Different Perspectives

KU Law alum starts podcast to learn more about the people behind the law degree

Brian Roberts, L’98

Success in the legal profession doesn’t always take the straight and narrow path. Graduating seniors may be looking toward a different future entirely than the one they envisioned at the start of their 1L year as recent graduate Paula Lopez expressed in a past blog post. Another KU Law alum, Brian Roberts, L’98, has had a similar journey starting with his roots in Lawrence, Kansas, and ending with his current role in Paradise Valley, Arizona where he serves as the chief legal officer at litigation service provider, Array. Recently, Roberts embarked on a new journey with his venture into the podcasting realm in his podcast, “The Attorney Lounge.”

From the Crimson and the Blue to the desert and the sun

Born and raised in Kansas, Roberts has always considered himself a Kansas local even though his career has kept him in Arizona since his law school graduation.

“Some of my earliest memories are on KU’s campus,” said Roberts. “Both my parents worked on campus so basically the first 25 years of my life I grew up immersed in all things KU.”

After his graduation in the spring of 1998, Roberts joined Arizona law firm Snell & Wilmer LLP. He practiced corporate law there for five years before moving in house to serve as general counsel at a variety of different institutions in Arizona including Grand Canyon University. Now he’s settled down at his newest venture with Lawrence friends and fellow KU alums Thadd Hale, Thad Warren and Chad Hoffman.

“I had an entrepreneurial itch that I wanted to scratch,” said Roberts. “The fun thing about it is that I’m working with people I grew up with and have known my whole life.”

Roberts and family during his graduation in 1998.
Photo courtesy of Brian Roberts.

Despite his career taking him hundreds of miles away from his alma mater, Roberts still has strong ties to the crimson and the blue. He recalls with a smile how his entire career was set in motion by one KU Law staff member.

In his 2L year, Roberts had signed up for two interviews with two different law firms: a small firm located in Kansas City and another firm in Phoenix, Arizona. When the interviews lined up back-to-back, Roberts had a decision to make.

“I thought I had a pretty good chance of getting a call back to the Kansas City firm,” Roberts recalled. “I didn’t want to leave that interview early or tell them I had another interview, so I went to Crystal Mai and asked to take my name off the Arizona firm’s list.”

Mai, now associate dean of administration, gave Roberts some advice that he has kept with him more than 25 years later.

“She told me that I could take my name off the list, but to consider that I had taken a spot from someone else they could have chosen to interview. So I went to the interview,” Roberts said.

The Phoenix firm Roberts interviewed at? Snell & Wilmer.

“The crazy thing is, if Crystal had just said, ‘I don’t care,’ I would have taken my name off the list and none of what I’m doing today would have ever happened,” said Roberts. “It’s the little things that happen in life that can have such a big impact on the outcome of where you end up.”

The Little Things

What other little things had influenced the careers of his friends and fellow classmates, Roberts wondered. Alongside his robust career in corporate law, Roberts picked up a microphone and started asking those questions.

“Throughout your career, you’re always networking. You’re going out to have coffee, lunch or dinner and at the end of the conversation you’re thinking, ‘wow, I really got a lot from that,’” said Roberts. “You always learn something new about someone every time you talk to them. You walk away from those meetings and wish that you had recorded your conversations because other people would have gotten something out of that too.”

That’s what Roberts hopes to bring to his listeners with his new podcast, “The Attorney Lounge.” Started at the end of 2023, this podcast brings on accomplished attorneys and legal professionals to talk about their professional and personal lives. “The Attorney Lounge” is “inspired by the vibrant discussions that occur inside the walls of a prestigious law firm’s lounge” and offers an informal look into the careers of such attorneys as Supreme Court Lawyer Kannon Shanmugam and U-Haul’s General Council Kristine Campbell.

“I’m focusing the podcast on really getting to know people and having a relaxed conversation about them and their background versus trying to make it a technical podcast taking deep dives into substantive areas of the law,” said Roberts. “I think the person behind the lawyer is really interesting.”

Even in the short amount of time Roberts has been working on “The Attorney Lounge,” he has managed to collect an impressive amount of stories from successful lawyers, and he hopes to be able to share these stories with current law students just starting out.

“One of my favorite moments in creating this podcast was with [Boston Marathon Bombing prosecutor] Aloke Chakravarty,” said Roberts. “He started his career in a prestigious firm but wasn’t feeling satisfied. So, he took a step back in the hopes that he could take two steps forward and went to work at the prosecutor’s office in Boston. Now he’s a nationally recognized trial attorney and it’s all a result of making a bold decision early in his career.”

Roberts contributes podcasts like ‘My First Million’ as inspiration behind “The Attorney Lounge” as it, and other shows like it, also invite a glimpse into the lives of successful entrepreneurs, but at an informal and personal level.

“’My First Million’ doesn’t just dissect the business side of their careers and their guests’ careers,” said Roberts. “They talk about their personal lives, the mental side of their careers and how the decisions they’ve made throughout their careers have impacted their lives. I wanted my podcast to be a similar format, but in the legal industry.”

As of publishing, the newest episode of “The Attorney Lounge” features Kannon Shanmugam, a Supreme Court lawyer and fellow former Lawrencian. Roberts wanted to take a different approach to interviewing Shanmugam focusing less on the substantive issues he’s argued before the Court, and more on what his life looks like as one of the best Supreme Court lawyers in the country.

“I think a lot of people want to talk to him about the issues he’s brought before the Supreme Court,” said Roberts. “For me, I just wanted to talk to him about what it’s like to be an attorney and appellate lawyer. I wanted him to take us inside what a typical day looks like.”

Two Steps Forward

Though “The Attorney Lounge” is still growing, Roberts is excited to see where this new venture will take him and is enjoying the simplicity of learning the unique stories of lawyers across the country. As he looks to the future, Roberts has several goals, both large and small.

“To me the Holy Grail of guests would be Barack Obama,” said Roberts. “He is the ultimate candidate for someone who got his law degree but chose an unconventional path. That’s what I’m looking for in guests for the podcast. They’re applying principles of their legal education to their career, but they’re not practicing as a traditional lawyer.”

His other goals bring him back home to his alma mater.

“Stephen McAllister was, to me, the epitome of what a great professor does because he could take difficult subject matter and make it relatable and easy to understand,” said Roberts. “I would love to interview him because he’s someone I look up to and he’s had an interesting career.”

Roberts, Clarence Thomas (center) and Stephen Mcallister (right) during Thomas’ KU Law visit.
Photo courtesy of Brian Roberts

E.S. & Tom W. Hampton Distinguished Professor Stephen McAllister recently celebrated his 30th anniversary with KU Law, but that doesn’t even scratch the surface of his illustrious career which includes arguing cases before the Supreme Court, practicing at big law firms and teaching.

“He’s also one of the few people who have clerked for two separate Supreme Court Justices: Byron White and Clarence Thomas,” said Roberts. “During my time at KU, he was able to bring both Justices to campus.”

Overall, Roberts just hopes that “The Attorney Lounge” will be beneficial to law students interested in exploring the avenues their careers could take in the always evolving world of law.

“A lot of what we’re exploring is how these individuals get interested in the law and how they got their start,” said Roberts. “When I was navigating those questions during law school, a show like this would have really helped me think through some of my options. If you’re looking to emulate someone and their success, you can pick up a lot.”

Want to get caught up on “The Attorney Lounge?” Start at the very beginning with Roberts’ interview with Jamie Boggs, vice president of athletics at Grand Canyon University.

– Emma Herrman

¿Donde esta la biblioteca?

Books, resources, events and more!

Rossiel Reyes, 1L

When I was younger, my mom would take my siblings, cousins, and me to our hometown public library. On the weekends, we would go to the free movie screenings in the library basement and enjoy the freshly popped popcorn. On weekdays, after school, we would get hour-long passes to use the computers and attempt to pass all of the Poptropica islands (after finishing our school work, of course). I continued to go throughout middle and high school, volunteering as a Teen Advisory Group member to encourage young people to come to the library. Aside from my home and school, this was the place I would spend most of my time at.

In short, the library was a safe space for me. It was where I spent many hours during my gap year studying for the LSAT and where I booked a meeting room in the basement to take it. It was no surprise then that I found myself at the Lawrence Public Library (LPL) during my first week of being in Lawrence. Although there is a common misconception that a library’s sole function is lending out books, they offer so much more, and I hope I can encourage you all to check out the LPL as well as your local public libraries.

Check out books and more

Sure, libraries aren’t all about the books, but they are a big part of what they provide. But did you know you can also check out audio and virtual copies of books on your phone? Using the Libby app, insert your library card number and access books straight from your phone!

Wait, you don’t have a library card? Well, this is awkward… but no worries! Getting a library card is easy and literally takes five minutes of your day. LPL has made an online application that is simple to fill out and submit to make it easier. Once you have it submitted, you can head straight over to pick up your card! Alternatively, you can come to the library and talk to the front desk staff, who will gladly help you. On both occasions, you will have to bring a valid photo ID and proof of address, and there you have it: a wonderful, glorious library card.

Not only will you be able to get books from the library, but you also get access to a wide variety of magazines, newspapers and even locally-made zines. If you own a CD player, you can check out movies/TV shows/anime and music albums. And, if like most people, you don’t own one, the LPL digital library offers access to a ton of these resources online.

Access to resources

As someone with a smaller laptop, I find the tiny screen annoying to use, especially when outlining and trying to reference class slides, so I often find myself at the library using their desktops. These desktops have been a lifesaver, making outlining and researching much more manageable. If you have a library card, you can simply log in using your library card number, but even if you don’t, staff at the computer lab would be happy to provide you with a guest login.

Right next to the computer lab, you can also find the SOUND+VISION Studio, a recording and videocast studio. It’s a free resource and can be accessed if you are 18 years or older and—say it with me— have a library card. So, if you’ve been thinking of starting a podcast, recording a song or recording and editing a YouTube video for your law school vlog, you can use the SOUND+ VISION Studio.


Finally, the library hosts many free events for the public to attend. In the past, I’ve attended an Indigenous Law Panel where local Indigenous leaders discussed the violence Indigenous communities experience, a Japan Foundation Film Series that hosted three movie screenings with conversations of the films following the screening, and a Spanish-language conversation table led by graduate students from KU. To look at what upcoming events are happening at the library, check out this calendar!

I can’t discuss all the reasons why you should visit the Lawrence Public Library (or any public library, for that matter) in this blog without making this post impossibly long. Still, if I have piqued your interest, I encourage you to visit their website to learn about all the available resources and services. Although it is easy for many of us, especially recent college graduates, to stay in the ‘KU bubble’ and be ignorant of the community around us, I think it’s essential to actively engage with and immerse ourselves in the Lawrence community. Visiting the library may be one small step in doing so, but I hope this encourages you to come to the library and leave campus for a little bit to enjoy the free and wonderful resources it offers.

– Rossiel Reyes Enriquez is a 1L KU Law Student Ambassador from Great Bend, Kansas

Creating Pawsitive Connections

Why I Love Pet Sitting for the KU Law Community

Corrinne Yoder-Mulkey, 2L

The ABA published an article in 2020 about the benefits of pet ownership for lawyers. Physical, mental and emotional well-being are among the listed benefits of having a furry friend. Lawyers are particularly stressed out and often suffer from vicarious trauma due to the intense nature of their work. Pets provide companionship, love and unconditional support.

I have my own cat, Corduroy, who brings me a lot of joy. For me, having a pet gives me comfort and security even when law school gets intense. I know that I can always come home to her after class, and she is always happy to see me.

It is no shock that students and staff at KU Law love and care for their own animals. When I started law school, I noticed lots of folks looking for pet sitters over vacations and long weekends. My family lives nearby and I typically stay in Lawrence over breaks. Because of my lack of travel, I started to pick up lots of pet-sitting gigs. Not only was I getting financial compensation, but I got the chance to spend time with lots of friendly and cute pets. 

I have pet sit for professors over Christmas, friends over spring break and librarians over long weekends. I have watched a variety of animals including cats, dogs, rats and guinea pigs. I have met so many new law friends from referrals for pet sitting. It is great to connect with other pet parents in the law school. It always brightens my day to see new pictures of my friends’ pets. It makes me happy to know that my friends are going home to their own animals, and I am always thrilled to take care of them while they are away. 

More than 60% of Americans own a pet. This tells us that we really love our animals and that they improve the quality of our lives. This attitude of respect for nature and interest in caregiving brings the law community closer. I would highly recommend pet sitting for fellow students if you are ever given the chance, you may make new best friends (both human and animal).

– Corrinne Yoder-Mulkey is a 2L KU Law Student Ambassador from Eudora, Kansas

Hands-On Learning Q&A: Joshua Lollar, Judicial Field Placement

Joshua Lollar, 2L

Prior to law school, Joshua Lollar, 2L, spent time in a seminary in New York before heading back home to Lawrence to serve as a priest in an Eastern Orthodox parish. However, his memories of visiting Green Hall when his mother was a KU Law student led him to enroll in KU Law himself after 10 years of priesthood. Now, in his second year of law school, Lollar is looking toward a new future in law, beginning with an internship through KU Law’s Judicial Field Placement program.

The Judicial Field Placement program connects law students with federal and state judges. Under the guidance of a judge, law clerk or staff attorney, interns perform research, draft documents and observe courtroom proceedings to expand their knowledge of how our court systems operate.

Lollar, currently interning with the District of Kansas, shared his experience in a Q&A session.

Can you describe where you’ve been working and what kind of work you’ve been doing while in the program?

I am working for the Honorable Teresa James, a federal magistrate judge for the District of Kansas. For the most part, I do research as assigned by Judge James’s law clerks. Most of this research involves evaluating various motions filed by parties to civil suits. I also occasionally observe scheduling conferences and pretrial hearings.

Are there any specific skills that you have developed or improved through this program?

I have grown as a researcher and a writer in Judge James’s chambers. I usually get immediate feedback on my legal analysis from the law clerks and this has been a wonderful part of the internship. I also want to say that the lawyering program at KU Law prepared me very well to jump right in and start doing meaningful work for the court.

How do you think this experience will impact the rest of your time in law school?

Developing my skills of legal analysis and writing during this internship will help me to absorb what is going on in classes. Observing and participating in the work of the court also gives me a good sense of context for much of what we learn in the classroom.

What has been your favorite part of working in your field placement?

I have most enjoyed working on real cases within the collegial and collaborative environment of Judge James’s chambers. It is an honor to contribute to the work of the federal court and to learn from the Judge and her staff.

What would you say to law students considering enrolling in the judicial field placement program?

It should be a priority for anyone interested in any aspect of civil litigation or criminal practice, at the federal or state level. Working on cases as they make their way through the system, observing proceedings in court and interacting with a judge and law clerks gives a unique education in both legal doctrine and in practical skills.

-By Emma Herrman

Working it Out

Can and Should I Work through Law School?

Libby Rohr, 3L

There are a lot of reasons why you might ask the question. Law school is obviously expensive, even at a place like KU, where affordability is a genuine priority. Some people like to use non-law school work to stay grounded or to follow an external passion. Law-related work can be a great opportunity or a way to get closer to our eventual goals for a legal career. For whatever reason an individual is asking, this question comes up a lot. As someone who’s worked through all three years of law school, here’s my thoughts on whether you should work and how to do so in a healthy way.

First Year:

Try to avoid it at all costs. It is strongly discouraged for really valid reasons. Your first year, you’ll be immersing yourself in a new environment, in a new way of thinking, and a new language and way of communicating. This will take a lot of energy and focus and is not the time to be cutting corners. Expect your school work to be hard in new ways and take more time than you expect them to, to do properly, especially in the beginning. You need to give yourself enough time to really be immersed, and you’ll want to ensure you have enough time to get to know new friends, take advantage of opportunities to get involved with the school and rest and relax as you get acclimated. These take time and should be prioritized especially in the first year. If you absolutely have to work – and I was definitely in that position – I recommend keeping it as minimal and flexible as possible.

Second year and third year:

Now that you’re settled in, you’ve got more of a sense of what you’re capable of. There are also more opportunities to work within the law specifically, as a research assistant, through a firm, through pro bono work. Many of these opportunities are paid and getting some extra money while learning can be a great opportunity. However, your grades and school involvement are no less important during these years, so you need to consider these demands.

General tips:

  1. Prioritize your education. There are a million reasons for this including the importance of strong relationships with your professors, your grades, your education and your overall knowledge of the law. You’re a student, so make sure you’re starting with a strong base there.
  2. Work ahead and plan ahead. You’ll also want to anticipate your school schedule, and only work on days where you know you’ll have more than enough time to get everything done as thoroughly as you want. Planning ahead as well can mean all the difference in anticipating issues and knowing how you need to work ahead to make it all work. I tend to be planned two to three weeks in advance, especially for big projects. It alleviates so much stress.
  3. Communication. Make sure everyone, job and school wise, has ample notice of any conflicts or if issues arise. The more clear you can be and the earlier can make all the difference.
  4. Go for flexibility! Jobs like tutoring allow for you to set your own schedule and even sometimes work from home. Serving jobs and their ilk don’t require you to read which can provide much needed breaks for your eyes and keep you on your feet.
  5. Clinics. If you’re looking at working during these years for experience alone, consider working for clinic or experiential credit to minimize the effect on your classwork and to give you credit.

Know your limits and take care of yourself. Ultimately, it’s a cliché, but you truly cannot pour from an empty cup. Take care of yourself so you can be your best self for all the things you do.

– Libby Rohr is a 3L KU Law Student Ambassador from Leawood, Kansas

Hands-On Learning Q&A: Tyler Schembri, Criminal Prosecution Field Placement

Tyler Schembri, 3L

From nearly the beginning of his higher education journey, Tyler Schembri, 3L, knew that criminal prosecution was where he wanted to be. He graduated from the University of New Mexico with a degree in Criminology and, after graduation, was commissioned into the U.S. Army on active duty, where he was stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas. As part of his transition out of the Army, he was able to intern for the Riley County Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, Kansas, and it was there where his passion for criminal law began to grow.

The Criminal Prosecution Field Placement is one of KU Law’s oldest hands-on learning opportunities and is also one of the few placement programs in the nation that specializes in criminal prosecution. Students in the Criminal Prosecution Field Placement gain significant courtroom experience working side by side with prosecutors in federal, state and local offices in virtually all phases of the criminal justice process.

Schembri shared his experience working with the Nashville District Attorney’s Office in Tennessee during the summer before his 3L year.

Can you describe where you worked and what kind of work you did while in the program?

I spent this past summer interning for the Nashville District Attorney’s Office in Tennessee. I spent every single day in court practicing with my Rule 7 permit under the supervision of a licensed attorney. I was primarily responsible for handling felony preliminary hearings, where I routinely conducted direct examinations of police officers and victims, cross-examinations of defense witnesses and closing arguments in front of a judge. I also had the opportunity to participate in numerous plea negotiations with defense attorneys. The work was fast paced, with more than 15-20 cases on our docket every day.

Were there any specific skills that you developed or improved through this program?

Absolutely. This program helped improve the necessary advocacy skills to be a successful attorney. Preparing for court every day strengthened my confidence to speak in front of others, my knowledge of the law and my ability to create strong relationships with defense attorneys, victims and police officers. One of the best parts about this program was learning from all the experienced prosecutors who showed me the ropes and were always willing to give me advice.

How do you think this experience will impact the rest of your time in law school?

This program provided me with invaluable experience by giving insight into the inner workings of a courtroom which you cannot learn from the typical law school environment. There is no substitute for real-world experience. I can now draw on my time in the courtroom to help better myself for classes such as mock trial. I also use this experience to give advice to 1Ls and 2Ls who are considering enrolling in the field placement programs.

What has been your favorite part of working in your field placement?

My favorite part of working in the field placement program was being given the opportunity to make the Nashville community a safer place, helps the victims of criminal offenses, all while gaining real courtroom experience in an area of the law I am truly passionate about. My time with the criminal prosecution field placement has been one of my best memories so far during my time at KU Law.

What would you say to law students considering enrolling in the field placement?

I would recommend enrolling in the field placement if you are interested in becoming a litigator, improving on your advocacy skills, and helping protect your community.

-By Emma Herrman