UMKC Law School alumni, faculty and students participated in the 11th annual Pat Kelly Poker Tournament last Friday night in the Student Union. Proceeds from the tournament go to funding the Pat Kelly Scholarship, which is available to law school students.
90 members of the UMKC Law School community participated. Of those, about 30 were students, and the rest were alumni and faculty.
Pat Kelly joined the UMKC Law School as a faculty member in 1961 and was appointed dean in 1966. He started the event to help students meet practicing attorneys and judges in Kansas City, combining it with his love of poker and a scholarship fund.
Jasmine Abdel-Khalik, a professor at the Law School, always looks forward to the annual event.
“Not only is it supporting a good cause, but it is great to see former students and current students interacting,” said Abdel-Khalik.
Brittany Perry, a law student who also works for the Student Bar Association, helped organize the student portion of the tournament.
“Alumni are very generous and help fund this event,” said Perry. “Sometimes they purchase extra tickets or a whole table, and we hold a raffle to pick what students will get to fill those seats.”
In addition to supporting the scholarship fund, the event is a great networking opportunity for students.
“I love watching students interact with attorneys. Not only does everyone have a great time, but people can get jobs from this event,” said Perry.
Ellen Suni serves as Dean of the Law School and is the one who initially came up with the idea of holding a poker tournament to raise money for the scholarship.
“When we started the event Pat Kelly was still alive. He was a huge poker fanatic,” said Suni.
To honor Kelly, the winner of the tournament each year receives a trophy that incorporates the visor Kelly wore whenever he played. In addition to having their name immortalized on the front of the trophy, winners receive prizes that range from Royals tickets, gift cards, and devices such as GoPro cameras.
The event, which began set up at 4 p.m., lasted well into the evening. The final game ended just as the announcement played that the Union would be closing shortly. This year’s winner was Jeff Spradlin, whose wife is a Law School alumni.