Program helps law students obtain ‘Law Suits’

law suits

Focusing on “Law Suits” -- Southern Illinois University School of Law Dean Peter C. Alexander, left, visits with three members of Carbondale-based Rhode & Jackson, P.C. at the announcement of “Law Suits.” The program provides donated and “gently used” women’s and men’s professional clothing and accessories for law students at reduced costs. The law school recently launched the program. With Alexander are, from left, Martine Jackson, Kristen Glasford and Shari R. Rhode. Photo by Steve Buhman Download Photo Here

Program helps law students obtain ‘Law Suits’

October 09, 2008

By Pete Rosenbery

 

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- An innovative program to assist law school students participating in the legal profession is under way at Southern Illinois University School of Law.

“Law Suits,” an initiative sponsored by Carbondale-based law firm Rhode & Jackson, P.C., provides donated and “gently used” women’s and men’s professional clothing and accessories for law students at reduced costs. The law school recently launched the program, which is in Kaplan Hall, across from the law school.

Law school graduates Shari R. Rhode, Martine Jackson and Kristen Glasford comprise the law firm. Rhode said she and Jackson were discussing what to do with some of their “power suit” clothes when they recalled being back in the law school, and the need for appropriate business attire for court and other professional settings.

Dean Peter C. Alexander said he is grateful for the program, which he said is “the brainchild” of Rhode and Jackson. Students will be able to pick up items, possibly an entire wardrobe, at very little cost, he said.

“They thought there has to be a way to make professional clothing affordable to law students so that they have a wardrobe in which to interview, or go to court, or make presentations,” he said. “They should be able to have access to professional clothes at an affordable price.”

The law school is an affordable, high-quality source of legal education in the country. The estimated cost for in-state residents attending the law school for the 2008-2009 academic year is $26,359, which includes tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and living expenses. The cost for non-Illinois residents is $44,653.

But still, there can be hidden costs not always considered, Alexander said.

“I’m not sure that every student appreciates how soon in his or her law school career they will be required to be in a business suit,” he said. “Sometimes students have not set aside money for that; some students do not own business clothing. This gives those students an opportunity to put together a wardrobe relatively inexpensively.”

Rhode, a member of the law school’s inaugural class, said the firm is “big about mentoring and giving back to the law school because but for the law school, we wouldn’t be in the positions we are in.”

“This is a good use for the suits, and it also gets law students into the practice of giving back,” Rhode said.

In exchange for buying items at lower costs, students understand they are to give back to the program in some way, Rhode said.

“When you personally benefit from a program you are more inclined to support it for the next generation,” said Rhode, who earned her law degree in 1976. Jackson earned her law degree in 1997; Glasford in 2003.

Rhode notes that other professionals and businesses in the region are donating items to “Law Suits.” The collection includes men’s and women’s suits, shirts, blouses, ties, shoes and briefcases.

The program is “another example” of the law firm’s generosity to the law school, Alexander said.

“They have been very generous participants in the life of the law school. We cannot thank them enough for their innovation and contribution,” he said.

For more information about Law Suits, and how to donate, contact Billie Donas with the law school’s alumni affairs office at 618/453-8710, or by email at lawalum@siu.edu