Jennifer M. Collins 2015-10-26 13:02:25
The challenges facing legal education and the legal profession, while significant and sobering, also offer law schools a real moment of opportunity. Market shifts spur creative change, and SMU Dedman School of Law is partnering with legal innovators and forward-thinking alums to provide our students with the work experience, leadership skills, and professional network necessary to respond to a rapidly changing economy. Expanding opportunities. We are increasing experiential learning opportunities by turning the Dallas-Fort Worth area into a living laboratory for our students. One example is our thriving Corporate Counsel Externship Program, which allows students to blend coursework with a semester-long externship in a corporate legal department. Fifty students will go in-house this fall to participate in a unique capstone learning experience. As 2014 grad Emily Stutts wrote, “The Corporate Counsel Externship Program was a unique opportunity to get an inside look at the life and work of in-house attorneys and the legal issues faced by many companies. For most law students, in-house jobs seem out of reach and a little mysterious. Law schools are replete with opportunities to work for law firms, judges, and in the public sector, but it is rare that a school helps a law student step into a company’s legal department. During my time in the Corporate Counsel Externship, I worked at Baylor Scott & White Health. I drafted and reviewed multiple contracts, drafted and revised hospital procedures, and observed depositions. My experience helped me better understand the legal issues that large corporations face and prepared me for my current job in consulting with such corporations. The experience continues to prove invaluable.” We are also expanding the size of our already robust clinical program from eight to 10 clinics. Our students will be assisting victims of domestic violence and human trafficking, helping low-income residents with family law matters, working to free prisoners who have been wrongly convicted, and solving problems for entrepreneurs on patent and trademark issues. A commitment to serving our community through our pro bono work is at the very heart of SMU’s mission, and we are honored to continue that in new ways. Creating community. We have revamped our orientation and our first-year experience to provide students with integrated, innovative academic support and career development. We are delighted to introduce our Inns of Court program, sponsored by Haynes and Boone. Each first-year student is part of an inn—a small group of approximately 30 students, with dedicated faculty and attorney mentors. Inns will offer comprehensive academic support, career development programming, networking events, and service projects. This program will also enable law students to form valuable connections with our faculty and attorneys throughout Dallas, all of whom are deeply committed to their academic and professional success. Engaging our network. We are taking full advantage of our location in one of the nation’s most vibrant and economically robust cities. Our new and innovative “flash mentorship” program, the Mustang Exchange, leverages SMU’s unparalleled connections to our thriving legal community and dedicated alums. We believe this is one of the first of its kind at a law school—pairing students with multiple mentors throughout the year in one-on-one conversations that could include career advice, mock interviews, and job shadowing experiences. Effective mentoring has been proven to lead to greater academic achievement, improved professional identity, greater professional competence, decreased job stress, and individuals who are more likely to mentor others. We are continually striving to enhance students’ experiences at SMU and their preparation for the 21st-century marketplace, and we welcome your feedback about and participation in our new programs. FOUNDED 1925 ENROLLMENT 764 ANNUAL TUITION $44,542 ANNUAL FEES $5,420 NUMBER OF GRADUATES IN 2000 237 NUMBER OF GRADUATES IN 2015 212 PERCENTAGE OF 2014 GRADUATES WHO HAD JOBS BY MARCH 2015 93 percent PERCENTAGE OF 2014 GRADUATES WITH FULL-TIME, J.D.-REQUIRED/J.D.-ADVANTAGE JOBS THAT WERE SUBSIDIZED BY THE LAW SCHOOL 0 percent AVERAGE DEBT LOAD OF A 2014 GRADUATE $124,617, an increase from 2013 JENNIFER M. COLLINS is the Judge James Noel dean and professor of law at SMU Dedman School of Law. She received her B.A. cum laude from Yale University in 1987 and her J.D. magna cum laude in 1991 from Harvard University, where she also served as an editor for the Harvard Law Review. She was previously a member of the law faculty at Wake Forest University, clerked for the Hon. Dorothy W. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, and worked in private practice in Washington, D.C., before joining the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel as an attorney-adviser in 1993. She then served as assistant United States attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia from 1994 to 2002. She is the co-author of Privilege or Punish: Criminal Justice and the Challenge of Family Ties.
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