Practice makes perfect

Photo by Ashley Golledge

I elected to start my law school career in the Summer Start program, where I completed 8 hours of coursework by taking Contracts and Criminal Law during the summer. Like many beginner law students, I did not know what to expect from law school and the “fear of the unknown” seemed to be doing its best to make things as challenging as possible. Although I did not know it at the time, the 18 other students who joined me would become some of my closest friends. We all still laugh at how crazy those summer months were as we questioned whether learning contracts was like learning another language. Thankfully, we had incredible professors who dedicated their summer to helping us begin our law school career.

It was during the summer where I had the honor of being a student in Professor John Peck’s last Contracts class before retirement. After completing the course, the Summer Starters all agreed we were fortunate to have him as our professor. His teaching style and passion for the material made it easier for us to digest and learn the dense nature of contracts.

Members of the 2019 cohort of Summer Starters participate in an in-house moot court competition at KU Law. Photo courtesy of Luke Viestenz.

(Front row from left) Betsy Donahue, Jameson O’Connor, Luke Viestenz, Riley Cooney and Eric Kerschen. (Back row) Cathryn Lind, Professor Emeritus John Peck, Ashley Niedzwiecki, Kalie Belt and Evan Rose.

Also during this time, I had the opportunity to compete in an in-house moot court competition where I represented the plaintiff in the famous contracts case: Fiege v. Boehm. Joined by two of my classmates, we competed against three other classmates who represented the defendant. It was exciting getting to act like real attorneys as we conducted research and formulated arguments in preparation of our competition. As we entered KU Law’s courtroom we were greeted by a panel of judges also consisting of my classmates who were led by Chief Justice Professor Peck. While I thought I knew how things would go, I found myself mostly fielding tough questions by Chief Justice Professor Peck. I learned quickly the value in knowing your client’s case like the back of your hand and being able to think on your feet. It was great practice in developing skills I will use the rest of my life.

Prior to entering the competition, I had doubts whether I wanted to put myself out there at such an early stage in my law school career. After it was over, however, I could not have been more thankful I did. I have found this to be a common theme in law school. Not being afraid to put yourself out there pays off immensely. Everyone is new to law school, and we are all trying to figure it out together. Understanding that everyone will make mistakes and that these mistakes are beneficial to the learning process will launch you towards success in law school and beyond.

— By Luke Viestenz, a 1L from Overland Park and a KU Law Student Ambassador