Amanda Angell, L'15
"You have to look beyond getting into law school and think of what your life will look like after."
As an experienced professional, wife and mother of two young children, Amanda Angell had to weigh the pragmatic aspects of law school along with her career aspirations.
Angell taught music but felt drawn to a new career. She began researching law schools, studying for the LSAT after her kids went to bed.
“At the end it was a matter of my debt load and what our lives would look like after I graduated,” Angell said. She created two spreadsheets: one detailing tuition costs, rent and day care during school, and a second detailing median salary, student loan payment and mortgage payment after graduation.
“I got into some pretty high-ranked schools with high median salaries, but found I would actually bring home more money in Kansas,” Angell said, noting that her KU debt load will be a third of what it would have been elsewhere.
In the end, the decision came down to her family’s quality of life.
“We wanted to make sure my husband would teach in a good school district, that the kids would have access to quality public schools and we could afford good housing.”
At KU, Angell developed an interest in health care law, taking courses ranging from Health Law and Policy to Health Care Finance and Regulation to Insurance Law. Her experience helped her land a summer position with Forbes Law Group in Overland Park, where she worked with the firm’s seven attorneys, handling provider disputes with payers.
“It’s a small firm, so I was treated just like an associate,” Angell said. “I worked on significant projects that I wouldn’t have gotten the opportunity to work on if I had been at a large firm.”
Angell’s firm helped physicians and practices navigate changes brought by the Affordable Care Act and the transition to electronic medical records. “It’s an area of growth,” Angell says of the field. “Right now it’s very intense. There are a lot of compliance issues that arise as the law changes and more parts are implemented. It’s valuable for physicians and hospitals to have qualified counsel who specialize in health.”
Collaboration with senior attorneys was Angell’s favorite part of the job. “They’ve been really open with sharing how they interact with clients, how they work through issues, how they counsel entities when issues arise,” Angell said. “That’s my favorite part of the day, seeing how they navigate client issues.”
Beyond the hands-on experience, Angell is earning a Tribal Lawyer Certificate and is an active member of the Native American Law Students Association, competing in the National NALSA Moot Court Competition, which she calls the “best experience I’ve had in law school.”
“She really pushed me to be more confident about what I know,” Angell said of NALSA advisor and moot court coach Elizabeth Kronk Warner. “It was a really positive experience working with seven other NALSA members who were very supportive, weren’t afraid to offer constructive criticism and help each other get to the next level in our writing, oral arguments and advocacy.”
Angell is currently drafting an article exploring the federal regulation of tribal pharmacies and will be working with the Tribal Judicial Support Clinic during her final year of law school.
“I’m interested in the intersection between federal Indian law and health care law,” Angell said. “The Indian law community in Kansas is fantastic. People are warm and open about sharing their experience, what coursework was helpful, what experience was like as a tribal attorney. The more I learned, the more I saw value in learning about issues that arise with the law and tribes as sovereigns.”
Angell advises prospective students to visit Lawrence and see if KU is the right fit.
“I think the most valuable thing you can do is come visit,” she said. “KU is different. The environment is friendly. Professors are willing to go out of their way to help you.”
When it comes to choosing a law school, she recommends taking a long-term approach. “You have to look beyond getting into law school and think of what your life will look like after.”