Students, faculty remember Law Professor Daniel Shuman

SMU Law Professor Daniel ShumanDaniel Shuman, M.D. Anderson Foundation Endowed Professor of Health Law in SMU’s Dedman School of Law, will be remembered for his work as a renowned legal scholar, but he was much more to his students.

“He was a caring mentor to so many of us, right up to even the last week of his life,” says Clarence Wilson, who recently achieved a scholarship with Shuman’s help. Shuman, 62, died Tuesday, April 26, 2011 of multiple system atrophy, a rare neurological disorder.

SMU’s Health Law Association (HLA) has announced that it will raise money for a plaque to serve as a lasting tribute to Shuman’s dedication.

Shuman was the inaugural M.D. Anderson Foundation Endowed Professor of Health Law at the law school and a member of the faculty for more than 33 years teaching torts, evidence, law and social science and mental health law.

“The Law School family has suffered a great loss and our thoughts and prayers are with the Shuman family right now,” says Law Dean John B. Attanasio.

Shuman was a nationally and internationally respected scholar in two separate fields, says colleague and HLA advisor Thomas Mayo, associate professor of law. “Early in his career he did groundbreaking empirical research on the attitudes and behaviors of juries, and he followed that with the best research and writing on law and psychiatry anyone has ever done. His productivity and quality were at the highest levels for an incredible three decades.”

Earlier this year, Shuman received the 2011 Manfred S. Guttmacher Award from the American Psychiatric Association (APA). The recognition – shared with psychiatrist Liza Gold – honors their book, Evaluating Mental Health Disability in the Workplace: Model, Process, and Analysis (Springer, 2009), as an “outstanding contribution to the literature of forensic psychiatry.” The award will be presented during the APA’s annual meeting May 14-18 in Honolulu, Hawaii.

“Institutionally, he shaped the present and future course of the law school as the long-time chair of the faculty appointments committee, and he was extremely helpful to the development of our young faculty,” Mayo adds. “Students adored him.”

One of those is Juris Doctor candidate Isaac Haas, who says, “Professor Shuman was passionate about teaching his students to look beyond mere memorization and understanding of the law and consider the consequences of the decisions we make as a community about right and wrong. And while he was a brilliant scholar and writer, what set him apart as a teacher was the interest that he took in me and so many others.

“Very rarely would I ever leave a conversation with Professor Shuman without him asking about my other classes, job prospects, wife or son,” Haas says. “I am incredibly grateful for the time I spent with him, and with his wife, Emily, as a student, teaching assistant and friend.”

The family has requested that memorials be made to the Texas Voice Project for Parkinson Disease.

To contribute to the HLA’s memorial gift for Shuman, contact Alex Berk.

Written by Denise Gee

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