Ashley Green the Queen of Involvement

April 14th, 2014

Green_AshleyAshley Green is in her second year at Washburn Law from Houston, Texas. She plans to go back to Texas after she graduates in December!

At the beginning of this school year, my goal was to get involved. And I’ve done just that! I sometimes think I got a little carried away, but I’ve loved every opportunity I’ve come across at Washburn Law.

I started the Fall semester as a teacher assistant for Professor Kolwaski’s LARW-I class. I continued as a teacher assistant this semester for Professor Grant’s LARW-II class. Being a teacher assistant is probably one of the most rewarding opportunities I’ve had. I am able to help students maneuver through a subject area that I too struggled with during my first year.

I also started the Fall semester as a student director for the Children and Family Law Center. I’ve continued my role as a student director during the Spring semester as well. Being a student director has given me the opportunity to become more involved in the community and help make a difference in the area of Children and Family law.

My role as a special events coordinator for the Women’s Legal Forum also started in the Fall and continued throughout the Spring. My role within this organization has allowed me to help students broaden their professional contacts that can potentially lead to various professional opportunities in the future.

Serving as a law school ambassador has also been a rewarding opportunity because I have been able to help prospective law students and admitted students with a decision that will be life changing.

Since my first semester in law school, I have been involved with Washcall. Each semester, I enjoy talking to alumnus about the new things happening around the law school, and raising scholarship money and funding for the competition teams, clinic, journal, and other activities.

Surprisingly, this past semester I’ve managed to get involved in several other activities. I am a SALT ambassador through the financial aid office. My role through this position is to work with the undergraduate and law students to learn more about budgeting, loans, scholarships, and other financial planning. I also managed to become a research assistant for Professor Elrod. Through my role as a research assistant, I have had the opportunity to learn more about family law.

Most of my “free time” this semester is spent volunteering with various organizations once a month. I volunteer with the following organizations: Horizons, Youth Court, Life House, and Kansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Volunteering has always been one of my passions since high school and I am excited to continue this passion in relation with the legal field.

Somehow I’ve managed to do all of these activities while also taking 16 credit hours this semester. Like I said earlier, I got a little carried away with my goal to be involved this semester. But nonetheless, I’ve enjoyed every moment. Through each opportunity at Washburn Law, I’ve gained something valuable.

Next year I am not sure what all will be on my radar. I will be graduating in December, so it won’t be as activity-heavy as this year. But I am excited about my new role with Family Law Quarterly, which will began this summer! Let the sleepless nights began!

Externing at the Kansas Department of Revenue

April 1st, 2014

saramaupinSara Maupin is a second year law student from Blue Ridge, Virginia currently completing an externship with the Kansas Department of Revenue.

This semester I am externing at the Kansas Department of Revenue (KDOR), in the policy and research department. Landing an externship here was particularly important for me this semester because of the legal career path I have chosen to pursue, tax law. My externship at the Department of Revenue has significantly aided me in my study by providing me with practical work experience within the field.

My duties at the office include interacting with taxpayers (individuals as well as businesses) by fielding questions and concerns about tax liability. This type of work requires me to do extensive legal research on current tax laws and to be able to understand and articulate tax policy. I also attend teleconference hearings and compose final determinations in regard to tax assessments issued by the department. The individual’s who work at KDOR are extremely knowledgeable and enjoy educating students by working through tax related issues with us.

Working at KDOR is especially rewarding because I have the opportunity to work with not only the various departments within the Revenue sector but am also able to interact with other government agencies as well as the legislature. The experience of working in a government agency is a fantastic starting place for young lawyers to learn the dynamics of how government agencies work as well as to learn the mechanics and policy behind the law they will be practicing. My experience at the department not only helped land me a paid job at the Kansas Securities Commission over the summer but has also helped me make connections within the Department of Revenue. This has opened the door for possible employment there in the future. It is an experience I am grateful for, and one that I definitely encourage others to pursue!

Last Semester of Law School by Kerri Russ

March 25th, 2014

Kerri RussMy last semester of law school has been one of the busiest since I have been at Washburn Law. Being on Law Journal and a research assistant for Professor McMillan has kept me busy, on top of my classes. Although it has been busy, it has been very rewarding. This semester I was also able to participate in Washburn’s VITA clinic, the ABA Law Student Tax Challenge in Phoenix, Arizona, the ABA/LSD Client Counseling Competition in Columbia, Missouri, and I am currently working on a paper for the Tannenwald Writing Competition.

nyuI am currently not actively looking for a job because my current plan is to get my LL.M. in Taxation. Last week I was in New York City looking at NYU and Washington, D.C. looking at Georgetown. While in Washington, D.C. I was also able to visit the United States Tax Court and the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces. Those were great opportunities to see how different courts operate and different job prospects that one may not have thought of in the beginning.

Most of my elective courses have focused on tax and business law. Mergers and Acquisitions is one of my favorite classes because it goes into both of those areas. Professor McMillan, Professor Foster, and Professor Westbrook were the most influential professors that I had while at Washburn. I would suggest that students take at least one tax class because it shows how tax does touch all areas of law. Even though you do not need to know tax law in-depth, to be able to help your client the most you would be able to recognize when you should refer to a tax professional. I would also recommend that just because it is your last semester, does not mean that you need to “slack off.” There are still numerous opportunities within your last semester to where you can continue building upon what you have learned and actually learning how to apply the law.

tax court

Why Washburn Law: Sam Aaron, 1L

January 24th, 2014

sam aaron

Sam is a current 1L from California. He tells us why he chose Washburn Law.

Sometimes I wonder why I chose law school but, when it really came down to it, the law chose me. You see, I come from a long line of lawyers. My old man possesses two law degrees and his brother was an Assistant District Attorney in New York for thirty years before becoming a criminal defense attorney in Colorado. I also have several other relatives who used to be lawyers and judges. This made for a childhood steeped in stories and anecdotes about law cases and legal parlance. While other kids were dreaming of becoming astronauts and firefighters, I wanted nothing more than to be like my father. I was too young at the time to fully comprehend the hard work and dedication necessary for this career choice, but I knew that I wanted to pursue it.

Besides law, I have always had a deep interest in the study of history, which was my strongest subject in Prep School. It was no surprise that in 2013, I graduated with a history degree from California State University Northridge and was accepted as a member of the National History Honor Society. Like many of my peers I asked myself “what should I do with a B.A. in History?” Well, the obvious path for many of my classmates was graduate school. However, there was something about teaching history didn’t appear to be a suitable fit for me. That’s when I decided that history and law fit very well together.

The next big decision was where to enroll. I chose Washburn University School of Law for several reasons. I researched the school’s standing and notable alumni, its excellence in legal research, and its location in the heart of the U.S., within a state that has had an instrumental impact on our Country’s history: Bloody Kansas, John Brown, Brown vs. Board of Education, etc. Also, a strong factor was the economics of attending Washburn Law with its very favorable tuition and living costs compared to alternative schools. While I don’t mind graduating with school loan balance, other law schools would have left me with a much greater educational debt that would follow me for many years. Finally, and most importantly, the warmth and friendliness of the faculty and students I met during my initial visit made me feel very welcome and comfortable. In fact, I feel as if Kansas truly has an environment that is conducive to productivity and has an educational benefit. Topeka is a peaceful municipality with just enough diversity and hustle and bustle to have fun, but not to be distracted from the primary reason I am here: education.

Third Year, Hazel Gauthier, on Preparing for the Texas Bar

December 18th, 2013

gauthier-hazelThe first semester of my third year in law school has come and gone, and I can definitely say it has been challenging and busy, but also a great learning experience. This semester, I was an intern with the Domestic Relations clinic, clerked for a local law firm, served as a student executive editor in the Family Law Quarterly, and of course, took classes. Despite my long to-do lists, I was still able to spend quality time with my husband, my friends and my dog. I will not lie and say I wasn’t overwhelmed, but managing your time is key to checking off all those daunting tasks. It wasn’t easy and it required me to carry my planner with me at all times. My planner was both my enemy and my friend.

Now that the semester is over, I can’t help but realize that I am one semester away from graduation. However, graduating also means I will have to take the bar. Earlier this year, I decided I would be taking the Texas bar, which has an earlier deadline for its application—January 30th. Thus, this semester also involved numerous phone calls and emails in an effort to get all the information I needed to submit my application. Fortunately, I began looking into the bar application during the spring semester of my second year, thus I was able to ease some (only some) of the stress involved with filling out a bar application. Also, I get to go home for the holidays, so I will take advantage of the trip to gather what I’m missing.

Filling out the application is only the first step; I must also decide where and how I will be preparing for the bar. The Texas bar is offered in multiple cities throughout the state. Unfortunately, it is not offered near my family. So, I will be spending my break looking at my options and hopefully making a decision soon. I do know, however, that I will be using Barbri to help me study for the bar and that I will be taking classes, as the past couple of years in law school have taught me that studying at home is not for me. Although I am not looking forward to taking the bar, I am excited to start the beginning of the rest of my life.

Finals Strategies to Improve your Test Taking Experience

December 5th, 2013

concannon.taylorTaylor Concannon, 3L, has had her fair share of law school exams. She gives us her advice and tips on adequately preparing for final examinations!

Thanksgiving is over, the holiday season is upon us, and that means it is time for the first round of finals for the year. The best way to do well on exams is all too obvious: study. Even if you’ve slacked off until now, it is not too late to put in the time. That being said, studying while virtually everyone else in the world seems to be enjoying the holiday season, watching Christmas movies, and drinking eggnog is no easy task. But, the truth is, it is only two weeks and you will make it through it. Below are a few tips to help you make it through this exam season as painlessly as possible.

First, know that everyone is going to give you different advice. Some people will tell you to make outlines, others will say it is a waste of time; some people will encourage you to make flashcards, others diagrams, and the list goes on and on. My word of caution to you is this: listen to these tips, take them with a grain of salt, and then do what works for you. By this point in your education, you know if you are a visual learner or learn best by mentally organizing your information. You know what has worked for you in the past, so do the same thing now. All that being said, there are a few overarching strategies that tend to improve the average law student’s test taking experience.

(1) Make a schedule and stick to it. A lot of professors and law students adhere to what they call an accordion style of studying. Under this method of studying, you study for your last exam first, and work your way backwards. The benefit to this type of studying is that it helps you to better allocate your time, ensuring that you give each exam adequate attention. What you will find as you study for finals is that you never quite feel prepared—you could always study a little bit more, take one more practice exam, understand a concept a little better, or read through your outline a couple more times. By studying for your last exam first and working your way backwards you will not fall into the trap of perpetually studying for one exam. Another benefit to this type of studying is that it will help you to better conserve your energy. By the time you get to the end of finals you will find that you are both physically and mentally exhausted. It truly takes everything you have to study for that last exam. Therefore, a few hours of studying early in the process will pay dividends on the back end.

(2) Assess course expectations. Gather as much information as possible about the exam and the professor’s expectations. Most of the time professors will give a general overview of this information during class. It may also be beneficial to visit with students that have taken classes from that professor in the past. Finally, consulting past exams, which are typically kept on file in the library, can help you get a better idea of what to expect on your exam and allow you to tailor your studying accordingly.

(3) Review your class notes and remember that YOUR professor is writing YOUR exam. Some students feel that it is valuable to pair the review of their notes with outlines that they have obtained or supplements that they find helpful. If this helps you to develop a better understanding of the big picture or piece your notes together, then go for it! It is critical, however, to remember that YOUR professor is writing YOUR exam. Accordingly, some of the information in the outline or supplement that you are using may not be included on your exam—don’t worry about this information; if your professor did not mention it in class it is not likely to appear on the exam. Likewise, some of the information that you covered in class may not be in your specific outline or supplement. Instead, you should focus on the subjects that your professor emphasized in class or spent extra time discussing. Underestimating the power of class notes and relying too heavily on outlines or supplements to learn a subject and prepare for an exam is probably the number one mistake law students make. Rather than relying solely on an outline or supplement to learn a subject, these resources should be used—as the name suggests—to supplement your studying. An old outline, for example, is a great resource to help you organize your own outline or to help ensure that you haven’t missed any big issues. A supplement is fantastic for helping to clarify issues that you don’t understand. And, Barbri lectures provide helpful overviews of different subjects, allowing you to fill in any gaps in your own notes. Still, not one of these resources can replace a review of your own class notes.

(4) Organize your information. Once you have reviewed your class notes and clarified the areas that you did not understand, you should begin to organize your information in a way that will help you recall it quickly and efficiently. (Ex. outlines, notecards, flow charts, diagrams)

(5) Put your knowledge to the test. Once you feel that you have a pretty good grip on the material for a subject, you should put your knowledge to the test by taking practice exams and answering sample questions. Many supplements have practice essay questions and multiple choice questions that provide answers and explanations for each question. Two very popular supplements are the LexisNexis Q&A series and the Examples and Explanations series. Both of these are available in the law library. As I stated above, most professors also keep a few sample tests on file in in the library. Reviewing a professor’s sample test is probably the single most valuable study method available to law students. Reviewing these tests not only gives students a better idea of what to expect on their final exam—let’s face it law professors are not typically known for their creativity, and thus, they tend to stick with the same format and types of test questions on exams—but also alleviates a lot of the anxiety that accompanies the unexpected, thus improving their confidence when they actually go to take the exam.

(6) Prepare for all exams as if they are closed book. Whether your exam is open book or closed book, your preparation should be virtually the same: memorize, master, and practice applying. Too often students fall into the trap of false confidence when they have a textbook, outline, or class notes on hand during the exam, but the truth is that law school exams require students to issue spot quickly and run through a thorough analysis under strict time constraints. Students simply do not have enough time to complete this task and skim through their notes in an attempt to find the right answer. Instead, students should use an open book format strategically by being truly prepared for the exam, but feeling confident that if they find themselves in a bind, they will be able to reference their books, outline, or notes. To do this most effectively, students should: (a) prepare as they would for a closed book exam, (b) adopt an open book strategy such as tabbing relevant material, and (3) integrate the open book nature of your exam into your exam prep so that you can apply it flawlessly during the actual examination.

(7) Get a good night’s sleep the night before the exam. I know that we have all heard too many times that a good night’s sleep is important, but it is actually true. Simply put, your brain works better when it is well rested and when it comes to the curve, every little bit counts. Get a good night’s sleep.

(8) Don’t talk about the exam after it is done. Talking about the exam after it is finished will only lead to unnecessary panic and likely prevent you from focusing on your next exam. Even if you bombed the first exam, it does you no good to think about it. Instead, take the night off, give your brain a rest, and start studying again the next day. As a side note, 1Ls you will all probably feel as if you failed your first exam. Most likely, you didn’t. Regardless, the most important thing is to keep pushing through and as soon as one exam is over start focusing on the next.

Finally, know that your first two semesters of law school are some of the most critical. 1L summer opportunities will be based off of your first semester grades and 2L summer opportunities off of your second semester grades. This is no time to sit back and “see what happens.” Making great grades early in law school will open many doors, so study hard and give it your best shot. That being said, if your first semester does not go well, it is not the end of the world. Each semester you will gain a better understanding of what is expected of you. You will recognize your strengths and weaknesses and you will have many opportunities to modify your study practices. If you don’t do well on your first round of exams, take a deep breath, reassess, and give it another shot. If you are willing to put in the time and hard work, you will see success. Many students that do not do well on their first set of exams continue to climb in the rankings throughout their entire law school career. The most important thing is simply to work hard and give it your best shot. Good luck!

Advice for your 3L Year

November 22nd, 2013

pfannenstiel.travisTravis Pfannenstiel is a 3L at Washburn Law. He tells us about how is third year is going and how he is preparing for the bar!

As a 3L at Washburn Law, I feel a little shocked at how quickly my time in law school has passed. Between classes, extra-curricular activities, and preparation for graduation and the bar, I feel like this year has moved the fastest of all of my years in law school. I think that I, as well as many of my classmates, feel torn between my enjoyment of Washburn Law and my excitement to begin a career. My advice is to take the classes that interest you and enjoy this experience while it lasts. I’ve found that the best way to handle the stress of the 3L year is to make the most of the academic and social activities at Washburn Law.

For preparation for the July bar exam, I plan on purchasing the Barbri review course. I will also sign up for Essay Advantage and take the Spring Mastering Legal Analysis course. The bar application is very time-consuming—I suggest getting an early start on it and working on it gradually over a long period of time.

In looking for a job after graduation, I focused my search on the area in which I planned on practicing after school. I received my offer as a result of a summer clerkship with a law firm that participated in on-campus interviews during my 2L year. I think that students should get an early start on their job searches because many open positions are filled by the early part of the Fall semester. Summer clerkships and networking definitely help to lock down jobs for after graduation.

Meet the 1Ls: Ben Carmichael

November 15th, 2013

carmichael.benjaminHi, my name is Ben Carmichael and I am a 1L at Washburn University School of Law. I am originally from Wichita, Kansas, where I was born and raised. After graduating from Wichita State University with a degree in Political Science in 2012, I took a year off from school to figure out what I wanted to do. I had always wanted to attend law school and knew that I wanted to practice in Kansas. In the year between graduating and attending Washburn University School of Law I worked as an administrative assistant at Morris, Laing, Evans, Brock, and Kennedy. The experience that I had at their office reinforced the fact that I wanted to attend law school.

I picked Washburn University School of Law because of the high regard in which the school was held by its Alumni. Talking to Alumni of the school I was blown away by the fact that they all had relatively the same experience. Washburn Law is a community. Being halfway through my first year I can attest to that as well. The people here, and the faculty especially, care about each other. The amount of one on one time that you can receive with your professors, if you seek it, is amazing, and they all care about your academic success. My experience here so far has been amazing.

Jason Zavadil, J-Section, on Why Starting in January Worked for Him

November 7th, 2013

Jazon ZavadilIt’s hard to believe I started law school almost 10 months ago. Time flies! I distinctly remember the anxiety I felt walking into the building that cold January morning. I didn’t know anyone, and had no idea what I was doing. With the smaller class size of the January start, I quickly made friends with the entire class, and realized we were all in the same boat. Ten months later, my J-section classmates are some of the closest friends in my life. Washburn isn’t just a law school—it’s a community. I’ve found where I belong—at least for the next year and a half.

I decided I wanted to go to law school in May 2012. In scrambling to take the LSAT and gather everything for my application, I realized starting in August 2012 was too soon. But I didn’t want to wait more than a year to start the next chapter of my life either. That was the beauty of Washburn Law’s January start program. I was able to start law school on my timetable, and with the ability to complete the program in two and a half years, I can finish law school on my timetable as well.

Looking back, it’s clear I was supposed to end up in law school as a January start. J-Sectioners face a unique challenge in law school. Your first semester is a trial by fire. Washburn Law’s First Week program is fantastic and prepares you for life in law school. However, nothing can prepare you for the first class with students who have had a semester to figure out what law school entails. You lean on your fellow J-Sectioners, and you quickly figure it out. In your first fall semester, the pace is slower for the incoming 1L class but you’ve had a semester or two to figure out what you need to do. In some ways, adjusting to the slower pace was challenging. However, it’s given me a chance to become more involved on campus– I’m a member of the negotiation competition team, and have been more involved with student organizations. It has also given me more time to work for a law firm in town.

Starting law school in January was a great opportunity. The smaller class size was perfect for me, and the other J-Sectioners are some of my closest friends. The challenging first semester quickly acclimated me to law school life. It’s given me time to focus on extra-curricular activities and work, but still graduate on a timetable that works for me.

8 Things They Won’t Tell You: An Insider’s Guide to Barbados

November 4th, 2013

patterson-selfBy: Tyler Patterson, 3L
Congratulations to Tyler who won Washburn University’s 2013 Study Abroad Photo Essay Contest. You can find Tyler’s amazing photos HERE

#8. Travel by Zadar (za•där)

You won’t see Zadars in the United States anytime soon… Zadar rides are not for the faint of heart. Bajans who plan ahead will walk, drive, or take a city bus to get to their destination, but if they’re in a hurry, a Zadar is the fastest ride on the island. Zadars are privately owned white vans that function like a taxi. Well, a taxi with 20 of your closest friends. The Zadar driver’s motto “the more the merrier” can make your ride a tight squeeze. Tip: It’s a great way to get to know each other if you’re on a first date.

#7. Carnival T-shirts and Fanny Packs

After a couple weeks on the island, you’ll develop a keen sense for spotting tourists in Barbados. Tourism is the number one industry on the island, and local merchants welcome outsiders with open arms. The Port of Barbados is a destination for several major cruise lines. When a cruise ship docks, businesses on the island make sure their doors are open for business. Part of the study abroad experience is developing a new understanding of the Bajan culture… the downside to tourism is the occasional line. You’ll quickly learn t-shirts with pictures of carnival ships, large cameras, and fanny packs, are all red flags you’ve spotted a tourist.

#6. You Can’t Handle the Hot Sauce

Yet another item on this list “not for the faint of heart.” Bajans love spicy food. If you like the feeling of hot flames scorching your tongue, you’ll enjoy the many different hot sauces the island has to offer. If your culinary pallet does not have a high pain tolerance, instead of dousing your food with Bajan hot sauce… test it out first with just a drop.

#5. It’s a Runner’s Paradise

You have already packed your swimsuit and beach towel, but don’t forget to pack your running shoes when you travel to Barbados. If you’re used to walking or running outside in Kansas, it may take a couple weeks to adjust to the hills of the island, but it’s well worth it. A few minutes away from the steps of the University of the West Indies Campus, you’ll have two options: beachside or panoramic views of the island. The scenery is breathtaking, so much so, you might forget you’re even running.

#4. The Dolphin is Not Dolphin

They call him Flipper, Flipper, faster than lightning, no-one you see, is smarter than he! **Spoiler alert: You’ll see Dolphin on most menus in Barbados. If you eat fish, go ahead and order it without fear… you are not actually eating your childhood hero! For reasons which I have yet to figure out, when you’re eating Dolphin in Barbados, you’re really eating Mahi Mahi.

#3. You Won’t Get AT&T, Sprint, or Verizon Coverage

As of 2013, U.S. carriers have not extended their coverage area to the island of Barbados. You may not need a cell phone when you study abroad, but you have options once you arrive. For around $50 USD, you can purchase a prepaid cell phone once you arrive. The two main carriers of Barbados are Lime and Digicel. When was the last time you played the “snake” game on a vintage Nokia? The best part of a non-smartphone? Each power charge lasts up to 7 days.

#2. Gas Station Food Ain’t Half Bad

Barbados is known for serving exotic dishes and fresh fish, and you’ll find restaurants that will satisfy even the pickiest of your “foodie” friends. But when heading down to the beach from campus, there’s a Tigermarket close by that really ain’t half bad! It’s clean, quick, and affordable. What more could a law student want?

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#1. You’ll Learn how to Spell Caribbean!

C-A-R-I-B-B-E-A-N. It only takes six weeks to get it right.

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