Law school alumna named KU Woman of Distinction

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Women of Distinction Calendar 2015-2016LAWRENCE — Twenty-five women with ties to the University of Kansas are featured in the 2015-2016 Women of Distinction calendar. The Emily Taylor Resource Center for Women & Gender Equity, which produces the poster-sized calendar, will host a reception to honor the women and their achievements Monday, Aug. 31.

The women represent KU students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumnae who have distinguished achievements in their efforts at the university or in their community.

“It is so important to recognize and celebrate women's contributions to our campus and the world beyond,” said Kathy Rose-Mockry, director of the Emily Taylor center. “This year, we honor accomplished women who excel in their disciplines while serving as role models and mentors to inspire others to break barriers and reach for the stars.” 

Nine current students, seven alumnae and nine faculty and staff are featured on the calendar. Five areas of service and distinction also receive special attention through the calendar: Disability advocates, Hawks for health, women in flight, mentors making a difference and sisters in service.

A reception to acknowledge this year’s featured women and their contributions will be from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 31, in the ballroom of the Kansas Union. The public is welcome to attend.

The Women of Distinction calendars are free, although donations are accepted. They are available at several locations, including the KU Bookstore, Jayhawk Ink and the Emily Taylor Center, 4024 Wescoe Hall.   

Individuals featured on the 2015-2016 Women of Distinction Calendar and selected achievements and honors:

Emily Beck 
Doctoral candidate, bioengineering. Hometown: Manhattan, Kansas
National Science Foundation graduate research fellowship (2011)
National Science Foundation GK-12 Fellowship (2011)
Capitol Graduate Research Summit Kansas Bioscience Award (2014)

Prajnaparamita “Prajna” Dhar, Ph.D. Assistant professor, chemical and petroleum engineering
Research featured on the NIH Directors Blog and on the cover of Soft Matter, a Royal Society of Chemistry publication
School of Engineering Miller Scholar Award recipient
Selected for the doctoral dissertation award

Tammara Durham, Ed. D. Vice provost for student affairs and interim vice provost of undergraduate studies
Leadership in in enhancing campus response to student needs 
Work with student leaders, and in particular, Student Senate
Selected to serve as a mentor for the Hesselbein Global Academy, a leadership training program

Amy Long, M.A. Associate director, Student Involvement and Leadership Center
Outstanding Woman Staff Member, KU (2014)
Big Sister through Big Brothers Big Sisters of Douglas County for six years
Helped in the creation the KUnity, a social justice-focused emerging leaders retreat for greek members

Miranda Wagner B.A., economics, KU (2015). Hometown: Shawnee
Student body vice president (2014-15)
Alternative Breaks finance coordinator (2013-14)
Spring Breaks co-coordinator (2012-13)

Paige Whiteside
Senior, biology. Hometown: Jefferson City, Tennessee
Big XII Council on Black Student Government, vice chair (2014-15)
Mordean Taylor Archer Most Outstanding Council Member of the Year Award (2015)
EMMPWR (Exposing Multicultural Males to Personal Wellness Resources) research project assistant (January 2015-present)

Elizabeth Weis
Senior, marketing and supply chain management; Business School Honors Program. Hometown: Leawood
Head teaching assistant for statistics (DSCI 202), School of Business
Dean Neeli Bendapudi Scholarship recipient (2015)
KU representative at the Kansas Hunger Dialogue

Disability Advocates

Martha Hodgesmith, J.D.
Associate director, Research and Training Center on Independent Living, KU Life Span Institute
B.A., anthropology, sociology and women’s studies (1974); J.D. (1978)
Kansas Women Attorneys Association - Jennie Mitchell Kellogg Achievement Award (2005)
Women Attorneys Association of Topeka – Chief Justice Kay McFarland Award (2012)
Kansas Bar Association – Distinguished Government Service Award

Ranita Wilks, CESP
Peer counseling specialist and Youth Employment Program coordinator, Independence Inc.
B.S., Journalism, KU (1998).
Mentoring Matters Award-Kansas Youth Empowerment Academy (2014)
Michael Lechner Advocacy Award-Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns (2013)
Appointed to the Kansas Commission on Disability Concerns and State Rehab Council of Kansas

Jean Ann Summers, Ph.D.
Research professor, Life Span Institute; research director, Research & Training Center on Independent Living; director of research, Family Research Unit of the Beach Center
Ph.D., special education, KU (1987); B.G.S., applied behavioral science, KU
Has taken leadership role in generating more than $20 million in grants to develop support for people with disabilities and their families as well as enhance training to professionals during her 40-year tenure at KU 
Has volunteered to help develop funding for various family support organizations, including those serving diverse and low-income communities
Has nearly 100 publications in peer-reviewed journals, books and book chapters on families and disability, young children, fatherhood, self-determination and other research areas

Katerina Birge (not pictured)
Graduate student, public administration, University of Colorado. Hometown: Denver.
B.S., Latin American studies, KU (2011)
Co-founder/president of KU Ablehawks
Co-founder of Project Hope
Columnist, Creaky Joints, A Paso Lento

Hawks for Health

Leigh Loving
Graduate student, public health, Columbia University. Hometown: McPherson
B.S., biology with an emphasis in genetics, KU (2015)
Jayhawk Health Initiative, founder
Rhodes Scholar finalist (2015), Truman Scholar finalist (2014)
Kathleen McCluskey-Fawcett Outstanding Contribution Award (2014), Outstanding Woman Student in Leadership (2014)

Rajvi Shah
B.S., neurobiology, minor in psychology, pre-medicine concentration. Hometown: Stilwell
Honors Program Student Council, co-president
Student Health Advisory Board (Student Senate) voting board member
IBM Thomas J. Watson Memorial Fund Scholar

Women in Flight

Emily Arnold, Ph.D.
Assistant professor of aerospace engineering
NASA Earth and Space fellow (2012, 2013)
Amelia Earhart Fellow (2010, 2011)
NASA Group Achievement Award (2011)

Brooke Reid
Junior, aerospace engineering. Hometown: Cota de Caza, California
Self Engineering Leadership Fellow
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, KU Branch, president (2014-15)
Vincent Muirhead Award for Leadership (April 2015)

Lauren Schumacher
Doctoral student, aerospace engineering. Hometown: Rolla, Missouri
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Kansas representative for National Congressional Visit Day (2013)
KU University Scholars Program (Class of 2014)
Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) KU: vice president for undergraduates (2013-15)

Mentors Making a Difference

Grecia Rucoba
Senior, accounting; Business School Honors Program. Hometown: Anthony
Multicultural Business Scholars Program
Megan E. Taylor Memorial Scholarship recipient (fall 2014)

Dale Urie, Ph.D.
Senior lecturer, Humanities and Western Civilization Program
Fulbright German Studies Seminar, Berlin (summer 2011)
Outstanding Woman Educator, KU (2010)
Excellence in Teaching Award, KU Center for Teaching Excellence (2007)

Lisa Browning
Enrollment and student services coordinator, KU Edwards Campus
Helped to build student and enrollment services for the KU Edwards Campus, collaborating with KU Lawrence
Advocate for all Edwards Campus students, especially international students and veterans
Developed the MetroKC program, which serves more than 250 students in Greater Kansas City

Cindy Lynn
Education coordinator, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Office of Graduate Affairs
Graduate student, African and African-American Studies
Ethel Bohning Single Mother of the Year Award, KU (2007)
Boy Scouts of America National Outstanding Cubmaster (2015)
KU Advocacy Corps, vice president

Ashley Kruger, M.S.E.
Career adviser, KU Business Career Services Center
Spearheaded a successful overhaul for the School of Business Mentorship Program
Overhauled web presence of BCSC services and resources (spring 2015)
Initiated an event to address the unique career needs of LGBTQ+ students (April 2015)

Sisters in Service

Shelby Webb
Graduate student, public health, emphasis in epidemiology, KU Medical Center. Hometown: Ottawa
B.S., biology with a concentration in genetics, KU (2015)
Alternative Breaks, co-director (2014-15)
Board of Class Officers, Campanile Award Winner (2015)
College of Liberal Arts & Sciences student senator (2013-15) 

Ally Briggs
B.S., biochemistry, minor in leadership studies, KU (2015). Hometown: Ottawa
Alternative Breaks, co-director (2014-15)
Kansas Women’s Leadership Institute graduate (2014)
Phi Delta Epsilon pre-medical fraternity, community service chair

Laura Lyndall Fagen
B.S., theatre and journalism - strategic communications, KU (2015). Hometown: Wichita
She’s The First* {KU}, founder and president
Her Campus KU, president
Center for Community Outreach, communications director

Erin Calhoun
Senior, behavioral neuroscience. Hometown: Naperville, Illinois
Chrysikou Cognitive Neuroscience Lab research assistant
Northwestern Memorial Health Care pre-medical intern (2014)
Center for Community Outreach managing director (2014-2015); development director (2013-2014).

New edition of international trade law textbook addresses rapidly expanding issues

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

LAWRENCE — On the surface, international trade law may seem like a specialized topic that affects only a niche subsection of the population. But as international headlines surrounding trade sanctions against Iran and negotiation of the Trans Pacific Partnership and alleged currency manipulation by China demonstrate, the field has grown exponentially and is felt in daily life around the world. To that end, Raj Bhala, one of the world’s foremost experts in international trade law, has authored the fourth edition of International Trade Law: An Interdisciplinary, Non-Western Textbook.

The seminal work, originally published in 1996, has grown as the field has evolved in the last 20 years. Originally a single, 800-page volume, the text is for the first time a two-volume, 100-chapter, nearly 3,000-page comprehensive analysis of international trade law. It became available Aug. 18, in time for the 2015-16 academic year.

The book is a “textbook” in the classic sense. Rather than rely on excerpts of readings, as do “casebooks,” Bhala researched and wrote almost the entirety of both volumes. The work is a synthesis of the enduring, the contemporary and the avant-garde. It embodies time-honored precepts, highlights their modern-day relevance and anticipates the world trading system over the next 50 years, when his students will practice law.

“Since 1996, which was just after NAFTA and the World Trade Organization were born, the field of international trade law has greatly broadened and deepened. The broadening has come in that the field is now viewed at two levels, both theoretical and practical. The deepening is largely because of the proliferation of items put on the international trade agenda,” said Bhala, associate dean for international and comparative law and Rice Distinguished Professor at the University of Kansas School of Law.

The textbook is separated into two parts, fundamental obligations and remedies and preferences. The volumes can be used as part of a two-semester, yearlong course or either could be used individually as a single-semester class. Part one examines moral, economic, historical, institutional, adjudicatory and legal foundations of free trade as well as customs law and trade rules about three critical sectors: agriculture, services and intellectual property. Part two explores remedies against “unfair” trade, unilateral trade remedies, national security, free trade agreements, trade and labor, trade and environment, and preferences for poor countries.

One of the first textbooks on the topic, International Trade Law and its ensuing editions are in use in more than 100 law schools across the United States and the world and have been translated into several languages, including Vietnamese. Nineteen top international trade scholars and experts from the United States, Australia, China, India, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom have endorsed the fourth edition.

“In my experience, few books set a first-rate standard for students and teachers alike. This textbook does. Its interdisciplinary, non-Western orientation, coupled with its coverage of time-honored precepts and contemporary issues, is a novel and timely synthesis,” said Jagdish N. Bhagwati, University Professor of Economics, Law, and International Affairs at Columbia University.

As implied by the book’s title, international trade law is a discipline requiring knowledge of the laws, customs and cultures of nations around the world. Bhala said the text, published by LexisNexis, is called a non-Western book because it is intended to help prepare students to work in a changed global society.

“In choosing cases and illustrations, the book is tenacious in using non-Western examples,” Bhala said. “It’s not a Euro-centric or Washington insider-centric book. The reason is the non-Western world is the one in which our students will be practicing. They will work in a world in which India is the largest free-market democracy and most religiously diverse country, in which China’s rise is undeniable but its future uncertain, and in which European economies aren’t dominant, as Greece’s recent troubles demonstrate. It’s imperative to prepare students for that future, even if they plan to work completely domestically. What happens ‘over there’ already affects them ‘right here’ and besides, there is plenty of empirical evidence that people change jobs and careers multiple times.”

Bhala gives credit to students for the book’s success as well. Research assistants who have worked on the book’s four editions are credited. Those students have gone on to practice law across the world, in centers like Bangkok, Brussels, Dubai, Hong Kong, Mexico City, New York, Tokyo, Chicago, Houston and Washington, D.C. Some have also earned highly prestigious clerkships on the United States Court of International Trade in New York and Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C.

“In working to convey the breadth and depth of a field as complex as international trade law, I have been extremely fortunate to work with fantastic research assistants here at KU Law,” Bhala said. “I love producing something for students to learn from, that earns them a reputation for being trained at a world-class level. I absolutely could not do it without them, and to see them flourish after our time together is an abiding joy.”

KU's Project for Innocence wins murder conviction reversal in federal court

Monday, July 20, 2015

LAWRENCE – A learning experience for one University of Kansas law student turned into a second chance last week for a woman serving life in prison in connection with a high-profile Topeka murder.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 15 ruled that Kimberly Sharp was unconstitutionally convicted in the 2006 slaying of a Topeka homeless advocate. The court handed down the decision based on an appeal by KU’s Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies.

“We determine Ms. Sharp’s confessional statements following the promise of no jail time were involuntary, the state trial court erred by admitting them at trial in violation of Ms. Sharp’s Fifth and Fourteenth amendment rights, and the error was harmful,” judges wrote in a 3-0 decision.

Abby West, a 2015 KU Law graduate from Shawnee, authored the brief in the Sharp case while enrolled in Project for Innocence last summer. She spent hours poring over trial documents and prior decisions, including an unsuccessful appeal to the Kansas District Court. Project Director Jean Phillips supervised West’s research and writing.

“It was overwhelming at the beginning because I had never done any criminal defense work before,” West said. “At the same time, it was really interesting to familiarize myself with the case. I never got to meet Kim, but I read so much about what happened to her.”

In challenging the constitutionality of Sharp’s conviction, West set out to prove that her client’s rights to due process and equal protection under the law were violated when the trial court admitted statements Sharp made to police that were not freely and voluntarily given.

Sharp made those statements to police during the course of their investigation into the murder of David Owen, a self-professed homeless advocate known for ransacking homeless camps. In June 2006, he confronted Sharp and her three male co-defendants at a Topeka homeless camp.

After a brief altercation, two of the men dragged Owen into the woods and tied him to a tree, where he was later found dead. During an interview and re-enactment with police, Sharp made statements that implied she was a minor participant in the events and was subsequently charged in state court with first-degree felony murder and kidnapping.

Sharp moved to suppress her confessional statements, arguing they were involuntary because the police promised she wouldn’t go to jail and to help find shelter for her and her two young children. That effort failed in Shawnee County District Court, and a jury found Sharp guilty on both counts. The Kansas Supreme Court affirmed, and the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas denied Sharp’s petition for habeas relief.

After reviewing the interrogation videos, however, the 10th Circuit agreed that Sharp cooperated with the interviewing officer because he promised no jail time and that any statements she made after that promise should not have been admissible in court. The state now has the option to retry Sharp.

Federal habeas corpus cases are nearly impossible to win, said Phillips, a clinical professor of law at KU who presented oral arguments in Sharp’s case before the 10th Circuit. West deserves high praise for the latest victory, Phillips said.

“Our goal in the project is for students to take ownership of their cases. We don’t want them to be glorified paralegals,” Phillips said. “I’m the safety net to make sure that nothing gets missed and everything gets argued. But Abby took ownership. She did a great job with that brief.”

West, who is studying for the bar exam and finalizing her job plans, was excited to learn about the court’s favorable decision. Working on Sharp’s case and others in the Project for Innocence proved to be the best experience she had in law school.

“It was the one chance I had to work for a client who really needed my help. There are people out there who don’t have access to the justice system,” West said. “It showed me how important it is – even if you do corporate law – to try and do pro bono work or donate to people who do. As a law student, I see it as a privilege to be able to get this education. I think we have a duty to the public to give back.”

Photo: Recent KU Law graduate Abby West, left, discusses with clinical professor Jean Phillips last week’s favorable federal appeals court decision in a case that West handled as a student in KU’s Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies.

Researchers: Indigenous knowledge can be key to fighting climate change

Tuesday, June 23, 2015



LAWRENCE — While indigenous communities have developed knowledge over centuries to manage their lands and adapt to challenges such as rising sea levels or wildfires, they are still deeply affected by climate change. Two University of Kansas professors have authored research exploring cases of indigenous communities that have had success in applying traditional knowledge to fighting climate change and how American and international law falls short in preventing exploitation of those tribes and methods.

Joseph Brewer II, assistant professor in environmental studies, and Elizabeth Kronk Warner, professor and director of the Tribal Law and Government Center at the School of Law, have published a working paper, “Guarding Against Exploitation: Protecting Indigenous Knowledge in the Age of Climate Change.” The study shares examples of tribes that have developed knowledge in how to ameliorate drastic effects of climate change on their native lands as well as indigenous communities that have developed their own laws on ways which their traditional knowledge can be used outside of their communities. 

“The inspiration for this article was everyone would talk aspirationally about how we should be using traditional knowledge to help fight climate change, but none of us knew exactly how to do that,” Kronk Warner said. “Unfortunately, we came to the conclusion there really isn’t a good legal remedy in the existing categories of intellectual property law to protect traditional knowledge.”

The authors explore several examples of traditional knowledge: One prime example is the Alaskan village Huslia, an interior community of roughly 300 residents, mostly Native Alaskan or Koyukon Athabascan, located in the boreal forest climate system. Like much of Alaska, the area has seen drastic temperature changes in the last 15 years and intense fires in the summer. Residents have long known ways to manage types of trees in the area to build buffers around the community and suppress fire by planting and culling undergrowth at certain times. That knowledge, like flood prediction methods of other Alaskan communities, could help countless people, yet the potential for someone to commercialize the knowledge without sharing the benefits is very real.

“Alaska is the face of climate change,” Brewer said. “Many communities don’t want to see their traditional knowledge commercialized or used in a way that can damage the tribes. There are examples of tribes that will share knowledge, but it’s paramount to honor tribal protocols first and foremost in the relationship-building process on the road to sharing knowledge.”

American intellectual property law is not effective in protecting indigenous knowledge because it tends to favor a small group of innovators or one person who developed an idea in a definable time period.

Brewer, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and Kronk Warner, a citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, argue perhaps the most effective way for native communities to both protect and share indigenous knowledge is to develop their own tribal laws governing the use of traditional knowledge as it applies to climate change. The benefits would include tribes' ability to practice sovereignty, decide how traditional knowledge can be used and ensure the community benefits from its use while helping others fight and adapt to climate change. There are challenges to enacting such laws and codes, including communities often not knowing such a method is an option, lack of funding and other community problems taking priority.

Without tribal environmental laws in place, tribes are left to primarily rely on academic Institutional Review Boards to protect their interests. This is because academic researchers are often the ones who interact with indigenous communities most extensively. Researchers are often governed by Institutional Review Boards of their own universities, which can provide an ethical framework on how researchers and communities can work together, but fall short of legally preventing exploitation of traditional knowledge.

There are, however, several examples of communities that have had success. The authors point out three tribes: The Colorado River Indian Tribes, Ho-Chunk Nation and Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate have enacted laws to protect traditional knowledge while allowing for partnerships with academic researchers and sharing of valuable ideas. 

“In my view, this can be a way to show policy makers that indigenous knowledge has value,” Kronk Warner said. “We have been practicing adaptation for a long time. Indigenous communities have a strong history of resiliency.”

Photo: 2005 King County Creek fire, Alaska, courtesy WikiCommons. Public domain.

KU’s 2014 law grads achieve best employment outcomes since 2007

Monday, June 01, 2015
LAWRENCE — University of Kansas School of Law graduates in the Class of 2014 continued the school’s upward trend in employment success, securing jobs at a rate not achieved since before the Great Recession, according to data released this spring by the American Bar Association.

By mid-March of this year, 92 percent of the 2014 class had secured positions, representing a 6 percent rise in overall employment from the previous year and a 12 percent increase since 2011. This achievement places KU Law inside the top 20 percent of schools nationally for overall employment.

Moreover, the quality of jobs obtained by graduates also continues to improve. Many regard full-time, long-term jobs that either require bar passage or where having a law degree is an advantage as the highest quality positions for new graduates. The percentage of KU law students landing these “best jobs” rose to 80 percent, a 3 percent improvement from the previous year and part of an 18 percent rise since 2011. With these results, KU Law has the highest percentage of students in “best jobs” among law schools in Kansas and Kansas City, and ranks among the top 26 percent of law schools nationally in this category.

“KU Law graduates are in high demand by a broad array of employers. Our rise in ‘best jobs’ includes traditional positions with top firms and agencies, highly coveted judicial clerkships and prestigious ‘nontraditional’ careers, such as joining consultancies like KPMG that advise international companies,” said Arturo Thompson, assistant dean of career services. “When you combine the affordability of a KU Law degree with the ability to pursue careers across disciplines and around the globe, we see a bright future for this class and those who follow.”

National Jurist Magazine ranked KU Law the 18th “best value” law school in the country, based on high bar passage rates, strong employment numbers and affordability. The law school also ranks 27th in the nation for lowest debt at graduation, up two spots from last year, according to U.S. News & World Report.

“Without the burden of excessive student loan debt, KU Law graduates are free to choose jobs that best fit their interests,” said Stephen Mazza, dean and professor of law. “To help maximize those opportunities for students, we have reduced our class size by 30 percent, amped up direct faculty and alumni involvement in job searches, and increased career-building resources through initiatives like our Traveling ‘On-Campus’ Interview program.”

Over the past five years, KU Law students and graduates have accepted summer and/or permanent employment with law firms, businesses, government agencies, public interest organizations and judges across the country, including one recipient of a prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship. A considerable number of graduates accept judicial clerkships, including seven from the Class of 2014. Recent graduates have been law clerks at all levels of federal and state courts.

Employment data for KU and all ABA-approved law schools can be viewed on the ABA website and analyzed at Law Jobs: By the Numbers. Find an infographic with complete Class of 2014 employment data on the KU Law website.

Pictured: Cassandra Dickerson, left, and Christopher Shelton, both 2014 graduates of the KU School of Law, speak with employers during Legal Career Options Day in 2011. Dickerson is now director of student-athlete development at KU Athletics, and Shelton is an attorney at the Law Offices of Roderick H. Polston PC in Oklahoma.

Law school honors top graduates for scholarship, leadership and service

Friday, May 22, 2015

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas School of Law honored Class of 2015 graduates at a hooding ceremony May 16. During the ceremony, nine students received awards for distinguishing themselves in scholarship, leadership and service to the law school and the community.

The recipients:

  • Zak Beasley, Kansas City, Kansas, Class of 1949 Leadership Award
  • Paige Blevins, Great Bend, Robert F. Bennett Award
  • Jordan Carter, Topeka, Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award
  • Tamara Combs, Salvador, Brazil, Janean Meigs Memorial Award
  • Jason Harmon, Orem, Utah, Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award
  • Jacob McMillian, Kansas City, Kansas, Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award
  • Paul Mose, Emporia, Janean Meigs Memorial Award
  • Hillary Nicholas, Atchison, Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement
  • Abby West, Overland Park, Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement

Banner carrier Genevieve Hursh, Shawnee, was also recognized during the ceremony. The banner carrier is a student who has excelled academically and who carries the highest grade-point average by the end of the fall semester in the third year of law study.

The award winners were part of a class composed of 136 recipients of the Juris Doctor, four Doctor of Juridical Science graduates and two Master of Laws in Elder Law graduates.

Funds for the awards are managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

Student award recipients are listed below by hometown.

Hillary Nicholas, L'15

Hillary Nicholas received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement, which goes to the graduating student(s) selected by the faculty as having made the most significant contribution toward overall legal scholarship. Nicholas served as editor-in-chief of the Kansas Law Review during her third year of law school. Even with all of the responsibilities accompanying this leadership role, she maintained an outstanding class rank. She represented state and federal prisoners in appellate and post-conviction litigation through the Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies. She also served as treasurer of the Public Interest Law Society and, in her first year, was a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board. As a Rice Scholar, Nicholas attended KU Law on a full-tuition scholarship. She is the daughter of Cathy Coronado and George Nicholas and a graduate of Atchison High School and New York University.

Paige Blevins, L'15

From Great Bend
Paige Blevins received the Robert F. Bennett Award, recognizing a graduate whose undergraduate degree is from a Kansas university or college and who has demonstrated leadership qualities through public service. As symposium editor for the Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy, Blevins planned and executed a highly successful symposium on access to justice, which featured, among other expert speakers, a judge from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit. She mentored incoming students as a Dean’s Fellow for two years, including as head Dean’s Fellow during her third year of law school. Blevins served as events coordinator for the Public Interest Law Society, planning the primary fundraiser to offer stipends to law students working in non-paying, public interest jobs. She also assisted low-income patients in need of legal assistance through the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic. Her paper highlighting a cutting-edge Medicare topic was published in the Law Journal, and she excelled as a member of KU Law’s Moot Court Council, finishing third in the in-house competition. Blevins is the daughter of Ralph and Laura Blevins and a graduate of Great Bend High School and KU.

Abby West, L'15

Abby West received the Faculty Award for Outstanding Scholastic Achievement, which goes to the graduating student(s) selected by the faculty as having made the most significant contribution toward overall legal scholarship. West was one of the top students in her class by grade-point average and earned the highest grade in several of her law school courses. She selected and edited articles for the Kansas Law Review in her role as articles editor. Her own comment, “A Meaningful Opportunity to Comply,” which addressed the use of discovery in China during litigation in the United States, was selected for publication in volume 63 of the Law Review. West also wrote many briefs for KU’s Project for Innocence & Post-Conviction Remedies and participated in the Guardianship Assistance Program, helping Wichita residents apply for guardianships for adult children with disabilities. West is the daughter of Gretchen and James West and a graduate of Blue Valley North High School and KU.

Paul Mose, L'15

Paul Mose received the Janean Meigs Memorial Award, given to students who have demonstrated a caring spirit in service to the students of the law school or the community at large. Mose served as a tutor for the KU Law Academic Resources Program. In accepting that role, he expressed gratitude for the opportunity to give back, explaining that “he had been helped by so many people that he wanted to return the favor.” He also helped students in Professor Lou Mulligan’s jurisdiction class hone their oral argument abilities and tighten their brief-writing skills, as a teaching assistant. He served as a Dean’s Fellow and a note and comment editor for the Kansas Law Review. Mose swept the awards in KU’s in-house moot court competition – winning both best brief and best oral advocate – and was known in moot court circles for showing up at 6 a.m. to help coach other teams. He also teaches an introduction to law course at Emporia State University as an adjunct instructor. Mose is the son of Susan Vargas and a graduate of Emporia High School and Emporia State University.

Jordan Carter, L'15

From Topeka
Jordan Carter received the Samuel Mellinger Scholarship, Leadership and Service Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished him or herself in the combined areas of scholarship, leadership and service. Carter was among the very top students in her class and has maintained an outstanding grade-point average while serving as a student ambassador, a teaching assistant for lawyering skills and a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Scholar in KU Law’s academic success program. She also served as a student member of the faculty Curricular Innovation Committee. Carter writes a guest blog for Ms. JD that discusses law and life, and she also authors blog entries for KU Law’s Office of Admissions. She served as executive note and comment editor for the Kansas Law Review, overseeing each of the scholarly pieces written by fellow law students. Carter also volunteered with Boys & Girls Club in Lawrence. She is the daughter of Vincent Carter and Lisa Hecht, and a graduate of Topeka High School and Washington University in St. Louis.

Zak Beasley, L'15

Kansas City
Zak Beasley received the Class of 1949 Leadership Award, given to the student who has contributed most significantly to the overall experience of students in Green Hall. Beasley led the Student Bar Association as class president during his first and second years of law school before taking on the role of SBA executive president his third year. With a nod to KU Law’s history, he revived back Fun Day, a year-end social event that brought together law students, faculty, staff and alumni. A 1st Lieutenant in the U.S. Marine Corps, Beasley founded the KU Military Law Society, served as a student ambassador and wrote articles for the online news blog the Kansas Law Free Press, all while earning a joint degree in law and journalism. He also taught 100-level courses to undergraduate students as a graduate teaching assistant in the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications. Beasley is the son of Stephanie Sandelich and Mark Beasley, and a graduate of St. Pius X High School and KU.

Jake McMillian, L'15

Jake McMillian received the Walter Hiersteiner Outstanding Service Award, given to the graduate whose service to his or her fellow students demonstrates the greatest promise for contribution to the legal profession and society. McMillian served on Chancellor Gray-Little’s Sexual Assault Task Force, a group composed primarily of faculty, assigned to study sexual violence on the KU campus and propose methods to better handle and reduce such cases. As a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Board, he advised Dean Stephen Mazza on pressing law school issues. He served two years as an officer of OUTLaws & Allies, playing an instrumental role in planning the 2015 Diversity in Law Banquet and delivering moving remarks at the event about the importance of inclusivity to law schools and KU in particular. McMillian has promoted KU Law to current and prospective students as the diversity and outreach coordinator for KU Law’s Office of Admissions and in his role as a student ambassador. He has also written about diversity in the Journal of the Kansas Bar Association and The Federal Lawyer. McMillian is the son of Jan and Kay McMillian and a graduate of Bishop Ward High School and Ottawa University.

Jason Harmon, L'15

Jason Harmon received the Justice Lloyd Kagey Leadership Award, given to the graduate who has most distinguished him or herself through leadership in the law school. Harmon ranked among the top students in his class academically. He served on the Kansas Law Review, and his comment, “Procedural Misjoinder: The Quest for a Uniform Standard,” appeared in Volume 62, Issue 5 of the Review. He and teammate Paul Mose won KU’s in-house moot court competition during their second year of law school. Harmon served as a teaching assistant for lawyering skills and a Dean’s Fellow, advising and counseling first-year students. When the team on which he was competing at the National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition unexpectedly bowed out early, he immediately switched from participant to coach, selflessly and enthusiastically supporting and encouraging his fellow competitors as they advanced to the final phase of the competition. Harmon is the son of Phillip and Janet Harmon and a graduate of Timpanogos High School and Utah Valley University.

Tamara Combs, L'15

Tamara Combs received the Janean Meigs Memorial Award, given to students who have demonstrated a caring spirit in service to the students of the law school or the community at large. Combs was an officer in KU’s Black Law Students Association during her first year of law school. She later became a Shook, Hardy & Bacon Scholar, helping first-year students improve their study habits and promoting their academic success. She worked extensively with international students who were writing dissertations, especially students for whom English was not their first language. Combs served as symposium editor for the Kansas Law Review, organizing experts from across the country to talk about issues of human migration and oppression. Combs is the daughter of Inalva Valadares Freitas and a graduate of Colegio Dois de Julho, Armstrong Atlantic State University and Clemson University.

KU expanding accelerated program to earn bachelor’s and law degrees to other Kansas universities

Friday, May 15, 2015

LAWRENCE – Students at state universities across Kansas will have an opportunity to accelerate their legal education and save a year of tuition through an expansion of the 3 Plus 3 Program at the University of Kansas.

The program will allow high-ability students at participating Regents universities to maximize their undergraduate coursework, earning a bachelor’s degree and a KU law degree in six years instead of seven. Students will spend three years on requirements for the bachelor’s degree from their undergraduate institution and three years on requirements for a KU law degree. They will graduate with a bachelor’s degree after their fourth year and already have one year of law school under their belt.

“We are excited to expand this opportunity to students across Kansas in collaboration with our Regents partners,” said Jeffrey S. Vitter, provost and executive vice chancellor. “It saves students a year of study and undergraduate tuition, and in addition it helps ensure that high-achieving students interested in legal careers earn their law degrees in Kansas. We know that students who graduate from a Kansas institution are more likely to stay in the state after graduation to work and serve the people of Kansas.”

The 3 Plus 3 Program is entering its third year at KU with growing enrollment each year since its inception.

Known as the LEAD (Legal Education Accelerated Degree) Program, the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences and the School of Law collaborated on the degree track to provide a new opportunity for high-ability students to maximize their coursework at KU.

“We at the Board are always happy to see collaboration among the state universities,” said Kenny Wilk, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents. “The ability to move as seamlessly as possible throughout the public higher education system in Kansas is a top priority, and the 3 Plus 3 Program at KU is a perfect example of how working together improves our system in a meaningful way.”  

To be considered for the program, incoming freshmen at participating institutions must meet minimum academic standards, currently a GPA of 3.5 or higher and an ACT score of at least 26. Accepted students are guaranteed admission to KU’s law school after their junior year as long as they maintain a 3.5 cumulative GPA and obtain a specified score on the LSAT exam, currently 157.

The KU law school anticipates that Kansas State University will become its next 3 Plus 3 partner. The expansion will be offered to all other state universities, which include Fort Hays State University, Emporia State University, Pittsburg State University and Wichita State University.

“KU Law is at the forefront of changing the way students gain a legal education,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school. “Through this expansion of the 3 Plus 3 Program, Kansas will become the first state with a statewide, guaranteed-admission accelerated law degree. Not only will Kansas students benefit from a great legal education at less cost and in less time, but the university and the state will also benefit by being able to recruit the best and brightest prelaw students nationally.”

Law class explores human trafficking, provides resources

Wednesday, May 13, 2015



LAWRENCE — The common perception of human trafficking might be that of young people forced into prostitution or substandard working conditions. The ways in which attorneys, and even law students, can help prevent and respond to human trafficking might not make the headlines, but a new class at the University of Kansas School of Law is helping those on the front lines fight human trafficking and serve victims.

Katie Cronin, clinical associate professor at the law school and in the Department of Family Medicine, taught Human Trafficking Law and Policy for the first time this semester. Cronin, who also directs the law school’s Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, said she wanted to teach this new class to help law students understand that attorneys in many different specializations will likely encounter this issue at some point in their careers. The course introduced students to international protocols and domestic laws that are designed to prevent human trafficking, protect victims and prosecute perpetrators and those who benefit from human trafficking. The students, in turn, wrote papers that speak to a particular facet of human trafficking or produced projects that will provide resources to attorneys, health care workers, police and shelters who assist human trafficking victims here in the state of Kansas.

“Human trafficking has been viewed as a coastal problem. People don’t always grasp that its victims originate in the Midwest as well,” Cronin said. “There are victims of all ages, both male and female, and it’s a problem both foreign and domestic. Sex trafficking often garners most of the media attention, but, statistically, labor trafficking is happening at a much higher rate, and there can be sexual victimization happening in the labor trafficking context. To think of sex and labor exploitation as always being two very distinct things is false.“

In addition to learning about laws like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, the class produced projects specifically designed to assist attorneys, victim advocates, police and health care workers in helping trafficking victims. The projects included a manual for pro bono attorneys working T visa cases, an immigration remedy available to foreign national victims, prepared with the help of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence. Lauren Bavitz prepared a Know Your Rights brochure for trafficking victims served by the Willow Domestic Violence Center. There are a host of legal issues for victims to consider, from protection orders to immigration issues to housing matters.

“I was interested in the class to understand the legal nuances in combating the issue. For example, I wanted to learn the different legal remedies between non-citizen versus citizen victims and the most effective way to prosecute perpetrators,” Bavitz said. “My project connects a victim-centered approach with practical legal resources, because often, legal remedies are unattainable for those who do not know where to look. I hope that in distributing the brochure throughout Kansas, I can connect a few victims and families to the legal remedies they need.”

Marci Mauch, a student in the class and a former MLP Clinic participant, produced training materials to help police officers and health care professionals at the University of Kansas Hospital recognize signs of human trafficking and appropriate ways to ask questions, respond and offer help. Trafficking victims often come into contact with police or medical professionals, and it is not always immediately clear that they may be involved in a trafficking situation.

“While working at (KU’s) Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic, I learned that health care providers are in an excellent and unique position to identify victims of trafficking. I hope it will make a difference for all those that use it – for the health care providers to be able to identify the victims, the victims to receive the help they need to escape or overcome their situations and attorneys and law enforcement to be able to identify the traffickers, build a case against them and help the victims,” Mauch said. “Trafficking victims can be hidden in plain sight. If something seems off, it is better to say something than to ignore it. So many trafficking victims are rescued by good Samaritans that noticed something was wrong and reported it to the authorities.”

Students also researched and wrote about a range of topics, including:

  • Human trafficking and connections to the U.S. military
  • Ensuring multinational corporations are accountable and their supply lines are free from trafficking
  • LGBT youth and trafficking
  • Victims who are minors
  • Immigration and trafficking.

The value of examining the topic of human trafficking in a broad legal sense lies in the fact that the problem touches so many areas of law, Cronin said. Whether the students go on to work in immigration or corporate law, prosecution, victim services or numerous other specialties, they’ll be able to make a difference.

“We have this cohort of law students who will graduate and pursue a range of legal work but who will now have awareness of this complex problem,” Cronin said. “Knowing students have that awareness at the beginning of their careers excites me.”

Providing services and resources to those already working in the field also gives students valuable experience while proving they can help address societal problems while they are still students.

“I think the class was solution-focused. Of course, we started by gaining an understanding of what the problem is and its basis in the law, but then we looked at ways to use the law as a tool to tackle it,” Cronin said. “That corresponds with my understanding of what KU Law students are truly capable of achieving, and I think it corresponds with the abolitionist values of our state and university.”


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