Tamara Combs arrived in Lawrence after studying law in her home country of Brazil, then earning degrees in political science and city and regional planning in the U.S. For her, law school wasn’t just an academic experience; it was a cross-cultural one.
“It was fascinating to navigate a new legal tradition — common law instead of civil law — and see that one is not intrinsically better than the other,” Combs said. “The educational systems are strikingly different. Experiencing both made me a more pragmatic problem-solver, knowing that there is more than one right way to achieve a goal.”
While students of all backgrounds grapple with unfamiliar legal concepts, Combs faced the added challenge of studying the law in her second language. “I overcame that the only way I knew: through hard work and discipline,” she said. “If a reading was especially dense, I just had to put in more hours than my peers, and use the dictionary more often.”
Combs focused her studies on immigration law and international law, and counts her time on the editorial board of the Kansas Law Review among her most enriching law school experiences. This fall she will join the Kansas City office of Stinson Leonard Street as a litigation associate, handling a caseload ranging from local municipal planning issues to international business and immigration matters.
“I will use my planning background and my international background to build a rewarding practice,” she said.