Dedman School of Law - The Juris Doctorate Program
1. Dates of Admission
Beginning J.D. students are admitted only for the fall term.
2. Application for Admission
Application forms and information regarding required procedures may be obtained from the Office of Admissions. The applicant must submit the Law School application
by December 1 to be considered for early decision and by February 15 to be considered for regular decision. The applicant must file transcripts from all undergraduate
institutions attended with the Law School Data Assembly Service. Graduate
transcripts must be sent either to LSDAS or to the Office of Admissions. Two letters of recommendation are also required.
3. Application Fee
Each applicant must submit with the application a fee of $75. This fee is not refundable and will not be credited against tuition in the event of enrollment. Waivers of the fee will be considered upon written request.
4. Law School Admission Test
Applicants for admission to the first-year class must take the Law School Admission
Test. Applicants are urged to take the LSAT no later than the December testing date preceding the fall term in which they seek admission.
5. Pre-Legal Studies
Although exceptions may be made in special circumstances, an entering student is required to have received a Bachelorís degree from an accredited college or university prior to enrollment in the School of Law. Prior to enrollment, each admitted student must provide the School of Law with the studentís official transcript
showing receipt of a Bachelorís degree. A copy supplied to the School of Law by the Law School Data Assembly Service is not an official transcript, even though it is adequate for preliminary determination of admission.
The School of Law does not prescribe a fixed course of pre-legal study, but does examine the record of each applicant to determine whether the undergraduate courses taken reflect adequate preparation for the study of law. The student should pursue a well-rounded course of study, with particular attention devoted to the development of analytical skills and facility and style in the use of the English language.
6. Admission by Selection
The purpose of the J.D. program is to train students for competent and ethical practice of law on behalf of both private and public clients and for intelligent use of law in business, government and other pursuits. The course of study requires reading and analysis of difficult legal materials, training in effective advocacy of positions in both oral and written form and the acquisition of other legal skills, such as the drafting of instruments, the counseling of clients and the negotiation of disputes. Only those applicants who have the capacity to acquire these skills will be admitted. In deciding whether an applicant has this capacity, Law School Admission Test scores and undergraduate grades are heavily relied upon. Pains are also taken to weigh the types of courses taken and the schools attended. Letters of recommendation from people aware of the applicantís abilities, the amount of time the applicant has been required to work during his or her undergraduate career and extracurricular activities and other maturing experiences are also considered. In the evening program, work and/or life experiences, as well as graduate studies, will be weighed more heavily in the selection process.
Each year the number of applicants with the requisite capacity far exceeds the number of places in the entering class. In choosing among these applicants, the admissions committee looks for those whose performance at the School of Law will be outstanding, those who, because of their backgrounds, will bring to the School of Law different and unusual perspectives and those whose homes are in areas of the country underrepresented in the student body. Applications from members of minority groups are encouraged.
7. Waiver of First-Year Minimum Hour Requirement
A limited number of qualified applicants who show good cause why they are unable to take the standard number of credit hours required in the first year may obtain a waiver of this requirement. Students permitted to take a reduced course load will take seven to nine hours per term (excluding the summer) until they have completed all first-year required courses (see Section VIII B1). These students must meet all other requirements of the J.D. program. Applicants interested in the reduced load option should contact the Office of Admissions for additional information.
The admission procedure for applicants seeking a waiver of the first-year minimum
credit-hour requirement is the same as that for the J.D. program except that applicants should submit a written statement explaining why they are unable to satisfy the standard course load requirement.
8. Admission Deposit and Medical History
Accepted applicants must make their deposit(s) with the School of Law in accordance with their acceptance materials. The due date for any deposit is not earlier than April 1. The fee is credited toward tuition charged upon enrollment. It will be forfeited if the student fails to enroll that fall.
All students must have a Report of Medical History on file at the Memorial Health Center prior to their enrollment at SMU. In order to comply with state law, all students must provide proof of certain immunizations.
1. Students Eligible
A student who has successfully completed the first-year curriculum at another law school that was at the time of the studentís study a member of the Association of American Law Schools or approved by the Section on Legal Education of the American Bar Association may apply for admission with advanced standing. Admission is selective. A student who has been excluded from or who is on probation
at another school will not be admitted.
2. Dates of Admission
An applicant who has completed the traditional first-year curriculum at another law school may be admitted in any term or session.
Application for admission with advanced standing must be made on a form supplied
by the School of Law. It must be supported by transcripts from all colleges and law schools previously attended. Good standing in the law school last attended must be established by a letter from the administration of that school. A copy of the Law School Data Assembly Service report must be provided either by the applicant or by the law school last attended. The application must be supported by two letters of recommendation and accompanied by a $75 nonrefundable application fee.
4. Advanced Credit
The amount of advanced credit given for work completed in another law school will be determined by the assistant dean for Student Affairs. Credit for work completed at another law school transfers as pass/fail credit.
5. Minimum Hours Requirement
A student admitted with advanced standing may not qualify for a degree from Southern Methodist University until the student satisfactorily completes at least 58 term hours at Dedman School of Law.
An applicant must be in good standing at an accredited law school and have a compelling need to attend Dedman School of Law. The application must be supported
by a deanís letter of good standing and permission to visit, and a current law school transcript and accompanied by a $75 nonrefundable fee. In addition, the applicant must submit a statement articulating his or her compelling need to be a visiting student at SMU.
1. Nondegree Enrollment
An attorney holding a valid U.S. license to practice law or a graduate of an American Bar Association-approved law school may enroll for credit in a course at the Law School, though not seeking a degree, on a space-available basis with the permission of the instructor. A nondegree enrollee must participate in class and complete all work required of degree students in the course. A grade will be awarded and placed on a transcript. Applicable tuition and fees must be paid at enrollment. Credit earned in this category cannot be applied to a Law School degree program. Information on course availability can be obtained through the Registrarís Office at the School of Law.
An attorney holding a valid U.S. license to practice law or a graduate of an American Bar Association-approved law school may audit a course at the Law School on a space available basis with the consent of the instructor. The instructor will determine the extent, if any, of permitted participation in class discussion. An auditor may not submit a research paper, sit for an exam or receive academic credit. Audited courses are not recorded or placed on a transcript. An auditor must pay the applicable per hour tuition and fees in full prior to attendance. Information on course availability can be obtained through the Registrarís Office at the School of Law. In special circumstances and with the consent of the instructor, the assistant dean for Student Affairs and the senior associate dean for Academic Affairs, other students may be permitted to audit a course in accordance with the above requirements
and any other requirements imposed by the instructor, the assistant dean for Student Affairs or the associate dean for Academic Affairs.
1. Enrollment Periods
The times for enrollment are announced by the Registrarís Office. Students who fail to enroll during the announced enrollment period will be charged a late enrollment fee.
2. Minimum and Maximum Hours
Generally, except for those students enrolled for a reduced course load, first-year students in the day program are required to take 16 hours in the fall term and 15 hours in the spring term. Beyond the first year, a student in the day program normally will take no less than 12 and no more than 16 hours in a regular term and no more than eight hours in a summer session. To be considered a full-time student for purposes of financial aid and residency, no fewer than 12 hours must be taken in a regular term. (For more on the residency requirement, see Section III H, Residence.) Students in the day program may take more than 16 hours in a regular term only with permission of the assistant dean for Student Affairs. Under no circumstances will a student enrolled be permitted to take more than 17 hours in a regular term.
First-year students in the evening program are required to take 11 hours in the fall term and 10 hours in the spring term. Beyond the first year, a student in the evening program normally will take no fewer than nine and no more than 11 hours in a regular term and no more than eight hours in a summer session. Students in the evening program who have completed at least two academic years and all first-year required courses may take more than 11 hours in a regular term with permission of the assistant dean for Student Affairs. Students in the evening program who have completed the required terms and courses and desire to take more than 11 hours in a term must complete and submit to the assistant dean for Student Affairs the required petition form, which can be obtained from the Registrarís Office. Approval is within the discretion of the assistant dean for Student Affairs in consideration of the information provided by the requesting student and any relevant Law School evening program requirements at the time the petition is submitted. The Law School reserves the right to limit the number of evening program students who may take more than 11 hours in any term and to set additional restrictions and requirements for approval of petitions.
Any student who is approved to take more than 11 hours may not work more than 20 hours per week.
3. Adding and Dropping a Course
A student may add or drop a course during the periods set forth in Section II A, School of Law Calendar.
Dropping a Course: Grading Ė
A student may withdraw from a course at any time with the permission of the instructor, who shall use personal discretion to determine the grade received for the course. Students enrolled in required first-year courses (see Section VIII B1) must also obtain the permission of the assistant dean for Student Affairs to withdraw from a course. If the student withdraws from a course before noon on the last day of classes, the student will ordinarily receive no grade for the course. If a student withdraws from a course after noon on the last day of classes, the student will ordinarily receive a failing grade for the course.
4. Withdrawal From the Law School
Withdrawal From the Law School Ė
Withdrawal means the studentís enrollment is cancelled and the student is no longer enrolled for any classes. If a student is enrolled for only one course, dropping this course constitutes withdrawal from the Law School and is subject to the penalties. The student must contact the Registrarís Office in writing to withdraw from the Law School. The effective date of the withdrawal is the date the Student Petition for Withdrawal is processed in the Registrarís Office. This date is the date used for credit or refund purposes. For the consequences of withdrawal on grading and readmission, see Section III J, Withdrawal
From Law School, Re-entry and Readmission.
Credit or Refund Ė
A credit or refund will be issued if notification is received prior to the close of the business day according to the following schedule:
1. Classroom Work and Assignments
Students are expected to prepare all assignments and to participate in classroom discussions. The instructor may exclude a student from a course for poor classroom performance, for failure to meet attendance requirements, for improper conduct in the classroom or for failure to prepare assignments. In such cases, the student will receive a failing grade in the course.
Regular and punctual class attendance is necessary to satisfy residence and class hours requirements.
3. Rescheduling of Examinations
The assistant dean for Student Affairs may reschedule a studentís examination in the event of an emergency. Two or more examinations in close time proximity do not constitute an emergency.
4. Use of Word Processing Equipment on Examinations
The use of word processing equipment during examinations, using specially provided software, is allowed under certain circumstances. Contact the Law School registrar for more information.
5. Accommodations in the Classroom and on Examinations
If a student is requesting academic accommodations for a disability, he or she must first contact the coordinator of Services for Students with Disabilities at the Memorial Health Center to verify the disability and to establish eligibility for accommodations. After establishing eligibility for accommodations, the student must then contact the Law Schoolís assistant dean for Student Services in a timely manner. Reasonable accommodations will be offered to students with disabilities, upon request.
1. Methods of Grading
Students enrolled in the School of Law receive letter grades:
2. Minimum Passing Grade
The minimum passing grade is D or 1.0, and an average grade of C or 2.0 is necessary for graduation. (See Section III N2, Hours and Grades.)
A student may receive a grade of I (Incomplete) if, for some justifiable reason acceptable to the instructor, the student has been unable to complete the requirements
of the course. The maximum period of time allowed to clear the grade of I (Incomplete) is 12 months. If the Incomplete grade is not cleared by the date set by the instructor or by the end of the 12-month deadline, the grade of I will be changed to the grade provided by the instructor. If no alternative grade is provided, the grade of F will be recorded.
The grade of I is not given in lieu of a grade of F (Fail), W (Withdrew) or other grade, each of which is prescribed for other specific circumstances. The grade of I does not authorize a student to attend the course during a later term. Graduation candidates must clear all Incomplete grades prior to the deadline in the Official University Calendar, which may allow less time than 12 months. Failure to do so can result in removal from the degree candidacy list.
The senior associate dean for Academics may, with the instructorís permission, waive the 12-month time period of this policy under extraordinary circumstances.
4. Method of Computing Averages
The grade in a course will be weighted by the term hours in the course. The computation will include marks from all courses in which the student has taken the final examination or received a final grade, regardless of whether credit in a particular course is necessary to meet the requirements for graduation. When a course is repeated, both grades will be used in the computation. A course may not be repeated if the student has previously received credit for the course. Only courses in this law school will be used in the computation.
5. Credit for Work Completed at Other Schools
The School of Law will not grant credit for any coursework completed prior to a studentís matriculation in a J.D. program at an American Bar Association-approved or Association of American Law Schools-approved law school. While enrolled at the Law School, students may earn up to 10 credit hours at other ABA-approved law schools outside the Dallas-Fort Worth area during the summer. Students interested in this option must make application through the Registrarís Office to the assistant dean for Student Affairs and may be charged an administrative fee.
In extraordinary circumstances, a student may be granted permission to attend another law school for his or her final term or year of law school while still receiving
an SMU degree. Permission to apply to another school must be obtained through the Registrarís Office from the assistant dean for Student Affairs. Permission will not be granted without evidence of compelling personal circumstances that require a studentís relocation. The School of Law reserves the right to designate the schools to which a student may apply, to approve the courses taken at the other law school, to limit the number of students to whom permission is granted and to charge an administrative fee.
The school will consider student applications to study abroad at internationally recognized law programs. Each studentís application will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must meet all the requirements of the ABA criteria, with particular emphasis on the need for the studentís proposed course of study abroad to further his or her legitimate academic or career objectives.
Six residence credits are required for graduation. One residence credit will be given for each term in which the student passes at least 12 term hours. Three-quarters of a residence credit will be given for passing nine to 11 term hours. One-half of a residence credit will be given for passing six to eight term hours. One-quarter of a residence credit will be given for passing three to five term hours.
The full-time study of law is designed to require substantially all of the studentís time during the academic year. Excessive employment may lead to academic disappointment
or failure. Hence, the Law School accrediting agencies and the bars of many jurisdictions require that a student enrolling in the full-time day program of study limit his or her outside employment to no more than 20 hours per week. First-year students should not work at all, but if employment is absolutely necessary,
they should limit their hours to 10 per week.
1. Withdrawal From Law School
A student may voluntarily withdraw from the School of Law before noon on the last day of classes in a term or summer session. In this event, no credit will be given. A student who is failing a course, either because of academic work or because of poor performance under Section III F1 at the time of withdrawing from school, will receive either a failing grade or no grade, at the discretion of the instructor.
2. Re-entry and Readmission of Former Students
(A) Re-entry. Students who withdraw while in good standing after completing at least one term in this law school may re-enter to continue their studies without re-examination of their entrance credentials if such re-entry is approved by the assistant dean for Student Affairs and re-entry occurs within 24 calendar months after the date of withdrawal. Students who have completed only the first term of Law School may re-enter only in the spring term.
The 24-calendar-month deadline for re-entry is extended by any time spent after withdrawal in active U.S. military service.
(B) Readmission. Students who withdraw and do not meet the requirements for re-entry may apply to the admissions committee for readmission. If readmission is granted, these students must meet the graduation requirements in effect at the date of readmission.
In this section, ďtermĒ includes the summer session. For the method of computing
grade averages, see Section III G4, Method of Computing Averages.
1. Dismissal After the First Term
A student whose overall grade average at the end of the first term of Law School is less than 1.0 is automatically dismissed.
2. Dismissal After Two or More Terms
A student whose overall grade average at the end of two or more terms is less than 1.8 is automatically dismissed.
A student whose overall grade average at the end of any term of Law School is 1.8 or more but less than 2.0 shall be on probation. A student who is placed on probation is automatically dismissed unless at the end of the next term the studentís overall grade average is 2.0 or more or unless the student obtains a grade average for that term of 2.3 or more.
4. Re-entry and Readmission of Dismissed Students
A student who is dismissed for unsatisfactory academic performance may petition
the admissions committee for re-entry or readmission. Petitions for re-entry or readmission are granted only in extraordinary circumstances. A petition for re-entry, if granted, permits a student to continue his or her education at the point he or she was dismissed. A petition for readmission, if granted, permits a student to begin his or her legal education from the beginning two or more years after the student is notified of his or her dismissal. A copy of the re-entry and readmission guidelines established by the admissions committee are available from the Registrarís
Office and on the registrarís page of the Law School website.
A student with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or less is required to consult with the assistant dean for Student Affairs prior to each fall, spring and summer enrollment regarding the studentís proposed schedule. The assistant dean for Student Affairs may require the student to enroll each term in up to three courses that are tested on the Texas bar examination.
ASAP is a tutor program available to select first-year students and to a limited number of upper-division students, depending on the availability of tutors.
Six residence credits are required for graduation (Section III H, Residence). For requirements concerning attendance at other law schools, see Section III B, Admission
With Advanced Standing, and Section III C, Visiting Students.
2. Hours and Grades
Candidates must earn 87 term hours of credit (with grades of D or 1.0 or higher) with an overall average grade of C or 2.0 or more. All term hours of credit must be earned at this school, except for students admitted with advanced standing and students approved to study at other law schools under Section III G5. All students must earn a minimum of 58 term hours of credit at this school.
The following requirements must be fulfilled: Civil Procedure I and II; Constitutional
Law I and II; Contracts I and II; Criminal Law; Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy I and II; Property I and II; Torts I and II; Professional Responsibility;
Edited Writing Seminar; General Writing Requirement; and Professional Skills Requirement.
If a student fails to receive a minimum passing grade in a required course, the student must repeat the course the next time it is offered.
4. Public Service Requirement
All students must complete a minimum of 30 hours of law-related public service to be eligible to graduate. Students may perform this service after they have completed
two terms of Law School. All such service must be performed at an approved service placement. The Law Schoolís Public Service Program director is charged with arranging for approved public service placements for students. Public service used to fulfill this requirement cannot be compensated work nor can it be work for which academic credit is awarded.
5. Time Limit
All requirements must be met in the School of Law, or another approved law school, within 60 months or five years from commencing law school. In computing the period, any time during which the candidate was in active U.S. military service shall be excluded.
6. Effects of Changes in Requirements
A student must meet the residence and grade requirements (Section III G and H) in effect at the time that the student enters. The student will not be affected by later changes in these requirements. Other requirements may be changed from time to time with such applicability as the faculty determines.
Waivers of requirements may, for good cause, be granted by the assistant dean for Student Affairs. Requests should be made in writing, with all relevant information
and reasons, to the assistant dean for Student Affairs.
The Order of the Coif is a national law-school scholastic honor society. Not more than 10 percent of all graduates during the academic year may be elected to membership
by vote of the faculty.
Candidates for the J.D. degree having superior grades may by vote of the faculty be awarded the degree cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude. The average grade shall be based on work done in this school only, but, to receive the degree with honors, a transfer from another law school must have at least an average
grade of B in law courses at the school previously attended. The minimum grade averages for honors are: cum laude Ė 3.2, magna cum laude Ė 3.6 and summa cum laude Ė 3.8.
- The award of a grade is a matter solely within the academic discretion of the faculty member. A student who believes that the assigned grade is incorrect must first discuss the matter with the faculty member who awarded the grade.
- A faculty member may change a grade that has been submitted to and recorded by the Law School registrar only for reasons of mathematical error. A faculty member who wishes to change a grade for reasons of mathematical error shall submit the proposed change along with a brief statement of the reasons for the change to the senior associate dean for Academic Affairs, who shall approve all grade changes for mathematical error and report them to the Law School registrar.
- A faculty member who wishes to change a grade for reasons other than mathematical
error must seek the permission of the faculty, which grants such requests only in extraordinary circumstances.
- If the faculty member decides not to seek a grade change, the student may petition the senior associate dean for Academic Affairs for a review of the faculty memberís decision. The senior associate dean may not change a grade, even with the consent of the faculty member who awarded it. If, after discussion of the matter with the senior associate dean, the faculty member decides to seek a grade change, he or she may proceed as described in paragraph 2 or 3, as appropriate. The senior associate dean will then report the faculty memberís decision to the student.
- If, after discussion of the matter with the senior associate dean, the faculty member
decides not to pursue a grade change, the student may petition the dean for a review of the faculty memberís decision. The dean may proceed as he or she deems appropriate. The dean may not ask another person to review the grade without the permission of the faculty member who awarded it. The dean may not change a grade even with the consent of the faculty member who awarded it. The dean may bring the matter before the faculty. However, the faculty may not change the grade without the consent of the faculty member who awarded it. If, upon reconsideration, the faculty member decides that the grade was not accurately determined mathematically or is incorrect for any other reason, he or she may proceed as described in paragraph 2 or 3, as appropriate.
- If there is evidence of unethical or incompetent behavior on the part of a faculty member in the award of a grade, the dean or faculty may refer the matter to the Committee on Ethics and Tenure of the Faculty Senate, with a request that the committee may recommend to the dean or faculty whatever action it considers appropriate. The faculty may change a grade without a faculty memberís consent only upon the recommendation of the Committee on Ethics and Tenure of the Faculty Senate.
- Should the student be convinced that his or her complaint has not been fairly decided by the dean or the faculty, he or she may bring the matter to the attention
of the provost. The provost may proceed, as he or she deems appropriate. However, the provost may not ask another person to review the grade without the permission of the faculty member who awarded the grade. The final authority in matters of academic judgment in the determination of a grade rests with the individual faculty member.
- These provisions are the sole rules that govern the Law School course grade appeals at Southern Methodist University.