As senior contracts administrator for Eaton Aerospace, Lesley Smith ’16 regularly navigates issues relating to intellectual property, liability and indemnity. Despite the courses and certifications she earned in the field, along with a decade of work experience, she found herself seeking mastery of the finer points of contract law. A law degree seemed to be the only option for advancing her expertise of the subject matter, but she debated the commitment of pursuing a JD. “I don’t want to be a lawyer,” she said, but she was often required to work independently from her legal team.
Smith found a solution: Loyola Law School’s Master of Science in Legal Studies (MLS) program, which offers working professionals like Smith a chance to obtain the legal skills and training needed to excel in their position without a JD. Students customize their curriculum or pursue one of six specializations: Corporate Law, Criminal Law, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Law, Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property and International Business Law. Smith’s specialization in Intellectual Property, with courses including Patent Law and Trademark Law, has allowed her to take more initiative in her workplace, creating a more effective department overall. Recently, while dealing with a challenging customer issue, she drew on her newly acquired knowledge to suggest alternative codes and sections that her firm’s legal department had not considered.
As an evening student working full time, Smith relishes the support she receives from her workplace and professors, who make themselves available afterhours and on weekends for review sessions and to answer questions. Their willingness to arrange meetings before class and even distribute personal cell phone numbers has allowed her to embrace both her love of learning and contracts.
Smith hopes the skills she has developed will help her move forward in her field. “I had a goal to be a contracts manager within five years. I already did that – a year ahead of schedule. My next goal is to be a director in another five years. Doing this program will put me into that path and will hopefully help me reach that goal.”