Dean of the School of Law
What does the next 10 years hold for your field?
Not only does the law impact every industry, but it also affects every walk of society and personal life.
Living in a society that will always encounter disputes, there will always be opportunities for lawyers to negotiate, mediate, arbitrate and litigate in court. Street crime and white-collar criminals will necessitate the involvement of judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys. In nearly every sector, law school graduates can combine their interests with legal training to earn a living and make a difference in the life of others. Areas of application or specialization include business, health care, finance, tax, intellectual property, international, family law, human resources, sports, entertainment, cyberspace and civil rights.
Over the next decade, the field of law will likely see increased opportunities both domestically and on an international scale. Although the delivery of legal services will continue to be streamlined based on the use of technology and other efficiencies, the number of students seeking a law degree is currently at a 40-year low. This should mean better employment chances for those thinking about a career in law. Although the salaries available to law school graduates vary widely, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median annual wage for lawyers to be around $110,000 per year.
What will be the next breakthrough or next disruptive innovation in your field?
Virtual law offices are likely the wave of the future in the practice of law. Lawyers have the ability to provide services from almost anywhere. The increasing acceptance of the uniform bar examination by many states has provided additional flexibility.
As the practice of law now transcends borders and technology has become the norm for most communications, the need for a physical office and face-to-face meetings with clients is different from the past. Although the traditional law office may not completely disappear, there will be an increasing number of attorneys who abandon tradition in favor of working from home or while they travel to destinations of choice. This will make the provision of legal services more efficient and affordable. The freedom to work in locations of choice may also be quite attractive for future lawyers.
What got you interested in law?
When I was about 4 years old, I used to wander around my neighborhood after church on Sundays to strike up conversations with certain neighbors. One of the stops on my regular route was a widow named Alice. I vividly remember sitting on her flower-patterned couch lined with homemade afghans and having a conversation about my future.
I asked Alice what she thought I should become when I grew up. Her answer was “Matt, you have a talent for talking so I think that you could become a lawyer, teacher, or a politician.” Although I don’t remember everything about that conversation, I distinctly remember Alice telling me that lawyers had the ability to help people. To this day, I still reflect upon this conversation and the fact that lawyers are empowered to help individual citizens and society for the greater good. Although the legal profession is often an easy target for jokes, there is no denying that a law license provides attorneys with a license to protect, preserve and promote the rights of those in need.
How would you describe Akron to the people at your last stop?
Located in a dynamic region renowned for rolling hills, stunning woodlands, famous sporting events, a national park, and more than 150 Fortune 500 companies, Akron is a hidden gem in Northeast Ohio. Since relocating to the area about five months ago, I have found Akron to be the “perfect-sized” city in many respects. It is nice having a metropolitan setting that places one in the heart of a dynamic economy in sync with the pulse of business, government and community.
Akron offers many of the same opportunities that are available in larger cities with the advantages and affordability of small-town living. Also, Akron boasts a rich history and exciting renaissance. The greater Akron area also offers easy access to quality-of-life attractions including sporting events, outdoor recreation, a renowned art museum, symphony orchestra, numerous entertainment venues, and an extensive park system. More than anything though, what truly makes Akron a special place is the warmth and friendliness of its residents.
What books are on your nightstand? Why?
With the demands associated with balancing work, family and life in general, there is rarely time in my schedule for “leisure" reading. Accordingly, I often combine my academic interests with my evening reading. At present, I have two books on my nightstand.
First, I am enjoying the “Jury and Democracy: How Jury Deliberation Promotes Civic Engagement and Political Participation” by John Gastil and others. Often times, people in the United States discount the value of jury service and think of the jury as nothing more than a means of reaching verdicts. Other times, people criticize juries as being inconsistent, unreliable and burdensome. However, my experience as an attorney has taught me that jury service is invaluable, reliable, and consistent. It can also change how citizens think about themselves and their society. Over the past decade, I have advocated about the positive impact of jury service in Asia as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and others have integrated citizen participation into their legal systems. As I look to learn more about juries through reading and convey my experience and knowledge about lay participation to other countries, I am constantly in search of a good book in this area.
The second book is “Principles of Negotiating International Business” by Lothar Katz. With the globalization of national and regional economies, knowledge of foreign countries and their respective cultures is imperative. Although I have 25 years experience in international business and law, I am always looking to immerse myself books related to this interesting subject.