Law school communications director named Employee of the Month

Friday, March 31, 2017

LAWRENCE — The University of Kansas has announced the January Employees of the Month:

 

Name: Joanne Eden

Title: Grant officer, Office of Research

What that means: Eden is a team lead and supervises five staff members. They manage more than 900 sponsored awards, each with unique and specific attributes. Eden manages her team to correctly monitor and process all necessary budget allocations, payroll and non-payroll cost transfers, revenue balancing, financial reporting and much more. Eden is thorough, meticulous and understands her work thoroughly. She takes the time with her team to ensure that they understand the scope of their work.

Notable: Eden has such extensive experience that she is the “go-to” person for every aspect of post-award services. One person said, “We often joke that she contains more knowledge in her pinky than the rest of us put together collectively. That sounds like hyperbole, but in reality it’s so very true.” She is known to be able to untangle even the most complicated and layered problems. She is consulted by not only colleagues at the Office of Research but by procurement teams, contract officers, other grant officers as well as coordinators throughout campus.

Eden handles her work with grace and humor. She has a calm demeanor that has built strong relationships with her team and with the shared service centers. She takes the time to educate others on campus about the questions they encounter. She makes sure others have the resources needed to manage their grants.

Eden never forgets a birthday, frequently brings in fresh flowers to brighten the work area and keeps a tradition of keeping the office refrigerator stocked with ice cream. When the work load gets overwhelming, a sweet treat is there as a pick-me-up for her team and others.

 


Name: Mindie Paget

Title: Director of communications and marketing for the School of Law. 

What this means: In this role, Paget is charged with managing all of the communications and publications for the law school. Her tasks run the gamut from writing basic press releases to developing an overarching communications plan, to creating artwork for promotional posters.    Paget was instrumental in initiating the School of Law’s social media presence through Facebook and Twitter as well as continuing to maintain the school’s office website. Paget is responsible for producing the KU Law alumni magazine twice a year and has done a stellar job.  Her marketing and communications skills has clearly helped elevate the law school.

Notable: Paget is always willing to help with a project outside of her direct area. She is often called upon for her creative input, design skills and communication savvy.  Paget is always open to new ideas and requests for help.  In addition to running all law school's communications, she is the school’s events photographer, social media coordinator and creative director.  With limited resources, Paget does an amazing job. She is an expert writer and editor, a fantastic designer and a skilled digital strategist.

Paget is the perfect blend of professional, forthright and personable.  Paget is described by a colleague as “the friendliest person you will meet,” and another said Paget makes the law school a more pleasant work environment.  Paget is a true team player, bringing enthusiasm and reliability together graciously. As a supervisor, she provides support and guidance, empowers others and supports professional development.  

Law school to honor 4 with Distinguished Alumni Award

Monday, April 03, 2017

LAWRENCE — A veteran, a state government leader, a CEO and a managing partner will be recognized with the University of Kansas School of Law’s highest honor.

Kansas City attorney and U.S. Navy veteran Heywood Davis, Class of 1958; former Kansas Lt. Gov. Thomas Docking, Class of 1980; president and CEO of Wolfe Properties R. Dean Wolfe, Class of 1969, and six-time “Best Lawyers in America” recipient Marie Woodbury, Class of 1979, will receive the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award, which celebrates graduates for their professional achievements, contributions to the legal field and service to their communities and the university. The awards will be presented at a private dinner April 8 in Lawrence. 

After serving in the U.S. Navy, Heywood “Woody” Davis returned to his alma mater, KU, to earn his law degree. Davis served as editor-in-chief of the Kansas Law Review and was named to the Order of the Coif. After graduation, he clerked for Justice Charles E. Whittaker on the U.S. Supreme Court, then returned to Kansas City to practice law. He started as an associate with Armstrong, Teasdale, Schlafly, Davis & Dicus and currently serves as senior partner at Davis, Sands & Collins.

Thomas Docking completed his bachelor’s in political science and economics at KU in 1976 and his law degree and Master of Business Administration in 1980. He began his tax, business and estate planning practice at Regan & McGannon in Wichita. He was elected lieutenant governor of Kansas under Gov. John Carlin in 1982, serving for four years, and now practices at the Law Offices of Morris Laing. A dedicated community servant, Docking has served on numerous boards, including the Wichita Downtown Development Corporation, Wichita Water Conservation Task Force and the KU Endowment Association’s Far Above Campaign.

R. Dean Wolfe graduated from KU Law in 1969, then joined the law firm of Hoskins, King, McGannon & Hahn in Kansas City, specializing in tax, estate planning and commercial law. He was hired as a staff attorney for The May Department Stores Company in 1972. Wolfe was promoted to executive vice president of acquisitions and real estate in 1996 and elected to May’s board of directors in 1997, helping expand the company into 27 regional malls across the country with a market value of $17 billion. After his retirement from May, Wolfe founded Wolfe Properties LLC in 2005 and currently serves as president and CEO.

Marie Woodbury graduated from Georgetown University with an international affairs degree in 1973. She completed her law degree in 1979 at KU, where she was named to the Order of the Coif and served as articles editor of the Kansas Law Review. She began her legal career at Shook, Hardy & Bacon, specializing in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation. Woodbury received numerous professional honors before retiring from Shook after nearly 40 years. She is a six-time recipient of the Best Lawyers in America distinction, was named one of 25 Women Who Mean Business by the Kansas City Business Journal and was recognized among the Top 50 Women Super Lawyers in Missouri and Kansas.

View previous Distinguished Alumni Award recipients on the law school’s website.

The law school will also recognize James Woods Green Medallion honorees and members of the Dean’s Club. Named after the school’s first dean, the Medallion recognizes the school’s major financial supporters. This year’s honorees include:

  • Martin Bauer, Class of 1975, and Ann Bauer
  • John P. Bowman, Class of 1980
  • Mitchell Chaney, Class of 1981, and Susan Chaney
  • Tim Connell, Class of 1978
  • Dave Dillon
  • Perle and Catherine Frazee Foundation
  • Thomas K. Jones, Class of 1974, and Patricia L. Jones
  • The Kansas Bar Foundation
  • Lawrence Memorial Hospital
  • Linda L. Lee, Class of 1973
  • Chris McKenzie, Class of 1982, and Manuela Albuquerque
  • Tim O’Brien, Class of 1983, and Melinda O’Brien
  • Payne & Jones Foundation
  • Scott Sayler, Class of 1986, and Nancy Sayler
  • Scott Strohm, Class of 1995, and Tracy Strohm
  • Professor Ellen E. Sward, KU School of Law
  • James R. Walters, Class of 1975.

KU law team finishes 2nd in national Indian law moot court competition

Thursday, March 09, 2017

LAWRENCE – A University of Kansas School of Law team brought home second place after rising to compete in the final round of the 2017 National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition.

KU law students Megan Carroll, of Wichita, and Bill Madden, of Topeka, placed second in the NNALSA competition held March 4-5 at the University of California-Los Angeles. Carroll also won the award for second-best oral advocate out of 128 competitors. Two additional KU teams competed at the event, including Will Easley, of Overland Park, and Nikki Marcotte, of Manhattan, as well as Nick Hayes, of Lawrence, and Ben Stringer, of Jacksonville, Florida.

This is the third year in a row a KU team has advanced to the finals of the NNALSA competition, capturing the national title in 2016 and placing second in 2015. The competition tests students’ knowledge of Indian law by evaluating their legal writing and oral advocacy skills. Students submit written briefs and participate in a simulated courtroom experience.

“There were 64 teams at this year’s competition, making these accomplishments truly impressive,” said Professor Elizabeth Kronk Warner, team coach and director of KU’s Tribal Law & Government Center. “Megan and Bill did an exceptionally good job, and several judges and spectators remarked that they were some of the finest advocates they had ever seen.”

Teams prepared for the competition by researching and preparing their written briefs, participating in practice rounds and receiving feedback from faculty judges and teammates.

“This was an amazing experience from start to finish,” Carroll said. “Throughout the practice period, my confidence often wavered. However, at the beginning of the second day of arguments, Professor Kronk Warner told me that she had no doubt in my abilities, she was already proud of all of us, and to go have fun in the rounds. I could not imagine having a better coach at the competition.”

Jason Harmon, a 2015 KU law graduate who participated in the NNALSA competition as a student, helped Kronk Warner coach the teams, and more than a dozen faculty and staff judged practice rounds. “I’m lucky to attend a university where the faculty are so personally invested in the success of their students,” Madden said. “The NNALSA tournament was a fantastic experience, and I’m proud to have had the opportunity to represent our school.”

“Given the presence of several federally recognized tribes in Kansas, participating in this competition is a wonderful opportunity for our students,” Kronk Warner said. “Students learn and improve upon their legal research, writing and oral advocacy skills while learning federal Indian law, which is so crucial to this region.”

With more than 60 teams, this year’s competition was one of the largest moot court competitions in the country. Carroll and Madden defeated two teams from Columbia University in New York City and another from Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, in the advanced rounds. The final rounds were judged by accomplished Indian law scholars and judges.

Law professor, practicing lawyer pens memoir on attaining third degree at age 72

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

LAWRENCE — Plenty of people go back to school at a nontraditional age. But most of them don’t take classes for a doctorate at a school in which they are also a professor. Or while they are practicing law full-time. Or at the age of 72.

But that’s exactly what Bruce Hopkins did when he decided to get an SJD at the University of Kansas School of Law, where he also serves as a professor from practice. He details his experiences in having the same young people as students and classmates, attending classes with professors many years his junior and answering why he was doing such a thing to just about everyone in his new memoir “SJD: What’s the Point of Three (Law Degrees)? The Adventures of an Older Lawyer Who Returned to Law School for the Third Degree.”

A well-established and respected lawyer in the field of tax-exempt and nonprofit law, Hopkins is no stranger to the classroom or writing. Approaching his 50th year in practicing law, he has written more than 30 books, most of them on all manner of tax-exempt or nonprofit legal topics. He earned his first two law degrees from George Washington University Law School in Washington, D.C. He practiced there for many years, often thinking about getting the SJD, or Scientiae Juridicae Doctor, commonly known as the equivalent of a Ph.D. in law. But at the time George Washington and Georgetown did not offer it. He considered Harvard, but the commute proved impractical.

About 20 years ago he moved to the Kansas City area and began practicing his specialty there. In 2008, he became an adjunct professor at KU, eventually becoming professor from practice in 2015.

“It’s an odd thing,” Hopkins said of the decision to go back to school. “I’d wanted to do this for a long time. Part of it was like a mountain climber looking at a mountain. It was right there. I’d wanted to do it for a while, so I did.”

He didn’t want to have regrets or excuses about age, lack of time or money or fears of flunking out of the school at which he teaches to get in his way, although he admits many of those reservations did enter his mind. In 2013, he enrolled in classes while still teaching his class on nonprofit organizations and law and while practicing law in Kansas City.

The book begins by addressing the question he gets most often: Why? Why would he possibly consider doing this, many asked. Many lawyers didn’t even know the degree existed and told him he was wasting his time and money. Fellow lawyers had told him they’d sworn they’d never attend another law class after completing their degree and passing the bar. As one can imagine, there were many unique happenings, which he outlines in the memoir.

“The problem was I was about 72 years old, which seems young now,” Hopkins said with a laugh. “One of the peculiar things was teaching here (at KU) while also being a student. There was some overlap.”

Students would be sitting next to him as peers during one class, then be sitting in front of him learning from him in another. The professors who taught his classes were all younger than him. And he had the same challenges as any other student, writing papers, completing assignments, taking tests and taking courses such as banking law and tax procedure, which proved to be exceedingly difficult, he said.

Throughout the chapters of “SJD” he tells of his adventures, from telling his boss at his old firm he was seeking the degree, to class assignments all the way to the culmination at his graduation party, returning again in the final chapter to the question of why. The experience was “exhilarating,” Hopkins said, not only teaching him more about the law, but giving him a new appreciation for law professors and opening him up to the perspectives of today’s students.

“It’s given me a different attitude toward my students,” Hopkins said of gaining his third degree. “Honestly, it’s given me a different look at them and changed our discussions. We now sit around and discuss things like they’re budding lawyers, not just people who are there to hear me lecture.”

The idea to write a memoir about his unique experiences was only natural, given that he’s written more than 30 books already. But the style was completely different than his legal books and his monthly newsletter on tax-exempt law. No stranger to writing, he was still daunted by the idea of writing a dissertation. He did, and defended it in front of Stephen Mazza, dean of the KU School of Law, and Michael Hoeflich, the John H. and John M. Kane Distinguished Professor of Law and former KU Law dean, both of whom the book is dedicated to.

“You don’t want to be interrogated by Professor Hoeflich if you can avoid it. It was both fun and kind of terrifying,” Hopkins said.

But the dissertation was successfully defended, and true to his prolific writing career, Hopkins has already expanded it into another book, which will be published soon. Mazza served as his adviser, and Hoeflich was impressed enough to agree to write an introduction for the book. He writes of being surprised that someone of Hopkins’ stature would be enrolled in his class for credit.

“Frankly it never occurred to me that a senior lawyer would have the intellectual curiosity, drive and sheer stamina to do a full-time doctoral program, carry on a full legal practice and supervise a publishing mini-empire,” Hoeflich wrote. “And yet that is precisely how I would characterize Bruce Hopkins. He is one of the most remarkable men and lawyers I have ever known.”

With the third degree now obtained, Hopkins says it was well worth the time and effort, though he jokes that he is glad the field does not offer a fourth degree. A memoir now published, he plans to continue representing nonprofit organizations, scientific and religious organizations, charities and schools and writing.

“It’s one of those things. If you want to do it you find the time,” he said of writing. “The first thing I do when I get to the office is write. And I do it as long as I can get away with it. The book is designed, at least in part, to get people thinking. It doesn’t have to be an SJD, or even going back to school, but seeing something you want and going after it. There’s something about the degree that sort of freed me. I don’t think I could’ve written a book like this 20 years ago. Some of the things I say I don’t think I would’ve had the courage to say then.”

Tribal law conference to explore Indian gaming

Monday, March 06, 2017

LAWRENCE — American Indian law scholars and advocates will gather in Lawrence this week to discuss legal issues surrounding Indian gaming. The 21st annual Tribal Law & Government Conference, "Indian Gaming in the 21st Century," will take place Friday, March 10, at the University of Kansas School of Law. The conference is open to the public.

“The 470-plus gaming facilities in Indian country grossed over $29 billion dollars in 2015,” said Elizabeth Kronk Warner, director of KU Law’s Tribal Law & Government Center. “The industry has a profound impact on Indian country and the entire nation. By discussing these important issues, KU Law is at the forefront of legal matters facing native communities.”

Jonodev Chaudhuri, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, will deliver the keynote address. A member of the Muscogee Creek tribe, Chaudhuri oversees the regulation of more than 450 Indian gaming facilities associated with nearly 242 tribes across 28 states. He formerly served as senior counselor to the Department of the Interior’s assistant secretary for Indian affairs, providing guidance on policy issues ranging from gaming, to economic development and energy, to tribal recognition.

Other presenters:

  • Richard Frias, partner, Frias Indian Law and Policy
  • Steven Light, associate vice president for academic affairs and co-director, Institute for the Study of Tribal Gaming Law and Policy, University of North Dakota
  • Yonne Tiger, attorney at law
  • Russ Brien, attorney, Brien Law LLC
  • Mark Dodd, executive director, Kansas State Gaming Agency
  • Kaighn Smith Jr., Drummond Woodsum, Attorneys at Law

Chaudhuri’s address will be followed by two panel discussions exploring hot topics in Indian gaming. The program will conclude with a presentation on ethical obligations in affirmative tribal sovereignty matters.

Six hours of CLE credit, including one hour of ethics, are approved in Kansas and Missouri. Preview the schedule on the conference website.

KU students advance to national finals in transactional law competition

Thursday, March 02, 2017

LAWRENCE – A team of University of Kansas School of Law students will compete in the finals of the National Transactional LawMeet this month after winning the regional round in Kansas City.

The law school sent three teams to the regional competitions, which offer a “moot court” experience for students with aspirations to practice transactional law. Jake Ediger of Topeka, Justine Koehle of Woodland, California, and Alison Kryzer of Wichita were named finalists in Kansas City, Missouri. Craig Boyd of Dallas, Elizabeth Hanus of Elm Grove, Wisconsin, and Taylor Ray of Atchison were named regional semifinalists in Dallas, where they also won the prize for best draft agreement.

Teams were assigned to represent either the buyers or sellers of a business. Over the course of two months, they drafted a purchase agreement, interviewed their clients and marked up opposing teams’ drafts. Last Friday, 84 teams met at seven regional sites to negotiate a resolution. Two teams from each region were selected to compete in the national rounds on March 31 in New York.

“Participating in the Transactional LawMeet has been a great opportunity to experience what it really means to be a transactional attorney,” Kryzer said. “I was initially intimidated because my only experience with transactional work has been in the classroom; however, with the help of the Transactional LawMeet coaches, I gained confidence along the way with their invaluable feedback and advice.”

Competition judges included partners from leading law firms, corporate general counsels and other senior practitioners. They chose finalists after evaluating which teams most adeptly combine their lawyering skills, drafting, marking-up and negotiating techniques with their knowledge of corporate and other facets of business law and business sense to develop innovative solutions to negotiate a draft agreement.

For its Kansas City victory, KU competed with teams from Baylor, Emory, Northwestern, Notre Dame, William & Mary and Missouri. In Dallas, competitors included Baylor, Duke, Colorado, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee. With a winning team, a runner-up team and an award for best draft, KU tied for second place in regional round performance.

Centennial Teaching Professor Webb Hecker and KU law alumni and adjunct professors Ken Lynn, Class of 1981, and Kelley Sears, Class of 1974, coached the teams in preparation for the competition. Three practicing attorneys also provided expert feedback: Jeb Bayer, Class of 1980, Brian Wolf, Class of 2008, and Stan Woodworth, Class of 1978.

“We put in countless hours of work and are happy it paid off,” Koehle said. “We are honored and excited to represent KU Law at the National Meet.”

Ediger seconded Koehle’s excitement about representing the Jayhawks in New York. “We have a lot of hard work in front of us to get prepared,” he said. “Having great teammates and coaches makes it enjoyable.”Jayhawks in New York. “We have a lot of hard work in front of us to get prepared,” he said. “Having great teammates and coaches makes it enjoyable.”

PHOTOS: Top: Jake Ediger, Justine Koehle and Alison Kryzer, pictured with Professor Webb Hecker, were named regional finalists in Kansas City, Missouri. Bottom: Elizabeth Hanus, Craig Boyd and Taylor Ray, also pictured with Hecker, were named regional semifinalists in Dallas, where they also won the prize for best draft agreement.

 

Free KU clinic to help clients expunge criminal record, start with 'clean slate'

Monday, February 20, 2017

LAWRENCE – People who have been arrested or convicted of crimes often face barriers to employment, housing or other opportunities – even long after they have served their sentences.

The University of Kansas School of Law Legal Aid Clinic and Douglas County Legal Aid Society Inc. will host a free clinic this weekend to help people who find themselves in this situation get a fresh start. The “Clean Slate” Expungement Clinic will run from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 25, at the Lawrence Interdenominational Nutritional Kitchen (LINK), First Christian Church, 221 W. 10th St. The clinic will overlap with LINK’s community meal, served from 1 to 2 p.m. that day.

An expungement seals an arrest record or conviction from public view, with certain exceptions.

“In many cases, people are eligible to petition for expungement but haven’t been able to because they need help navigating the legal system or cannot afford the legal fees,” said Meredith Schnug, associate director of KU’s Legal Aid Clinic. “This clinic can help obtain a fresh start for people who meet the requirements of the expungement laws and who qualify for free legal services.”

The Legal Aid Clinic will provide free legal representation to eligible individuals seeking to expunge records in Douglas County District Court and/or Lawrence Municipal Court. The clinic can accept clients with income up to 250 percent of the federal poverty level. Clients who do not qualify for a waiver of the filing fee will need to pay those court costs, but no attorney’s fees, as long as they are eligible for services. After the Feb. 25 clinic, clients will need to attend one additional appointment and any required court hearings with their attorney.

The Legal Aid Clinic at the KU School of Law offers students the opportunity to fine-tune their lawyering skills in a fast-paced, live-client setting by representing low-income clients under the careful guidance and thoughtful teaching of supervising attorneys. Since 1967, the Legal Aid Clinic has been working to secure “justice for and to protect the rights of the needy” in a wide range of civil and misdemeanor criminal cases.

For more details about the expungement process, visit the Facts about Expungement in Kansas page on the Kansas Legal Services website. For questions, contact the KU Legal Aid Clinic at 785-864-5564.

Law journal symposium will explore future of grasslands

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

LAWRENCE — Grasslands play a crucial role in our planet’s ecological, social and economic health, but environmental degradation threatens this fragile ecosystem. Policymakers must balance agricultural development with conservation efforts to ensure that this precious resource remains for future generations.

Legal scholars and environmental advocates will gather in Lawrence this week to discuss these themes at the Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy’s annual symposium. “Grasslands: Balancing Preservation and Agriculture in the World’s Most Imperiled Ecosystem” will run from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, at the University of Kansas School of Law.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Register and preview the complete schedule online.

“Both worldwide and here in Kansas, prairies and grasslands play a crucial role in the health not only of humans but of countless other species,” said John Head, professor of law and a panelist at this year’s symposium. “For soil conservation, biological diversity, animal habitat, recreation and carbon sequestration, grasslands are irreplaceable. Unfortunately, they have been deeply degraded, so drawing attention to what protections can be put in place or strengthened is important and timely. This symposium promises to contribute to a worldwide effort aimed at ensuring that such protections are robust, thereby serving the interests of generations to come.”

Environmental law scholar John Nagle will open the symposium with a keynote address on “Restoring the Prairie with the Endangered Species Act,” followed by panels on balancing grassland preservation and agricultural use, and grassland preservation in the management of public and private lands.

Speakers include:

  • Timothy Crews, director of research and lead scientist, Ecology Program, The Land Institute
  • John Davidson, professor emeritus of law, University of South Dakota School of Law
  • Robert Glicksman, J. B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor of Environmental Law, The George Washington University Law School
  • John Head, Robert W. Wagstaff Distinguished Professor, KU School of Law
  • Ron Klataske, executive director, The Audubon of Kansas
  • John Nagle, John N. Matthews Professor of Law, University of Notre Dame Law
  • Irma Russell, Edward A. Smith/Missouri Chair in Law, The Constitution, and Society, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law
  • Lijuan Xing, assistant professor, City University of Hong Kong School of Law

Scholarship associated with the program will be published in a future issue of the Kansas Journal of Law and Public Policy. Contact Symposium Editor Lindsay Schermer at kjlppsymposium@gmail.com for more information.

Law students, Legal Services for Students assisting with free tax preparation

Monday, February 13, 2017

LAWRENCE – As tax season gets underway, two University of Kansas groups are offering free tax preparation services for those who qualify.

KU Law students with the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program will prepare returns for taxpayers who are residents of Kansas, Missouri or Illinois; who earn less than $54,000 per household per year; and who do not itemize their deductions. The program runs from Feb. 15 through April 17.

Legal Services for Students (LSS) is also offering free tax assistance through a VITA grant from the Internal Revenue Service. Any U.S. resident taxpayer may prepare and electronically file their federal and state tax returns for free via the LSS website if their income was $64,000 or less in 2016. International students and staff at KU may also prepare their taxes using free software with no income limit.

Last year, KU Law students prepared about 225 federal and state tax returns. LSS directly prepared 183 returns in 2016 and assisted more than 1,700 individuals in preparing their own returns through the tax workshops at the Budig computer lab. View the workshop schedule (PDF). For more information about tax assistance provided by Legal Services for Students, contact the office at 785-864-5665 or legals@ku.edu.

“The tax preparation workshops are a great way for students and staff to learn about properly preparing and filing their own tax returns,” said Jo Hardesty, director of Legal Services for Students. “LSS tax attorneys and KU Law student interns are available at the workshops to assist and answer any questions that may arise.”

The VITA program operates on a first-come, first-served basis, and the number of preparers varies with the site. Those seeking assistance are encouraged to arrive near the start of each session. Taxpayers should bring proof of identification and all relevant documentation, including proof of income, expenditures and health insurance-related documents. For more information, call 785-864-9227.

Law students Andrew Jorgenson and Jordan Haas are coordinating this year’s VITA program, with about 25 other law students helping to prepare returns. Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school and professor of tax-related law, serves as the VITA faculty coordinator.

“VITA provides great value to the community and KU students,” Jorgenson said. “It gives KU Law students practical experience with tax law and customer service while also helping individuals who seek an alternative to paying a professional or risking error in preparing their own returns.”

Taxes are due on Tuesday, April 18, instead of Saturday, April 15, this year due to the federal observance of Emancipation Day. 

Spring 2017 VITA Schedule

Monday

6–8:45 p.m., Green Hall, Wheat Law Library, 3rd Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.

Wednesday

3-5:45 p.m., Green Hall, Wheat Law Library, 3rd Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.

Thursday

Noon-2 p.m., Penn House, 1035 Pennsylvania St.*

3-4:45 p.m., Ballard Center, 708 Elm St.**

5:15-6:30 p.m., Lawrence-Douglas County Housing Authority Resident Services, 1600 Haskell Ave., Apt. 187

Saturday

10-11:45 a.m., Green Hall, Wheat Law Library, 3rd Floor Computer Lab, 1535 W. 15th St.


* Sessions will be held at Penn House on Feb. 16, March 2, March 16, April 6 and April 13. Sessions run Wednesday, Feb. 15, through Monday, April 17. No sessions will be held on Feb. 22 (Wednesday), Feb. 27 (Monday), or March 18-26 (University of Kansas spring break).

** Sessions will be held at Ballard Center on Feb. 23, March 9, March 30, April 6 and April 13.

Law school recognized for commitment to community service

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

LAWRENCE – The University of Kansas School of Law ranks highly among law schools contributing the most in legal services to their local communities, according to a national publication.

The Winter 2017 issue of PreLaw Magazine lists KU Law on its Community Service Leaders honor roll for “schools with the greatest community impact.” During the 2015-2016 academic year, KU Law students completed 18,725 pro bono service hours – an average of 52 hours per student – through law school clinics, field placements and other service opportunities.

Students represented elderly clients who needed assistance with benefits, grandparent visitation or advance directives through the Elder Law Field Placement. They reviewed claims of actual innocence and constitutional violations from people incarcerated in state and federal prison in Kansas through the Project for Innocence and Post-Conviction Remedies. They assisted medical patients whose health issues might have legal solutions through the Medical-Legal Partnership. They prepared tax returns for low-income adults through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and more.

“At KU Law, we have long encouraged students to make a commitment to pro bono service as part of their professional lives,” said Stephen Mazza, dean of the law school. “Lawyers — and law students — have specialized skills, and with those skills comes a responsibility to serve. Performing pro bono service in law school is an excellent way to give back to the community while gaining hands-on legal experience that enriches our students’ legal education and better prepares them for practice.”

Beginning with the Class of 2017, KU Law will formally recognize these efforts through its new Pro Bono Program. Students who complete 50 hours of pro bono service during their law school career will be honored at graduation, and students who complete 15 hours or more of pro bono service during a single academic year will be recognized on the annual Pro Bono Honor Roll.

Third-year law student Karly Weigel is among those working toward Pro Bono Distinction. As a volunteer ombudsman with the Kansas Long-Term Care Ombudsman Office, she works as an advocate at a Lawrence nursing home facility, helping residents navigate a range of care and treatment issues.

“I use many of the mediation and listening techniques from my law school course on alternative dispute resolution,” Weigel said. “Building relationships with the residents has allowed me to use my classroom knowledge in a real-world setting while giving back to the Lawrence community. KU Law’s new Pro Bono Program is a great way for students to be recognized for their service outside of the classroom.”

Pro bono service is uncompensated, supervised, law-related work that benefits the public. KU Law’s 2015-2016 pro bono service hours by program:

  • Criminal Prosecution Field Placement: 1,440
  • Elder Law Field Placement: 1,040
  • Field Placement Program: 7,400
  • Kansas Supreme Court Research Practicum: 1,020
  • Legal Aid Clinic: 3,262
  • Medical-Legal Partnership: 1,200
  • Project for Innocence: 2,783
  • Tribal Judicial Support Clinic: 480
  • VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance): 100.

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National Champions: 2016 National Native American Law Students Association Moot Court Competition
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