Students at the UALR William H. Bowen School of Law will start their legal job search ahead of the game thanks to two programs offered through the school’s Career Services Office.
Career Services recently expanded its mentoring program to connect a greater number of law students with practicing attorneys in their areas of interest. In addition, students will have access to expert resume and cover-letter assistance from Professor Nancy Bellhouse May, research professor and editor for The Journal of Appellate Practice and Process.
Bowen’s mentoring program has been in place for several years. Now, however, every first-year law student will have a mentor, and the mentors and students will have shared interests. This connection will help students prepare to launch their careers with solid advice and support from the Little Rock legal community.
“Each entering student identified areas for career possibility,” said Dianna Kinsey, assistant dean for career services at Bowen. “We have matched each entering student with a mentor who practices in at least one of the areas in which the student is interested.”
In addition to strengthening the mentoring program, Bowen is helping students reframe the process of building their resumes with help from an experienced legal writer and editor as well as a series of workshops offered through Bowen’s Career Services Office.
The process will begin with a workshop to help students understand what law firms and legal employers are looking for in prospective employees and how those needs can be outlined in a resume and cover letter. Then, students will have the opportunity to get one-on-one help from May, who served on the hiring committee for the Little Rock firm Wright, Lindsey and Jennings.
“Professor May may be the best writer and editor I know,” said Dean Michael Hunter Schwartz. “At a law school filled with excellent writers, that assertion is really saying something.”
May joined the law school in 2001 after practicing law at Verrill Dana in Portland, Maine. At Wright, Lindsey and Jennings, she chaired the Intellectual Property section and was a founding member of the Appellate Practice section. May brings extensive experience as an appellate lawyer, a longstanding interest in legal writing, and a background as a freelance writer. Her work has appeared in Scribes, The Winning Brief, The Trademark Reporter, Voir Dire, The Arkansas Lawyer, InterAction and the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. Although editing The Journal is her primary responsibility, she has also taught Intellectual Property at Bowen.
“The goal of all of our Career Services programs is to help students think about their futures throughout their law school careers, gain better insights into the realities of law practice, and maximize their law school experiences,” Schwartz said.
Bowen has long prepared practice-ready lawyers who are committed to the school’s core values of professionalism, access to justice, and public service. The values are reflected in the law school’s existing extensive, required legal writing and professional skills curricula, which include six units of required first-year research and writing, a three-unit, second-year course in either transactional or litigation-focused drafting, a second upper-division writing requirement that students can fill in a variety of ways, and an upper-division, required trial practice course.
“We have a solid commitment to students, a desire to enhance the law school’s relationship with the practicing bar, and a spirit of innovation as reflected in these two new programs,” Schwartz said. “Our goals in the career services area are to improve our services for students and assist their future employers.”