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Sept. 6, 2012 Volume 34, No. 3

School of Law dean sees great future for graduates despite challenges

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NEW LEADERSHIP Gary Myers faces many of the same challenges at MU that he faced at the Mississippi School of Law. Courtesy of MU News


Some graduates may need to consider positions outside traditional law firms, the new dean says

On Aug. 15, Gary Myers became the law school’s new dean. Myers, the former associate dean for research and a professor of law at the University of Mississippi, replaces Larry Dessem, who was dean for 10 years.

“ I believe that there is a good fit here at MU for me,” Myers said. “I hope to build on the work of my predecessors in continuing to assure Missouri’s place among the great state law schools in the country.”

Myers had been with the Mississippi School of Law since 1989, where he has faced many of the challenges MU faces. “Both schools also have some great opportunities, including the tremendous educational value they offer to students,” he said.

Myers wants to build on Missouri’s position as a flagship state law school with a long tradition of training lawyers who have taken positions of leadership in law, business and public service.  

“I hope to expand the law school’s experiential learning opportunities, to continue recruiting and retaining outstanding faculty members, to increase interdisciplinary collaboration with other parts of the university, and to assemble a diverse and high-quality student body,” he said.

Provost Brian Foster said that Myers’ expertise in intellectual property law is a plus given MU’s emphasis on entrepreneurship.

Myers agrees. 

“Looking at the various elements of the Mizzou Advantage, for example, intellectual property plays an important role in each facet of that initiative,” he said. “It is already an area of strength in the law school, so I hope to build on all of those relationships and to continue my own work in the intellectual property field.”

Law schools throughout the country face the challenges of job placement in tough economic times and doing better preparing students to practice law. 

On the skills-training front, Myers said he hopes the law school can expand both the number and the type of experiential learning opportunities offered to students. “I plan to devote a significant part of my time and energy to working with the faculty on developing these opportunities and to finding support for these efforts from alumni and other lawyers,” he said. “The legal community can help in this effort by offering their time or their financial support.

“With regard to placement, I think the law school has been doing well despite the challenging market,” Myers said. “The recent reduction in the size of the entering class should help improve placement in future years.”  

Myers said law school graduates also need to consider careers outside law firms in these tough times. There are positions available for law graduates in business, public interest and government, he said.  

“All law schools face a challenging economic and fiscal environment,” Myers said, “but I am confident that MU’s law school is well positioned to continue to offer a high quality, affordable legal education.”

MU continues to flip-flop in law school rankings. In 2009, U.S. News & World Report ranked the university at No. 65, but by 2011 it had fallen to No. 107. This year it climbed to No. 79. 

Under Myers’ direction, the law school will continue to have a smaller entering class for the next few years. “I believe this will help to make our rankings more stable,” Myers said.  

“The most important thing I can do” Myers said, “is to try to find additional sources of revenue to support the law school’s operations, to support faculty development and scholarships, and to fund new initiatives.”