School got you stressed?

Doing less may be more impactful than trying to do more + Brett’s Paella Recipe

Brett Hallagan
Brett Hallagan, 3L KU Law Student Ambassador

The end of the fall semester ushers in a time of change at the law school. The leaves fall, the sky greys, Green Hall becomes a muted shade of concrete and brown, finals stress and imposter syndrome rear their heads once again, and depression transitions into a flavorful pumpkin-spiced seasonal depression.

There is no doubt that the end of the semester can be a cocktail of emotions. But don’t let this scare you, for I have frequented enough “Bar Review” events to learn a trick to preventing law school hangovers.

Just like hydration and a meal helps a bad hangover, feeding your mind, body, and soul will help you in the enduring battle against your own self-criticism. 

Feeding your mind

Objectively, the memes in this post are funny yet accurate descriptions of school. But what makes them great is the mask of humor that covers the self-neglect we believe necessary to be successful in law school. However, self-neglect is emotional malnourishment and although it feels better than a cold call on a subject you haven’t read, its long-term effects are much worse than those few moments of embarrassment.

A meme to go with this post. Text reads: "When ur dead and then u realize u don't have time to be dead because you have to study."

Instead of keeping your mind in a constant state of stress to maintain self-imposed deadlines, I implore you to take a few breaths and relax. Watch a show you haven’t kept up on, take a hike, read something that doesn’t have “Et al.” as an author, or simply just veg on the couch for a bit. Whatever you choose to do, the key is to rest your mind. So, take a break and make sure to muzzle that voice that’s constantly telling you, “Work is more important than self-care.”

Feeding your soul

There is no doubt this semester has been a challenge and has even shown me the upper limits of what I can effectively manage.

A meme to go with this post. Text reads: "Quiz: Are you even good enough to have imposter syndrome?"

Unfortunately, that limit is at times far less than what I currently have on my plate. Coming up short can be crushing, but perfect is the enemy of good. If you constantly worry about perfection, you will never realize how great you are today. Feeding your soul positivity and practicing positive affirmations will improve your natural defense against stress, burnout and imposter syndrome.

Just remember, any “Ls” you take along the way don’t need to be losses, they can be lessons.

Feeding your body

OK, I know self-help posts can start feeling a bit cringe after a while, so I will get to the point.

Eating well is crucial, and the Lunchables from the Burge can only get you so far. So, in traditional Brett fashion, I have incorporated another one of my recipes into this blog for you to use as an exercise in feeding your mind, body and soul. Take a break from studying, relax, give it a go, and bask in the deliciously joyful embrace of a good home-cooked meal.

Brett’s Paella Recipe

A pan of paella
Brett’s paella recipe


  • Olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 8oz mushroom, sliced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, Cubed
  • or 1 can of crushed tomatoes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 2 cups bomba rice (or substitute a medium grain rice) (DO NOT RINSE)
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup frozen peas
  • 1-3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of saffron
  • Parsley, chopped (save some for garnish)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Lemon for garnish


  • Traditional paellas are seafood dishes, but on a student budget I would suggest picking two of these proteins instead.
  • 1 lb sausage, sliced
  • ½ lb shrimp, peeled
  • 1 lb chicken breast or boneless thighs, cubed


Step 1

Add oil to skillet over medium heat. Add onion, zucchini, bell peppers, and mushrooms and cook until the mixture softens. Then add tomatoes, bay leaves, paprika, salt, pepper, and saffron to mixture and cook for 5 minutes stirring occasionally. Transfer into a separate container. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2

In the same pan, add more oil and your protein. Make sure to space your protein and cook for 3-5 minutes or until all pieces have a nice brown color. Add a few ounces of wine or whatever alcohol you are currently drinking to the pan to deglaze the burnt bits off the bottom and let cook for an additional minute.

Step 3

Add the vegetable mixture back to the pan and incorporate. Then, add your rice and parsley and quickly make sure to get an even distribution of rice in the pan. It is important to not mix your paella moving forward or else you will lose the crispy crust that forms on the bottom, known as a socarrat.

Step 4

Slowly pour your broth around the pan. If you need to distribute the liquid evenly you can jiggle the pan but do not stir.

Step 5

Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 15 minutes or until most of the liquid has absorbed. Nestle shrimp around the top and then continue to cook for another 5 minutes.

Step 6

Check rice. If not tender, add slightly more water or broth. If tender, add peas to top and cover with foil. Then place in oven for 5-10 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through.

Step 7

Remove pan from oven and let rest. Garnish with additional parsley and lemon. Enjoy!

— Brett Hallagan is a 3L KU Law Student Ambassador from San Diego, California


Donald Pinckney
Donald Pinckney

With Thanksgiving only a few days away and my time at Green Hall coming to end, I wanted to use my last blog post as an opportunity to thank several people in my life who have contributed to my success in Green Hall.

I want to start by thanking my younger brother, Chris. While you might be the most intense person I know, you always have supported me in this process. I still remember my text to you during 1L orientation. I was so unsure of what I had just signed up for and honestly, without you, I’m entirely sure that I would not be where I am today. From outlines to help to pick classes, you were a sherpa to help me up this mountain and I cannot thank you enough.

Next, I want to thank my mom. I remember telling you I was moving to Kansas for law school, and you did not bat an eye. It was only love and support as I moved half away across the country to undertake this journey. Knowing that my mom’s house in Georgia would forever be a safety net made it possible to take this risk. I could not have even entertained going back to school let alone law school without your support. I thank you and will appreciate your support forever.

The friends I made in law school were necessary for me to be successful. When I moved to Kansas, I never imagined I would form such a tight group of friends that became like family. Matt, Henry, Jack, Jadyn, Kacey, Jamie, Mary-Kate and Hannah, COVID kind of forced us into becoming a group of friends but I could not imagine going through law school with any other group of people. Matt and Henry, you two are the best roommates or close friends I could ask for and I could not possibly ask for anything more. Spending the past two and half years struggling to understand our classes, celebrating the national championship, and watching Jack get married have been a great time that I would not trade for anything in the world.

Finally, I want to thank my girlfriend, Allie. My first two years in Lawrence were in the haze of COVID and I really could not appreciate the greatness of Lawrence, but you opened my eyes to how much I will miss Lawrence. You also were my rock during the trying times when law school felt like it was too much, or I needed the opinion of an adult. Who else would listen to inane rants about subjects where you only understand half of what I’m saying? I sincerely thank you for being there when law school took the most from me.

— Donald Pinckney is a 3L KU Law Student Ambassador from Toledo, Ohio

Cool Beans: Getting to know the Burge Union Baristas

“Don’t miss the forest for the trees.” 

On more than one occasion and from more than one professor, the above expression was used to remind law students that the intricacies of law form a larger operating legal system. By only focusing on learning either the intricacies or the system, a law student is likely to fundamentally misunderstand both. But why stop with the expression’s application to legal studies? What does the expression reveal about being a KU Law student in the larger KU community? 

Law students studying at the Burge Union
Law Students Studying in the Burge Union

KU Law maximizes study opportunities and limits wasteful class transition commutes by not only having every class, but even every professor’s office, in Green Hall. Law students could enter the building at 7:30 a.m. and not step outside of it until as late as 11:00 p.m. (especially considering the upgraded vending machine selection). A short elevator ride or a few sets of stairs can take you from the buzzing first-floor commons to the beautiful view from the fifth floor of Wheat Law Library. Somewhere between them is each law student’s entire day.

Convenience comes at a price. Law students can miss out on connecting with the larger KU student body. If you have not yet taken time to get to know people outside of your law school peers, you need to, and the perfect place to start is just across the road at the Burge Union. 

The Burge Union’s floor-to-ceiling windows illuminate a bright and welcoming communal space, but nothing does more for the enjoyment of Burge than the baristas. The baristas are always happy to grind a fresh shot of espresso so that you can get back to your grind. Do not feel the need to rush away after ordering though, because every barista has confirmed their favorite customers to interact with are KU Law students.

Hannah might share how she similarly feels locked away in her building as an engineering major. Ryan may discuss his plans to commute on K-10, like many law students, for his upper-level Biotechnology courses at the KU Edwards Campus. Anna, who is one of the most experienced baristas and a coffee aficionado, can relate to out-of-state law students as she is from Colorado Springs. 

The mornings I spend in Burge are always enjoyable. Sipping a warm coffee and watching the steady stream of students shuffle in and out of the Burge with the playful banter between the baristas filling the air is how I gain inspiration from our greater Jayhawk community. Law students are trees in a much larger KU forest. Learning to appreciate this fact has helped me, and I hope can help others to solidify a sense of belonging in our wonderful campus community. 

Barista Hot Takes

Autumn, a Burge Union Starbucks barista poses with two freshly made drinks

Hannah (Engineering Major)

Q: What percentage of the law students would paint their face and/or chest for a KU basketball game? 

A: 5%.

Ryan (Biotechnology Major)

Q: What drink best describes a law student? 

A: A venti Americano with an extra shot of espresso.

— By Ryan Love, a 2L from El Paso, Texas and a KU Law Student Ambassador

Survival guide to law school spooky season

It’s spooky season — and not just because of Halloween! Midterms have come and gone, burnout is settling in and finals are a mere few weeks away. You’re exhausted, unmotivated and scared. Hang onto these three tips to survive law school:

Focus on your own progress

Olivia Almirudis Schneider
Olivia Almirudis Schneider

We’ve all seen those scary movies when the attacker is chasing the victim, and the victim inevitably trips and falls because they frantically kept turning around and panicking. Sometimes, law school feels exactly like that with unending readings, assignments, events and outlining.

Don’t waste your energy looking behind you and comparing yourself to your classmates. If this becomes a habit, you won’t thrive or survive. The more we measure our progress based on our classmates, the more likely we are to trip and fall into negative and unproductive mental cycles.

Stay focused on ensuring that every step you take to completing law school is a sure one, and measure progress by making sure that you are taking intentional steps to become the kind of attorney and person you want to be. Don’t get tripped up and distracted from your own success. 

Olivia Almirudis Schneider and her husband Aaron pose with their dogs Odin and Watson as the Scooby Doo gang
Olivia Almirudis Schneider and her husband Aaron pose with their dogs Odin and Watson as the Scooby Doo gang.

Figure out a support system

If Scooby Doo taught us one thing, it’s that NOTHING good ever happens when the gang splits up. The same is true for law school — you can’t and don’t have to go through it alone.

Now is the time to find your support system. Join an affinity group and get involved with people just like you — whether that’s Women in Law, OUTlaws and Allies, HALSA, BALSA, or First Gen Professionals (the possibilities are pretty much endless!). Surround yourself with friends, who will watch your back, keep you motivated and help you get through these next scary few weeks. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors and schedule a time to talk with Dean Terranova.

You can’t get through law school alone. Find your survival squad, don’t split up, and thrive at Green Hall.

Face your fears

It’s easy to feel like Boo in “Monsters Inc.” — too afraid of all the unknown and too scared to look under the bed or in the closet to address what’s scaring us most. But we have to face our fears head on because sometimes our fears aren’t scary at all (and actually just as sweet as Sully). You can’t let the stresses of tomorrow’s deadlines rob you of today’s joy.

Next time you walk into Green Hall and feel overwhelmed and scared of the daunting and unknowable challenges of finals, be prepared to attack these fears. Think about the joy you felt getting your acceptance letter and look forward to the joy of walking that graduation stage.

Every day, you are one step closer to being an attorney. On days when you’re unmotivated, dreading reading or going to a class or just overwhelmed by all you have to do, just take a deep breath — you get to be here and you belong here. It will sometimes be difficult and draining, but it will always be worth it. But don’t let your fears paralyze you or stop you from progressing. Address those fears directly and don’t back down. 

As you enjoy this Halloween weekend, don’t forget the three tricks to surviving law school: 1) focus on your own progress, 2) figure out a support system and 3) face your fears. 

— By Olivia Almirudis Schneider, a 2L from San Antonio, Texas and a KU Law Student Ambassador

Learning how to network as a law student

“It’s all about who you know.”

Libby Rohr

I am certain at some point in your life you have come in contact with this old cliché. In a field as small as the law, getting to know other people is important. This happens through networking, a fancy name for building industry relationships and a reputation. Is it daunting, intimidating and awkward? Yes. But, for all the technical hype and talk about “making connections,” networking boils down to chatting with people about their work, their goals and their lives. It is a lot more about getting to know people and maintaining relationships in your industry than it is about the jargon or boxes to check.

With all of this in mind, here are a few tips to feel more comfortable, have successful conversations, and keep down your personal stress: 

  • Put your best shoes forward: You will learn more about the elusive art of “business casual” as you enter law school, but regardless of what you wear, I have found that feeling put together can go a long way with your confidence. Make sure you leave yourself enough time before an event to get ready without rushing. Brush your teeth, do your hair and put on makeup if you want to. You want to walk out that door feeling really solid about how you are presenting yourself. And, please, wear nice but COMFY shoes!
  • Know who you are and what you like, then talk: You can do this really well and still have NO IDEA what type of attorney you want to be. It is most important to think about what appeals to you about the law, what you like in a work environment, and the classes and areas of law you’re most drawn to. From there, you want to be able to identify as many “whys” for these things as possible. 
    • Once you have a sense of what is important to you, you’ll want to practice talking about it. Career Services can be a great resource in preparing an “elevator pitch” introduction for yourself. Mostly you need to be able to quickly identify what matters to you and offer a few things for another person to ask about or connect over. Be precise with your language so you can be clear and genuine. 
    • Think about it – saying, “I am not certain yet which area I want to go into, but I am drawn to commercial work, and I am loving my contracts class,” has a very different impact than, “I don’t know.”
  • Lawyers are people! They have families, were once in law school, and even have other interests! It is totally OK to ask for advice, ask follow-up questions and ask about their professional stories. Make sure you listen to their answers. It is always more important to connect to the person you’re speaking to than to get out every feature of your resume. 

If this is still foreign or intimidating – which it certainly was for me – KU Law gives you plenty of opportunities to practice networking at Green Hall and beyond. During your 1L year, nationally active and renowned defense firm Shook, Hardy & Bacon offers a networking event, where you can put on your best business casual outfits and get some practice. Various career events including Legal Career Options Day and 1L Mentorship Groups also aid in this endeavor. Practice, put yourself out there and eventually you will get the hang of it!

— By Libby Rohr, a 2L from Kansas City and a KU Law Student Ambassador

First KU Law student accepted as a DAPP Scholar

Gabby Garrison

Gabby Garrison, a first-year student at the University of Kansas School of Law, was recently accepted into the Diverse Attorney Pipeline Program (DAPP) as a scholar. She is the first Jayhawk to receive the honor.

Garrison is a first-generation college student and a non-traditional student. She attended Emporia State University where she received a Bachelor of Arts in English as well as minors in leadership and Spanish. She also worked as the assistant director of admissions for the University of Kansas Honors Program.

DAPP aims to diversify the legal profession by expanding opportunities for women of color, a group underrepresented in the legal field. DAPP provides its scholars with placement assistance, academic support, coaching, counseling, financial assistance, tutoring, workshops, professional development, mentorship and more.

“Being a DAPP Scholar will give me a strong academic foundation I can build on as I continue law school as well as academic tools I can use for future classes,” Garrison said. “It has already given me the confidence to meet with faculty and TAs as I have questions and accountability to iterate on my outlines and a general understanding of each class as I go.”

Garrison does not have any connections to the legal profession and is the first in her family to go to law school. DAPP has helped her bridge the gap by demystifying law school and pushing her to ask questions when she needs help.

The DAPP application process requires assessments of applicants’ undergraduate performance, career goals, plans to positively affect diversity in their law school and the legal field upon graduation, and an interview.

“I chose to apply because I wanted to be part of a national group of first-year women of color law students from different law schools. DAPP has an intensive academic program to ensure success in the first year of law school with the goal to place each scholar in a big law summer position for 1L summer,” Garrison said.

As Garrison continues to navigate her first year of law school, DAPP continues to provide. The program has an active network of women of color, including an advisory board of scholars and new attorneys. All the women have been in similar shoes and value diversity, especially in the eyes of the law.

“Diversity is important to me because our life experiences shape our perspective and approach to solving problems or answering questions,” Garrison said. “Our diverse experiences result in richer conversations that yield unique perspectives and different outcomes to legal questions. We are better students and will be better lawyers for listening and learning through the uncertainties and vulnerability of what considerations each of us makes when answering legal questions.”

Before coming to KU Law, Garrison worked at a healthcare IT company. The experience grew her interest in subjects such as law and technology, privacy, intellectual property, and mergers and acquisitions. Garrison is open-minded to many areas of law and continues to navigate her future. The DAPP Program will be there for her as she continues her law school career.

—By Sarah Pickel