Graduate Profile: Leah Lewsader, L’21

Leah Lewsader
Third-year law student Leah Lewsader

Former educator pursuing a career in immigration law

Leah Lewsader started her career as an educator.

After earning her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Loyola University Chicago, Lewsader spent six years teaching elementary school in Santiago, Chile, before enrolling in law school at the Gonzaga University Law School in Spokane, Washington. She transferred to KU Law in her second year.

When she graduates this month, Lewsader plans to support children in a different way in her work as an attorney. She will join an immigration law firm in North Kansas City, focusing on asylum and working with unaccompanied minors who cross the U.S. border.

“As a former educator, I am most excited about working with children again,” Lewsader said.

Originally from Carbondale, Illinois, Lewsader was excited for the chance to come to KU Law as a transfer student after her wife was offered a coaching job at KU.

“Being from the Midwest, I jumped at the opportunity to move to Kansas,” Lewsader said.

Lewsader found community at KU Law with the student organization OUTLaws & Allies.

“I really enjoyed being a part of OUTLaws because as a transfer student, it was an instant sense of community,” she said.

Leah Lewsader, right, with her wife and their two dogs. Photo courtesy of Leah Lewsader

Outside of Green Hall, she was involved in the legal community through the LGBT Bar and the Kansas Women Attorneys Association. The Kansas Bar Association recently awarded Lewsader its Capitol Federal Foundation Diversity Scholarship.

During law school, Lewsader interned with the KU Law Medical-Legal Partnership, served as a pro bono fellow with the Migrant Farmworkers Project for Legal Aid of Western Missouri, and was a policy fellow for a Missouri state senator. She will earn Pro Bono Distinction at graduation for completing more than 50 hours of unpaid legal service during her KU Law career.

Legal Aid Clinic was one of Lewsader’s favorite classes at KU Law, along with Social Justice Lawyering, taught by Adjunct Professor Sharon Brett.

“The Legal Aid Clinic is an incredible way to get hands-on experience and work directly with members of the Lawrence community,” Lewsader said. Clinic faculty Melanie Daily and Meredith Schnug center the client and promote social justice in every case, she said.

“Law school generally solidified the importance of kindness, compassion and relationships,” Lewsader said.

— By Margaret Hair

This post is the fifth in a series highlighting a few of the exceptional members of KU Law’s Class of 2021. Check out previous stories about Aidan Graybill, Howard Mahan, Zachary Kelsay and Marisol Garcia. Stay tuned for more profiles as we celebrate this year’s graduating class.