Dean's Message February 2013

  • Rich Simpson 100Later in this column, I am going to give you a challenge that could earn you some awesome swag from the Law School, but first let me tell you a story. Let me also apologize for using the phrase “earn you some awesome swag.”

    Last week, the Law School’s Office of Communication was given an interesting task by our colleagues at Capital University’s main campus in Bexley. They were putting the finishing touches on their alumni magazine and they invited the Law School to contribute a story. The challenge was that the theme of the magazine was “The Arts.”

    When most people imagine a lawyer they probably think of pinstripe suits and wingtips. Buttoned down. Disciplined. Not necessarily a creative, free spirit who eschews the by-the-book approach to life. Not necessarily the artsy type. But we know many of our grads have defied the conventional approach.

    So, although it would be easy find a CapLaw working attorney with a spare-time interest in the arts, we thought it would be much more interesting to find an alum who has combined a legal education with the arts.

    Tyler Dunham, L’08, a lifelong musician, founder of the successful Columbus-based band Capital Sound and an attorney with Standley Law Group LLP, was our man.

    I won’t repeat his fascinating story – you can read the article here – but Tyler’s story is a great reminder about the remarkably diverse value of a legal education. While Tyler’s full-time job is focused on intellectual property, he knows his legal education also has benefited his artistic career – as well as a very cool entrepreneurial venture that you have to see to believe.

    I meet CapLaw alumni all the time who are using their degrees in creative ways – many of which have nothing to do with the law. They work in health care, education, the media, oil and gas, and government. They are police officers, military personnel, accountants and entrepreneurs. They work for Fortune 500 companies and in their own start-up ventures.

    We hear a lot of stories about the number of lawyers who aren’t finding work within the traditional legal sector in today’s changing hiring market. The truth is, there have been huge changes in the legal profession that have resulted in fewer jobs for new attorneys. This is a paradigm shift we are taking very seriously at the Law School, and we are evaluating our curriculum and experiential learning opportunities to determine what changes we can make to ensure our graduates are well prepared for the job market.

    When people ask me about this shift in the employment outlook and how it impacts a person’s decision to come to law school, I always tell them that the beautiful thing about a legal education is that it teaches you to think like a lawyer. It teaches you to manage conflict and complexity and – let’s face it – things aren’t likely to become any less complex (or less conflict-ridden) in the years ahead.

    There will always be a market for highly qualified, hard-working people within the legal profession. Fortunately, the skills and knowledge we are teaching at Capital are applicable to an infinite number of other professional possibilities as well.

    So, we met the “challenge” of telling a legal story tied to the arts with Tyler’s help. Tyler told us that his parents taught him a simple lesson: If there isn’t a path, and you really feel that is the way to go, then you should make your own path.

    Now, here is YOUR challenge.

    Tell us a story about how your CapLaw education has benefited you outside the legal profession. Tell us how you have used the skills learned at Capital in your own life. The more creative – and the more specifically you can relate your tale to your legal education – the better.

    Tell us your story in 200 words. The best entry will receive a classy Capital University Law School sweatshirt. The deadline to enter is March 15.

    Rich Simpson Signature 2