Mary Jeanette Clement
Source: Richmond Law
Fall 1999. Vol. 12, No. 2, P.27
As a student in the 1960’s, Dr. Mary Hageman Clement, L’90, knew few female attorneys. So despite a lifelong interest in law and career counseling test that listed lawyer as a suggested occupation, the Ohio native focused on her math and science abilities and majored in sociology. After graduation, she earned master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology but never lost her desire to attend law school.
“We use law to correct, control, predict and modify human behavior” says Clement, explaining the natural interrelationship of the two disciplines. While teaching criminology and juvenile delinquency in Washington and Kansas, she began to pursue the law school dream.
In 1981, Clement accepted a faculty position in the department of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University. There she taught a variety of courses to undergraduate and graduate students, including women in the criminal justice system and juvenile justice law and process.
Again she picked up her dream of studying law. Once turned down for admission at the University’s T.C. Williams School of Law, her interest in Richmond’s duel-degree with VCU’s School of Social Work led her to re-apply. Already accepted to VCU, Clement was admitted to the law school’s performance program, where she was guaranteed admission upon successful completion of a summer program.
Throughout her four-year program at Richmond, the associate professor continued to teach full time at VCU. The mother of one son, she also strengthened her interest in juvenile justice, completing field assignments with Child Protective Services, the Department of Youth and Family Services, and the commonwealth’s Attorney’s office.
Clement’s publications focus on juvenile justice and women offenders. Author or editor of nine books, including the recent The Juvenile Justice System: Law and Process, she also published dozens of journal articles and book chapters. She frequently conducts legal seminars on juvenile justice for Virginia law enforcement officers, and she works pro bono with women in prison through MILK (Mothers/Men Inside Loving Kids).
Although Clement was initially attracted to a legal education as a prespective on social issues, she decided to take the bar exam so she could pursue private practice opportunities during the summer.
Looking back on her law school experience, Clement advocates internship opportunities to help students find their focus early. A Fulbright Scholar, she also insists that law schools should offer more duel-degree programs and encourage students to tailor their work toward their own legal interests.
“My top wish for Richmond is more emphasis on teaching the human developmental stages” she says. “Essential in criminal cases, an understanding of human behavior can help future attorneys by allowing them to appreciate how their clients think.”
In August, Clement retired from VCU and moved to Nashville, TN.
-Alissa A. Mancuso, AW94