The Texas Wesleyan School of Law is less than 15 years old. Such relative youth in comparison with more established Texas law schools presents it with opportunities as well as drawbacks. The opportunities include the ability to create state-of-the-art buildings, build a top-notch faculty from scratch, and tailor all of this carefully to the needs of the community it serves. Texas Wesleyan has done this.
As for problems associated with being the youngest, these require long-term solutions. A reputation must be built. If law firms, corporations, and government entities are unaware of you, it makes it more difficult to place your graduates with them. Thus, in situations such as this, the Career Service Office arguably assumes an even greater importance than at more established schools.
Such is the burden that falls on Katherine L. Chapman, Esq., Texas Wesleyan School of Law's Assistant Dean of Career Services. Her charge is not only to help students find suitable employment, but to use her valuable connections with both the Fort Worth and Dallas Bar Associations to get her law school registered in the consciousness of those in a position to hire.
Katherine's formidable resume includes 25 years as the Vice President for Legal Affairs for the University of Texas Medical School at Dallas. In this in-house counsel job, she quickly became adept at working within both academic and corporate settings. Tired of the long commute, she eventually switched to a local firm, where she specialized in Health Law. Evenings, she would teach as an adjunct professor at Texas Wesleyan. When the Dean of the Law School asked her if she would be interested in filling the newly vacated Career Services position, she agreed.
What Katherine struggles with most on campus is assuring that evening students get the same care and attention provided traditional day students. She keeps her office open weekdays until 6:30 p.m. to give evening students time to drop by after their work and before evening classes begin. If she gives a seminar for day students, say, on how to find a job, she repeats the same seminar in the evenings for evening students. She and her staff also gladly meet on weekends with students when the need arises.
All of this would be sufficient to occupy a four-person Career Services office such as Katherine's, but she has another mission as well: educating potential employers about her law school. She does this by knocking on doors. In addition, she remains active in the Forth Worth and Dallas Bar Associations, where she gives quarterly speeches on career development to attorneys of all ages. As a form of 'outreach,' she individually counsels any attorney who needs it. She recently worked with a middle-aged lawyer who had suffered a heart attack and wanted to change careers.
She says she likes the work and the opportunity to be 'out there' in the community as Texas Wesleyan Law School's hard-working Assistant Dean, doing her part to help members of the legal community. There is not always immediate payback for such good works, but Katherine believes her work helps get Texas Wesleyan Law School's name in circulation and that, in the long run, this can only be good.
What follows is another small but telling example of Katherine's resourcefulness and putting others first. When asked if there was anything more she would like to be doing, she answered, "Well, other than what we do, I'd like our offices to be as close to the Student Lounge as possible. That way, a student could get a drink and drop in, talk with us, and get some help." Then, she added, "I put this idea before the Dean because we were doing some renovations, and he agreed. We'll be moving to our new location soon!"