University of Wisconsin–Madison

5 Things We Love about Kathryn Allen

We 'Heart' Our Students: Kathryn

1. She’ll swim against the tide, especially in defense of civil rights.
“When the small town where I grew up built a pool, I got really excited about swimming for the high school team, and then disappointed, of course, when I learned there were no plans for a women’s team.

“I started researching school sports, and I learned about Title IX, which allows women to swim or play on a men’s team when there’s no women’s team available. I told all my girlfriends, but none of them wanted to join with me. So for an entire season in my sophomore year, I was the only girl — in my pink cap and goggles — swimming with an all-boy team. It was a really tough year for me, and I faced a lot of pushback. But I found my passion in the water, both in swimming and in the law, in figuring out what remedies there are for people who are discriminated against.”

2. She knows where to go for advice when she needs it.

“When I was a sophomore in college, I started going to the law school fairs, where I met Dean Raymond. I always liked Wisconsin, even before I ever visited Madison, so I asked her how I could make my application stronger. She sat me down and laid out bullet points on how I could show who I am, without anyone actually meeting me. She was so helpful that each year I followed her around to the fairs, her and Rebecca Scheller, the admissions dean. I just kept asking them questions and doing my own research until I had a solid application.”

3. She jumped into student activities on day one.
“The Legal Education Opportunities Program at UW Law School really stands out for someone like me, who’s looking to have as many culturally diverse experiences as I can. LEO is a group of five sub-organizations for different racial and ethnic backgrounds. I signed up for ILSA, the Indigenous Law Student Association, my first day of law school. The second- and third-year ILSA students share some of my background experiences — I'm a member of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians — and they really wanted to help me succeed. The 3Ls provided good resources for studying, not to mention comic relief.”

  Allen at this year's Homecoming Cane Toss
with classmate Justin Sondalle.

4. She learned how she learns.
“My most memorable law school experience is the day I was struggling to understand legal reasoning. My Torts 2 professor, Professor Barkan, had been sitting with me for an hour, drawing out the problem in different ways. It still wasn’t making sense. Then, he drew the problem in a flow chart, and it suddenly made perfect sense to me. Now I know that if I’m not flow-charting, I’m not learning. It’s really a relief to figure out the best way you learn and study. Understanding how to learn is almost more important than what you’re learning at the time.”

5. From table etiquette to tax memos, she’s made the most of her Godfrey and Kahn fellowship.
“I can’t say enough great things about the Godfrey and Kahn fellowship, which includes scholarship support and a first-year summer internship, with the possibility of being asked back for a second-year internship. My first summer, I worked with a mentor, a supervising attorney, and a supervisor of all of the summer associates. At weekly meetings, we’d share our experiences—what we learned, what we’d done—and we were really guided through the whole process of working at a firm. But beyond immersing us in the legal field, the firm also immersed us culturally so that students learned different levels of professionalism in different settings. We even learned formal dining etiquette.

“My second summer I was given more responsibility. I went to Chicago and worked on a project with one of the attorneys. I drafted multiple contracts and tax memos, and I was able to directly correspond with clients, obviously copying the lawyer. Everyone keeps their doors open, from the first-year associate to the shareholder. The whole experience has been beyond valuable.”

Submitted by Olivia Grych on April 7, 2016

This article appears in the categories: UW Women in Law - Featured Profile, We Heart Our Students

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