Updated on April 11, 2022
Keeping up with your “why” through 1L
“Why am I doing this?”
At some point during your 1L year, this thought will cross your mind. Maybe you’ll be pouring over a massive outline for finals, trying to figure out how to get everything into your head for tomorrow. Maybe it’ll be on a random evening where you had unexpected car trouble and didn’t get started on your homework until well after dark. Maybe it’ll just be an average Friday, where you’re exhausted and just want to lie in bed, but you have class.
In those moments where you may question your choice, knowing your “why” gets you through the tough moments and into the good.
Chances are you have some sense of your “why” because you applied to law school in the first place. It could have to do with your skill set, the importance of law or even a particular issue you believe you can help with a law degree.
Ask yourself this question on the front end and run with it. Come up with as many reasons as you can. Pair your reasons with specific and concrete moments that you can recall later. Commit them to memory. I keep a list in my desk.
But you should go beyond that, especially during your 1L year. You’re going to be busy, of course, but you will have time if you make it. Some of the best advice I received coming into law school was to maintain at least one grounding activity or hobby unrelated to law school. You probably don’t want to be committed to an additional 20 hours per week on day one. (The rumors are true. You do need sleep!) But keeping up with things you love outside of school is a great way to keep yourself grounded.
If you came to school to support a cause, try volunteering with a local charity a few hours a month. If you came because you love to read and solve puzzles, take some time to read whatever silly novel you want or dig into a crossword puzzle on a Sunday. If it was about a career where you get to connect with people, make sure you’re still doing that. Take time for lunch or go meet people on the weekends. If you love to write, try some poetry.
When you nurture your “why,” you can reinvigorate yourself in the moments when you feel like you’re pouring from an empty cup. The law is so important – and I think so worth it to study – but it is inherently removed from reality at times. It’s easy to drown in the paper and forget. Keeping connected to “the point” – whatever that may be for you – will help you persevere until you get back to those good moments. Until you get to study a case you really care about, or you see your pro bono efforts pay off for your clients, or you have that next deep discussion in class, a good reminder never hurts.
-By Libby Rohr, a 1L from Leawood and KU Law Student Ambassador
Updated on April 25, 2022
Allow me to make a few educated guesses. As prospective law students, you undoubtedly have watched enough videos and read enough blog posts to conclude that law school can get bumpy at times. If that’s the case, then I am 100%, without a doubt, positively sure that those same videos have also suggested you find a hobby to take your mind off school, so you can survive and thrive. Am I on to something?
Taking one more guess, I am sure you are also thinking to yourself, “Why do these recipes always have to have a life story before the ingredients list?” Well, if I got any of those guesses right, might I suggest stress baking!
De-stress baking, or stress baking for short, is a wonderful and delicious hobby that will not only help you relax during those stressful times in a semester but also reward your efforts with delicious snacks to fuel your late-night study sessions. To get you started on your culinary journey to bliss, I have included my coveted Finals Exam Cookie Recipe, and I am revealing all my tips and tricks.
Brett’s Final Exam Cookies
Ingredients (approx. 16 cookies)
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted (or room temp)
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 3 tablespoons baking sugar (or granulated)
- 1 egg (room temperature)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup bread flour (this can also be all-purpose flour)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ tablespoon sea salt
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- chocolate chips to preference (I use about 1 cup)
Grease a cookie sheet or use a silicone baking sheet.
In a bowl, sift together the flour(s), baking powder, baking soda, salt and espresso powder.
In a separate bowl or stand mixer, mix the melted butter and sugars until creamy and smooth. Beat in the egg and vanilla extract until creamy. Now, slowly incorporate your sifted dry mixture. Once fully incorporated, add chocolate chips to your heart’s content.
Scoop your dough and form your cookies on the baking sheet, leaving space in between dough.
Note: If using room temperature butter, your cookies might flatten in the oven so leave extra room. Room temperature butter is soft enough to incorporate air, but not so soft that it will melt immediately in the oven and result in thinner cookies.
Place in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to eight hours.
Note: This is probably the most important step as it allows the fats to cool and ensures chewy cookies.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for 12-15 minutes or until desired crispiness.
Note: For even softer cookies, add a shallow bowl of water on the rack below the cookies while they bake in the oven.
-By Brett Hallagan, a 2L from San Diego, California and KU Law Student Ambassador
I have an inside scoop on a $250,000 ride that comes with its own driver. The best part is, this ride is FREE!
The “K-10 Connector” is a bus route provided courtesy of RideKC that runs between Johnson County Community College, the KU Edwards Campus and the KU Lawrence campus. If you’re someone considering commuting from the Overland Park area, this route will be your saving grace. It is a great option to cut down the cost of commuting, maximize productivity and reduce your carbon footprint. The route also runs from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., so whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, the route should be able to accommodate your preference.
Late night studying? No sweat! The noble steel steed can rock you right to sleep. Worried about that impending cold call? With RideKC’s expert drivers behind the wheel, you’re afforded the opportunity to brush up on cases during your commute.
The K-10 commute has been a welcome transition from my NYC public transit experiences. The rolling hills of rural Kansas are a pleasant replacement for the rustling of rats between subway tracks. Although the people-watching is not as entertaining as in NYC, there have been some memorable moments. As a passenger, it is amusing to look out the window and watch the drivers on K-10 fumble with their Casey’s breakfast pizza or struggle to put on mascara while attempting to stay in their lane.
The K-10 Connector also opens the door to becoming a member of the coolest unofficial law student org there is: “Motion for Change of Venue,” (if you can think of a better name for the group, drop it in the comments). That’s right, you are not stuck with just me on your commute. Here is what a few of my fellow Change of Venuers had to say about living their best bus life:
“I take the K-10 Connector since I live in Overland Park. It is a great way to reduce costs because I don’t have to pay for a parking permit, reduce miles on my car and save money on gas. The bus drops me off right outside the law school, which is convenient.” – Tatum Gibbar, 3L
“I live in Johnson County and take the bus to KU practically every day. I love it. The bus is fast, reliable and drops off at the front door of the law school.” – Daniel Volin, 1L
-By Ryan Love, a 1L from El Paso, Texas and KU Law Student Ambassador
When I received my acceptance into KU Law, I often made the joke that the admissions office must have made a mistake and felt too bad to revoke my admission. While it sounds crazy, some small part of me wondered if that was what had happened. I felt like an imposter.
Imposter syndrome can be described as a persistent feeling of phoniness in people who believe they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement. A crucial element of the imposter phenomenon is the sense that you’re the only person suffering from these thoughts. However, you are not alone. Most individuals, especially those within fields of higher education, experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives.
Speaking from personal experience, the law school environment seems to exacerbate the problem. In an environment where our grades are determined relative to those surrounding us, it is difficult to not compare yourself to your peers. At times, this incentivizes people to present themselves in a better situation than they may actually be in. I know I have found myself in such situations where I would act like I am fully caught up on readings when the truth is that I’m nearly a month behind.
But recognizing these feelings as imposter syndrome is just the first step. How do we challenge those thoughts?
1. Talk to others
One of the best ways to overcome feelings of imposter syndrome is to talk about what you are feeling with friends and recognize others may feel the exact same way. Even in moments where I have been unable to talk to someone, I ask myself what advice I would give to a friend if they approached me with the same situation. Every single time the answer is that I’m clearly overthinking the issue and that I deserve what I had achieved.
2. Be nice to yourself
When you do something well, take the time to recognize your accomplishments. If you are unsure of what accomplishments you have achieved, recognize that you are here at KU Law! You were accepted into this school based on your merits and the belief that you would be able to thrive here.
By no means do I claim to be an expert on the topic. Rather, I hope this post gives awareness to an issue most of us face and yet, is not often talked about in law school. Any sources I have relied on I have included below.
-By Anshul Banga, a 1L from Atlanta, Georgia and KU Law Student Ambassador
Though the white blanket of snow on the ground may suggest otherwise, spring break for the 2021-2022 academic year is upon us. Frankly, it comes as a bit of a shock since it seems like it was January yesterday. Nevertheless, the semester rolls forward, and with it comes a well-deserved spring break for us all in Green Hall.
Some of us may strictly turn to some needed R&R, while others may hit the books; both are entirely reasonable. I personally plan on taking advantage of this time in a way I didn’t last semester. Last semester, I was focused on just getting by and tended to avoid practice problems for fear of confusing myself and/or encountering that feeling of doubt where I lacked confidence. However, I feel I can best use my study time this break in a manner I’ve subtly known for roughly 15-plus years.
After reflection, I think turning to my athletic roots within running will pay dividends in how I approach my second round of exams.
I started this activity in the sixth grade—both for school athletics and for my own benefit. It has seen me participate in many races over the years. Some of these events are exceptionally unique and meaningful to me. One of these events was a half-marathon where I ran on behalf of a local nonprofit, and the other a 200-mile relay race completed with my co-workers across Texas. As I recall, it served me absolutely no purpose to merely show up on race day without meaningful practice beforehand. For the half marathons in particular, I had to change up how fast and how long I did my daily runs over the span of months. I had to gradually build to where I could go the entire 13.1 miles comfortably without stopping, all the while leaving room for whatever may happen on race day (bad weather, how I personally felt that day, if I got enough sleep, what to focus on if my AirPods died, etc.). There were days I felt lazy after school or work, and I did not want to set out into the cold, rain or both—now adding snow, thanks to Kansas. However, I knew the importance of encountering discomfort and how my ability to manage it helped me—literally—go the distance.
I realized that my exams truly weren’t much different.
Exam day is, in my view, akin to stepping on the starting line and putting the hard work you’ve done all semester on display (only instead of a crowd cheering you on, you have the wholesome sound of clicking keyboards). With preparation for this day comes practicing hypotheticals where I may feel uncomfortable or unsure. However, what’s vital is the effort I place into that meaningful practice where I learn from each hypothetical. It’s there that progress is made and where I can feel ready for the finish line, knowing I did my best.
Updated on March 30, 2022
I’ve learned a thing or two about prioritizing and staying focused to maximize productivity during my three years of law school. Most of these things I’ve learned the hard way. My hope is to save you from doing the same. These tips are only meant to help, and, as you might’ve guessed, law professors don’t actually hate them.
- Start with the end in mind
Basically, just know what you want to accomplish before you start–so much easier said than done, but it is mission critical. You need to know where you’re going before you start. This is the basic premise of the adage work smarter, not harder.
Make a plan that outlines what you want to accomplish and puts your goals in focus. Stick to it. Recalibrate when necessary–it will be necessary more than a couple times.
Dr. Stephen R. Covey, the leadership expert I shamelessly ripped this off from, says, “People are working harder than ever, but because they lack clarity and vision, they aren’t getting very far. They, in essence, are pushing a rope with all of their might.” Don’t be one of these people.
- Take a B R E A K
Taking time away from your studies to maximize productivity seems counterintuitive, I know. The caricature of grind culture purports that putting your head down, eliminating all distractions and working until the job is done at all times is the best and only way to operate. In the context of law student productivity, this is misleading at best and flat wrong at worst.
If you find yourself spun out on a legal concept, take a break. There are few areas of the law that are inherently complicated when taken in digestible bites–calling you out, rule against perpetuities.
To be productive in law school means, in large part, to be learning. Good luck retaining any information if you never stop working.
- Don’t fear failure
There is a direct, positive relationship between failure and success. Failure is unavoidable when it comes to growth; some of our greatest moments of growth arise from our greatest failures. Boneheaded mistakes can be avoided by exercising judgment, but what constitutes a “boneheaded mistake” will change over time.
Judgment comes from experience, which comes from time. Time isn’t necessarily on your side as a law student, particularly when starting out, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo. Just roll with the punches, learn to fail faster and smarter.
In the words of Sahil Bloom, “Don’t be afraid to get punched in the face…Getting punched in the face builds a strong jaw.”
- Fall in love with the process
Prioritize the process, not the results. Results are what any process is all about, so it’s logical to want to put results first. But being absorbed with results and not as interested in the process will make persevering even more difficult when times inevitably get tough.
Law school is three years of hard work that will not necessarily produce tangible results like work in the outside world might. Three years is a pretty long time by any measure, which makes enjoying the process so much more important.
Take note of all the neurotic, mega-rich people out there who seem to have it all. Assuming they worked tirelessly for the mass wealth they have now, you would think that wealth (aka, the results) would elicit a great sense of fulfillment. Why doesn’t it? Maybe results are overrated.
–By Andrew Arbuckle, a 3L from Mulvane, Kansas and KU Law Student Ambassador
Updated on March 30, 2022
As I near the end of my time in law school (shoutout Class of 2022), I have been taking stock of my experiences over the last three years that I know will stick out to me post-graduation. One of the most memorable and beneficial experiences from my time at KU Law will forever remain the Legal Aid Clinic. To convince everyone, I wanted to share the top five reasons I recommend students participate in the clinic.
1. Opportunity to get courtroom jitters out, with supervision
Within my first month in the Legal Aid Clinic, I had the chance to represent clients during status conferences for municipal cases. Though I thought I already knew how to do that from my participation in what seemed like every applicable class, I really didn’t. The night before my first appearance, I remember frantically calling my colleagues in the clinic to see exactly what we were supposed to say. When I felt comfortable, I wrote my “script,” got the script approved by my supervisor and appeared in court with my clients. And it was easy. But I would have never believed that before. As the semester intensified, and I had more responsibilities and expectations, I felt so much more confident because I had overcome the hurdle of actually speaking in court for a client. The opportunity to be supported and guided as I got all my jitters out was immeasurable.
2. Office collaboration and camaraderie
This goes without saying, but when you stick 10 students in the “bullpen” in clinic for 10 or more hours a week, fast friendships are likely to form. During the clinic, I had the opportunity to build friendships with classmates I had never had the chance to talk to before. I learned so much about those friends. They were always eager to help me, even with issues outside of the clinic’s areas of focus. When I had confusion on a subject in another class, clinic friends who were familiar with the subject helped me.
Most importantly, the office collaboration was like nothing I had ever experienced during law school. Everyone was willing to share their work, ideas and templates in the clinic. There is true collaboration amongst the interns. This was such a welcoming feeling, as I had never interned somewhere with so many people on my skill level.
3. Professor Daily, Professor Schnug and Barb
The faculty supervising the Legal Aid Clinic is truly top-notch. Throughout the clinic, I built a one-on-one mentoring relationship with both Professor Daily and Professor Schnug. I left the clinic knowing I had two excellent practitioners in my corner willing to help me in any way they could. What I will remember the most about the professors though, is their pure belief in the work they are doing. So rarely do we get to witness that before we leave law school because so many attorneys just find jobs where they can. This is not the case for Professors Daily and Schnug, who have a gift for guiding the next generation of attorneys.
Barbara Wrigley, or Barb, feels like the clinic’s office manager. I greatly valued ribbing Barb every morning that I was always the first student at the clinic. Every day Barb would ask me about my family, my weekend or my classes. Going into the clinic truly felt like a second home. Plus, Barb seems to know almost every attorney and judge in town, and she was always helpful in explaining how different divisions handled matters uniquely. So many of the extraordinary aspects of clinic come from the faculty who work in the clinic, and for that, I am thankful I got to learn from lawyers who truly value their jobs.
4. Partnering courses with actual practice
In typical law school classes, it is easy to lose sight of why we are all here or what will happen after we graduate. Clinic experience gives students the chance to pair what they learn in class with what they will do in practice. So often you hear about people losing motivation during their third year of law school. The Legal Aid Clinic struck the perfect balance to keep me engaged in my purpose in law school. Throughout the semester in the clinic, I was able to use the knowledge I gained the past two years. That was invaluable.
5. The ability to confront inequities in the law, learn to think more critically and strengthen your understanding of diverse experiences
In class, we often tend to shy away from the tough topics of inequities in both the law and the world. This is not the case in the Legal Aid Clinic, where you directly confront how socioeconomic status, race and lived experiences inhibit a person in the legal system. I learned to discern my life experiences and thoughts from those of my clients—what I would do or what would work for me is not the same for clients. Weekly readings aligned with this notion. The professors did not shy away from hard topics. As a person who felt especially passionate about these issues before enrolling in the clinic, I left feeling more equipped to operate in the system that exists to help our clients get the best outcome.
I could continue on and on with my praise for the Legal Aid Clinic; however, I will note that what I value from the clinic is not what the next person will value. The autonomy and self-direction have specifically benefitted me in ways I can never fully explain. You can count this as my official endorsement to fit clinic experience into your schedule during law school. As I end, I simply want to say thank you. Thank you to Professors Daily and Schnug, and to Barb. But also—a huge amount of gratitude goes to my peers in the Fall 2021 Legal Aid Clinic.
–By Heddy Pierce-Armstrong, a 3L from El Dorado, Kansas and KU Law Student Ambassador
We often hear all the horrors of law school: the large amounts of stress, never having enough time and constant pressure to be the best. While these feelings are common and felt by everyone at some point in time, sometimes we forget to highlight the best parts of law school.
- Meeting great friends
Law school exposes us to a variety of unique people. We come from all over the world with different upbringings and distinct experiences. But one thing that binds us together is our desire to pursue law. Being surrounded by like-minded individuals is refreshing and enjoyable. Whether you find friends who can debate your favorite legal theories or friends who make you step away from the academic world, finding people that *get* you will make your time at Green Hall much more enjoyable. My friends and I like to host small, themed gatherings at the end of each semester and talk about anything but the law. We also have furry friends join us from time to time.
- Taking interesting courses and clinics
Let’s be honest, we all hated taking math in undergrad. I’m almost certain hating math is a requirement for all law school applications. Now that I’m in law school, I get to steer away from that side of academia and take courses that interest me and further my career. KU Law offers a variety of courses and clinics that will give you the knowledge and hands-on training you’ll need to decide what career path you want to take. Whether you want to try your hand at the Elder Law Field Placement Program or want to work to exonerate innocent people who have been wrongfully convicted, Green Hall provides clinics to give you that hands-on experience. For me, being a student intern in the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies has solidified my desire to help people who have been wrongfully convicted and work toward a more equitable system of justice. As for tax law? I’ll pass on that!
- Learning to prioritize what’s important
I love free time, who doesn’t? But I have learned to love it so much more now that I have less of it. On the days that I have an afternoon to myself, I always prioritize doing things that I enjoy rather than lying around doing nothing. If the weather is cold, I’ll hit the gym or cook up a new recipe. If the weather is warm, my dog, Bella, and I like to explore Clinton Lake or other walking trails throughout Lawrence. I used to find excuses or push things off for “another time,” but now that my schedule is packed, I jump at any opportunity to do something new. Currently, Bella and I love people watching at Burcham Park and rewarding ourselves with some ice cream afterward.
-By Jamie Treto, a 2L from Garden City, Kansas and KU Law Student Ambassador
After living in Lawrence for seven years, I’ll be moving away this summer. I’ve had an incredible time living in Lawrence, and if I was given the opportunity to start law school over, I would easily choose KU again. Lawrence is the true definition of a college town. It has a nice, homey feel without too many distractions––perfect for a busy law student. Here are some of my favorite things about Lawrence.
Everywhere I go in Lawrence, people are kind and welcoming. Whether they are students, professors or locals, the people are genuinely kind. I often run into friends when I go anywhere––which is a plus of living in a smaller town.
I love studying at coffee shops, and Lawrence has plenty of local spots. Some of my favorites include The Java Break, Alchemy, The Roost and J & S Coffee.
Lawrence has so many local restaurants that I will definitely come back to town for. I love the Burger Stand at The Casbah, Jefferson’s, Cielito Lindo, The Eldridge and Pizza Shuttle (try their pizza with cream cheese––SO good).
One of my favorite things to do at KU is go to basketball games. Allen Fieldhouse is historic, and nothing matches up to the experience of watching a game here. KU fans love basketball and game days are a blast. Plus, James Naismith’s original rules of basketball are on display at the DeBruce Center, located right next to Allen Fieldhouse.
KU’s campus is one of the things I love most. The campus is on top of a hill and is absolutely beautiful. Although the walk up the hill was difficult at times, Jayhawk Boulevard is truly one of a kind. The campus is great for dog walks, jogs and strolls on the weekend.
I’m sad to be leaving Lawrence but so thankful to have loved each of the seven years I spent here.
-By Sim Johal, a 3L from Springfield, Missouri and KU Law Student Ambassador
Updated on February 10, 2022
KU Law alum creates Guardianship Clinic, providing pro-bono representation to low-income families
Nine KU Law students participated in a new pro bono Guardianship Clinic in fall 2021. Carly Boothe, L’06, set the new clinic in motion, modeling it after a previously existing, similar program KU Law students volunteered for in Wichita.
“The parents of adults with special needs are often isolated and financially drained due to one of the parents being unable to work if their loved one cannot stay home alone,” Boothe said.
If a parent or adult sibling wants to be recognized as the legal guardian for their family member with special needs, they have to file it through probate court. The state of Kansas offers resources and services to families in this difficult situation; however, the number of families who need the resources and services outweighs what the state has to offer.
“There is currently no pro se option,” Boothe said. “Even a turn-key, non-contested guardianship runs approximately $1,500.”
The costs for those cases typically come from the proposed guardian’s own attorney fees.
Within the new Guardianship Clinic, KU Law students, Johnson County Developmental Supports (JCDS), Kansas Legal Services (KLS) and members of the Johnson County Bar Association (JCBA) work together to provide services in adult guardianship cases to low-income families.
Boothe conducted a training course over Zoom in October for students volunteering at the clinic. After, students were assigned a supervising JCBA attorney. Each student had the opportunity to work with a proposed ward’s family member(s) seeking guardianship and a proposed ward from a different family. Students drafted the required paperwork and provided information to the court on the need and appropriateness for the appointment of the guardian.
“I wanted this to be a hands-on program for the law students, so they could conduct actual client meetings, complete the necessary investigation and draft the required paperwork,” Boothe said. “I also wanted to introduce this really rewarding area of law to students, so they realize the level of impact we attorneys can have.”
KU Law students reflected on their experience in the inaugural year of the clinic.
“I wanted to personally be part of this program because I want to assist people in my community,” said Cathryn Lind, a third-year law student and Guardianship Clinic participant. “I want to be an attorney who makes the lives of people in my community better.”
2L Doug Bartel echoes Lind’s desire to serve others.
“I participate in the Guardian Assistance Program because I believe in its mission,” Bartel said. “Guardianship can be an expensive and confusing process for Kansas families, especially when they are already dedicating their time and resources to caring for their adult children with disabilities.”
Boothe is pleased with the success of the first year in the clinic’s operation and looks forward to its continued growth for low-income families with guardianship needs, KU Law students and JCBA members.
“We attorneys have the privilege of using our skills to help others,” Boothe said. “My day is so much more rewarding when I’m using those gifts and encouraging others to use theirs, too.”
–By Sydney Halas