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Law schools stay in touch, network with alums in variety of ways

Staying in touch with alumni and friends is integral to the state’s two law schools. They build relationships and network in a variety of ways that are especially helpful during fundraising efforts. Both schools currently have campaigns underway that are three-fourths complete.

The Mississippi College School of Law and the University of Mississippi School of Law communicate with alumni through magazines, e-mail newsletters, Web sites, alumni gatherings and campus events. Alumni are especially helpful as judges for campus Moot Court competitions, speaking to student groups and teaching. Meetings of law alumni also take place in cities across the country where there are concentrations of graduates.

“We have a monthly alumni luncheon on the first Friday of each month that is open to all alumni who are in the Jackson area,” MC dean Jim Rosenblatt said. “We also have an annual alumni event in the spring open to all alumni and continuing legal education courses, which brings graduates back to the law school, along with volunteering in our Legal Aid Office.”

Additionally, the school maintains an on-line alumni directory that allows it to contact graduates and graduates to contact each other and has a series of mailings throughout the year.

“It takes a combination of these activities and events to have an effective alumni communications program,” he said. “We encourage networking. It can be of value in developing personal and professional relationships, in referring business, and in the employment arenas. Given the large concentration of our graduates in the central Mississippi area, it is convenient for them to network.

“Our Career Services Office works closely with our graduates to assist with their lateral job searches after graduation too.”

Located on the Oxford campus of the University of Mississippi, all kinds of events bring law graduates back to the law school, said Tim Walsh, associate dean of development for the law school and senior director of alumni affairs for the university. Often, law alumni speak to legal classes and at times have filled in for ill professors.

“We also see a number of law alums when we go to general alumni meetings throughout the country — that’s a good way to see them,” he said. “They may have receptions in their homes, too.”

A campus career services office is sometimes involved with alumni who have been out a few years and may want to make career changes.

During the state bar convention, Ole Miss hosts a luncheon for all alumni and a dinner for donors.

“A key component of an excellent law school is an involved, active alumni base,” Walsh said. “Our alumni and friends are generous with their resources, time and talent when it is needed.”

The $60-million fundraising campaign at Ole Miss began with a quiet phase, then had a public kick off last March. Of that amount, $50 million is earmarked for a new building and $10 million for endowments.

“Most of our efforts are going toward the funds for the building,” he said. “We need $6.3 million out of the $50 million for the building. There will be all sorts of naming opportunities from $25,000 up to $10 million.”

The facility will be on the former location of the Ole Miss married student apartments. Demolition of those buildings began the first of October and construction of the new law building will begin in January.

The MC School of Law is in the fifth year of a campaign to raise $6 million in six years. “Fund raising is going very well,” Rosenblatt said. “Our annual giving program has increased significantly each year over the last three years. We are encouraged by the support we have received from our graduates as well as the business and legal communities.”

A recent gift was from the Watkins & Eager law firm in Jackson, a firm that employs 15 MC graduates. “We gave in appreciation of the school’s many past contributions to the legal profession, including the outstanding graduates in our firm, and with the desire to participate in the school’s commitment to the future enhancement of our profession,” said Paul H. Stephenson III, the firm’s management committee chairman.

Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at llofton656@aol.com.

About Lynn Lofton

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