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ALAN TURNER — Mississippi College School of Law: Committed to growth

Mississippi College School of Law Dean Wendy Scott

Mississippi College School of Law Dean Wendy Scott

Dean Wendy Scott of the Mississippi College School of Law has lived and worked in a variety of environments.  Growing up in a military family, she lived in Taiwan, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, graduated from Harvard, and subsequently from New York University Law School.  After practicing law for 9 years, she then moved into the academic world, serving on the faculty at Tulane University and the North Carolina Central Law School.

“For whatever reason,” she said, “I had a desire to live and work in the South, and that’s where I’ve spent a large part of my career.”

Last July, she was appointed Dean of the School of Law, succeeding long-time Dean Jim Rosenblatt, who was credited with helping to build and expand the size and reputation of the school.  Dean Scott intends to continue in that tradition.

“We want to be more than just a law school,” she said.  “We want to be a resource for those who choose to practice law, as well as those who enter business or public service.”

Among other things, she hopes to create a kind of incubator program, working with students to teach them how to successfully run a small law practice.  She recognizes that a significant number of graduates won’t wind up practicing with the large firms, so she considers this as an important part of the whole education process.

Alan Turner

Alan Turner

“We’re looking to develop a more robust curriculum,” she suggested.  “We’re working hard to beef us our scholarship opportunities, so that deserving young people can have the opportunity for a law education.”

She thinks the key thing is to have a good balance between need and merit in that sense.

“We have many talented and deserving people in our state who cannot afford the cost of education, and we’d love to be able to attract as many of those students as we can accommodate,” she said.

From that perspective, she’s looking to expand and grow the physical plant, develop new clinics that will let students meet with people in the community who need some legal advice, and be able to bridge the needs in the communities.

She also sees the importance of graduating people who are trained in foreign trade issues, as she sees Mississippi’s growing international trade activities as an important part of the state’s economic future.  The School of Law has a partnership with a French university, with an overseas study program for those students who are focused on international trade.  There are also about 20 international students currently enrolled at the School of Law.

How does she look at the overall economic future in Mississippi?

“I really think everyone is on board and ready for Mississippi to move forward, but I think it’s vital that we have the kind of workforce that 21st century companies need and are looking for.  That means we must improve our educational opportunities at all levels, so that folks are ready for those 21st century jobs,” she said.

She’s a believer that the right education must begin at a very early age, “otherwise, we’ve lost a great opportunity”, she suggested.

Asked whether she believes business is currently over-regulated, a complaint we hear frequently from CEO’s and business owners, she suggested that the pendulum “may have swung a little bit too far in that direction”.

“However,” she said, “I think we also need to ensure that the abuses of the past shouldn’t be repeated.  The important think is to make sure that the consumer is protected.”

She has a sort of “holistic” perspective on the whole world of legal education.

“There’s more to law school than becoming an attorney,” she said.  “Many people with law degrees wind up in business, or education, or public service.  The crucial thing we do is to teach alternative approaches to problem-solving, and that is what makes an education in the law truly transformative.”

A brief video of Dean Scott can be seen on our website at MSBusiness.com, and on our MBJ-TV channel, MBJournal on YouTube.

» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at alan.turner@msbusiness.com or (601) 364-1021.


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