Law Graduates Starting Second Career

Settling into their first career just wasn’t good enough for two Washburn Law graduates from the class of 2014.  Had they settled, Jason Eslinger and Steven Iverson would still, most likely, be a general contractor and a welder, respectively.

 Photograph: Eslinger on the set of Designed to SellPhotograph: Eslinger on the set of Designed to SellPhotograph: Jason EslingerPhotograph: Eslinger and family at Commencement

Jason Eslinger, '14, was an on-screen carpenter on the set of HGTV’s Designed to Sell before earning his J.D. at Washburn Law.

Construction has always been in Jason Eslinger’s blood. During his younger years, he learned the trade from his father and uncle. While attending Missouri Western State University (MWSU) in St. Joseph, Missouri, Eslinger renovated properties to be used for rental income. He obtained his general contractor’s license around 1998 before graduating in 2001 from MWSU with a bachelor of science in criminal justice and Spanish.  

Eslinger had his sights set on law school after college graduation, but the beautiful beaches of San Diego overruled that plan. After a few years in San Diego, he relocated to Los Angeles and started Sky High Construction and Design, acting as general contractor for multiple commercial, industrial, and residential renovation projects. 

Hollywood came calling on Eslinger and he was cast as an on-camera carpenter for the hit HGTV show "Designed to Sell", where he completed 13 episodes that can still be seen as re-runs.

After several years in California, Eslinger began to consider how he could stay involved in the construction industry, but not physically. After hours spent researching and consulting others about his options, construction law became the obvious answer. Washburn Law provided what Eslinger needed to take the next step in his life. During law school, he was president of the Real Estate Law Society, a BARBRI representative, and a student ambassador. He received a Juris Doctor in December 2013 and practices as an associate with Long & Robinson, LLC, a boutique litigation firm focusing on construction law located in Overland Park, Kansas.

"I believe that my hands-on construction experience will bode well in my law career focusing on construction law," said Eslinger. "This experience gives me an advantage over the other side because I know that things can go wrong on a project and I have experienced them first hand." Eslinger also feels that the contractors he represents will have a stronger bond with him because he has been in their shoes and experienced the same things they are facing.

Photograph: Iverson welding a jeep axlePhotograph: Iverson ArmyPhotograph:Steven IversonPhotograph: Iverson's Commencement

Steven Iverson, '14, was a certified welder and served in the National Guard in Iraq before earning his J.D. at Washburn Law. 

For many, getting one college degree is where their educational road ends, but not for Steven Iverson, who received his Juris Doctor on May 17 from Washburn Law. Iverson’s tenacity has earned him four degrees from Washburn.

Initially, Iverson believed he wasn’t cut out for college and became a certified welder after completing the program at Washburn Tech. He soon realized that welding is a physically demanding profession and something he couldn’t sustain over a long period of time. But, the welding job helped pay his way toward earning an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degree at Washburn University. An 18-month deployment to Baghdad, Iraq, with the National Guard temporarily delayed completion of his AAS degree.

With the support of his Washburn University advisor, Mitch Higgs, Iverson saw that a bachelor of arts in political science was attainable, which he earned in 2011. The Constitutional Law classes inspired him to consider a career in law. Higgs described Iverson as one of the most hardworking and dedicated students she has had the pleasure of advising. She marveled at his perseverance and how he used his skill as a welder to help his transition back to civilian life. In his first months back in United States, he welded a Jeep Wrangler.

Iverson’s first year at Washburn Law gave him the scholarly confidence needed to continue his education. Another bonus for Iverson choosing to attend Washburn Law was meeting his wife, Ashley, who also received her J.D. degree on May 17.  Both are employed by Graber & Johnson Law Group, LLC, in Manhattan, Kansas.