Treaties could be key in helping indigenous communities fight effects of climate change

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

LAWRENCE — Some may view treaties between indigenous peoples and the federal government as a relic of the 19th century, but they just might provide a way for tribes to mitigate the effects of climate change on their lands and communities. A University of Kansas law professor has authored a study showing that provisions of treaties can lead the way to fighting the effects of climate change, which often hit native communities earliest and most severely.

Elizabeth Kronk Warner, associate dean of academic affairs, professor of law and director of the Tribal Law and Government Center at the KU School of Law, has authored “Everything Old is New Again: Enforcing Tribal Treaty Provisions to Protect Climate Change Threatened Resources.” The article examines provisions of two native treaties and how they have been successfully argued to require the federal government to address damages done to fishing resources of the Swinomish and Nez Perce tribes. The cases are proof that treaties, which were no longer drafted after the 1870s, could be a new way to fight the effects of climate change on native communities.

“I don’t think anyone has ever looked at treaties for this reason,” Kronk Warner said. “It may not be a cure-all, but it could certainly be part of a larger solution. It’s applying what has been a very successful solution to a new context.”

In the case of the Swinomish and Nez Perce tribes, their treaties with the federal government contained specific provisions that their fishing access and rights be maintained as they were a vital part of their culture, daily life and very survival. When those rights were infringed, the tribes were successful in bringing action that eventually required the federal government ensure fulfillment of those rights.

There are more than 500 federally recognized tribes in the United States, many of which have treaties with the federal government. Those who are negatively affected by climate change could potentially use the treaties as a legal tool to mitigate those effects, Kronk Warner said. For example, tribes with provisions regarding hunting rights whose lands are affected by drought, wildfires, rising coastlines or other effects of climate change could bring suit arguing the federal government is bound by its treaty to protect those rights.

Federal courts have proven in recent history to be very protective of hunting and fishing rights protected by treaties. Kronk Warner said provisions related to infrastructure and many other aspects of native life could potentially be part of a legal strategy as well. She added that, in her legal opinion, the argument that climate change was not a foreseeable issue when the treaties were signed would not be an argument relieving the federal government of its obligation to uphold the agreement.

Kronk Warner compares the approach to litigation against big tobacco companies. It took decades to find the right legal strategy to eventually hold the companies liable for health damages their products caused. Similarly, using treaty provisions to mitigate the negative effects of climate change could be the next step in an ongoing battle, in which climate change is already devastating the lands and resources of tribes across the country. Looking to treaties could be a valuable tool, as litigation and adaptation plans have had varying levels of success.

Kronk Warner, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, has written extensively on climate change, native law and indigenous knowledge’s role in the fight against climate change. She was also recently appointed a district judge for the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation and will serve on the Healing to Wellness Court. Her most recent article will be published in the University of Nebraska Law Review and is available online.

While climate change has already begun having negative effects on native lands, communities and resources, the legal fight to ameliorate the effects is still fairly new. Looking to treaties, which many have failed to view as a solution to a modern problem, could be key.

“How climate change impacts tribes will continue to change, and how tribes react to that will change as well,” Kronk Warner said. “Examples are highly localized, but I think this is an approach that any tribe with a treaty could look to use.”

Professor calls for centrist approach to arbitration against citizens

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

LAWRENCE — In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent call for Wall Street reform, Congress enacted the Dodd-Frank Act, which created a new federal agency, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Among the CFPB’s charges is to consider new rules on the often-controversial business practice of arbitration clauses in consumer contracts. While such consumer arbitration agreements divide judges, legislators and interest groups along predictable political lines (progressive vs. conservative), a University of Kansas law professor argues in a new article that a centrist approach makes more sense.

The article, forthcoming in the Harvard Journal on Legislation, is titled “The Politics of Arbitration Law and Centrist Proposals for Reform.” Its author, Professor Stephen Ware, has also been invited by the CFPB to participate in its field hearing Wednesday, Oct. 7, in Denver.

Ware’s forthcoming article proposes centrist reforms for law regarding “adhesion contracts,” the agreements that businesses present as “take it or leave it” to consumers.

“Although some contracts are the result of negotiated drafting by two parties represented by lawyers, most contracts that individuals have are adhesion contracts, drafted by businesses, and the individual simply decides whether or not to consent,” Ware said.

Many of these consumer adhesion contracts now have clauses providing that disputes will be resolved in arbitration rather than litigation.

These “adhesive arbitration clauses” in consumer contracts are at the center of a variety of hotly contested legal issues that are much more controversial than the issues raised by arbitration agreements between businesses.

The conservative approach is to stay with the status quo established by the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act and broad interpretations of that act by the Supreme Court. Some of these broad interpretations were made by the Supreme Court’s five justices appointed by Republican presidents over dissenting votes from the court’s four justices appointed by Democratic presidents. A particularly key 5-4 decision interpreted the Federal Arbitration Act to pre-empt states’ efforts to preserve consumer class actions from adhesive arbitration clauses prohibiting such lawsuits.

At the other end of the political spectrum are those who would simply ban all arbitration clauses in consumer contracts. This approach, advocated by many progressives, is contained in a bill supported by most congressional Democrats. While enactment of that bill is unlikely while Republicans control Congress, the CFPB already has the power to ban all arbitration clauses in an important category of consumer contracts — financial services, such as credit cards, checking accounts and payday loans. So, Ware says, “the action has shifted now from Congress to the CFPB.”

Ware’s article goes beyond proposing reforms to offer the CFPB drafting specifics — the language of a rule — with which the CFPB could enact into law the reforms he proposes.

In between the conservative status quo of broadly enforcing consumer arbitration clauses and the progressive approach of banning them entirely, Ware advocates an intermediate position. It rests on the principle that “adhesive arbitration agreements should be treated like other adhesion contracts,” Ware said. “This approach, which I’ve been developing incrementally in a series of articles for over 20 years, is for courts to enforce consumer arbitration clauses unless one of three exceptions applies.”

Exceptions Ware calls for:

  • When a party to the contract argues the contract containing the arbitration clause was induced by fraud, duress or other misconduct;
  • When the arbitration clause prohibits class actions under circumstances in which a contract lacking an arbitration clause but otherwise prohibiting class actions would be unenforceable;
  • When arbitration has already occurred and a party argues that the arbitrator made an error of law, the court should review the arbitrator’s ruling closely before enforcing it.

Ware’s arguments are timely as the CFPB has completed its study of consumer arbitration and is expected to issue new rules soon. Ware said he is glad the CFPB is interested enough in his views to invite him to participate in Wednesday’s field hearing. He hopes the current political climate is one in which the CFPB will be attracted to his centrist approach.

“The basic principle behind these positions — behind the centrist position — is that, with few and relatively uncontroversial exceptions, adhesive arbitration agreements should be as enforceable as other adhesion contracts, but not more so,” Ware wrote. “In other words, this article rejects conservative-supported anomalies that enforce adhesive arbitration agreements more broadly than other adhesion contracts, and proposes — contrary to progressives — that once these anomalies are fixed, adhesive arbitration agreements should be as generally enforceable as other adhesion contracts.”

Ware is an expert on arbitration law who has authored two books and dozens of journal articles on the topic. His scholarship has been cited by the Supreme Court and in at least 28 other federal and state cases. Ware has testified on arbitration before both houses of Congress and in court as an expert witness. 

Examining European Union through domestic lens offers insights, professor says

Friday, October 23, 2015

LAWRENCE — Multinational organizations like the European Union are unique in many ways, but examining such bodies through a lens commonly used to study domestic governmental systems can shed light on why such groupings work and the directions they may be headed. Richard E. Levy, J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Kansas, has authored a foundational article applying collective action theory to analyze the institutional structure of the European Union. 

The article appears in an issue of the European Journal of Law and Economics honoring the work of Judge Richard Posner, an internationally acclaimed judge and legal scholar known for his work in law and economics. Levy, a former clerk for Posner, who has lived and taught in Europe and written extensively on federalism, has long been drawn to the similarities between federalism in the United States and the structure of the European Union.

“My main focus is on U.S. constitutional law, but I like to think about comparative institutional structures, how they’re parallel to each other and how they’re different,” Levy said. “By doing that I think you can better understand why constitutional systems are structured the way they are.”

Collective action theory explores how groups work together to create common benefits even though they have individual incentives to act as “free riders” that enjoy the benefits of group activity without contributing to it. Although collective action theory originated as a tool for understanding the behavior of individuals, particularly in relation to political processes, Levy has been a pioneer in applying the theory to the relationships among states in the American federal system. This approach is beginning to take root in Europe as well, and Levy hopes that his article will contribute to the use of collective action theory to analyze the European Union.

Like the United States, the EU creates a structure for collective action by member states through which the collective can enact legally binding rules without the unanimous consent of the member states. Nonetheless, the scope of EU authority and the power of EU institutions is more constrained than that of the federal government in the U.S. Levy said he is interested to see if the EU will eventually move further in toward the creation of a federal system such as the U.S., which would require the adoption of a kind of European constitution that transformed the EU from a set of agreements among member states to a social contract among the people of Europe.

Of course, many differences exist in the case of the EU; namely linguistic, cultural and historical differences that currently keep the member states from considering themselves part of a larger entity, as opposed to independent nations, with a shared bond. States often want to retain autonomy and power, but in the EU, as in the United States, power has gravitated to the center, Levy writes.

For example, the supremacy of federal power in the U.S. was not fully established in practice until after the Civil War, and the practical scope of federal power expanded greatly during the 20th century. One important distinguishing characteristic is the EU’s use of the subsidiarity principle to counter the centralization of power. The principle holds that decisions are handled centrally only when they cannot be handled effectively by the member states.

While new economic and legal situations continue to come about, Levy said he is interested to watch how collective action theory can teach us more about the EU and the decisions it makes. The initial concerns such as free trade among members, interstate relations and external relations will continue to be at the forefront, but new issues such as monetary policy for the euro and the ongoing debate about whether the United Kingdom will separate from the EU will continue to shine a light on how the body evolves.

By examining the EU’s makeup through the lens of collective action theory, Levy said, we will be able to see if the organization moves toward a federal system or maintains its current state of a group of national states. Conversely, using collective action theory as a comparative lens will also help us gain a better understanding of the American federal system.

“One of the essential points of comparative law is you gain a better understanding of your own system when you study another,” Levy said. “Studying the EU might help us to think about how, if we do care about member states, might we structure our system to better balance the autonomy of the states against the need to address national issues at the federal level?”

Photo: European flag outside the Commission. By Xavier Hape, via WikiCommons.

Law symposium to explore sexual assault on college campuses

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

LAWRENCE – Recent studies indicate that nearly one in four female students experience sexual violence during their college years – troubling figures that are attracting national media attention and serious evaluations by universities of how they handle such crimes.

Legal scholars and advocates from across the country will contribute to that conversation this week during the 2015 Kansas Law Review Symposium. “Sexual Assault on Campus” will run from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, at the University of Kansas School of Law, 1535 W. 15th St. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register and preview the complete schedule at

Speakers will discuss anti-rape culture, campus sexual violence reform, the gendered use of legality, sexual assault as sexual harassment, the myth of the “perfect victim,” the Title IX “mistake” and other topics.

“In September 2014, President Obama launched the ‘It’s on Us’ initiative to address the pressing issue of campus sexual assault. Just over one year later, the Kansas Law Review will provide needed attention to the discussion about the proper governmental, cultural and university responses to sexual violence at America’s institutions of higher education,” said Corey Yung, a KU law professor who teaches a course on sex crimes. “With experts from across the nation, we hope to shed light on the complex topics of how campuses should handle sexual assault complaints, create a culture that discourages rape and ensure student safety.”

Speakers will include:

  • Katharine K. Baker, professor of law, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law
  • Tamara Rice Lave, associate professor, University of Miami School of Law
  • Corey Rayburn Yung, professor of law, KU School of Law
  • Chrissy Heikkila, executive director, Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center, Lawrence
  • Aya Gruber, professor of law, University of Colorado Law School
  • Chrysanthi S. Leon, associate professor of sociology and criminal justice, women and gender studies, and legal studies, University of Delaware

Scholarship associated with the symposium will be published in a spring 2016 issue of the Kansas Law Review. Questions? Contact Symposium Editor Abby Hall at

Citizens have right to improve technologies without fear of legal action, professor says

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

LAWRENCE — The time has come for a philosophical change in the way the American legal system, government and private business view innovations created by private citizens, a University of Kansas professor argues in a new law review article. “Citizen innovators” have the legal right to develop new and better technologies without fear of interference from overregulation and excessive intellectual property. The “right to innovate” flows from the U.S. Constitution, the common law, federal laws called “organic statutes” and presidential executive orders.

Andrew Torrance, Earl B. Shurtz Research Professor at KU School of Law and visiting scientist at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and his colleague, Eric von Hippel, T. Wilson Professor of Management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, have co-authored “The Right to Innovate,” a Michigan State Law Review article that offers three approaches to protecting “citizen innovators” and their right to engage in noncommercial innovation to satisfy their own needs and to share their innovations freely for the betterment of society.

Technology has greatly leveled the playing field of innovation. Whereas private companies and government were formerly believed to create almost all new products and technologies, von Hippel’s pioneering economic research on “user innovation” has revealed that private citizens can, and do, also produce new medicines, medical devices, software, automotive improvements, educational methods and myriad other useful inventions in their own homes. As long as they are not endangering anyone or profiting from their work, their innovative activities are largely beyond the jurisdiction of regulatory agencies and intellectual property owners, the authors argue.

“Citizens have a robust legal right to innovate in all sorts of ways. From medical devices to drones, to better ways to irrigate fields, the sky is the limit,” Torrance said. “The pressure they face from government is unwelcome, chilling and often illegitimate. The right to innovate benefits all of society and is one of the rights of citizenship.”

The authors use the metaphor of “innovation wetlands” in their work. Historically in the United States, wetlands were viewed as barriers, wastefully unusable lands or even health hazards. They were denigrated at “malarial swamps” and feared as breeding grounds for diseases. The only good swamp was a drained or filled-in swamp. However, biological science eventually discovered they, in fact, provide numerous vital ecological amenities, such as cleaning water, providing refuge for migrating birds, acting as nurseries for young fish and buffering against floods. These discoveries in time led to the Clean Water Act of 1972 that protects wetlands.

Whereas private citizens who develop their own products and improve existing products, were long thought to pose nuisances or cause harm to businesses and government, a vast body of empirical evidence now shows that citizen innovation is, in fact, greatly beneficial to society, Torrance says. Some studies suggest that most useful innovation originates from noncommercial citizen innovation rather than corporate and governmental research and development efforts.

Torrance shares the example of NightScout, a group of software engineers who successfully hacked a Food and Drug Administration-approved medical device designed to make careful measurements of blood sugar in individuals with Type-1 diabetes. NightScout then was able to improve the device by allowing its output to be viewed on any smartphone via a custom-written app. Using this app, loved ones could monitor the blood-glucose levels of their children, spouses or friends. In fact, NightScout is named after the need to monitor blood-glucose levels of Type-1 diabetics while they sleep – a dangerous time for these people due to the constant threat of falling into a diabetic coma, or dying, while asleep. Though the technology was made available to anyone for free, the FDA initially tried to stop such innovation, which they see as potentially dangerous. In the end, the FDA seemed to conclude that they lack jurisdiction to stop such innovation.

“Even the FDA realizes there is not much you can do to stop citizen innovation. If you think about it from an ethical perspective, regulatory agencies should generally celebrate, not try to stop, such improvements,” Torrance said. “As a default position, government agencies often assume they have the legal right to stop citizen innovation. A proper reading of the law, including both constitutional and venerable common law principles concerning commerce, liberty, autonomy, privacy, free association and free speech, shows this socially harmful attitude to be legally unjustified. The right of citizens to innovation to satisfy their own needs, and then freely share their innovations with others, is quite strong.”

Private companies do need governmental permission when developing new technologies because they intend to profit from them. If money crosses state lines in association with such innovation, regulatory agencies do have jurisdiction over such activities. Noncommercial citizen innovation, however, is largely free of such oversight.

Citizen innovators often abandon inventing when faced with governmental scrutiny or legal action because they are either unaware of their rights or lack the resources to hire attorneys to defend them. This sort of overregulation and overlitigation stifles innovation and harms society, the authors argue. To combat this chilling effect, the authors include a “toolkit” for innovators to help them understand their rights.

The toolkit outlines the right to liberty; privacy; First Amendment rights to free speech, press and association; the Fourth Amendment, and rights reserved to the people, among other legal principles protective of citizen innovation. Innovators often are not aware of their rights, such as a right to privacy, which discourages governments and others from prying into activities carried out in citizens’ own homes. Knowledge of those rights is vital as there are millions of citizen innovators, and their activities vastly outweigh those of all private and governmental research and developmental employees combined, Torrance said.

The authors also outline common law rights that protect innovation among private citizens, discuss ways in which governments should account for the benefits of citizen innovation and the costs of overregulating it, in their own cost-benefit analyses, and the benefit of designing regulations that citizen innovators can comply with at very low costs.

Technology has rapidly evolved, drastically changing the paradigm of innovation.  As von Hippel has written, this has “democratized” innovation. Whereas only government or academics were able to access computers and sophisticated technical equipment in the past, people can now program software on their smartphones, scan and replicate physical objects at home, and even engage in biotechnological research and development once impossible outside expensive laboratories. Torrance and von Hippel argue it is time for the law to evolve and recognize that a “democratization of innovation” is not only legal, but it is beneficial as well.

“The fact that innovation is coming from new sources is wonderful for society,” Torrance said. “But the legal system is better at crushing citizen innovation than fostering and protecting it. What Eric and I are concerned about is that, if you don’t recognize this vital source of innovation, and protect it from overregulation and overzealous application of intellectual property, you risk destroying it just as we used to destroy wetlands. In both cases, we need to celebrate these valuable amenities and enlist the law to ensure they survive and thrive.”

Two top-20 rankings for KU Law emphasize affordability, value

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law is the No. 18 Best Value Law School in the country and one of the top 20 law schools nationwide for students graduating with the least debt, according to National Jurist magazine and U.S. News & World Report. KU finished first in both rankings among law schools in Kansas and the Kansas City area.

The Best Value ranking highlights affordable law schools whose graduates perform exceptionally well on the bar exam and have had success finding legal jobs. National Jurist ranked the top 20 schools and assigned a letter grade to the other 45 honorees.

“We are pleased that we continue to excel in this ranking because we pride ourselves on delivering an affordable legal education that prepares our graduates for successful careers,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school. “At KU Law, value isn’t just about reasonable tuition. Our graduates pass the bar exam at a rate that consistently exceeds the state average, and they secure quality employment at a rate that stacks up against the top quarter of law schools in the country.”

And law students reach those achievements while avoiding excessive student loans. U.S. News ranked KU Law 20th in the nation among law schools whose graduates finish school with the least debt.

“It’s a relief to know that I’ll have choices when I graduate that aren’t defined by financial burdens,” said Julia Leth-Perez, a third-year KU Law student. “I’m getting a great education at KU, and I know I’m prepared for my career in law.”

National Jurist gives employment success the greatest weight in the Best Value rankings. The magazine also looks at a number of other academic and financial variables, including price of tuition, student debt accumulation, bar passage rate and cost of living.

KU Law graduates in the Class of 2015 passed the bar examination in Kansas and Missouri at rates that far exceeded state averages. They also ranked first among all Kansas and Missouri law schools for performance on the Missouri exam. KU law tuition for the 2014-15 academic year for a first-year Kansas resident was $19,985. More than 75 percent of the incoming class receives scholarships.

See the complete list of honorees and learn more about ranking methodology

Law professor will argue death penalty, bank discrimination cases before Supreme Court

Monday, October 05, 2015

LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas law professor will argue before the U.S. Supreme Court twice this week in a pair of cases: one involving the Eighth Amendment and capital punishment, and the other alleged discrimination in banking.

Stephen McAllister, the E.S. & Tom W. Hampton Distinguished Professor of Law, will appear before the court today, Oct. 5, in the case Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore. On Wednesday, Oct. 7, he will appear on behalf of the state of Kansas in Kansas v. Jonathan Carr and Kansas v. Reginald Carr Jr. These arguments will be McAllister’s eighth and ninth appearances before the high court, respectively.

The Carr case is centered on brothers Jonathan and Reginald Carr, who were convicted of capital murder for brutal quadruple murders they committed in Wichita in December 2000. They were sentenced to death, but the Kansas Supreme Court overturned their sentences in 2014, holding both that the jury instructions in the Carrs’ sentencing were inadequate and they should not have been tried jointly in the same proceeding.

“They are arguing the jury instructions were erroneous because they may have misled the jury into believing it could not consider some evidence in favor of imposing a sentence less than death,” McAllister said of representatives of the Carrs. Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt will argue for Kansas on what the Supreme Court has labeled the “mitigation instruction” issue.

The second issue in the cases is whether it was constitutional error to determine the Carr brothers’ sentences in a single proceeding, rather than severing those proceedings so that each brother had his own sentencing proceeding. McAllister will be arguing for Kansas on this question, which the Supreme Court has labeled the “severance question.” He argues that the joint proceeding was consistent with the Eighth Amendment, is part of a longstanding tradition in the United States of joint trials and that jury instructions properly informed the jury to determine each brother’s ultimate sentence on an individual basis.

McAllister, who is also Kansas Solicitor General, will have 20 minutes to make his argument in the Carr cases, and Kansas is supported in its argument by the United States, which frequently conducts joint capital proceedings under federal law.

Two days prior to his appearance regarding capital punishment, McAllister will argue on behalf of the bank at the center of Hawkins v. Community Bank of Raymore. The case is a test of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, designed to prevent discrimination in lending against women based on gender, marital status and other factors. The plaintiffs in the case originally sued because they claimed female spouses were required to sign guaranties for loans to their husbands’ business. The federal statute, however, allows only the “applicant” for  credit to bring a claim against the bank, and lower courts held that the spousal guarantors are not applicants and thus could not bring a claim, although the business itself that received the loan could do so. McAllister is arguing for the bank and defending the holding of the lower courts. Allowing extra parties, who did not receive the credit, to bring suit would “open Pandora’s box” in terms of banking litigation.

“Bottom line, the statute makes clear that it is only the person who applies for the credit and is denied, or who receives credit on discriminatory terms, who has the claim and should be able to bring suit,” McAllister said.

McAllister said that while two appearances before the court in three days may be unusual, it will provide both unique professional experience and invaluable teaching material he can bring to his classes. Both cases involve issues he teaches and writes about, including federal constitutional law.

The cases are both scheduled for argument the first week of the Supreme Court’s term, and decisions may be issued anywhere from a few months to several months after the arguments, although certainly by the end of June 2016.

Editor’s note: McAllister is in Washington, D.C., this week arguing cases before the Supreme Court and not available for interviews. Elizabeth Cateforis, clinical associate professor of law and supervising attorney in the Paul E. Wilson Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies in the KU School of Law, is available to speak with media about capital punishment, the Carr brothers and Gleason cases and Kansas death penalty statutes. To schedule an interview with McAllister upon his return or with Cateforis, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or

Trans Pacific Partnership 'largest free trade agreement in human history,' professor says

Monday, October 05, 2015

LAWRENCE — Trade negotiators from 12 Pacific Rim countries finalized agreements on the Trans Pacific Partnership in Atlanta over the weekend. The controversial free trade proposal is intended to expand trade and establish trade rules among the nations that China would eventually have to follow.

Raj Bhala, associate dean for international & comparative law and Rice Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas School of Law, is available to speak with media about the TPP, its ratification, what it will likely mean for the 12 countries, the process of negotiations, issues of contention in the partnership and related topics. An international trade law expert, Bhala has closely followed the TPP negotiations and can comment on issues that drove the heated negotiations, including importation of auto parts in the United States, dairy imports in Canada and others.

Bhala said the agreement is a landmark that will have ramifications throughout the world and across the spectrum of business and law.

“This is the largest free trade agreement in human history. It’s the most important event in international trade since the birth of the World Trade Organization in 1995,” Bhala said. “It has enormous economic, political and national security consequences. No matter what one’s specialty area in business or in law, the TPP will affect that specialty. It’s one of the instances where the word ‘game changer’ is not overused. It’s actually quite surprising that so little attention has been paid to it in the United States.”

Bhala has a global reputation in the scholarship of international trade law and Islamic law. He is the author of the book “Understanding Islamic Law (Shari’a),” published by LexisNexis. He has also written an acclaimed two-volume treatise, “Modern GATT Law” and recently published the fourth edition of International Trade Law: An Interdisciplinary, Non-Western Textbook, which includes coverage of the TPP. Bhala practiced international banking law at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York before entering academia, and he currently serves as a legal consultant to Cheniere Energy and other prominent organizations and firms. He has worked in 25 countries, including TPP nations such as Canada, Mexico, Australia, Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam and New Zealand.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at 785-864-8860 or

University of Kansas law graduates outperform peers on bar exam

Friday, October 02, 2015

LAWRENCE – University of Kansas School of Law graduates in the Class of 2015 passed the bar examination in Kansas and Missouri at rates that far exceeded state averages. They also ranked first among all Kansas and Missouri law schools for performance on the Missouri exam.

KU graduates taking the Kansas bar exam for the first time in July 2015 achieved a 91.6 percent pass rate, surpassing by a staggering 10.6 percent the state pass rate of 81 percent.

Alumni performed even better in the state of Missouri, where 94.7 percent of KU test-takers passed the bar on their first attempt. That showing outpaces by 8 percent the state average of 86.7 percent. With this outcome, KU ranked No. 1 among all law schools in Kansas and Missouri whose graduates sat for the July 2015 bar exam in high numbers, including the University of Missouri, the University of Missouri-Kansas City, St. Louis University, Washington University in St. Louis and Washburn University.

“We are thrilled by the extraordinary success of our hard-working 2015 graduates,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school. “Our students have consistently exceeded the state average when it comes to passing the bar exam – the essential first step for any graduate seeking to practice law.”

Twenty-two out of 24 first-time test-takers passed the Kansas bar, while 71 out of 75 passed the Missouri bar. While in most years the majority of KU students sit for the bar exam in Kansas, the 2015 class opted for the Missouri exam at a higher rate. This anomaly was driven by Kansas’ pending adoption of the Uniform Bar Exam, which will allow graduates who took the bar in Missouri to become licensed in Kansas by transferring their scores.

The bar examination is a test intended to determine whether candidates are qualified to practice law in a given jurisdiction. The bar exam is administered twice a year, in February and July. Most students graduate in May and take the summer exam.

The Kansas Board of Law Examiners does not provide details about the performance of other law schools.


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