Karen Sargent, Esq., Assistant Dean
Executive Director of Career Services, Large Firms
Assistant Dean since 2004, Karen Sargent oversees all aspects of managing the Office of Career Services, developing and implementing policies and procedures, conducting employer outreach, authoring career education resources and programs, and counseling students. She serves as the principal contact to local and national law firms and legal employers.
Karen earned her Bachelor of Business Administration degree with high honors from SMU in 1977 and her Juris Doctor from SMU Law in 1979, where she served on the Board of Editors of the Southwestern Law Journal. After graduating, she practiced tax and corporate law with the Houston office of Andrews Kurth LLP. From 1985 to 2000, before joining the Office of Career Services, Karen served as a part-time faculty member at the Law School, teaching courses in the practical skills course, Lawyering, and Legal Research, Writing & Advocacy. In 2003 she returned to SMU Dedman School of Law as an Assistant Director of Admissions. Professionally, Karen is a Life Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the Dallas Bar Foundation. As a member of the Dallas Bar Association, she has been an active member of the Admissions and Membership Committee since 2005.
Dana Minissale, Esq.
Director, Mid-size, Boutique and Small Firms
Dana Minissale is responsible for developing clerkships and job opportunities with mid-sized, boutique and small law firms, overseeing the professional development of students and counseling JD students.
Dana joined SMU Dedman School of Law with 26 years of experience as a highly respected commercial litigator. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of Texas and graduated from SMU Dedman School of Law in 1990. While attending SMU, Dana served as a Leading Articles Editor for the Southwestern Law Journal. Dana also served as a moot court associate justice and was a member of Phi Delta Phi. After graduating, Dana served as a Briefing Attorney to the Honorable Gordon Rowe at the 5th District Court of Appeals in Dallas. She was a founding partner of Gerstle, Minissale & Snelson, LLP, where she handled professional liability and coverage litigation. Dana is a member of the Peer Assistance Committee of the Dallas Bar Association and is actively involved as an outreach volunteer with NAMI Dallas.
Erika Fadel, Esq.
Director, Corporate Development and Emerging Legal Careers
Director, Diversity and Inclusion
A 1998 graduate of our law school, Erika returns to SMU with years of experience counseling law students and serves as a career counselor to JD students. With regard to employer outreach, Erika leads the development of employment opportunities with corporations, including a special focus on emerging legal careers. She also serves as our office’s liaison to student organizations.
Erika received her Bachelor of Liberal Arts degree from Emory University and her Master of Divinity degree from Boston University School of Theology before graduating from SMU Dedman School of Law in 1998. While at SMU, she was a member of the International Law Review Association and the Board of Advocates. She was also a member of Phi Alpha Delta and the Order of Barristers. After graduation, Erika worked for several law firms in Texas as a corporate attorney before moving to Missouri in 2003. While in Missouri, Erika served at the University of Missouri School of Law as a Visiting Professor of Legal Research and Writing, as the Director of Public Service/ Public Interest law, and, most recently, as the Director of Diversity.
Beth D. Lee
Associate Director, Government Agencies
Beth Lee is responsible for career counseling to J.D. students including transfer and visiting students. She serves as liaison to federal, state and local government agencies and manages recruitment efforts for students and alumni including school year and summer internships, academic externships and permanent employment opportunities with government agencies and legal employers. She handles all aspects of weekly Government Practice Series programming with federal, state and local agencies. Beth facilitates daily communication of Hot Jobs & Opportunities announcements to current students and works with legal employers on job postings for students and alumni.
Beth joined the Office of Career services as a career counselor in August 2002, was promoted to Assistant Director in October 2004 and Associate Director in 2013. Before joining the Office of Career services, she worked for the international law firm of Baker Botts as Manager of Client Relations and in sales and marketing roles for Fortune 500 companies including IBM, Electronic Data Systems, Lotus Development Corporation. She also worked for KPMG as an executive compensation consultant. She earned her Bachelor of Business Administration from SMU in 1985.
Linda A. Hale, Esq.
Adviser, Judicial Clerkships and Internships
Liaison to the Judiciary
Adviser, International LL.M. Program
Linda Hale serves as the adviser for students seeking opportunities in the judicial system, both during and after law school, and is the law school’s liaison to the judiciary, responsible for developing internships, externships and post-graduate judicial clerkships with federal and state courts. Linda also serves as the Career Services Adviser for students in the International LL.M. Program.
Linda earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Baylor University in 1978 and graduated from Baylor Law School in 1981. While attending Baylor Law School, she was a member of the Order of the Barristers and of the Texas Championship Jessup International Moot Court Team, which placed third in the country in national competition. Linda joined Shank, Irwin in Dallas upon law school graduation, becoming a commercial litigation partner there focusing on oil and gas and toxic tort litigation. From 1990-1992, Linda served as Assistant University Counsel for Southern Methodist University, and from 1993-2010 served Of Counsel to the Conant Whittenburg, Conant, French & Chaney, and Clouse Dunn firms, continuing in business litigation, with a focus on plaintiffs’ class action securities work, among others. From 2002-2006, Linda also served as an Associate Municipal Judge for the City of Dallas. Professionally, Linda is a member of the Dallas Bar Association and a Sustaining Member of Attorneys Serving the Community, a Life Fellow of the Dallas Bar Foundation and a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, and has been AV rated by Martindale-Hubbell as a practicing lawyer for more than 27 years. Linda joined SMU Dedman School of Law as a Director of the Office of Career Services in December 2010, and transitioned to her current role in August 2016.
Mary Beth Nielsen
Assistant Director, Recruiting and Events
Mary Beth Nielsen serves as a career counselor to JD students and facilitates all law school recruiting programs, including the On- and Off-Campus Interview Programs for law firms, corporations, government agencies and public interest employers. Mary Beth manages school and student participation in regional job fairs and maintains Symplicity, the web-enabled recruiting site for law students and legal professionals, as well as the website for the Office of Career Services.
Mary Beth joined the Office of Career Services in January 2014, after having served as the Career Advisor Liaison to the College of Communication in Career Services at Texas Christian University. From 2009-2011, she worked as the graduate assistant for internships in the Ole Miss Career Center. She earned her Master of Arts in Higher Education Administration from The University of Mississippi in 2011 and graduated magna cum laude from The University of Mississippi with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 2009.