Get on (a) board!

Help others and yourself by volunteering. Not to minimize the many altruistic benefits of volunteering, but this activity may also benefit your legal career. Not only is it a great way to network, but you may also be able to hone your legal skills.

There are so many wonderful organizations for which you may volunteer. Your legal skills and abilities can be utilized by both nonprofits that provide legal services and non-legally oriented organizations, particularly if you become a board member.

Nonprofit organizations usually have an executive director who handles the daily operation. The board of directors is the governing body of the organization and works with the executive director to ensure the goals and mission of the organization are met. Nearly every board has an attorney (or wants one) as a member. Besides your interest in the organization’s mission, your analytical, logical and communicating skills are highly welcomed and desired. Additionally, most employers welcome and encourage volunteerism and may even assist you in your endeavors.

If you are interested in becoming a board member, look to those organizations for which you already volunteer. Contact the executive director and discuss your desire to get more involved, possibly by joining the board. If you are not currently volunteering, please do so first to ensure the group’s goals reflect your own.

Before joining a board, you need to do your homework. One great place to start is with NonProfitConnect. NonProfitConnect is a Kansas City organization which assists nonprofit agencies and those interested in working with/for the nonprofit sector. If you are interested in becoming a board member, I recommend you attend the training seminar, Boards of Tomorrow (full disclosure: I used to be a member of NCP and attended the training seminar when I became a board member of a nonprofit). There are similar organizations throughout the nation, so take advantage of the resources available to you.

By joining a board, you get to become part of something better than yourself; you’re making your name (and your employer’s name) known with people outside your normal sphere of contact, and you may utilize your legal skills at the same time. A win-win situation for everyone involved!

Karen Hester, Director of Career Services

KU’s Summer Start Program helps students set their law school pace

I began my legal education as part of KU Law’s Summer Start Program in 2007. Essentially, it’s a way for a small group of first-year law students to ease into the study of law by taking a handful of five-week courses for credit that they would otherwise take during the fall semester. Admittedly, I was hesitant to start in the summer. Doing so meant studying in the library while my friends were out on the golf course. But the benefits of a slow-paced introduction to law school made sense to me after being out of school and working for two years.

At the time, I thought those benefits were limited to the first-year experience. By the time the fall semester began, I had developed a proficiency in reading and interpreting case law, I had become comfortably acquainted with seemingly foreign legal vocabulary terms, and I had taken and survived the dreaded law school final exams. But beyond the academic advantages, I was able to quickly find a circle of new friends from all over the country. I started the fall semester confident in my ability to take accurate notes and organize information in an effective way.

But now that I’m a 3L, I realize that the benefits of the summer program continue even today. Some students who started with me took advantage of the Accelerated Program and have already graduated. Others are in their final weeks at KU Law and are set to graduate this December. But while I had the option to graduate early with my friends, I chose instead to finish in three full years, take a relaxed course load and develop flexibility in my schedule that allows for other opportunities. This semester I’m in class three days a week and I spend the rest of my time as an editor for the Kansas Law Review, serving on various campus committees and working part-time. I also have time to travel to KU football games and fulfill my goal of attending a game at every Big 12 school.

All in all, it’s a great way to spend my last year in law school.

Chris Kaufman, 3L and Student Ambassador

Jureeka! I’ve got it!

I have recently discovered a product that I think is pretty slick. It is called Jureeka!

Jureeka! is a Firefox extension that hyperlinks legal citations in Web pages.

Jureeka! turns legal citations in web pages into hyperlinks that point to online legal source material. Its handy toolbar also allows you to search for source material by legal citation and to find HTML versions of PDF pages. Jureeka! is great for quickly locating statutes, case law, regulations, federal court rules, international law sources and more. It weaves together a host of law sources into a giant mesh.

Not every citation is included, but they are constantly adding more.

Here are some of the forms they support:

347 U.S. 483
28 U.S.C. 1350
630 F.2d 876
10 C.F.R. 71
Pub. L. 104-132
70 F.R. 29528
Fed. R. Civ. P. 11
Fed. R. Crim. P. 6
Fed. R. Evid. 401
Fed. R. App. P. xxx
734 A.2d 712
999 P.2d 1
95 P.3d 190
756 N.E.2d 866
694 N.W.2d 788
523 S.E.2d 239
208 S.W.3d 1
735 So.2d 161
352 NLRB 146
10 I&N; Dec. 1230
U.S. Patent No. 6750380
Minn. Stat. § 626.556

Now go download it, come back and look at these links!

Try it out and let me know what you think!



Blake Wilson
Instructional and Research Services Librarian

Even flute performance majors can go to law school

The first skill I learned in my undergraduate degree in flute performance that I applied after graduation was counting without getting off track. I used to have to count up to 80 or 90 really slowly, over and over, without getting distracted. I took a summer job working at a cookie shop and found myself using this specialized skill when I was measuring cup after cup of flour for batches that would make 40 dozen cookies.

I have yet to apply any musical skills so specifically to law school, but what I take from that experience is that regardless of what students studied in undergrad, they already have a lot of skills that will help in law school. KU Law has a commitment to diversity, and that extends to diversity of experience. All kinds of unconventional majors are embraced here.

There is no way to practice being a law student except being one, so not majoring in political science does not put a student at a disadvantage. Challenging classes are an important experience regardless of the subject matter. They force students to develop skills to deal with challenges, which is useful when confronted with a new way of thinking as a 1L.

Academic success and involvement in student life build useful skills too. Those things cause students to develop time management and self-motivation skills that will make the transition to life as a law student smoother. Additionally, law affects so many parts of life, society and culture that an unconventional background will definitely give a student a unique perspective on certain areas of law.

Alyssa Boone, 1L and Student Ambassador from Wichita, KS

The relays are coming! The relays are coming!

Blue Book Relays
Friday, October 30, 2009
12:30-1:30 p.m.
Green Hall

Each fall, first-year law students participate in the Barber Emerson Bluebook Relays. The competition, sponsored by a Lawrence law firm, tests legal research skills learned in the Lawyering program. 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. There is a cash prize for the winning team, but the big reward is the fun that comes from putting competition in perspective.

A brief history of the Bluebook Relays

In 1990, 1L Steve Passer jump-started the Passer Bluebook Relays, which would become one of the school’s most memorable traditions. Steve personally provided the prize money until graduating, when the dean took over as financial sponsor for the event. In the mid 1990s, the junior attorneys at Barber Emerson decided to provide prize money in honor of well-liked founding attorney, Richard A. Barber. Barber Emerson remains the event’s sponsor today, and attorneys from the firm sit as judges for the event each year.

Rules of the Bluebook Relays

  1. NO cell phones
  2. NO running
  3. Do not remove books from their locations on the shelf
  4. Only bring a pad of paper and a pen with you
  5. The Blue Book “expert” must stay outside of the library

The teams will consist of 10 members total, 9 runners and 1 Blue Book “expert.” Each team has 45 minutes to complete the relay. A whistle will be blown to denote start and stop times. Each team receives 9 questions covering 9 citation examples learned in the Lawyering course. Each question is worth 10 points and deductions are made for minor or major citing errors. There will be proctors monitoring runners throughout the library.

For more information, contact Jeff Montgomery, Serials Department Manager and Bluebook Relays coordinator.

Blake Wilson
Instructional and Research Services Librarian

Student Ambassadors separate facts from myths

Prospective law students had an opportunity to find out what life in law school is really like by questioning Student Ambassadors and Admissions Director Jacqlene Nance during a Q&A; on Oct. 6. The informal setting (and free pizza) made the session very inviting to students wanting to ask questions such as:

  • Is the first year as hard as everyone says it is? (Not if you manage your time);
  • What do students wear to class? (For the most part it’s casual, but it’s also not uncommon to see people in suits); and
  • What made you choose KU Law? (Location, price, clinical opportunities and friendly competition were just some of the responses.

The night was a great success, with prospective students asking questions for about an hour. If you were unable or attend or simply want to ask more questions, please contact any of the Student Ambassadors or the Office of Admissions. You can find us at We hope to see you at our Fall Open House on Oct. 23! Register here.

Courtney Johnston, 2L and Student Ambassador

The great headnote/key number confusion

Several times this semester I have run into some people who are a bit confused about Westlaw’s headnote and key number system — and quite understandably! For something that is used so much, it seems that little attention is given to explaining exactly what is going on. Well, I would like to cure that right here, right now!

First, let’s look at a headnote taken from the case Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954).

>[4] Constitutional Law k. 3278(1)

The doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place in the field of public education, since separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. U.S.C.A. Const. Amend. 14.

What we are looking at are actually two completely different things: the key number and the headnote. As I’m sure you already know, West’s key number system was developed and is used to label different legal topics, making it easier to search case law. It uses a broad topic name (there are more than 450!) followed by a narrower number. It looks something like, “Constitutional Law k. 32878(1)” where “k” represents a tiny picture of a key.

Well to make things a bit more complicated, we also have headnotes. Headnotes are quotes taken from the case pertaining to an area of law and placed at the beginning in order of appearance. So the part of the case addressing “constitutional law, equal protection in general” would be one headnote, and “constitution or law of state contravening constitution of United States” would be a difference headnote. There is no uniform system of numbering with headnotes, so “constitutional law, equal protection in general” in one case may be headnote 4, while it’s headnote 2 in another case. It really just depends where it falls within the case.

Now that West has the key numbers and headnotes all lined up for each case, searching out your area of law becomes easier. West prints off all of the topics and key numbers in a series of books called The Digest. The legal topics are in alpha-numeric order, and each jurisdiction has its own. Kansas has the Kansas Digest, and Missouri has the Missouri Digest. There are also regional digests that include cases from states within a set region. Under each topic and key number, you will find the headnotes from the cases. So if you are looking for other cases that touch on “constitutional law, equal protection in general,” you would look up “constitutional law k. 32878(1).”

You can do all of this online if you desire. However, if you are looking online, “constitutional law” will be turned into a number, which just happens to be “92”.

So where does “92” come from? Well, if you were to list all of the legal topics in alphabetical order and then assign it a number, “constitutional law” would be “92.” Of course, I find it easier to grab any Digest volume and look at the front. The topics and their numbers are listed, starting with “1 abandoned and lost property” going through “414 zoning and planning.” So “constitutional law k. 32878(1)” is the same as “92k.32878(1).” Or it usually is. But that’s another story.

>Here is what the same headnote will look like online:

>[4] KeyCite Citing References for this Headnote 92 Constitutional Law
   92XXVI Equal Protection
       92XXVI(B) Particular Classes
           92XXVI(B)8 Race, National Origin, or Ethnicity
               92k3275 Education
                 92k3278 Public Elementary and Secondary Education
                   92k3278(1) k. In General.
                     (Formerly 92k220(2.1), 92k220(2), 92k220) The doctrine of “separate but equal” has no place in the field of public education, since separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. U.S.C.A.Const. Amend. 14.

All of the extra information is showing you the Digest outline so that you get a feel for where you are. So “92k3278(1)” is constitutional law> equal protection> particular classes> race, national origin, or ethnicity> education> public elementary and secondary education> in general.

The key number system is proprietary. You will only find it in West products and on Westlaw. LexisNexis, though, has developed its own version, which works much the same. Unfortunately, there is no book version of Lexis’ headnote system.

I hope this makes sense. As always, let me know if you need help!

Blake Wilson
Instructional and Research Services Librarian

Judicial Clerkship Clinic an invaluable educational experience

One of the main reasons I chose KU Law was the wide range of clinical opportunities provided for students. The effort the faculty and staff put into these programs is a true testament to the level of investment they have in each of us students, and it shows their desire to help make us the best legal professionals we can be. I knew that this level of encouragement and support I would receive from my professors and other staff members would make an enormous difference in my legal education.

This past summer I was fortunate to participate in the Judicial Clerkship Clinic. Students in the program are paired with judges in the Lawrence, Kansas City, Topeka and Wichita areas in both state and federal courts. I worked with a bankruptcy judge in Topeka and enjoyed the experience immensely. I learned more than I ever could have anticipated prior to beginning the clerkship. This clinic was a great way to get both practical legal experience and to make meaningful connections with members of the legal community.

I had received encouragement to make use of the clinical programs once I was here, and I could not be more thankful that I did. Not only did I learn and develop skills from the work projects I was assigned, but I also had ample opportunity to observe in the bankruptcy court as well as in federal district court and magistrate court. The time spent observing was one of the best learning experiences I believe I will have during law school. It was wonderful to see all of the procedure I read about in my first-year classes come to life. This experience helped complete my understanding of what will serve to be the foundation for the rest of my legal education and career.

I believe that KU Law is truly unique in the 11 clinical opportunities that it provides, and the benefit of these programs is extraordinary.

Kristen Koenen, 2L and Student Ambassador

BNA a trusted source of news for legal community

Library to offer BNA training session

In 1926, David Lawrence launched what he called the country’s “first truly national newspaper,” The United States Daily. He established the Bureau of National Affairs (BNA) in 1929 as a division of U.S. Daily. BNA’s purpose was to report, interpret and explain the increasingly complicated workings of the federal government and their far-reaching impact on the economic life of the nation. In 1946, Lawrence offered to sell BNA to his top editors, who, in turn, opened up ownership to all BNA employees, making BNA the largest independent publisher of specialized news and information for professionals in business and government.

Today, BNA is a leading publisher of print and electronic news and information, reporting on developments in health care, business, labor relations, law, economics, taxation, environmental protection, safety and other public policy and regulatory issues. It is licensed for all KU Law students, faculty and staff connecting to the Internet through the Wheat Law Library.

BNA publishes – in print and electronic formats – more than 350 daily, weekly, monthly and up-to-the-minute news services covering the full range of legal, legislative, regulatory and economic developments that impact the business environment around the nation and the world. BNA’s full-service research and data division offers custom research, data and document retrieval services that augment the value of BNA publications.

More than 600 reporters, lawyers and editors working from the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, along with a network of national and international correspondents, deliver the highest editorial quality in the industry, providing timely, comprehensive, focused coverage so BNA customers spend less time on reading and research.

Year after year, customer groups recognize BNA’s leadership in editorial quality. American Lawyer Media’s annual survey of law librarians at the nation’s 200 largest law firms has given BNA the top rating on content quality among legal and business publishers since 2002.

Being that there are more than 350 news services available through BNA, I will only list some of my favorites.

  • BioTech Watch provides up-to-date information on the field of biotechnology.
  • Computer Technology Law Report covers areas ranging from anti-piracy to trademarks to open government. It’s not only applicable to those practicing law but also to those who use technology. Like everyone.
  • Daily Environment Report may sound like a segment on The Weather Channel, but you will not find your local forecast here. What is provided for you is analysis and perspectives on key issues shaping the laws and legislation that, in turn, affect the environment.
  • Health Law Reporter may be of particular interest as health care reform is being tested in Congress.
  • Tax and Accounting Center, also known as Tax Managment Portfolios. Anyone who has done any type of tax work will be familiar with BNA’s Tax Management Portfolios. Did you know that these are available online?

Of course, showing you what is available is only one step. The next is showing you how to use BNA. Want to learn? Attend our training session!

Tuesday, October 20
3:45 pm, 106 Green Hall

I hope to see you there!

Blake Wilson
Instructional & Research Services Librarian

Law students, lawyers should take stock of evolving career, personal goals

Just as the seasons change, our goals and dreams may also evolve or change over time. Now is a great time to assess your personal and career goals and take the necessary steps to get or stay on the right path.

Consider assessing your:

  • Personal goals: Although there are several assessment tools readily available, a familiar one is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) personality inventory. Your personal style influences many things, from how you address others to the type of work environment you prefer.
  • Skills and interests: Interested in exploring new career paths or want to learn if your job is the best fit for your skills and interests? The Strong Interest Inventory is one type of assessment test to help you with these particular questions.
  • Career goals: When was the last time you took stock of where you are and where you want to be this time next year, or in five years? Some questions to ponder:
    • What is your attitude toward your career right now?
    • If you could do it again, would you go to law school?. Why?
    • At work, what do you enjoy doing the most, the least?
    • What accomplishments during law school or your career are you most proud of and why?
    • Are you satisfied with the amount of time spent with your family and friends? Is there anything you would like to change?
    • If you couldn’t practice law, what would you do instead? Why?

There are many excellent resources available to help get you started, including:

  • “The Official Guide to Legal Specialties,” by Lisa Abrams
  • “Life After Law: Second Careers for Lawyers,” by Mary Ann Altman
  • “What Can You Do With a Law Degree?” by Deborah Arron
  • “What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard Bolles
  • “The Opportunity Maker,” by Ari Kaplan
  • “Guerilla Tactics for Getting the Legal Jobs of Your Dreams,” by Kimm Walton

All of these books, and many others, are available at the Office of Career Services library.

Don’t forget to take advantage of your local resources. As a student or alumnus of KU, the University Career Center offers assessment tests at a discounted rate, including the Strong Interest Inventory and the Do What You Are personality assessment test. Todd Rogers and Karen Hester can counsel you on available opportunities based on your goals and information gleaned from your self-evaluations. There are also career coaches, some of whom specialize in working with attorneys, who can help you identify your goals and the steps you need to take.

Karen Hester, Director of Career Services