— Story by Kasey Considine, ILS President
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
— Story by Kasey Considine, ILS President
Summer in Bangladesh yields scholarship, philanthropy opportunities for students studying garment industry
|Heeren and Rahman tour the slums of Dhaka.|
|Heeren and Rahman with new KU fans in Bangladesh.|
While Heeren and Rahman came away with a nuanced view of the garment industry, their commitment to understanding it and improving lives in Bangladesh is stronger than ever. The students are writing a paper about their observations and launched a nonprofit called United Across Borders to provide clothing and assistance to workers. Heeren described the irony of touring factories that churn out millions of garments each day, only to step outside and see people who don’t have adequate clothing. Both students plan to pursue international careers, whether they work in trade, industry or regulation and compliance.
— Story by Emily Sharp
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
For most Americans, the end of November is defined by cathartic thankfulness, warm feelings of holiday anticipation, and pumpkin-flavored everything coming from nearly every direction. The traditional “Three F’s” — Friends, Family, and Football — are evident all around, affording even the most dysfunctional relatives a seasonal respite of congeniality. For folks from my native Kansas City, no Thanksgiving would be complete without participating in one of the city’s oldest traditions: watching the lighting ceremony at the Country Club Plaza, ushering in the holiday season with tens of thousands of our KC neighbors.
For law students, however, the end of November is defined by significantly less cuddly feelings. Instead of thankfulness and holiday anticipation, we tend to feel crabbiness and exam anxiety, and many of our relatives will be less inclined than ever to sit with us at dinner. The end of November elicits an entirely different series of F’s: Fatigue, Forgetfulness, and Finals (among other F-words, I’m sure). And the only lighting ceremony this Kansas City boy is likely to see will happen in my parent’s basement as I shuffle from one study space to another.
(Although I must admit that my November has seen its fair share of pumpkin-flavored deliciousness; nonfat, no-whip pumpkin spice latte is my lifeblood.)
To be sure (and as is evident from the above), law students have a flair for hyperbole (or as my non-law friends like to describe me: over-dramatic). We are convinced that ours is the most difficult graduate program available, and we like to remind ourselves and others of how much work we still have to do. Indeed, if there is a road less traveled, it is the one that we have chosen, and we are surely hoeing it down with a soft-bristled toothbrush.
In many respects, these attitudes are valid: law school certainly ranks among the hardest things that any of us will do in our lives. But amidst all the stress and time crunch and lack of sleep that accompanies the Finals Countdown, it is easy to forget what this season is really about: gratitude for the good things that exist in your life.
Last week, I posted a status on Facebook asking my classmates to write about “Things to be thankful for at KU Law.” The response was overwhelming: nearly 30 replies within the first half-hour (and I’m not even very popular). The wide response prompted me to open the question to faculty and staff. I figured I might get a reply from one or two of the professors whose offices are near my study desk; surely they would feel guilty having to pass by me so often and would eventually email me back. Again I was surprised: nearly every faculty and staff member I emailed sent me a message. Beyond being shocked at the breadth of the responses, I was moved and encouraged by the substance of the answers I received.
In particular, students were thankful for our “approachable, yet brilliant, professors” who “actually care about how you’re doing outside of the classroom,” who “go to bat for me when I least expect it,” and who “not only give career advice, but who have reassured me many a time that it’s OK — just breathe.” But on top of our professors’ teaching and mentorship capabilities, students were also consistently thankful for “Professor Westerbeke’s apple fritters,” “Professor Rosenberg’s Twitter,” “lunch time with Professor Ware,” “Professor Yuille’s Muncher’s Bakery surprises,” “the ongoing (and endlessly entertaining) Prater/Hecker feud,” and “Leah Terranova: enough said.”
But the onslaught of love toward faculty and staff certainly wasn’t one-sided. Indeed, faculty and staff were thankful for “great students” “who readily participate in class,” for “the opportunity to spend time with future leaders,” for “amazing Lawyering TAs,” and “for thankful students who take time to be thankful” — clearly, students have much to be thankful for. One professor summed up his colleagues nicely, saying, “I'm most thankful for the KU Law students. You all make this the best job in the world. I get up every morning and look forward to going to work. Not very many people can say that. And I don’t care if this sounds cheesy, I mean it.”
I suppose most law students are thankful for their faculty and vice versa. Without law professors, no students could learn Property or Secured Transactions or Civil Procedure. Without law students, professors and administrators wouldn’t have anyone to distribute their knowledge and skills to. And I also suppose that most law students are thankful for the opportunity to chase their dreams and become lawyers especially at a premier law school like KU. Such thankfulness was immediately apparent in the responses I received.
But also apparent, and ultimately much more important, was that KU Law — despite being a training ground for a crop of driven, Type A students in an academic field that drips with pressure and anxiety — has created a community that we are all proud of and truly consider our home. Whether it’s “fourth-floor chit-chatters, students and professors alike,” “great colleagues like everyone — which makes KU Law an especially wonderful place to teach,” or “friends who see you struggling and bring you and your kids dinner twice in one week,” the community at KU Law is special and demonstrates the difference between a good law school and an extraordinary law school. It is something we can all be thankful for.
And because my colleagues in Green Hall are endlessly more eloquent and wise than I can ever hope to be, I can only add that I am thankful for the Holy Trinity that holds me together and gives me hope for the future: Bill Self, Andrew Wiggins, and Dean Mazza. My KU Law experience would not be the same without these men.
Happy holidays. RCJH.
— Jake McMillian, 2L, is a KU Law Student Ambassador from Kansas City, Kan.
Monday, November 25, 2013
The number of activities you can choose to be involved in during law school seem endless. When I started at KU Law, I was overwhelmed asking myself questions like, "Which groups should I join? How many? Which groups will help me handle law school? Do any groups continue after law school?" And, of course, the question I ask myself everyday, "Do I have time?!"
Joining Phi Alpha Delta was the solution. Phi Alpha Delta (P.A.D.) is an international law fraternity that provides benefits both while in law school and once you are out in the professional world. P.A.D. has a large network of student and alumni chapters and allows members to be involved as much or as little as they choose. One of the main things that drew me to join P.A.D. was the ability to provide through just one organization the many things I knew would be hard to keep up with while in law school: philanthropic activities, social events, leadership involvement, and professional development.
P.A.D. seeks to advance integrity, compassion and courage through service to the student, the school, the profession, and the community. The KU Law chapter of P.A.D. has a lot of exciting things planned this upcoming school year. We recently completed our first outline advice meeting, and will be holding a finals advice meeting later this month. P.A.D. also is planning an upcoming social event after the 1Ls finish their last open memos. In the spring semester, P.A.D. will host a powder puff football tournament, participate in Relay for Life, hold a session with interview preparation tips, and much more. Our social, philanthropy, alumni relations, and academic committees are a great way to get involved without having to dedicate too much of your much-needed study time.
New members are welcome to join P.A.D. anytime, and there will be an initiation early next spring. Above all, the best thing about P.A.D. is that everything we do involves spending time with some really great law students, who quickly have become my best friends in law school.
— Genni Hursh is president of the KU Law chapter of Phi Alpha Delta.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Aside from my short stint as a Grandview Gator, I have been a Wildcat since middle school. The mascots of both my middle school and high school were of the feline persuasion, and I attended Kansas State University, home of the Wildcats!
I was raised to be Wildcat.
It didn’t hurt that I come from a family of K-State graduates. (Aside from my mom, who graduated from KU’s nursing program. However, that was never spoken of and ultimately ignored for the greater good of family peace and harmony.) My dad dressed me in purple from the moment I was born, and my kid brother got the same treatment. From the moment we moved to Kansas, we attended almost every home football game, every bowl game, and every K-State event in between. My aunts, uncles, and cousins all followed in the same tradition, and we were a unit of purple-wearing, wildcat-loving, alma mater-cheering K-State fans.
If you’re not from Kansas, it is important that I note here the rivalry between K-State and KU. My parents raised me to be a kind, caring, accepting person, but made sure I knew I could throw all of those qualities out the window if I ran into smack-talking KU fan. This was my childhood. This was our tradition. The good-natured fun of the rivalry was something I grew up loving and having fun with.
Then, the unthinkable happened: I decided to attend the University of Kansas School of Law.
When I was making the choice between law schools, my family was (mostly) supportive. They knew KU was the best law school in the area for me. So much so, that during the decision-making process they constantly stood in KU’s corner and advocated for me to enroll here. My dad even publically acknowledged his pride in me being accepted to KU. (Notice the profile picture that has not changed since he created his Facebook account).
(That’s as much of an endorsement as KU will ever get from him.)
Fast-forward to present: I am smack dab in the middle of my law school career at the University of Kansas, and I could not be happier with my choice. Outside of the law school, Lawrence holds so much charm and is so different from any other town I’ve ever visited in Kansas. It’s such a unique place to live, and I’m lucky to get to experience it.
Inside the law school, I’ve never stopped wearing my purple. I might be teased by a few friends, but the thing I enjoy the most about KU Law is how accepting both students and faculty are of all different personalities and backgrounds. It is truly a melting pot of all types of people from all over the United States. I’m lucky enough to work and learn in an atmosphere where the real treasure is the people I’m learning with and from. The professors are genuine (and loyal KU fans, I might add) and the students are open-minded and friendly.
I’m still rocking my K-State swag, along with my other classmates who are representing their own alma maters. We all give Green Hall a little piece of where we come from. There is camaraderie in what we’re doing here, and I couldn’t have picked a better community to do it in.
I’m still a wildcat, but KU doesn’t mind. In fact, I think they appreciate the diversity. Ultimately, KU was the best choice for me, and I have no regrets.
— Ashlyn Lindskog is a 2L and KU Law Student Ambassador.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
My favorite stories to cover as a journalist always came on the crime beat – talking to the cops, suspects and attorneys and sitting through the trials. I loved standing next to the police at the perimeter of a crime scene as the officers broke down the door to a house, or listening to the pleas of innocence from a suspect accused of embezzling thousands of dollars (spoiler: she wasn’t innocent, and did it again before confessing) or the story of a man who was jailed after a confession was beaten from him in 1970s Chicago (he probably was innocent). From that, I had a pretty good idea that I wanted to go into criminal law. But I still kept my options open as I entered KU Law.
My first classes as a summer starter were Property and Torts, each crammed into five-day-per week sessions starting in late May that at once inundated those of us in the class and gave us an idea of exactly what we were getting into as law students. They were great classes taught by excellent professors, but easements and property transfers didn’t grab my attention the way criminal law does. It wasn’t until the middle of my fall semester – just a few weeks ago – that I really cemented my plans to become a criminal lawyer. That revelation came from my Criminal Procedure course. It’s a class focused on search and seizure and the rights guaranteed by the 4th, 5th and 14th amendments. It’s also a course I wouldn’t have been able to take my first year if it weren’t for being a summer starter.
The summer starter program allows students to begin their first year of KU Law early and knock out 8 credits of first-year courses before the fall semester begins. It’s an intense program that compresses both the material and the study time available. It also forges the type of friendships that come from a shared endeavor. Those friendships have lasted well into the year – but more on that in a minute.
For the official rundown, check out http://www.law.ku.edu/summerstart. But I wanted to present an unbiased view of the program, with its pros and cons, so I asked my fellow summer starters what they thought of the program. The responses from my classmates roughly fell into a few categories:
The best parts were that we got to go through four classes and finals before fall semester, giving us a taste of different test formats and teaching styles. We also became friends and had a built-in support group by the time fall classes started.
The downsides are that we lose the summer directly after graduation; we may lose the sense of wonder from starting class by the time courses start in fall; and, well, law school can be a little cliquish.
My classmate Dani Onions summed it up when she wrote, “I think the summer start was a great idea because it allowed us to start with just two classes (albeit two very intense and concentrated classes) instead of juggling five courses at one time and not knowing until five months later if you really know what you’re talking about.”
Law school grades, with a few exceptions, hinge on the final at the end of the semester. By taking four finals during the summer, we get a better handle on whether our studying styles are effective. Sara Fevurly, another classmate, added that the different test styles provided by our four professors (from one long essay to short answer and multiple choice) gave us a variety of challenges. “It took a lot of the mystery out of the fall, and the stakes are a lot lower,” she wrote.
It also tends to be more popular for nontraditional students. SueZanne Thibodeau, a fellow nontraditional student, commented that compared to the fall starter class, we appear to have more nontraditional students per capita. Partly there’s no allure to keeping the summer free, she said. Assistant Dean for Admissions Steve Freedman said it appears that it’s more popular for nontraditional students to start early. He also noted that the classes are capped around 20-24 students in order to keep the summer class size manageable, so students who are interested need to make sure to get on the list.
The downside is that by hanging out with the same people every day over the summer, when the fall rolls around, there’s less incentive to meet the other new students. I know I’ve been guilty of hanging around with the summer starters instead of branching out. But that’s not all bad either. Travis Holbert wrote, “We got familiar with the building, a lot of the faculty, [and] we had friends to count on when the fall started.”
Addison Polk noted that it’s not impossible to find those new friends if we try. “A con I was warned of is that it is hard to integrate with the fall class, but I think you integrate as little or as much with the other 1L students as you choose, despite (your) status as a ‘summer’ or ‘fall’ starter,” she wrote. “I will say it was pretty nice walking into the building on the first day of the fall semester and seeing 20 friendly faces!”
That has proven true as the semester rolls on because we share at least one class with the fall starters and begin to see more and more of each other at social events.
Overall, Travis said that he doesn’t see a downside but starting in the summer is also not a guarantee of academic success.
“Essentially, it puts you at as much ease as you can be,” he wrote. “I don't believe any of these things help or hurt your performance, but it calms your anxiety.”
There’s plenty of anxiety in law school. Any chance to reduce that seems like a good choice to me.
— Zach Fridell is a first-year law student from Manhattan, Kan., and a KU Law Student Ambassador.
Monday, November 4, 2013
Not quite sure where my days begin and end at this point.
I am also quite sure that my secret study spot on the third floor of the library and I were connected in some past life because, as it turns out, I can’t get enough of it. I find myself spending more time at the library these days than any other place – my home included.
When I moved to Kansas from California, I bought a pet turtle to keep me company – don’t ask. I’m almost positive that said turtle has developed a distaste for my presence due to my long periods of absence. I get home, books in hand, and he looks at me, almost as if he doesn’t know who I am. Considering that his brain is the size of a pea, this may very well be the case. However, I choose to think that he is actually just jealous of the relationship I’m having with my secret quiet spot on the third floor.
All of this can only mean one thing: Finals are lurking.
I’ve been out of school for a while now, and the only other exam that I’ve had to concern myself with has been the LSAT. If there is one thing I know now and that KU has made great efforts to emphasize, it’s that preparation for finals can never begin too early. This is a concept that I have had a hard time explaining to my friends and family outside of law school. They are curious as to why I’ve begun to stress, prep and plan for exams that I won’t be taking for another eight weeks. My personal reasoning may be different than others, but the outcome we’d like to achieve always remains the same – to succeed. I uprooted my life and walked away from a career as a means to embark on this endeavor. Failure is not an option. If this means making a “Grecia-like” indent on one of the third-floor chairs until finals are over, so be it. If this entails having a diet consisting mostly of vending machine goodies, snacks will become one of the elements in my pyramid of food groups.
I cannot stress the importance of starting early with outlining all of your courses. It would be nearly impossible to cover all of the material by just reviewing notes. This is not, which I have learned the hard way, at all like undergrad in that respect. Cramming is not an option. Either you understand the concepts or you don’t, and no amount of cramming will compensate for that. However, the familiarization with the terms is just a fraction of what is required for these exams. These terms, facts and laws must then be applied in a clear and cohesive manner to various situations. There are a lot of analytical skills that begin to formulate through the process of studying and outlining. I am no longer just regurgitating facts; I am attacking problems. Given this reasoning, I am more than happy to spend my days at the library.
There is always a reason to procrastinate, but there is nothing that can bring back time spent on understanding the material. With that said, I can honestly say that I’ve made some amazing friends while taking up shop in the library. We are all bound by the drudgery, the stress and the confusion that is commensurate with your first semester/year in law school. Being the overachievers that we are, we can also recognize when we’ve been working hard and need a break. I’m not quite sure how to describe the feeling you get when you’ve spent an entire weekend studying, looking up and seeing your friend sitting there doing the same. It is a sense of solidarity that can only be achieved in silent admiration.
Despite the pressure of it all, I love being here. I couldn’t imagine my life having not elected to attend law school or KU for that matter. So, my turtle will have to deal with it for a few more weeks because Momma has stuff she needs to get done.
— Grecia Perez is a 1L and KU Law Student Ambassador.