the past six months. Hoeflich is the John H. & John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas School of Law.

Hoeflich taught the CLE programs virtually in conjunction with Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC (JHC) partners Christopher Joseph, L’00, and Diane Bellquist, L’02.

“As a result of the pandemic, it became increasingly difficult to put on in-person CLE programs, so I approached Chris Joseph and suggested that we start a series of free online programs,” Hoeflich said. “We have been delighted at the strong positive response those programs have received.”

Since April, more than 1,500 attorneys have participated in the free CLE programs taught by Hoeflich, Joseph and Bellquist. For each CLE program, JHC produces a Legal Ethics and Malpractice Reporter newsletter.

CLE program topics and host organizations included:

  • “The History of Ethics and Comparing Modern Rules,” April 15, 2020, Greater Kansas City Society of Healthcare Attorneys (GKCSHA)
  • “Legal Ethics & Trial Publicity,” April 30, 2020, Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC
  • “Tech Tips in a Cyber World,” May 28, 2020, Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC
  • “The History of Ethics & Comparing Modern Rules,” July 17, 2020, Kansas Women Attorneys Association
  • “Assisting or Counseling Client Fraud or Criminal Activity: ABA Formal Ethics Opinion 491,” July 22, 2020, Joseph, Hollander & Craft LLC

On Sept. 23, Hoeflich will present a CLE program on “Representing Cannabis Industry Clients: Ethical Pitfalls” with JHC attorneys Christopher McHugh, L’00, and Andrew Goodwin. The program has been approved for 1 hour of Ethics CLE in Kansas and Missouri. To register, visit the JHC event web page.

Hoeflich joined the KU Law faculty in 1994. He served as dean from 1994 to 2000. He previously served as the director of the M.S. in Homeland Security: Law & Policy degree program as well.

— By Ashley Golledge

Raj Bhala selected for Department of State speaker program

Law professor also honored in ’50 Kansans You Should Know’

A University of Kansas law professor will offer expertise on a variety of trade issues through the U.S. Speaker Program.

Professor Raj Bhala
Raj Bhala, Brenneisen Distinguished Professor

Raj Bhala, the Brenneisen Distinguished Professor at the KU School of Law, teaches international and comparative law courses, and is among the world’s foremost authorities in international trade law. He was asked to join the program because of his scholarship, teaching and experience in areas including international trade law, Islamic law, and India, and on cross-cutting, vital issues of law and policy concerning China. His insights from his work at the KU School of Law in International Law and Literature also may help advance our nation’s public diplomacy goals.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the U.S. Speaker Program makes available distinguished expertise to overseas groups in partnership with American embassies around the world. As the U.S. Speaker Program’s Fact Sheet indicates, the program “recruits dynamic American experts to engage international audiences on topics of strategic importance to the United States.” 

“It is a great honor, and very humbling, to be asked by the State Department to provide impactful presentations to key audiences around the world on some of the major issues of our time,” Bhala said. “I look forward to this responsibility, serving as a two-way Ambassador between my fantastic students here at KU Law and those important audiences, and to gaining insights for my scholarly publications and sharing them overseas.”

Presentations are both in-person and remote via tools such as Zoom, covering “topics of strategic importance to the United States,” according to the program’s fact sheet. Audiences include public and private sector officials, academics, students and the media.

The U.S. Speaker Program Department conducts approximately 650 programs annually consisting of workshops, lectures, seminars and consultations. These events not only help “share ideas and information,” but also “build and sustain relationships with foreign audiences,” according to the program description.

’50 Kansans You Should Know’

Raj was also recently honored as one of Ingram’s Magazine’s “50 Kansans You Should Know.” Now in its 10th year, “50 Kansans You Should Know” recognizes Kansas area residents “for their over-sized contributions to business success, civic engagement, philanthropic zeal and shared interest in moving their communities forward.”

Raj was recognized for a teaching style that “brings to his students a blend of insight, experience, rhetoric and oratory (laced with references to Shakespeare) that helps them break down barriers erected by cultures, religions, economic systems and political structures,” according to the article.

Bhala joined the KU Law faculty in 2003. He teaches courses including Advanced International Trade Law, International Law and Literature, and Islamic Law (Sharī‘a). Bhala is a senior advisor for Dentons U.S. LLP and writes a monthly “On Point” column for BloombergQuint (Mumbai). He is frequently asked by media outlets to share expertise on international trade law, with recent appearances in Fortune, PolitiFact, the Los Angeles Times and NPR’s Marketplace.

In 2017, Ingram’s Magazine selected his wife, Dr. Kara Tan Bhala, who earned her Ph.D. in philosophy at KU in 2009, as one of the “50 Kansans You Should Know,” making Raj and Kara among the first KU Law couples to receive the award.

— By Margaret Hair

Gaining practical experience through KU Law Legal Corps

Second-year law student Natasha Veenis

This summer, I had the great opportunity to intern for the Kansas Legal Services (KLS) in their Wichita, Kansas office. KLS is a non-profit organization that gives legal aid to the most vulnerable Kansans. Since you can only receive a court-appointed attorney for criminal cases, the KLS organization provides legal aid for a vast array of civil cases.

At KLS, I interned under Danielle Saunders and focused primarily on domestic, family, juvenile, adoption and social security legal issues. During my time at KLS, I was able to participate in the weekly Protection From Abuse (PFA) docket, attend virtual and in-person court hearings, draft and edit legal documents, communicate with clients, and strengthen my research and writing skills. In addition, toward the end of my internship my time was mainly spent on assisting with the upcoming 3-day trial in August. Preparation for trial involved drafting and sending interrogatories, creating deposition notebooks, attending depositions, issuing business record subpoenas, attending the mandatory settlement conference, attending the pretrial conference hearing, creating trial notebooks, creating demonstrative exhibits for trial, and attending the trial from start to finish. This trial not only gave me an opportunity to see civil procedure applied, but also gave me a firsthand look at issues of evidence and criminal procedure, classes I will take this coming fall. Overall, my internship was packed with lots of learning and applying my 1L legal knowledge and research skills towards cases.

Before this summer, I was not sure what type of law I wanted to practice. But this internship revealed to me that my passion rests in advocating for those who feel voiceless and striving to give them the justice they deserve. Particularly, I am interested in pursuing a career in family law with a focus on domestic and sexual assault victims because I loved working on cases where I felt I was really making a difference.

Lastly, this internship definitely taught me valuable professional skills and life lessons that will help me going forward. One of the professional skills being that organization is key to having a balanced work-life schedule. If you have an organized plan for each case, you are far less likely to feel overwhelmed with your cases. Another professional skill being that kindness towards clerks, attorneys, judges, and clients in this profession can make a world of difference and will never be forgotten. One life lesson gained is to celebrate the small victories, because in the end they all contribute to the big victories!

— By 2L Natasha Veenis

KU Law student participates in 1L LCLD Scholars Program

Rising 2L Natalie Nelson participated in the 1L LCLD Scholars program this summer.

Natalie Nelson participated in the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity (LCLD)’s annual Scholars Program this summer. The program is designed to expand the number of opportunities available to diverse first-year law students.

Nelson was the first in her family to go to law school. Upon graduation, Nelson looks forward to becoming a first-generation female attorney.

Students from over 100 law schools across the nation participate in the program and work with attorneys from Fortune 500 legal departments and Am Law 350 law firms.

“I chose to apply for the 1L LCLD Scholars program because I believed in the vision of the LCLD network and felt that, if given the opportunity, it would have a significant impact on my future career,” Nelson said.

LCLD scholars participate in a summer internship and attend a Scholars Summit event. Nelson was a summer associate at Stinson LLP in Kansas City, Missouri.

“I have been working with truly incredible people and have enjoyed every second of it,” Nelson said. “I am not sure I could ask for more.”

Due to COVID-19, the in-person 1L LCLD Scholars Summit in Atlanta was canceled. Instead, four virtual meetings about career development were held throughout the summer. The program adapted by hosting smaller Zoom sessions and creating a LinkedIn page for students to continue to network with one another and the supporting organizations.

Rising 2L Natalie Nelson participates in KU Law’s Legal Career Options Day event in 2019. Photo by Andy White/KU Marketing Communications.

Through the 1L LCLD Scholars program, Nelson has gained valuable legal experiences.

“I hope to continue learning how to communicate and network with others, especially in an online environment,” Nelson said.

Nelson said that the most rewarding part of the program was meeting like-minded law students, attorneys and staff.

“It is amazing how much you learn just by creating a space for conversation and being willing to have a growth mindset,” Nelson said. “Although this sounds simple, and perhaps cliché, it really has been rewarding even just listening.”

Nelson is originally from Highland Village, Texas. She earned an undergraduate degree in medical humanities from Baylor University in Waco, Texas.

At KU Law, Nelson is the vice president of the Sports Law Society and a member of the Federal Bar Association. In the fall, she will be a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Scholar and teaching assistant for lawyering skills classes.

Nelson ultimately plans to use her law degree to pursue a career in transactional law, but she is keeping her mind open to new opportunities that might come her way.

— By Ashley Golledge