Law Alumni recognized with 2014 UMKC Alumni Association awards

Two School of Law alumni have been awarded 2014 UMKC Alumni Association awards and will be presented with these awards at the Alumni Association’s Celebration 2014 Awards Luncheon, which is held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. April 24 at the Swinney Gymansium. For more details about the event, click here.

Michael S. J. Albano (’68) - Bill French Alumni Service Award
mike_albanoWhile Michael Albano is known nationally for his expertise in family and matrimonial law, his hobby and passion is Roo blue and gold. For more than 45 years, Albano has been a bedrock of alumni support and advocacy for the university. He has served as president of the UMKC Alumni Association, on the board of the UMKC Law Foundation, on the UMKC Trustees Board and as chair of the UM System Alumni Alliance. He is also a fixture in the fan stands at Roo athletics events and has been a tireless advocate for UMKC in the community. In 2013, he completed his service as chairman of the UM System Alliance of Alumni Associations. Albano’s accomplished career includes service as president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation and chairperson of the American Bar Association Family Law Section. His career accolades include the Missouri Bar President’s Award, multiple Family Lawyer of the Year awards, Best Lawyer in Kansas City and the Missouri Bar Association’s Family Law Practitioner of the Year award. He also was previously awarded a UMKC Outstanding Alumni Service award.

JIM BARTIMUS (’77) – Alumni Achievement Award: School of Law
jim_bartimusJim Bartimus is a partner at Bartimus, Frickleton, Robertson and Goza, PC.  His practice focuses in the area of medical malpractice and pharmaceutical litigation.  Bartimus has been involved in global lawsuits for the protection of litigants harmed by dangerous and harmful pharmaceutical practices.  His extensive volunteer work includes serving as a board member on the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys, the Center for Practical Bioethics and the Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association.  Bartimus and his wife, Dana, have established a charitable foundation whose efforts concentrate on children’s issues.  The foundation has helped fund many charities and local schools and non-profit organizations and was a major donor supporting the UMKC Law Advocacy Center, helping to position the School to become one of the top ten advocacy programs in the country.  He is the recipient of numerous awards including multiple “Best of the Bar” awards, Top 50 Kansas City Super Lawyer, and an Acorn Award from the Missouri Humanities Council.

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Symposium held to trace history of school desegregation case law

An unprecedented joint symposium sponsored by the University of Missouri-Kansas CitySchool of Law and Michigan State University brought together scholars and actual participants in the landmark school desegregation cases in American history.

Timed to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education and the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Right Act of 1964, “Pursuing the Dreams of Brown and the Civil Rights Act: A Living History of the Fight for Educational Equality” was held April 10-11 and was conducted simultaneously on both campuses. The speakers who were live at one campus were viewed by real-time video-conference at the other.

In addition to Brown v. Board of Education, the 1954 U.S. Supreme Court case that ended legal school segregation in the U.S., other cases featured during the symposium included:

  • Mendez v. Westminster (1946), a Ninth Circuit decision that desegregated California schools for Latinos
  • Milliken v. Bradley (1974), a case that sharply limited use of multi-district approaches to desegregate schools
  • Missouri v. Jenkins (1995), the case that released the state of Missouri from responsibility to fund the Kansas City, Mo., school desegregation effort
  • Parents Involved v. Seattle (2007), the most recent Supreme Court case to address race-based decision-making as a means to protect against resegregation

Among the participants in attendance at the UMKC campus were Jack Greenberg, the Alphonse Fletcher, Jr. Professor of Law at Columbia University, who was part of the NAACP legal team inBrown; and Cheryl Brown Henderson, daughter of plaintiff Oliver Brown.

Additional symposium participants speaking at UMKC included:

  • Frederick Aguirre, historian and judge, Superior Court of Orange County, Calif; his father forced the schools in Placentia, California, to obey Mendez and integrate Latinos in 1949
  • Gonzalo Mendez, litigant in Mendez
  • Charles Hamilton Houston, Jr., Historian and son of attorney Charles Hamilton Houston, the architect of the NAACP’s Brown strategy
  • Howard Glickstein, Dean Emeritus of Touro College of Law, a key drafter of the Civil Rights Act
  • Judge Nathaniel Jones, Retired Sixth Circuit judge and general counsel for the NAACP duringMilliken
  • Dan Ritter, counsel in Parents Involved

A large number of business, legal and community sponsors supported the symposium, including:

  • The Joseph Cohen Lecture Fund
  • The Merrill Otis Fund
  • Husch Blackwell LLP
  • Ogletree Deakins
  • Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P.
  • Sprint
  • Spencer Fane Britt & Brown LLP
  • UMB
  • Wagstaff & Cartmell, LLP
  • Hardwick Law Firm, LLC
  • Kansas City Metropolitan Bar Association
  • UMKC Student Affairs

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First-year students engage with KC real estate legal community

What separates and distinguishes UMKC School of Law from other law schools is its close relationship and accessibility to the Kansas City legal community. Students are given opportunities to speak to practicing lawyers with experience as they forge and develop the foundation of their law education, creating countless networking opportunities meant to help students in their careers after law school. One such example of these kinds of events, in particular, is the Real Estate Practioner’s Panel held for first-year students April 1 in Visiting Associate Professor Leo Salinger’s Property II classes. Several Kansas City lawyers, many of which are UMKC Law alumni, participated in each of the two sessions with the goal of answering students’ questions about practicing real estate law in the real world.

The panelists included Mary Jane Judy, Shareholder at Polsinelli; Scott Hall, Vice President for Strategic Initiatives at Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; Todd Jones (’98), Manager of Kansas and Missouri Operations at First American Title Insurance Company—National Services Division; Eric Collins (’05), Shareholder at Collins & Jones, P.C.; Christine Brady Hoag (’12), Associate at Polsinelli; and Charles Renner (’00), Partner at Husch Blackwell LLP.

The response from students was overwhelming and many of the questions presented to the practioner’s panel sought advice on narrowing down the wide scope of law to determine which particular areas of law would most appeal to students in practice, which is quite different from academia.

“I wanted to provide my property student-colleagues with an opportunity to hear from real estate professionals about what they do in their careers – what appeals to them about dirt law, what challenges they face and what courses they might take in law school that aligned with their interests,” said Salinger.  “Students often wonder if they need to express an interest in a particular practice area when interviewing and they don’t, but it never hurts to, at the very least, know enough to rule out a particular area, or conversely, to know that you might be more interested than you first thought.”

According to one of the panelists in the first session, Todd Jones, many areas of law often involve work that is not expected when a student is trying to determine which area to focus his or her studies on. Students may not necessarily like a particular field of law in practice when they see what kind of work is actually involved. One such example Jones mentioned was the need for real estate lawyers to spend great lengths of time drafting complex legal documents.

“[These type of events are] helpful from the standpoint that [they] increase the frequency of the intersection from the academic to the practical,” said Jones.  “It would have been helpful for me if I had been able to hear somebody say that if you’re going to be a real estate lawyer you’re going to have to be really good at drafting complex documents.”

Events like the Real Estate Practioner’s Panel provide students with experiences and opportunities that are unique to UMKC School of Law and its relationship with the Kansas City legal community. To find out more about how a UMKC School of Law legal education offers a unique experience for students, visit law.umkc.edu/prospective-students/why-umkc.asp.

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UMKC Law Alumni Recognized at LEAP Luncheon

Several UMKC School of Law alumni were recently recognized at the 20th Annual Foundation for Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance (LEAP) luncheon.

Among the alumni honored, Scott Bethune (’88) and Grant Davis (’87) were named to the Royal Court as Kings of the 20th Annual LEAP Luncheon for their continuous support of LEAP and Operation Breakthrough.

For their support of the Back to School Breakfast, Lathrop & Gage, LLP received the President’s Award. Mara Cohara (’01) with former University of Missouri Curator, Bert Bates, accepted the award on behalf of the firm. Cohara, a partner at Lathrop & Gage, is serving her third year as co-chair of the Back to School Breakfast, which LEAP sponsors annually for more than 400 students served by Operation Breakthrough. The firm, through its employees and summer associates, has raised more than $22,000 over the course of the past three years, and these funds have been used to benefit children by purchasing backpacks, school supplies and pre-school supply bags.

Three recent graduates, Bryant Ash (’11), Matt Sparks (’10) and Samatha Wenger (’11) were also recognized with the President’s Award. In the summer of 2013 they developed and implemented a service project with the goal of forging a relationship between the legal community and the community at large. Team Discovery of the CMBA’s Bar Leadership Academy chose to assist LEAP by expanding attorney volunteerism at Operation Breakthrough. Summer associates from five large firms, including Bryan, Cave, Husch Blackwell, Polsinelli, Shook, Hardy & Bacon and Stinson, Leonard & Street, were recruited. The team’s long-term goal is to provide Operation Breakthrough with a steady, sustainable, committed pool of volunteer attorneys to assist Kansas City children and families in need.

About LEAP
The Foundation for Lawyers Encouraging Academic Performance (LEAP) is a not-for-profit foundation established in 1994 to provide children in need with mentoring services and to financially support educational programs so that children are given the opportunity to succeed. Currently, Operation Breakthrough is LEAP’s primary recipient and, since its inception, LEAP has raised and donated more than $1,200,000 to the program. Operation Breakthrough was founded in 1971 and it provides assistance to children and families of the inner city of Kansas City. Some of the services provided include day care, meals, Children’s Mercy Clinic, dental services, speech therapy, play therapy, housing assistance, food and clothing, and social services.

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UMKC Law sets the pace for enrolling accepted applicants

Originally featured on umkc.edu

The University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law is one of the top 10 law schools in the country in terms of converting accepted applicants into enrolled students.

That’s the word from U.S. News & World Report, which cited the nation’s top law schools for attracting students, at a time when overall law school admissions are in decline. UMKC is seventh on a top 10 list that also includes Yale, Harvard and Stanford. See the full list in the U.S. News “Short List” report.

This year, enrollment at the UMKC School of Law increased by almost 15 percent, even while total applications declined 12 percent. According to Dean Ellen Y. Suni, two key elements are the school’s exceptional value and student-centered approach.

Tuition at UMKC Law is a reasonable $18,000 a year for Missouri residents, and the university offers out-of-state tuition scholarships to many Kansas and other out-of-state residents. But despite the low cost, the school boasts a 90 percent job placement rate and a 92 percent bar passage rate among graduates. Those figures helped earn the school a “Best Value” ranking from National Jurist magazine.

The school’s student-centered approach begins with the admissions process, which requires an interview with a member of the admissions committee. The school building is designed for close faculty-student interaction, with office suites that mix students and faculty – a design that draws faculty who want that kind of relationship with students.

In addition, the school focuses on preparing students for practice. Powered by the extensive practice experience of its faculty, important lawyering skills are integrated into doctrinal classes from the very first semester. In addition, the school’s close ties to the Kansas City legal community allow for networking and significant clinical and externship opportunities.

Earlier this year, U.S. News ranked the online graduate nursing programs at UMKC’s School of Nursing and Health Studies among the nation’s top 10. The nonprofit management emphasis in the Henry W. Bloch School of Management’s Master of Public Administration program has been ranked no. 15 in the country by U.S. News.

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UMKC to Offer LSAT Prep Course

UMKC is offering a unique opportunity for students preparing for law school to study and prepare for the upcoming LSAT. The School of Law has partnered with Get Smarter Prep to provide students with the opportunity to enroll in a six-week LSAT prep course to prepare for the June 9 test date. The course is designed to not only cover the LSAT sections and writing sample, but also the law school admissions process. The material covered in the course was developed by Get Smarter Prep and UMKC is providing the course’s location as well as law school professors who will work one-on-one with students to help facilitate their transition into law school. Participants will learn about the law school application and admissions process from both admissions professionals and UMKC faculty.

The course begins Monday, April 21 and runs through Wednesday, June 4 of 2014. It includes two full-length practice tests that will prepare students for the official LSAT test date, June 9. For students who register prior to April 4, the cost is $400 and for students registering between April 5 and April 25, the cost is $450.

“For some students, preparing for law school can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. UMKC School of Law offers a comprehensive and affordable LSAT prep course here in Kansas City that will give students the information needed to take the exam with confidence,” said Lydia Dagenais, Director of Law School Admissions.

For more information and to register for the course, please visit Get Smarter Prep’s UMKC LSAT page. You may also view a PDF of the course flyer.

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UMKC Wins Regional NTC Mock Trial Competition

mock trial team

Sara Christensen, Jared Frick, Kahlie Poindexter, Professor Rafe Foreman

UMKC had two teams compete in the NTC Regional Mock Trial Competition held last weekend in Columbia, Missouri.  Twenty-two teams competed over three days.  The region includes schools from Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri.  Eight teams advanced to the semi-final round and four teams advanced to the final round.  The two winners of the final round advance to the national competition.

The NTC Mock Trial Competition requires students to conduct a complete trial from opening statement to closing argument in a civil case.  This year’s case problem was a wrongful death lawsuit.

The UMKC team of Sara Christensen, Jared Frick, and Kahlie Poindexter advanced to the national competition held March 26-30, in Austin, Texas.  Other members of the team who helped make this victory possible include Preston Coughlin and Mitch Biebighauser.  The teams practiced many hours together to prepare for the competition.  The faculty coaches were Professor Rafe Foreman and Professor Michaelle Tobin.

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UMKC Wins Regional ABA Client Counseling Competition

2014 UMKC Client Counseling Team

Front Row (left to right): Kelly Postlewait, Maureen McHugh, Ashlee Crowl, Sarah Holdmeyer.
Back Row: Lindsay Mathews, Heath Martin, Associate Dean Barbara Glesner Fines, Darion Williamson, Corey Kilburn

UMKC was well represented in the ABA Regional Client Counseling Competition, held February 8 at MU in Columbia, Missouri.  The UMKC team was made up of two third-year student teams: Ashlee Crowl & Maureen McHugh, and Heath Martin & Kelly Postlewait.  Six teams in the competition advanced to semi-final rounds: both of UMKC’s teams were among those semi-finalists. Heath and Kelly went on to win the final round. The region for this competition included schools from Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and Missouri.

Other members of the team who helped make this victory possible included first-year student Sarah Holdmeyer and second-year student Danon Williamson, who served as alternates and helped prepare the team by acting as clients and preparing scenarios for practice problems. Third-year students Lindsay Mathews and Corey Kilburn, who represented the school in last year’s competition, acted as coaches and organized the  in-house competition to select the teams. The team’s faculty coach was Professor Barbara Glesner Fines.  Numerous faculty members judged the in-school competition and students and community members volunteered as mock clients for practice rounds.    ​

The ABA Client Counseling Competition requires students to be prepared to conduct a 45-minute initial client interview with a mock client in a broad area of law.  This year’s topic area was First Amendment law. Students were given a one or two-sentence description of their client and were expected to obtain the client’s story and goals; address ethical, legal and practical issues; and decide on a plan of action for the client.  The UMKC team faced problems in which:

  • a judge was asking for advice about religious statements he had posted in his courtroom;
  • a coffeeshop owner with “Hot Coffee and Hotter Baristas” was facing a city complaint for running an “adult entertainment” business in a residential neighborhood;
  • an employee was facing a demand by an employer that he turn over the passwords to his personal social networking sites;
  • a newspaper editor was facing suit by a crime victim’s family for running a photograph of the victim; and
  • a father was hoping to get his 17-year-old son released from jail after the boy had made threats to blow up the local mall in the discussion board of an on-line video game.

The UMKC team will go on to the March 21st national competition to compete against the first-place teams from the other eleven regional competitions. The winner from that competition will advance to the International Client Consultation Competition to be held in April in Puerto Rico.

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UMKC to host international JRCLS conference

The Alexander Doniphan statue outside the Ray County Courthouse

The Alexander Doniphan statue outside the Ray County Courthouse, which is inscribed with the JRCLS theme, “Obedience to Law is Liberty.”

The Kansas City Chapter of the JRCLS is pleased to host this year’s International Conference at the University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School and Student Center. The historic setting of Jackson, County, in close proximity to Liberty Jail and other historic church sites makes this an added bonus for conference attendees. This year’s theme is taken from an inscription on the Ray County, Missouri Courthouse, “Obedience to Law is Liberty”, a topic recently addressed by Elder L. Tom Perry.

Some of the special guests addressing general sessions are: Senator Robert L. Bennet (retired) former Senator of Utah, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koester and former Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives, Catherine Hanaway.  Judges of the Supreme Courts of Missouri and Kansas will be participating in individual and general sessions.

Inasmuch as Valentine’s Day will be celebrated on Friday evening of the Conference, a special banquet has been planned and Elder Lance B. Wickman, General Counsel of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints will be our featured speaker. He will address the unique relationship of Joseph and Emma Smith as well as the Prophet’s thoughts on the Constitution as expressed while in Liberty jail. Elder Wickman will also be presented with the Alexander W. Doniphan Community Service Award that evening. There will also be a special student event at the nearby Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art where you can enjoy an “Art and Romance” tour.

Given the history of the LDS church in Jackson County, Missouri a special “Legal History Track” has been incorporated into the schedule allowing attendees to hear lectures and discussions related to the early history of the LDS Church. Prof. Jack Welch and Jeff Walker will present a lecture on Oliver Cowdery, now acknowledged as “The First Mormon Lawyer”. Other History Track sessions will focus on Joseph Smith’s attorneys and legal trials, the Austin King Hearing and Mormon Land Grab Claims among others. There will also be a special emphasis on Religious Liberty with various emphasis and implications. A traditional highlight of the conference continues this year with presentations from members of the Church’s Area Legal Counsel as our closing session.

Attendees of the conference may make reservations for a shuttle bus to transport them from the UMKC Student Center, site of the conference, to Historic Liberty Jail where they will enjoy a tour of the site and partially reconstructed jail. Please visit the Conference website at: www.jrclsconference.com where you will find a link to the hotel reservation site, area attractions and more. We hope to see you in Kansas City!
View the conference schedule here.

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UMKC offers unique prelaw undergraduate scholars program

UMKC School of Law is proud to offer the LSAC DiscoverLaw.org PreLaw Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program. PLUS summer programs are targeted to, but not restricted to, college students from racial and ethnic minority groups underrepresented in the legal profession. UMKC’s summer institute, which is one of only five being hosted at law schools this summer, runs from June 6 through July 13 and includes a 4-week intensive academic and lawyering skills program designed to familiarize students with scholarly and professional expectations of law students.

“We are excited to once again partner with DiscoverLaw.org to host a PreLaw Undergraduate Scholars summer institute,” said Lydia Dagenais, director of law school admissions. “It is an honor to bring a diverse and talented group of students to the law school for this prestigious program, and we have no doubt that this program is mutually beneficial to our community partners who play host to PLUS students through field trips, internships, and mentorships that we hope last beyond the summer.”

Up to 24 undergraduate students who are rising sophomores or juniors will be admitted into the program, where they will have the opportunity to partake in academic coursework and field trips facilitated by UMKC faculty, students and alumni. Topics will include, but are not limited to: legal writing, legal research, intellectual property, contracts and mock trial. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in seminars ranging from professional responsibility to career development.

One of the unique aspects of UMKC’s program is the fact that students complete a two-week paid internship to give them some hands-on experience and let them see what the day-to-day is like at a firm or courthouse.  This very much mirrors the approach UMKC takes with its law students who gain valuable practice experience through clinics and internships or externships alongside their academic courses.

“UMKC has always been proud to be Kansas City’s law school, and we will continue to serve the community and students by facilitating great unique educational opportunities such as PLUS,” said Dagenais.

For more information about the PLUS program, including application materials, visit law.umkc.edu/PLUS.

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