Advocating a Path to New Scholarships and Successful Careers in Law School

UMKC School of Law Campaign for Advocates is making a difference
Stephanie Landers sits inside the UMKC Student Union smiling

The UMKC School of Law is recognized consistently for the education and preparation of students focused on advocacy.

The Campaign for Advocates is a $1 million campaign  initiated to increase’ opportunities for students in this area through support of scholarships and advocacy competition travel and expenses. The campaign has raised more than $600,000; lead gifts supported a faculty fellowship to fund coaching for the trial advocacy teams. Scott Bethune (J.D. ’88) and Kent Emison (J.D. ’81), are campaign co-chairs, and David Mayer (J.D. ’92), managing partner Monsees & Mayer, P.C., and Jim Bartimus (J.D. ’77) created the first two endowed scholarships to support the Campaign For Advocates.

Mayer worked while he attended law school, and he knows the challenges that juggling school and employment present to law students. As a scholarship recipient during his time at UMKC, he is dedicated to supporting the Campaign for Advocates because of the assistance it provides.

“Many students come to law school with debt from their undergraduate education,” Mayer says. “I know that potential students consider the available scholarship funding when they are choosing a law school. The more talent we can keep or attract is a bonus to the law school and Kansas City.”

Stephanie Landers (J.D. ’23) is one of the first recipients of the Monsees & Mayer Endowed Scholarship. She was a teacher when she decided to go to law school.

“I have always had a huge heart for helping people who don’t have a voice,” Landers says. “After 10 years of teaching I wanted to make a career change where I could truly advocate for people every single day.”

Nervous about going back to school, Landers applied to 10 law schools and was accepted to all of them. One of the schools that accepted her offered her a full tuition scholarship.

“When I was deciding, I remembered touring UMKC and seeing professors and students in the hallways having conversations,” Landers says. “It felt like family, and it felt like home. I accepted the offer from UMKC the next day. I knew it was where I was supposed to be.”

Initially interested in family law, she participated in “Last Man Standing,” a mock trial challenge, her first year.

“I fell in love with litigation,” Landers says. “I love being in the courtroom and advocating. The whole reason I came back to law school was to give hope to people who didn’t have a voice. That part of advocacy is important to me.”

Even though Landers worked full time during law school, receiving the scholarship this year has been essential.

“I’m sitting for the bar and the help with bar preparation has been critical.”

Steve Leben, Douglas R. Stripp Missouri Distinguished Professor of Law, is committed to furthering opportunities for advocacy students.

“We provide critical support to all of our students, but establishing endowed scholarships ensures that we can recruit more effectively,” Leben says. “In addition, the support is important for advocacy students who are unable to work as much as they’d like because of the preparation for advocacy competitions. These funds help our students, but also the potential clients who need their skills.”  

Mayer knows that the scholarship funding will make a difference for the students.

“I’m a firm believer in the quality of students who attend UMKC School of Law,” Mayer says. “We want to continue to attract the highest level of talent. It’s good for UMKC and the Kansas City legal community. That’s what made our firm want to give back – to UMKC and to the students at the School of Law.”

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Published: Feb 23, 2023

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