Master of Clinical Advocacy students gain real-world experience

Riley Odom

Riley Odom with his mother, Lori Odom, upon his release.

This semester, Professor Rafe Foreman’s Mastery of Clinical Advocacy class got a hands-on experience most law students can only dream of. The three students enrolled in the course—Zachary Enterline, Jeff Norman and Anthony McDaniel—had the opportunity to work for a client in grand jury proceedings and came out on top.

Foreman accepted the case of Texas man Riley Odom, charged in August with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, as a case for his Mastery class. According to Odom, he was acting in self defense, and Foreman decided this would be a great opportunity for his students to put their skills to work.

“Having a real client and experience to work on changed the lives of not only the client but also these students,” said Foreman. “They were filled with doubt. They did not believe that the things I was teaching them were possible. But they are now filled with gratitude and understanding for what it takes to be an advocate.”

The students worked with Foreman to perform research; draft documents, letters, and proceedings; and prepare a package for the grand jury, which the district attorney agreed to present. On November 13, after the grand jury deliberated, they returned with a no-bill decision, setting Odom free and giving the students in the course a well-deserved win.

“I believe that they understand that justice does not just happen, but that it is a participatory sport. Justice depends on everyone in the system doing their job,” said Foreman. “I am very proud of the work that each student put into this project. They will tell you that the Mastery class is more work than anyone ever dreamed. But now they are not just dreaming, they are realizing and making things happen.”

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LL.M. student named as BBR Brazilian Student Ambassador

LL.M. student, Hítalto Silva, was recently selected as a student ambassador of Brazilian students of BBR (Brazil Business Reports). Silva was one of two students selected through a combination of photographs posted on social media as well an application letter. As an ambassador he will be featured in the US Education Report 2015, where he will be able to share his American university experience with the world and allow new Brazilian students to learn about UMKC.

BBR believed that Hítalo would be an exemplary student ambassador who could, through the use of social media, help many other Brazilian students to understand the advantages of the U.S. educational system, by sharing his personal experience of studying and living in the U.S.

Silva, joined the UMKC School of Law LL.M. Program for International students in the Fall of 2014 after completing a law degree at Centro Universitário Do Estado Do Pará, Belém, Pará, Brazil. Hítalo was admitted to the LL.M. program at several schools in the U.S. but he chose UMKC because he received a generous scholarship. Hítalo loves to travel – at 23 years old he visited 24 different countries.

Silva’s academic interests focus on the comparative analysis of the legal issues underpinning hate speech in Brazil and the U.S. Since he has started his studies at UMKC he was able to expand his graduation thesis on this topic.

A few of Silva’s Instagram posts that earned him a spot as an ambassador are featured below.

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Alumni honored at 2014 KCMBA Annual Meeting

At the recent 2014 KCMBA Annual Meeting, four UMKC School of Law alumni were honored with awards.

  • Sandra Schermerhorn (’69) received the Lifetime Achievement Award. Schermerhorn was the first female president of the KCMBA, the first female law clerk to a federal judge, the first female attorney at a major law firm in Kansas City and the first female partner at Spencer, Fane, Britt, Browne.
  • Hon. Ann Mesle (’72) received the Hon. Joseph E. Stevens Aspire to Excellence Award
  • Andy Russell (’91) received the Outstanding CLE Contribution Award
  • Tracy Barnes (’12) received the YLS President’s Award

Congratulations to these winners!

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Faculty member selected as fellow for A2J Author Course Project

Associate Director of the Law Library and Director of Law School Information Technology, Michael Robak, was recently selected as a faculty fellow for the CALI A2J Author Course Project. Robak was one of eight law school faculty members across the nation to be selected for the project, which is a joint initiative with IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law and Idaho Legal Aid Services and supports law school courses teaching A2J Author®. Through this fellowship, the law school will offer courses teaching students to create Guided Interviews, interactive graphical interfaces that help self-represented individuals navigate a legal process.

To read more about this great honor, visit http://spotlight.cali.org/2014/12/09/1118/

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This Is Our Story: Passion for Policy Making

evanandkate

Evan Absher, 3L, and Kate Garman, 2L, were provided a unique experience this year when they were asked by Law & Entrepreneurship Professor, Anthony Luppino, and John Tyler, General Counsel at the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, to co-author an article on “hybrid” business forms that blend aspects of traditional for-profit ventures with characteristics normally associated with non-profit entities.

The topic of the article is social entrepreneurship and the new legal business entities available, with an emphasis on new “hybrid” entities that have a focus on social good. Professor Luppino asked Absher and Garman to be a part of this paper because of the work they had done together working on a piece of legislation that would address “hybrid” entities.  Their legislation was ultimately not adopted, but it did help to shape how they look at “hybrid” entities.

Absher and Garman are currently working in the Kansas City mayor’s office as policy interns.  It is through this internship that they are able to see policy at work and how it is crafted and implemented.  Their research helps to inform some of the policies that are currently being worked on in the mayor’s office. Both Absher and Garman’s passion for policy making and desire to work in public policy once they graduate from law school led them to work on this paper.

With the support of the Law Foundation, Absher and Garman were able to travel to Washington D.C. to present the paper alongside Professor Luppino and Tyler at the George Washington Global Entrepreneurship Research and Policy Conference on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

The Law Foundation played a role in this experience that has now helped to shape their law school careers.  Being able to present validates what they are working on and wrote.  This article is having an impact on the conversation surrounding “hybrid” entities and it is starting conversations in Kansas City.

Currently there are three main offerings for “hybrid” entities and only one of these offerings creates a fiduciary duty to the social purpose; the others only alleviate the fiduciary duty to shareholders.  This causes a problem in that managers don’t have to pursue the social good or shareholder value. Professor Luppino, Tyler, Absher and Garman are addressing this issue with their article.

“What we say is these hybrid entities fall short of delivering on their promise of having companies go above and beyond for the social good. So we proposed a statutory scheme that would create a hybrid entity that creates a fiduciary duty towards a social purpose,” said Absher. “Because the problem with the other ones is that they are basically contracts and when someone breaches a contract the remedies for a breach of contract might not be as adequate as a breach of fiduciary duty.”

Garman feels that these “hybrid” entities can be strengthened to align with the current investment climate.

“Right now the legal community is debating whether or not the specific available legal forms are valuable. We are adding to the conversation by not just evaluating current options, but examining how the legal forms can and should evolve,” said Garman.

Now with millennial and impact investing people are giving money to not only make money but to also impact the social good.  It is because of this trend, the conversation around hybrid entities is no longer a ‘yes or no’ discussion regarding what is currently on the table.

As the only students presenting at the conference, they still fit right in with industry professionals and professors who spoke with them on an equal level. In addition to presenting at the conference, they were able to connect with professionals in the field of social entrepreneurship who were interested in their viewpoints.

“I really enjoyed writing and presenting on behalf of the school. It’s a privilege to further UMKC Law and highlight what we are doing . The opportunity to do that on the coast was especially great,” said Garman.  “We were the only students to present. Most of the conference speakers were academic scholars with PhD’s, many of whom we networked with and talked about the future of research for social entrepreneurship.”

Experiences like this are important not only to the larger legal and scholarly conversations but these opportunities also help students gain a practical knowledge of what they will work on once they are in the field.

“I think UMKC is in a unique position to really rediscover legal education.  I think this experience has reinforced the idea that although the first year is very necessary to reconstruct your brain as a person, and it did, and it does, and it should, you have to really reexamine what are we really doing to prepare [after the first year] and this experience really hit all of those things,” said Absher.

Opportunities like this are what makes UMKC Law unique.  Students are able to work with faculty and have the support of alumni to explore their fields of interest in depth and contribute to the legal and scholarly discussion while gaining practical skills and knowledge that will help them in their future career.

The article titled “Producing Better Mileage: Advancing the Design and Usefulness of Hybrid Vehicles for Social Business Ventures,” will be printed in the upcoming issue of Quinnipiac Law Review.

To view the abstract of their article on SSRN visit: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2506247

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UMKC team wins at national IP LawMeet

UMKC Law IP LawMeet Team

Weston Mills, Coach Philip Krause, Blair Barbieri and Weston Mills pose after their win at the Western Regional IP LawMeet at Santa Clara Law School.

The UMKC School of Law IP LawMeet team, comprised of David Adams, Blair Barbieri, and Weston Mills, were named champions at the IP LawMeet National Championship November 7 at the offices of BakerHostetler in Philadelphia. The team advanced after their win at  the Western Regional IP LawMeet at Santa Clara Law School.

The competition consists of receiving a problem and having two client communications, drafting an agreement or term sheet, marking up two other teams’ documents after an additional client call, and then undertaking four rounds of negotiations in one day.  This year, the problem involved an agreement between the owner of a massive online game, Snowstorm, and a movie company, Joshua Tree, to possibly turn the game into a movie. The problem involved a great deal of copyright and trademark issues.

UMKC Law came out on top as the Joshua Tree winner. Congratulations to the team both on their deep knowledge and skill in negotiations and their success in the competition.  Thanks go out to Philip Krause, who graciously coached the students as a licensing/negotiating expert and also to to Rebecca Stroder for lending her expertise and Malika Simmons for judging a practice scrimmage round.  The team also received help in strategizing and scrimmaging from Stephen Krogmeier (2L) and additional assistance from Mark Moore (2L).

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This Is Our Story: Access to Networking

At UMKC School of Law, alumni, faculty and students are a vital part of our story. From the irreplaceable student experiences in law school to faculty performing important legal research to alumni serving as mentors and adjunct professors and participating in student forums, alumni programs and CLE presentations, the law school is greatly enriched. The “This Is Our Story” series features stories from members of the law school community who have benefited from the generosity of the Law Foundation. To read more stories like these or to become a part of our story through a gift to the Law Foundation Annual Fund, visit law.umkc.edu/ourstory.

Jayne Bart-Plange

Jayne Bart-Plange, 3L

The Law Foundation helps to support many student organization and CSO networking events.  Jayne Bart-Plange has taken advantage of the opportunity to become involved in a number of student organizations and has participated in the networking opportunities provided by CSO.

Since her first year, Bart-Plange has participated in the CSO and BLSA networking event, which is an event she looks forward to each year.  This event, which is set up like a speed-dating event, allows students and attorneys the opportunity to sit down and talk in a small group.  By sitting in small groups the interaction between students and attorneys comes more naturally and everyone has the opportunity to interact.

“[T]here was a wide range of students who came. It wasn’t just BLSA students, we had BLSA, HILSA, PILSA and just students who were not affiliated with any of those groups,” said Bart-Plange.

This is really important because it is an opportunity for students who might not know each other to have the chance to interact and network between themselves in addition to networking with attorneys.

The Law Foundation’s support of networking events like this is important because it gives students the chance to meet attorneys and make those connections. Students are able to ask practicing attorneys questions about what practice is like, what steps they should take upon graduation, and to talk about shared interests in the law. It also fosters the connections between students within the Law School and builds the community within the school.

Events like the CSO and BLSA networking event have helped Bart-Plange gain confidence because it gives students the opportunity to practice speaking in a professional manner.  It also gives the students a chance to meet people in different areas of law that they might not otherwise be exposed to.  Because of this, students have the chance to interact with attorneys practicing in a particular field and gain some practical knowledge that is not taught in the classroom.

Bart-Plange has been able to meet a lot of people in the Kansas City Legal Community.  These connections have allowed her to get feedback from practicing attorneys.  Another benefit is that when she goes to different events, like KCMBA events, she knows someone and she can talk to them.

The attorneys she has connected with are available for advice such as, when she should start applying for jobs, other attorneys she should talk to, and even how to approach someone to let them know that she would like to work for them. Having this type of support is and will continue to be invaluable to Bart-Plange as she makes the transition from law student to lawyer.

“What I like about the Law Foundation is that their funding all goes to practical skills, networking and experience,” said Bart-Plange. “They are all things that you won’t get in the classroom. They are all things that are hard to do without funding and it is nice that they provide those opportunities because it can be really hard for a law student to seek out those opportunities [for practical experience]  . . . the Law Foundation [helps students gain that] practical experience and out of the classroom education.”

The continued support of the Law Foundation is important to students.  With this support students know that they can expand their legal education beyond the boundaries of the classroom.

-Written by Kaitlin Woody, UMKC School of Law

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This Is Our Story: Innovative Faculty Research

At UMKC School of Law, alumni, faculty and students are a vital part of our story. From the irreplaceable student experiences in law school to faculty performing important legal research to alumni serving as mentors and adjunct professors and participating in student forums, alumni programs and CLE presentations, the law school is greatly enriched. The “This Is Our Story” series features stories from members of the law school community who have benefited from the generosity of the Law Foundation. To read more stories like these or to become a part of our story through a gift to the Law Foundation Annual Fund, visit law.umkc.edu/ourstory.

Professor Achtenberg

David Achtenberg, Professor

Law Foundation Scholar and Professor of Law, David Achtenberg, began the Petition to Decision Website in October 2010. This unique website focuses on cases dealing with civil rights litigation and provides a behind-the-scenes look at the Supreme Court. The website averages between ten to fifteen thousand hits a month and had a record number of hits in September, 2014, with 15,500.

Achtenberg started this site because there was no centralized location where an individual could view all of the Supreme Court Justice’s personal papers on civil litigation trials. He felt that it would be useful to make it possible for anyone to view these documents in one place on the web and see the decision making process from inside the court. His site focuses on the personal papers relating to civil litigation trials.

Thanks to the Law Foundation, Achtenberg travels to the original documents for every Justice that has made their private papers available for a particular case, so they can be studied and photographed for the website. He needs to photograph the documents because they are fragile and cannot be photocopied.

He obtains a complete set of the papers available for each case he documents for the website. This covers the case from the petition for certiorari through the decision. Once the documents have been photographed and digitized, he posts them on the Petition to Decision website in archive order and then he turns it into a chronology.  Professor Achtenberg also writes a brief overview of the legal nature of the case and some background on the case.

The Law Foundation provides Achtenberg the ability to devote the time needed maintain the Petition to Justice Website, which leads to scholarly articles and presentations that take in-depth looks at important issues.  The support of the Law Foundation also allows Professor Achtenberg to utilize research assistants.

“One of the most important values that students have is the ability to work closely on research with faculty,” said Achtenberg.

Students are given the opportunity to work on the site and other research with Professor Achtenberg.  This is a great experience for students because they are able to actually work with the private papers of Supreme Court Justices.

“Summer research stipends and other financial support makes it possible for us to devote significant solid blocks of time to do in-depth research that would not otherwise not be possible,” said Achtenberg.  “Research that sometimes directly affects the law, sometimes indirectly and over a longer period directs the law, sometimes material that may help people understand what actually goes on, for example in the Supreme Court.”

With the continued support of the Law Foundation, the opportunities for unique and innovative research are limitless.

To view Professor Achtenberg’s site visit: http://www1.law.umkc.edu/justicepapers/

-Written by Kaitlin Woody, UMKC School of Law

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This Is Our Story: Unique Practical Experience

At UMKC School of Law, alumni, faculty and students are a vital part of our story. From the irreplaceable student experiences in law school to faculty performing important legal research to alumni serving as mentors and adjunct professors and participating in student forums, alumni programs and CLE presentations, the law school is greatly enriched. The “This Is Our Story” series features stories from members of the law school community who have benefited from the generosity of the Law Foundation. To read more stories like these or to become a part of our story through a gift to the Law Foundation Annual Fund, visit law.umkc.edu/ourstory.

Sarah Holdmeyer

Sarah Holdmeyer, 2L

Sarah Holdmeyer, who made the Client Counseling Competition Team last year as an alternate – an uncommon feat for a first year law student – has the opportunity to participate again this year.  Last year’s Client Counseling Competition Team advanced to regionals and nationals.  Because of the support of the Law Foundation, Holdmeyer was able to travel with the team to experience the unique competition.  Her first-hand experience last year will be invaluable to her as she prepares to compete this year.

Holdmeyer was drawn to this competition because of the uniqueness of the competition. It was a great opportunity to gain practical experience, and was the only competition team open to first year students. For this competition, students are given a general problem, which looks like something a secretary might give an associate.  As a part of the competition students must elicit their client’s story, are judged on a variety of factors such as how much of the story they obtain, their ability to show empathy, and having a clear and definite plan at the end of the consultation.  The skills that are necessary to do well in this particular competition are skills that Holdmeyer will need when she begins her legal career.

The Foundation’s support of opportunities like this are crucial to the student’s law school experience.  Through this competition, Holdmeyer learned how to feel comfortable with a client and how to get the full story by asking open ended questions. It has also helped her gain confidence. These skills cannot be taught in a classroom and this competition reinforces good habits that will be crucial to Holdmeyer’s success in her future career.

In addition to practical skills, competitions provide students with a chance to network with a variety of students, faculty, and members of the legal community. By getting to know some upper classmen, she had people  that she could go to talk ask questions about law school like what classes to take, when to take the MPRE, what are good interview questions for OCI. These interactions have added to Holdmeyer’s confidence and is reflected in her classroom participation.

What stood out to Holdmeyer was the genuine interest of Alumni and the Foundation.  The team had the opportunity to attend The Big Event, where Holdmeyer was able to interact with Alumni directly.

“It was good to know who [was supporting us] and that they cared about what we were doing and wanted to know what we were doing,” said Holdmeyer.

It is this ability to connect that shows students how much the Foundation and Alumni like you truly support what students are doing and allows students to see beyond law school how they fit in the larger picture that is UMKC Law.

Without the support of the Law Foundation and you, these opportunities would not be possible.

-Written by Kaitlin Woody, UMKC School of Law

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This Is Our Story: Opportunities for Collaboration

At UMKC School of Law, alumni, faculty and students are a vital part of our story. From the irreplaceable student experiences in law school to faculty performing important legal research to alumni serving as mentors and adjunct professors and participating in student forums, alumni programs and CLE presentations, the law school is greatly enriched. The “This Is Our Story” series features stories from members of the law school community who have benefited from the generosity of the Law Foundation. To read more stories like these or to become a part of our story through a gift to the Law Foundation Annual Fund, visit law.umkc.edu/ourstory.

Bryan Meyer

Bryan Meyer, 3L

This past August, the Law Foundation provided Bryan Meyer, along with three other students, the opportunity to travel to Boston to attend the student section of the 2014 ABA Annual Meeting.  This experience was a valuable one that will help him in his future career. Currently seeking a joint JD/MPA, Meyer is interested in government and nonprofit work. The opportunity to see how the ABA makes its policies first hand will be invaluable to him when he begins his career, and the ability to attend a conference as large as the ABA Annual Meeting has given Meyer the exposure to the inner workings of policy making and equitable ways to make policy.

“They have a whole section just for SBA presidents programming. We spend an entire day, and we get all of the SBA presidents in a room and we start talking about how we run things at our schools; impediments that we run into; how we work around certain [issues] to make things happen, ” said Meyer.

The Law Foundation’s support makes it possible for students, like Meyer, to become more involved in the ABA.  Because of the support of the Law Foundation, students are able to take on leadership roles and create programming that will not only benefit students, but UMKC School of Law as well. Last year, UMKC won the “2013 Bronze Keys for Most Improved Membership”.  This award was given to UMKC for our increased and active membership.

Our continued relationship has allowed students to bring back additional funds from the ABA.  Without the support of the Foundation, students would not have the ability to become involved and make these opportunities a possibility. Because students are provided the resources necessary to become involved with the ABA, they are able to become involved in important issues.  During the conference, one of the issues discussed was the ability for law students to earn both pay and credit for internships.  UMKC Law students have been very involved in this ABA legislation and have been able to have their voices heard.

“We’re able to do more because we’re not worried if we decide to take the lead on something, like this legislation,” said Meyer. “Our guys are very involved and one of the things I know is, they’re not afraid to take the lead because they know they will be provided the opportunity to follow it up, to go back, to do it again, and I think that matters a lot.”

This confidence is directly reflective of the support the Law Foundation provides.

“The ability to consistently attend ABA events has allowed for UMKC Law to not only develop leadership to bring back to our school, but provide[s] the opportunity for students to take regional leadership positions,” said Meyer

With your support, we can continue the tradition of leadership at UMKC School of Law.

-Written by Kaitlin Woody, UMKC School of Law

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