A new legal center at SMU’s Dedman School of Law will provide services for the victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking and other crimes against women.
Ray L. ’65 and Nancy Ann Hunter Hunt ’65 have committed $5 million to provide a new resource for legal assistance to the community and opportunities for law students to gain practical experience. The gift will create the Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women, named in honor of Mrs. Hunt’s father. The late Judge Hunter was a distinguished Missouri state and federal judge and longtime advocate of merit as the determining factor in the selection of judges.
“Ray and Nancy Ann have recognized the great need for free legal assistance to some of our community’s most vulnerable members,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “As is typical of the Hunts, they have acted with generosity and insight to fill the need, while also expanding educational opportunities for law students to make a difference in this important area of the law.”
Under the supervision of law faculty, Dedman Law students working in the Hunter Legal Center will provide legal services such as protective orders; divorce, custody and child support agreements; and assistance with credit and housing issues. Using a holistic approach, students will gain experience with the myriad needs and complexity of issues that victims encounter and will see the human faces behind related legal issues.
“We are honored to name this Legal Center after my father, whose main interest as a judge was the well-being of individuals through fair treatment and protection under the law,” said Nancy Ann Hunt. “As a result of this program, participating law students will enter the legal profession with a deeper understanding of the victims of exploitation, trafficking and abuse and what they need for their lives to be restored. Their suffering may be hidden from our sight and may be uncomfortable to acknowledge publicly. But through the availability of free legal services, we hope they will feel empowered to come forward and obtain help.”
The Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women will expand Dedman Law’s programs providing legal assistance to members of the community in several areas of the law. Existing programs include the W.W. Caruth Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic and clinics in civil law, criminal justice, federal taxpayer representation, small business issues and consumer advocacy. Dedman Law was one of the first in the country to provide such services to the community, dating to 1947. Dedman Law also was among the first law schools to implement a public service requirement for graduation.