Former Naval aviator applies lessons learned in flight school to succeed in law school

Second-year law student Jared Jevons spent 11 years in the Navy before coming to law school. Jevons is pictured over Wake Island in the western Pacific Ocean. Photo courtesy of Jared Jevons.

Naval aviators consider themselves professionals. We did so (and Naval aviators continue to do so) because the profession required us to pass our craft onto future Naval aviators. Passing on our craft included an expectation that future Naval aviators will advance the profession and not maintain the status quo. Because our craft was constantly changing, it meant we were students whether we had 100 flight hours or 2,000. To pass on the craft, we sought in our interactions with others to be humble, approachable and credible. If we exuded those characteristics, we could best pass our craft onto others.

Humble

Being humble meant we sought to be modest and downplay our success. Assistance is sought from those who are humble, rather than those who are boastful or arrogant. Although pride and self-confidence are a natural consequence of gaining proficiency in a craft, humbleness was the quality pursued because it works hand-in-hand with approachability. A humble demeanor creates an approachable presence.

Approachable

Being approachable meant you were accessible to individuals beyond your close colleagues. Being unfriendly or inaccessible ran counter to our goal of passing knowledge beyond our close colleagues. The passage of knowledge was critical to our success as a profession, so being approachable meant having an inviting presence despite our own individual momentary stressors. Importantly, in passing on a craft, humility and approachability only goes so far if you cannot communicate your knowledge.

Credible

Being able to effectively communicate your knowledge gives credibility.  Being credible meant knowing your craft and knowing it well. Credibility is a product of preparation, dedication and study. It is a quality that exists at all experience levels, but is also built over time. By establishing credibility in one interaction, more knowledge would be sought later, and in turn our colleagues became more credible. However, credibility alone does little good if your demeanor and presence prevents others from seeking your knowledge. Thus, passing on our craft to others means being humble, approachable and credible.

Of course, this approach is applicable beyond Naval aviation. It will not get you an “A” on your next exam. But it will make you a better fellow student in Green Hall, future attorney and human being. I try to exhibit these characteristics around Green Hall. I challenge you to do the same.

No matter the stage of our legal careers, being humble, approachable and credible will help us pass on our craft, make us better co-workers and be sought after for counsel. Furthermore, exhibiting these characteristics will mean we better represent ourselves, our education and our profession. As we turn the page on the academic year, whether we engage with others virtually or in-person, let’s take our humility, approachability, and credibility into the classroom, office and courtroom.

Congrats to the Class of 2020! Good luck in your careers. Congrats to the Class of 2022! The scariest part is over. Congrats to the Class of 2021! We’re almost there.

— Jared Jevons is a 2L from Manhattan and a KU Law Ambassador. He spent 11 years in the Navy and flew over 2,000 hours in the F/A-18F as a Weapon Systems Officer.

Graduate Profile: Terra Brockman, L’20

Terra Brockman, L’20 

Outstanding graduate distinguishes herself through leadership, service

Terra Brockman has distinguished herself through leadership and service at the University of Kansas School of Law. Brockman, a third-year law student, will graduate this month. She has led the student body throughout her three years at KU Law by serving as Student Bar Association president and Student Ambassador president.

“I enjoyed being an advocate for the students at KU Law because it was important to me that everyone felt like they had a voice,” Brockman said. “It wasn’t always easy, but it was definitely worth it.”

As a two-term Student Ambassador president, Brockman gave tours to prospective law students; enhanced student recruitment for KU Law; and helped build an inclusive and welcoming community.

Brockman served the school in other ways as well. Brockman is a member of the Black Law Students Association and the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council. She has served on the Graduate Student Advisory Board, Mock Trial Counsel and KU Court of Parking Appeals. Brockman also represented the law school at the American Association for Justice Student Trial Advocacy Competition in 2019 with seven of her peers.

“I enjoyed holding multiple leadership positions because I love to serve my community. I think I have always grown up that way,” Brockman said. “I grew up learning about famous leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, Hillary Clinton and Nelson Mandela. I am always blown away by the impact they had on their communities. It really inspired me to give back, and always contribute to something bigger than myself.”

Brockman received the Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award from KU Law, which is given to the graduate who has most distinguished him or herself through leadership in the law school.

During law school, Brockman gained legal experience as a law clerk at DRZ Law; a legal intern at the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office; a law clerk at the Wyandotte County District Court at the 29th Judicial District; and as a research assistant for Professor Suzanne Valdez. She also got a firsthand look at the criminal justice system through an internship at the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies.

“Professors Alice Craig, Jean Phillips and Elizabeth Cateforis taught me a tremendous amount during the year I spent in that clinic,” Brockman said. “It was absolutely one of my favorite experiences at KU Law.”

Brockman is also on KU Law’s Pro Bono Honor Roll. She completed 70 hours of pro bono service throughout law school and earned Pro Bono Distinction recognition. Pro bono work is defined as uncompensated, law-related work that benefits the public, such as through a nonprofit organization or government agency.

Terra Brockman, L’20. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

After she graduates from KU Law, Brockman will practice in family law and criminal defense at Joseph, Hollander & Craft in Wichita.

“KU Law prepared me for the workforce in a lot of ways. Going into law school, I knew I wanted to be someone who argued in a courtroom,” Brockman said. “KU Law provides so many classes for those who are interested in going this route.”

Brockman enjoyed the rigor of the KU Law curriculum and the opportunity to take experiential learning courses.

“My favorite classes at KU Law were all experiential courses that I took that I felt prepared me for practice, such as Trial Advocacy, Deposition Skills Workshop, Expert Witness Skills Workshop and Alternative Dispute Resolutions,” Brockman said. “It was nice to learn skills one day, and then use them in class the next. These courses definitely helped make me a better advocate and litigator.”

When asked who her favorite law professor was, Brockman was not able to narrow down her choice to one individual.

“There are too many to count! Some of my favorite professors are Professor Sward, Professor Valdez, Professor Mulligan and Professor Schnug,” Brockman said. “All four of these professors have given me so much guidance both in and out of the classroom.”

Brockman received undergraduate degrees in philosophy and psychology from the University of Kansas in 2016. She is from Kansas City, Kansas originally but moved to Overland Park, Kansas later in life. Brockman considers both as home. When looking at law schools, she initially did not intend to go to KU Law because she had lived in Lawrence for the previous four years. After visiting Green Hall and experiencing the KU Law atmosphere, she decided to spend three additional years living in Lawrence.

“When I walked in Green Hall, I could just feel the energy. The students were nice to each other; they interacted well with each other; and the faculty and staff were even better,” Brockman said. “The energy that I felt in Green Hall was not something that I experienced at the other law schools that I visited. It’s nice to know that after three years here that energy has remained the same.”

Brockman’s favorite KU Law tradition is the school’s annual Barber Emerson Bluebook Relays event for first-year law students. The competition, sponsored by a Lawrence law firm, tests legal research skills learned in the lawyering skills courses. Working in teams, students locate references in the library and write the citation in correct bluebook format. The point system rewards speed, accuracy and citation skills.

“I was the Bluebook ‘expert’ for my team and loved getting to participate with my small section in this KU Law tradition. I think the whole experience really shaped the year for us and made us closer as colleagues,” Brockman said.

Terra Brockman, L’20, is pictured with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in January 2018. Photo courtesy of Terra Brockman.

While Brockman was a first-year law student, she had the opportunity to meet U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas when he visited KU Law in 2018. Thomas was the second black man to be appointed to the country’s highest court. He is the only black justice currently serving on the Supreme Court. Brockman considers his visit to be a unique experience that she’ll carry with her throughout her legal career.

“I would definitely say having lunch with Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is a favorite law school memory,” Brockman said.

Brockman advises prospective law students to be patient with themselves, break out of their comfort zone and make the most of the opportunities that come their way.

“There is an incredible amount of pressure sometimes, and you want to be the best at everything. But sometimes you learn the most and get the most from the things you aren’t good at,” Brockman said. “Enjoy the process. It really is an incredible three years that serves you a lot of personal growth.”

— By Ashley Golledge

This post is the third is a series highlighting just a few of the exceptional members of the Class of 2020. Check out stories about Denise Dantzler and Cara Beck, and stay tuned for more profiles as we celebrate this year’s graduating class.

Graduate Profile: Cara Beck, L’20

Cara Beck, L’20. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

Dedicated student is headed to federal clerkship after graduation

Cara Beck’s favorite memory of her time in Green Hall is a noisy one.

Her 1L small section, taught by Professor Ellen Sward, was competing in the 2017 Barber Emerson Bluebook Relays, an annual tradition that tests first-year students’ citation prowess.

“I’ll never forget Professor Sward standing by and plugging her ears because the main lobby gets so loud with all of the excitement. That was the first time at KU Law in the midst of the stress of 1L year where I felt part of a community,” Beck said.

As part of the graduating class of 2020, Beck’s time at KU Law is ending on a quieter note. During her three years at the law school, Beck made a mark through her involvement in a student-edited publication and as a teaching assistant from the lawyering program. She was an articles editor for the Kansas Law Review during her 3L year and a staff editor as a 2L.

Beck (front row, fifth from left) with the winning Team Swardfish at the 2017 Barber Emerson Bluebook Relays. Photo by Mindie Paget.

Beck said her favorite law classes were Federal Courts with Professor Sward and Employment Discrimination with Professor Kyle Velte.

“I loved those classes because not only were they academically challenging, but Professors Sward and Velte challenged us to think critically about the material,” Beck said. “I learned so much in both classes, and both will be extremely helpful in my career.”

Originally from Mitchell, South Dakota – a town of about 15,000 in the southeast corner of the state – Beck earned her undergraduate degree in government and international affairs and history from Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She chose KU Law because of its wide alumni network.

Cara Beck
Cara Beck, L’20. Photo courtesy of Cara Beck.

“Being from South Dakota, I wanted to branch out and go to a larger school that had more possibilities near a larger city, as well as have a diverse alumni network in various areas of the law,” Beck said. “There was something that seemed to be valuable about being a Jayhawk lawyer. Everyone knows the Kansas Jayhawks.”

Beck expanded her legal experience through summer internships for Woods, Fuller, Shultz & Smith, P.C. in Sioux Falls and Husch Blackwell in Kansas City, Missouri. She said KU Law helped prepare her for those experiences and future work by challenging her to handle multiple responsibilities.

“Law school is an environment where you’re stretched thin with responsibilities – be they homework, extracurriculars, networking or job hunting – but KU Law taught me to juggle all of my responsibilities and learn to excel when your plate is full,” she said.

Beck advises prospective law students to build and nurture professional relationships. Networking and keeping up connections can open doors to new opportunities, she said.

“I made a connection with an attorney at a happy hour as a 1L and kept in contact with her throughout the semesters, asking to meet for coffee or lunch and keep in touch,” Beck said. “She was able to speak on my behalf to my personality when I applied for a summer job at her firm, and I think that really was instrumental in me getting that summer employment.”

After graduating, Beck will clerk for Judge Jonathan A. Kobes on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She is one of six KU Law graduates to land a federal court clerkship in recent years. Following her one-year clerkship, Beck plans to practice labor and employment law in Kansas City. She hopes to one day land in the nation’s capital.

“I hope to make it to Washington, D.C. at some point in my career,” Beck said.

— By Margaret Hair

This post is the second in a series highlighting just a few of the exceptional members of the Class of 2020. Check out a previous story about Denise Dantzler, and stay tuned for more profiles as we celebrate this year’s graduating class.

Graduate Profile: Denise Dantzler, L’20

3L Denise Dantzler delivers the welcoming address at the 2020 Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy Symposium. Dantzler is the editor-in-chief of the publication. Photos by Ashley Golledge.

Accomplished student to pursue career in patent law

Third-year law student Denise Dantzler is a trailblazer. Dantzler was the first woman of color to serve as the editor-in-chief of the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, which was founded in 1990. She was also the first in her family to go to law school.

In addition to holding the top leadership position at the Journal, Dantzler is a Shook Hardy & Bacon Scholar; member of the Black Law Students Association; member of the Dean’s Diversity Leadership Council; teaching assistant for lawyering skills classes; research assistant for Professor Andrew Torrance, who is an expert in patent law; and member of the Jaffe Transactional Law Competition moot court team.

Dantzler received the Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership, and Service Award from KU Law, which is given to the student who has most distinguished him or herself in the combined areas of scholarship, leadership and service.

Dantzler also participated in KU Law’s Summer Start program, which allows students to get a head-start on their law school education the summer before their peers begin law school.

“KU Law’s Summer Start program drew me to the school. As a science undergrad, I figured I could use any extra time and resources to make the switch over to ‘thinking like a lawyer,’” Dantzler said. “In the long run, this experience gave me the tools I needed to be successful as a law student.”

Throughout law school, Dantzler gained a variety of legal experience. She was a summer patent law clerk at Hovey Williams LLP, did a legal internship at CenturyLink, worked as a summer associate at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, and did an externship with the Hon. Julie Robinson, L’81, Chief Judge of the United States District Court of Kansas.

Dantzler said that KU Law’s legal writing and experiential classes have helped set her apart from peers attending other law schools.

“Over the past three years at KU, I have written briefs, contracts, opinions, a scholarly article, legal and legislative memorandums, research pathfinders, and more. I had no idea how much legal writing experience we receive until I compared our classes with other law students over the summer,” Dantzler said. “I cannot thank my professors enough for this exposure.”

While at KU Law, Dantzler formed a special connection with Professor Ellen Sward.

“Although I have enjoyed learning from all of my professors, my favorite professor is Professor Sward. She always puts her students before herself and wants each of her students to succeed,” Dantzler said. “I am thankful I attended KU Law before she retires this year.”

Denise Dantzler, L’20

Dantzler, who is originally from Omaha, earned an undergraduate degree in chemistry from MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe. As an undergraduate student, she was a member of the school’s soccer and track teams. She also tutored her peers in chemistry and writing, and has continued as an academic counselor for the MidAmerica Nazarene soccer team as a law student.

Dantzler advises prospective law students to have an open mind about what they want to do after they finish law school.

“Law school can open many doors for you, so do not close any before your start,” she said.

Creating a strong circle of trustworthy and reliable friends has also been important to Dantzler during her law school journey.

“As much as I have appreciated my familial support over the past three years, sometimes, family members cannot understand the sacrifices you may have to make during law school,” Dantzler said. “If it were not for my three great friends, I would not have gotten through law school!”

After graduating from KU Law this month, Dantzler will be a patent law associate at Hovey Williams, a boutique intellectual property law firm in Overland Park. Dantzler will leverage her background in chemistry to interpret domestic and foreign patent office actions and develop scientific and legal arguments.

“Because patent prosecution work is a perfect combination of science and law, I am thrilled to enter a field I know I will enjoy, and I hope to help inventors convert their novel ideas into business solutions,” Dantzler said.

— By Ashley Golledge

This post is the first in a series highlighting a few of the exceptional members of KU Law’s Class of 2020. Stay tuned for more profiles as we celebrate this year’s graduating class.

Hovey Williams establishes new student IP award

Giving Story: Hovey Williams Award for Inclusion and Diversity

A new award fund at the University of Kansas School of Law aims to encourage first- and second-year students to pursue careers in intellectual property law.

The Hovey Williams Award for Inclusion and Diversity in Intellectual Property is intended to support students interested in pursuing IP law and to promote diversity and inclusion in the field. 

Hovey Williams attorneys
From left: Hovey Williams attorneys Joan O. Herman, Cheryl Burbach, Tracy Bornman and Crissa Cook, L’07. Robert Hovey, L’54. Photos courtesy of Hovey Williams.

Gifts from the Hovey Williams LLP law firm and Robert Hovey, L’54, established the award fund.

“Diversity is critical to the success of an intellectual property law practice, particularly when representing clients across the globe,” said Andrew Colombo, a partner at Hovey Williams, on behalf of the firm.

“However, there is a historical underrepresentation of women and minorities in the sciences and intellectual property law. It is our hope that this endowment will encourage KU Law students from various backgrounds to consider a career in this rewarding field,” Colombo said.

The first KU Law students to receive the award will be selected during the 2020-21 academic year.

Make a gift.

— By Margaret Hair

Ellen Sward to retire after 36 years at KU Law

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.

After 36 years at the University of Kansas School of Law, professor Ellen Sward is retiring after the spring semester.

“I like it here. I like the students, my colleagues on the faculty, the University and Lawrence. I just didn’t see any reason why I should leave,” Sward said. “I was happy here.”

Sward concluded her teaching career on April 24, 2020 by instructing a Jurisdiction course via Zoom.

“There were no computers in the classrooms when I started. People didn’t do that. They didn’t have laptops yet,” she said. “Students are much more tech-savvy now.”

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.

Sward joined the KU Law faculty in 1984. During her 36-year tenure, she taught Civil Procedure; Jurisdiction; Federal Courts and the Federal System; Legal Research and Writing; Advanced Litigation; Administrative Law and Bankruptcy Law.

“Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction and Federal Courts are my favorite classes,” Sward said. “I was happy to teach them.”

She is perhaps best known to her students for the marathon 8-hour take-home final she administers each year in her Civil Procedure course for first-year law students.

“I remember that final like it was yesterday. It was my second ever law school exam,” said Terra Brockman, a third-year law student. “My favorite part about taking the final is that it’s infamous. Whenever you meet an attorney who graduated from KU, it’s always asked if you had Professor Sward for Civil Procedure. It’s like we’re all a part of some elite club because we tackled the final. You instantly bond with someone when you find out they also experienced it.”

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.

A native Ohioan, Sward graduated from the University of Cincinnati in 1970 with a degree in political science. After earning her undergraduate degree, she spent six years in the workforce.

She was inspired to go to law school after working as a copy editor for the book “Public Interest Law: An Economic and Institutional Analysis,” which was written by Burton A. Weisbrod in collaboration with Joel F. Handler and Neil K. Komesar.

“I was working for an economist at the University of Wisconsin who was doing an economic analysis of public interest law. There were a number of law professors on that as well,” Sward said. “When I started that job, I realized that kind of for the first time I felt surrounded by people like me. So I figured I’d become an academic. They let me actually write one of the chapters in the book, too.”

Photo courtesy of Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas Libraries.

Sward earned a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1979. While at Harvard, Sward was the case editor of the Harvard Law Review. She served on the Harvard Law Review alongside U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.

After law school, Sward worked in private practice for five years. She was an associate at Michael, Best & Friedrich in Madison, Wisconsin for two years. Then, she spent three years as an associate Arent, Fox, Kintner, Plotkin & Kahn in Washington, D.C. Sward said her favorite parts of private practice were working with new associates and writing briefs.

“I went to law school thinking that I would eventually teach,” Sward said. “I was a little surprised I lasted five years in practice, but I’m glad I did. I found that I really enjoyed showing the ropes to the new associates who were right out of law school.”

Professor Ellen Sward received the Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence from the University of Kansas in 2008. Sward is pictured with Dean Emeritus Gail B. Agrawal. Photo by Doug Koch/KU University Relations.

When interviewing for teaching positions, KU Law stood out among the rest to Sward.

“I actually came out of the interview process with KU at the top of my list because I liked the people. Apparently, they liked me too,” Sward said. “It was a great fit.”

Professor Ellen Sward is pictured in 2018.

Sward is a highly respected and beloved law professor at KU Law. She was named a Dean James Green Fellow from 1996-1999, in recognition of her service to the law school. She also received the Kemper Fellowship for Teaching Excellence from the University of Kansas in 2008, the Immel Award for Teaching Excellence in 2018 and the Fred J. Moreau Award in 2020.  

In addition to teaching, Sward served as KU Law’s associate dean for research from 2004-2006. She’s been a part of law school committees on academics; minority student affairs; curriculum review; faculty recruitment; long-range planning; and tenure and promotion standards.

Her focus for teaching and research has been on civil procedure and particularly the civil jury. She is author of “The Decline of the Civil Jury,” published by Carolina Academic Press in 2001.

She has published articles in the Harvard Law Review, Kansas Law Review, American University Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, Indiana Law Journal, North Carolina Law Review, Seton Hall Law Review and Connecticut Law Review.

Professor Ellen Sward is pictured with law students from her Civil Procedure class in 2015. Sward encourages students to give to the Black Law Students Association’s annual Thanksgiving Food Drive every year.

Sward is a longtime advocate of the Black Law Students Association’s (BLSA) annual Thanksgiving Food Drive. BLSA created the “Ellen Sward Prize” this past November, recognizing Sward for her many years of motivating 1L small sections to give to the drive.

“I really just encourage the students and get them excited about it,” Sward said. “We have a number of competitions, like the Bluebook Relays and things like that. I always tell my students, ‘The one I really want you to win is the Thanksgiving food drive because we’re helping people. That’s important.’”

After nearly four decades of shaping the minds of Jayhawk lawyers, Sward is looking forward to retirement. She plans to spend time playing with her 20-month-old grandson, reading and traveling once quarantine is over.

“I am really looking forward to retirement. There are obviously things about it that I am going to miss, especially my students. I’ll miss my students the most,” Sward said. “But I’ve got other things I am looking forward to.”

— By Ashley Golledge

Public service in changing times

Photo by Ashley Golledge

I didn’t want to write this blog post about coronavirus. I had a whole spiel prepared about career paths and joy and risk and success. But as my friend Jake Schmidt laid out, everything is uncertain right now. It feels dishonest not to talk about the seismic shift that’s taken place in the lives of KU Law’s professors and students.

In just the past month, things have changed: We work and study and communicate from home now, where many professors and students also teach and care for families full-time. Our summer plans and work plans have shifted, for better or worse. We also miss our friends, and the shenanigans that always come with spring semester — Admitted Students Weekend, Pub Night, Barrister’s Ball, HALSA Salsa, and a dozen other events where we celebrate the warming weather and the end of a good years’ work.

In February, KU Law students participated in the Guardianship Assistance Program. The pro bono collaboration helps Wichita-area families set up legal guardianships for their adult children with disabilities. Photo courtesy of Ellen Bertels.

I’m sad to miss out on these events, because, as my friend Becca Henderson recently wrote, they are ridiculous, beloved traditions. But I am heartened by my professors’ generous, thoughtful leadership in this weird time. I’m grateful to live in a technological age where I can still see my friends and family on my computer screen. Most of all, I find a lot of joy and power in the way law students who have the time, health and energy — both at KU and across the nation — have responded to this crisis with wholehearted service. Here at KU, students were recently notified about an opportunity to assist attorneys as they draft pro bono estate plans for essential healthcare workers. Between Zoom classes, I’ve been completing pro bono legal work I started before spring break, including drafting petitions for KU Law’s Guardianship Assistance Project. Nationally, law students launched a pro bono organization that connects law students with attorneys doing coronavirus-related pro bono work across the U.S. and Canada. There are hundreds of law students on this email list — so many that openings fill in mere minutes.

I know it is an incredible privilege to even think about service right now. But I have the time, and the health and the energy, so I want to do what I can. And while I am sad to be missing out on so many things (shenanigans included), I am grateful others in the legal profession are committing free time to the public good. It reminds me every day of why I am doing all this in the first place.

— By Ellen Bertels, a 2L from Wichita and a KU Law Student Ambassador.

Skills taught through online learning will allow law students to excel in new legal landscape

Photo by Ashley Golledge

In his Mediations, Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome, had the following wisdom to share regarding human beings often fraught relationship with our own future:

“Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.”

Marcus Aurelius

In this time of great uncertainty during the COVID-19 pandemic, I find comfort in these words.

You, however, might be a bit more skeptical. “Jake,” I hear you saying, “those are the words of totalitarian ruler who has been dead for thousands of years. And what’s more, they are a meaningless platitude, especially given that our futures look fairly bleak right now. Why the heck shouldn’t that disturb us?”

Fair enough. I can’t argue that current state of affairs isn’t rife with uncertainty. For all the 0Ls considering entering law school in the fall semester, there is a chance you may be forced to take the unprecedented step of beginning your legal education remotely. No one knows for sure what that will look like. And for those of us already in law school or in the legal field, we face the prospect of an evaporating job market. No one knows for sure when it will get better.

But I am here to tell you that we need not let these uncertainties disturb us. We need not be disturbed because we are currently arming ourselves with the “weapons of reason” that will see us through these hard times and make us more capable lawyers in the long run.

In the recent KU Law In-House Moot Court Competition, Professor Pamela Keller made sure to remind us that though our competition had been turned on its head, it was a great opportunity to build skills for the future. Oral arguments over Zoom may very well may become more common, even after the pandemic is over, and thus our online competition prepared us to excel when that happens. So too in my Trial Advocacy class, as online court hearings and proceedings are bound to become more common as technology continues to advance. And for all of the future law students starting at KU Law in the fall, if classes are online for some or all of the semester, you are currently preparing for that contingency by mastering online learning and communication.

So don’t let the future disturb you. The COVID-19 pandemic and its many consequences are out of our control. But those things that are within our control, those weapons of reason that we are sharpening day by day, will see us through to the other side and will allow us to excel in the new legal landscape. 

— By Jake Schmidt, a 2L from Atchison and a KU Law Student Ambassador

Exchange student from University of Aberdeen gains international perspective at KU Law while earning LL.B. degree

University of Aberdeen School of Law student Ioanna Tsingi is pursuing a LL.B. degree at KU Law this semester through an exchange program between the law schools. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

Ioanna Tsingi is calling Lawrence, Kansas home this semester as she pursues a LL.B. degree. Tsingi is a third-year law student at the University of Aberdeen School of Law in Aberdeen, Scotland, who is participating in an exchange program with the University of Kansas School of Law.

KU Law has hosted an exchange program with the University of Aberdeen for five years. The University of Aberdeen is a historic and prestigious Scottish university, which is ranked fifth in the United Kingdom for law.

Tsingi studies law in the United Kingdom, but she is originally from Famagusta, Cyrpus. She enjoys the opportunity to observe different cultures and perspectives through her studies in both Scotland and the United States.

“Studying in the U.S. gave me the opportunity to be more open and see the different perspectives that the law can give and be in reality,” Tsingi said. “I can see generally the differences between the Scottish, the Cypriot and the U.S.’s legal systems.

At KU Law, Tsingi is taking courses on Media Law and the First Amendment; Copyright in the Digital Age; Public International Law; and a Careers and Professional Skills course through KU’s School of Business.

“My favorite subject is Media Law and the First Amendment because it is interesting to perceive the American approach of the Freedom of Expression and compare it with the European standpoint,” Tsingi said.

Tsingi noticed differences in the curriculum at KU Law and Aberdeen. She views her exchange program experience as an opportunity to have a well-rounded legal education.

“In Scotland, we discuss more about the logistics of the law, but here it’s more about what we think the law  should have been,” she said. “Studying here gave me the opportunity to think more critically and express my opinion. Before, I was a bit afraid to say what I think. But here, I understand that you can develop your opinion based on the law.”

Tsingi hopes to use the knowledge and critical thinking skills she gained from her legal studies in Scotland and the U.S. to pursue a career in public international law.

“Ideally, I think I will stay in the U.K. and become a lawyer there. Eventually, I would like to work at the legal service of the European Commission, consulting the legislative texts of the proposed legal instruments,” Tsingi said.

— By Ashley Golledge

Editor’s Note: In light of the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19), Tsingi is en route to return to her home country of Cyprus. She will continue her studies with KU Law this semester in an online format.

Why I chose the K – J.D. route

Photo by Ashley Golledge

I remember hearing the phrase, “K through J.D.” during law school orientation. It took me a couple of minutes before realizing it meant “Kindergarten through J.D.” and applied to my path to law school. I never took time off from school other than summer and winter breaks. I couldn’t imagine taking a lot of time off before coming to law school. I remember briefly considering whether I wanted to work for a year before law school, but I knew it would be hard to find a job I enjoyed with a political science degree. So, straight to law school it was. This decision came with advantages and disadvantages.

Advantages

School mindset

One of the main reasons I went straight from undergrad to law school was because I was afraid of not being able to get back in “school mode.” School was such a routine in my life that I was afraid of becoming an ineffective learner by spending too much time off. I think that attending law school within months of graduation worked well for me, and it made the transition much easier because I was used to reading, doing research and writing. Further, I was easily able to connect with professors for advice on the law school application process because I was still in college.

Photo courtesy of Sim Johal

Youth

My age serves as an advantage and a disadvantage in law school. Although I’ll be able to graduate and look for a job by the age of 25, most of my classmates are older than me and have more life experiences than I do. I knew that going into law school that most of my classmates would be older than me, but it wasn’t much of a concern. I see pros and cons of attending law school at 22, but at the end of the day, I don’t think age really matters much because everyone’s end goal is to get their J.D.

First-year law students Sim Johal, Heidi Wolff-Stanton and Minha Jutt participate in a Women in Law & Leadership event. Photo courtesy of Sim Johal.

Disadvantages

Resume building

One of the main disadvantages for me was my lack of professional career experience. I did not have a professional job, was not used to doing job interviews, and did not have money saved up from working before law school. This made certain things like job interviews and establishing professional credibility a little more difficult. However, my lack of professional experience did not have a substantial effect on any internship opportunities. If anything, it just led to some internal doubts.

Take time to decide if law school is right for you

I knew I wanted to go to law school from a young age, but I think it is valuable to take time before rushing into it. Going straight to law school as a K-J.D. is probably not the best idea unless you are sure that it is for you. I would suggest exploring career opportunities, meeting with attorneys, and enjoying your life before investing a significant amount of time and money into law school.

Overall, I am happy with my choice to attend law school as a K-J.D. It is not for everyone nor is the opportunity accessible for everyone. I am thankful that I was able to begin law school at 22, even with all the ups and downs that came with it.

— By Sim Johal, a 1L from Springfield, Missouri and a KU Law Student Ambassador