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When Linda Eads teaches her students about the ins and outs of practicing law, she imparts more than book knowledge. Eads, an associate professor at Southern Methodist University School of Law in Dallas, uses her experience at the Texas Office of the Attorney General to teach her students about the realities of the legal world. In January 1999, during a break from the classroom, she took the position of deputy attorney general for litigation, a job that put her in charge of more than 500 employees and in the middle of some of the biggest legal issues in the state. The experience of working for almost two years at the AG’s office benefited her and her students, Eads believes. She says it gives students “a sense of comfort that the person teaching them has used this. For instance, when I’m teaching evidence, I know how it will work in the courtroom. Legal educators can be separated from the law.” Among other matters, Eads was involved in settling Texas v. Aetna/US Healthcare, which was filed originally in Travis County District Court in 1998. That settlement led to changes in the company’s use of financial incentives for doctors. She also was involved in a consent decree that settled federal and state claims in United States and State of Texas v. Koch Industries Inc., et al., which had been filed in the Southern District of Texas and the Northern District of Oklahoma in 1997. Under that decree, Koch paid $15 million to the state and $15 million to the federal government and agreed to spend at least $5 million on environmental projects. Eads also helped draft the state’s brief in its appeal, filed in 1999 to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, of Hopwood v. Texas; helped represent then-Gov. George W. Bush in several cases; and worked on issues related to the state’s settlement with Big Tobacco, including one involving attorneys’ fees. After Texas v. American Tobacco Co., which was filed in 1996 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, settled, a dispute arose over the fees paid to the private lawyers who represented the state. Her work reinforced how important law is to solving everyday problems, says Eads, who returned to the classroom in the fall. “It made me appreciate that lawyer competency is very vital,” she adds. “I’ve been drilling that into my students.” The job also showed her that in the AG’s office, the law — not political partisanship — mattered, Eads says. She’s a Democrat, and her former boss, Texas Attorney General John Cornyn, is a Republican. “It was nice to know if I had a position, I would be heard,” Eads says. Andy Taylor, first assistant attorney general, says that Eads’ background in academia and at the U.S. Department of Justice gave her valuable experience for the job of supervising more than 200 attorneys and handling all kinds of legal issues. Her annual salary, at the time she left the office, was about $108,000, Taylor says. Eads was hired after a statewide search in the fall of 1998 that included sole practitioners and lawyers at law firms, universities and governmental bodies, Taylor says. After Cornyn was elected, the decision was made to open the field for some positions in the AG’s office to candidates who weren’t interested in serving in government for an entire career, but were willing to make a commitment of a few years. Her school allowed her to take the job, on the condition that she come back. SMU law school Dean John Attanasio says students benefit when a professor can share hands-on experience with them. He says other SMU professors handled Eads’ classes while she was gone. “When it’s a prestigious position like this one, law schools are inclined to grant leaves,” Attanasio says. “One of the goals of great law schools is to help shape the law, and Linda did that.” Eads received a bachelor’s degree in international studies from American University in 1971 and her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 1975. After graduation, she joined the U.S. Department of Justice, where she was a trial attorney and then a senior trial attorney in the tax division. She then came to SMU, where she teaches in the areas of professional responsibility, evidence, trial advocacy, lawyering, criminal tax fraud, and women and the law. She says her experience at the Office of the Attorney General was invaluable. “It’s made me appreciate that lawyers should be proud of what they do, as long as they do it ethically and well,” Eads says. “Students should be proud of the profession they’ve chosen.”

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