Programs and Instruction
The Juris Doctor is the first law degree normally obtained in three years of study. The primary purpose of the J.D. program is preparation for the practice of law, private or public. The curriculum combines training in the science and method of law, knowledge of the substance and procedure of law, understanding of the role of law in society and practical experience in handling professional problems. It also explores the responsibility of lawyers and their relations to other segments of society. Detailed discussions of the J.D. program and the variety of courses offered are found in this catalog under The Juris Doctor Program and The Curriculum.
Most courses are national or international in scope, although emphasis on Texas law is available for those who plan to practice in Texas. In addition to traditional academic study, the school has a vibrant clinical program that provides students with an opportunity to earn academic credit while engaging in the actual practice of law. For this work, the school provides administrative assistants and offices conveniently located on the Dedman School of Law campus. All clinical programs are under the supervision of an Associate Dean who is a full-time faculty member and a combination of full-time and part-time faculty, all of whom are practicing attorneys. The clinics serve clients from the Dallas area in the areas of civil law, consumer advocacy, criminal law, family law, victims of crimes against women, federal taxation, small business, trademark, patent law and First Amendment issues. The clinics also work with the Dallas County Public Defender’s office to battle against wrongful convictions. Students interview clients, prepare pleadings and present cases in court with the assistance of the clinic faculty. Clinic students also advocate on behalf of clients outside of the courtroom, and work with courts and community groups to solve problems and promote meaningful access to justice. All clinics include classes that provide student opportunities to develop practical legal and professional skills related to the practice of law. This work is open to upper-division students. Individual descriptions and requirements for each clinic are found in this catalog under The Curriculum.
SMU Dedman School of Law also has three academic centers, providing an interdisciplinary platform for educational programming, to facilitate academic research, and to provide educational opportunities that engage students and the academic and business/legal communities. The Tsai Center for Law, Science and Innovation explores how law and policy affect scientific research and discovery as well as the development and commercialization for new technologies and vice versa. The Deason Criminal Justice Reform Center’s overarching goal is to promote the fair, ethical, and compassionate treatment of people involved in every stage of the criminal justice process through its independent research and its development of education opportunities. The Robert B. Rowling Center for Business Law & Leadership focuses on developing leaders at the intersection of business and law, and influences national conversations surrounding business and corporate law.
Many graduates choose to practice in the Southwest, but more than 12,000 SMU Dedman School of Law graduates are found in all 50 states and the District of Columbia and in more than 77 foreign countries. Similarly, although most students come from the Southwest, students are enrolled from all parts of the country.
The Dedman School of Law and the Graduate Division of the SMU Cox School of Business offer a joint program leading to the J.D. and the M.B.A. in four years of full-time study. For students with certain qualifications, a fast-track option may be available. Students must be admitted to both programs as joint J.D./M.B.A. students. The joint program is designed to prepare students for law practice with a business emphasis or for business careers with a legal emphasis. A detailed description is found in this catalog under Joint Degrees.
This program allows for joint study in law and economics following the first year of required legal study. Students must be admitted to both programs separately. A detailed description is found in this catalog under Joint Degrees.
The Master of Laws (taxation) and general LL.M. degrees for U.S.-trained law graduates, the LL.M. degree for foreign law school graduates and the Doctor of the Science of Law advanced research degree for both U.S. and foreign law school graduates are described in this catalog under Graduate Legal Studies. With the approval of the Assistant Dean for Graduate and International Programs, foreign law school graduates may enroll in The Master of Laws (Taxation) and general LL.M. based upon their educational and professional credentials and background.
Attorneys holding valid U.S. law licenses or graduates from American Bar Association-approved law schools may enroll in or audit courses offered at the Dedman School of Law on a space available basis. Additional information is found in this catalog under The Juris Doctor Program in the Nondegree Enrollment and Auditors section.
The Law School Quadrangle, a four-building complex, occupies 6 acres on the northwest corner of the SMU campus. Storey Hall houses administrative, faculty, law review and student organization offices and a clinical facility. Florence Hall contains class and seminar rooms and a state-of-the-art trial courtroom. Carr P. Collins, Jr. Hall contains a dining facility, career services offices, admissions offices, public service and academic support offices, student lounges and seminar rooms. Underwood Law Library contains open stacks for its collection, computer facilities, carrels and comfortable seating for students. Two large lecture halls, including one that serves as a magnificent grand appellate courtroom, are also located on the main floor of Underwood. Consistent with the entire SMU campus, the buildings are modified Georgian architecture. The Law School Quadrangle is served by a wireless network. Student housing is available on campus in areas close to the quadrangle. Additional information is found in this catalog under University Services in the Residence Accommodations section.
Familiarity with the materials and services of a law library is essential to effective performance as a law student and as an attorney.
SMU’s Underwood Law Library is the largest private academic law library west of the Mississippi River. Its collections include more than 665,000 law-related volumes and equivalents, ranking the library among the top 20% of law libraries in the United States. The library’s building is the fifth largest academic law library in the country.
The subject area strengths of the Underwood Law Library’s collections mirror the Law School’s curriculum and faculty research concentrations: corporate law, commercial and banking law, criminal, securities, taxation, air and space law, constitutional law, intellectual property, international law, law and medicine, and legal ethics. The library’s collection of antiquarian law books, including the McKnight Antiquarian Book Collection, is one of the leading collections of its kind in the country, with volumes printed as early as 1473. The library has more than 800 seats and 14 group study rooms.
Students are expected to conduct themselves as prospective members of the legal profession. A copy of the Student Code of Professional Responsibility is provided in this catalog. The code currently in effect was drafted by a student/faculty committee, approved by the faculty and ratified by the student body. By enrolling in the school, students are deemed to have notice of the code’s contents and therefore should familiarize themselves with its standards and disciplinary procedures. In addition, students are expected to comply with the policies and procedures established by the administrative offices at the Dedman School of Law and the University. Matriculation in the University constitutes a declaration of compliance with all University rules and regulations.
The Dedman School of Law strongly discourages full-time students, especially those in the first year, from working more than 20 hours a week.
Students are not permitted, without the written consent of the dean, either individually or collectively to use the name of the University or of the Dedman School of Law in any activity outside the regular work of the school.
Southern Methodist University’s notice of nondiscrimination is found in this catalog under Catalog Policy and Legal Statement . This nondiscrimination policy applies to the activities of the Dedman School of Law in admission, placement, housing, facilities, scholarships, grants and all other academic and nonacademic opportunities, including those that are honorary. Further, the Office of Career Services is available only to employers who sign a statement of compliance with nondiscriminatory practices in hiring as defined by the Association of American Law Schools.
Students have the opportunity to participate in the publication of four law reviews – the SMU Law Review, the Journal of Air Law and Commerce, The International Lawyer and the SMU Science and Technology Law Review. The SMU Law Review and the Journal of Air Law and Commerce are published by the SMU Law Review Association, which also publishes two separate journals, the SMU Annual Texas Survey and the SMU Law Review Forum, an online only companion to the Association’s flagship journal. The International Lawyer is published by the International Law Review Association of SMU. The law reviews select their editorial staffs on the basis of academic performance and a writing competition. The writing competition is open to students who have completed all first-year required courses (found in this catalog under The Curriculum) and generally is held during the summer.
The operation and management of each publication is vested in an elected board of editors. The board is selected from those students who have served at least one year on the staff of the law review and who have exhibited a strong ability in legal research and writing. The work of students on the school’s publications has produced periodicals of permanent value to the legal profession.
The SMU Law Review, formerly the Southwestern Law Journal, is published four times each year and reaches law schools, attorneys and judges throughout the United States and abroad. Each issue includes articles by prominent legal scholars and practitioners dealing with significant questions of local, national and international law. In addition, articles by students analyze recent cases, statutes and developments in the law. All editing is done by student members of the board of editors and the staff.
The SMU Law Review also sponsors the annual SMU Corporate Counsel Symposium on current developments in corporate law. Selected papers from the symposium may be published in one of its issues. The symposium attracts corporate practitioners from throughout the United States.
The Journal of Air Law and Commerce, a quarterly publication of the Dedman School of Law, was founded at Northwestern University in 1930 and moved to SMU in 1961. The oldest scholarly periodical in the English language devoted primarily to the legal and economic issues affecting aviation and space, it has a worldwide circulation of more than 2,300 subscribers in some 54 countries. Articles by distinguished lawyers, economists, government officials and scholars deal with domestic and international problems of the airline industry, private aviation and outer space, as well as general legal topics that have a significant impact on the area of aviation. Also included are student commentaries on a variety of topical issues, case notes on recent decisions, book reviews and editorial comments. The Journal of Air Law and Commerce sponsors an annual symposium on selected problems in aviation law and publishes selected papers from that symposium in one of its issues. More than 500 aviation lawyers and industry representatives annually attend.
The International Lawyer is the official triannual publication of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law. Prior to 2013, it was a quarterly publication that included a special Year in Review issue, which is now a separate annual publication known as The Year in Review. The ABA published the inaugural issue of The International Lawyer in 1966, and SMU has been the proud home of this prestigious journal since 1986.
Since then, The International Lawyer has grown to become the most widely distributed U.S. international law review in the world, enjoying subscriptions of approximately 11,000 readers in more than 100 countries. In an effort to satisfy its worldwide readership, this publication focuses primarily on practical issues of international law, including trade, licensing, direct investment, finance, taxation, litigation, and dispute resolution.
The Year in Review, previously included as an issue of The International Lawyer, is now its own annual publication of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law. It has had a place as a prestigious ABA publication since 1966 and has called SMU Dedman School of Law its home since 1986.
The Year in Review, as its name suggests, is an annual survey of the law from around the world. On average, thirty to forty Committees of the ABA/SIL contribute to the publication and capture the germane legal developments, key pieces of legislation, and landmark decisions that help to shape the legal tapestry of their respective countries and areas of interest. Catering to the ABA/SIL membership and others, The Year in Review shares in the same readership as The International Lawyer.
The SMU Science and Technology Law Review is published two to four times a year. Students from the Dedman School of Law serve as the editorial board and staff members. The journal focuses on national and international science and technology-based legal issues, including the legal use and limits of hardware and software, social media law, data privacy and security, environmental law, the impact of science on law and vice versa, and intellectual property law.
Students are encouraged to involve themselves in the life of the Dedman School of Law community through participation in activities and organizations. The following activities and organizations are currently active:
SMU Student Bar Association. The SBA is composed of all students in the Dedman School of Law. Officers and upper-division class representatives are elected in the spring term of each academic year. Class representatives for first-year students are elected approximately one month after the fall term has commenced. The primary function of the SBA is to represent the concerns and interests of the school’s student body. The SBA sponsors a variety of extracurricular events. All students are urged to serve on one or more of the SBA committees.
Barristers. The Barristers is a general service organization of 15 law students elected on the basis of scholarship, leadership, achievement and personality.
Board of Advocates. The SMU Board of Advocates is the umbrella student organization that oversees advocacy programs at the Dedman School of Law. It also coordinates, with faculty supervision, SMU’s participation in national and international advocacy competitions. The board’s administrative committee promotes development of the school’s advocacy programs, and publicizes and coordinates the various intraschool competitions. Its Interscholastic Competition Board has coordinated participation in a number of mock trial and moot court competitions in which SMU law students compete against students from other law schools across the country.
Inns of Court Program. The Inns of Court sponsored by Haynes Boone, LLP is an interdisciplinary approach to the first-year experience at SMU Dedman School of Law. With over 200 first-year students, the law school recognized a need for smaller, more personalized groups to provide students with a source of relationships and support. Through the Inns, students connect with fellow classmates, faculty, student leaders, career advises, and alumni for a community experience that extends throughout their time at the law school and beyond graduation. All first-year students are assigned to an Inn during orientation and typically meet weekly with their Inns at the same time and place. In addition to first-year and international LL.M. students, each Inn has two faculty advisers, one Career Services counselor, three alumni Community Fellows and six upper-class students–three Student Bar Association Mentors and three Academic Success Mentors. Inns also provide valuable programming specifically designed to help students become more successful and develop as professionals.
Mac Taylor Inn of Court. The William “Mac” Taylor American Inn of Court is a chapter of the American Inns of Court, in which federal and state judges, senior and junior lawyers, and law students participate. Members of the inn meet monthly for dinner and an educational program dealing with an issue of practice and professional responsibility. Several other Inns of Court in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, including some specializing in Bankruptcy, Family Law and Intellectual Property, also accept SMU Dedman School of Law student members.
Legal Fraternities. The school has two legal fraternities - Phi Alpha Delta and the Monteith Inn of Phi Delta Phi. Legal fraternities are open to men and women.
Moot Court Board. This student organization administers a program to instruct first-year students in oral advocacy. The board, which is sponsored by Lynn Pinker Hurst & Schwegmann, LLP, organizes a moot court competition that is mandatory for all first-year students.
Other Student Organizations. In addition to those listed above, the following law student organizations are currently active on the SMU campus: Aggie Mustang Law Society, American Constitution Society, Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, Association of International Petroleum Negotiators – Student Chapter, Association for Public Interest Law, Association of Law and Politics, Baylor Law Student Association, Black Law Students Association, Christian Legal Society, Corporate Law Association, Criminal Law Society, Disability Law Association, Energy Law Association, Environmental Law Society, Family Law Association, Federalist Society, First Generation Law Student Association, Health Law Association, Hispanic American Law Students Association, Horned Frog Legal Society, If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice, Intellectual Property Organization, International Law Review Association, International Law Society, J. Reuben Clark Society, Jewish Law Students Association, JD/MBA Society, Labor and Employment Law Students Association, Law Students for Life, Longhorn Bar Association, Muslim Law Students Association, SMU Dedman OutLaw (Lesbian and Gay Law Students), Non-Traditional Law Students Association, Science and Technology Law Review, Real Estate Law Association, Red Raider LawSociety, Second Amendment Foundation, SMU Law Review Association, SMU Law Running and Walking Club, SMU Veterans Law Association, Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, Sports and Entertainment Law Association, Tax Law Society, and Women in Law.