The J.D. (Juris Doctor) is the first law degree normally obtained in three years (full-time) or four years (part-time) 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. See the sections on The Juris Doctor Program and The Curriculum for detailed discussion of the J.D. program and its unusually rich variety of courses.
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 sponsors several clinical programs that provide 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 law school campus. All clinical programs are under the supervision of full-time faculty members and a part-time staff of practicing attorneys. The clinics serve clients from Dallas County in civil, child advocacy, consumer advocacy, criminal, small business and tax cases. Students interview clients, prepare pleadings and present cases in court with the assistance of the clinic faculty and staff attorneys. Clinic students also attend classes dealing with techniques of the practice of law. This work is open to upper-division students. See The Curriculum for individual descriptions and requirements for each clinic.
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 School of Law and the Graduate Division of the Cox School of Business offer a joint program leading to the J.D. and the M.B.A. (Master of Business Administration) in four years of full-time study or in five years (including summers) of part-time study. Students must be admitted to both programs as joint J.D./M.B.A. or part-time J.D./ P.M.B.A. (Professional 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. See Combined J.D./M.B.A. Program for a detailed description.
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. See Combined J.D./M.A. in Economics Program for a detailed description.
The LL.M. (Taxation) and general LL.M. degrees for U.S. trained law graduates, the LL.M. degree for foreign law school graduates and the S.J.D. advanced research degree for both U.S. and foreign law school graduates are described in Graduate Legal Studies. Approximately 50 full-time and 20 part-time students are enrolled in these graduate programs.
Attorneys holding valid U.S. law licenses or graduates from American Bar Association (ABA)-approved law schools may enroll in or audit courses offered at the law school on a space available basis. See the J.D. Program section for more information.
The Law School Quadrangle, a four-building complex, occupies six 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, financial aid office, 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 all 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 (see Housing and Other Services).
Participation in the legal profession requires knowledge and skill in the discovery and manipulation of information. Familiarity with the materials and services of a law library is essential to effective performance as a law student and as an attorney.
The Underwood Law Library contains more than 640,000 volumes and access to numerous legal databases and is one of the major legal information resources in the United States. American legal materials, federal and state, include constitutions, legislative compilations, administrative regulations and the reported court decisions of all jurisdictions. The treatise holdings cover all areas of the law with special strength in corporate, securities and tax matters. Periodical titles, Texas and United States government documents, appellate papers for cases in the Texas Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of the United States and related digests, encyclopedias and indices round out a comprehensive current information resource.
The collection includes primary source material, treatises and journals from Great Britain, the European Union, the Commonwealth of Nations and selected jurisdictions from Western Europe, Latin America and the Pacific Rim.
International law materials are a strong resource that includes documentation from the United Nations and relevant publications from a number of other international organizations.
The library also houses a student computer lab and classroom with access to word processing, the Internet, electronic mail and programmed legal exercises. The library has a wireless network throughout the building.
Students are expected to conduct themselves as prospective members of the legal profession. A Student Code of Professional Responsibility that was drafted by a student/faculty committee, approved by the faculty and ratified by the student body, is in effect. 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 School of Law and the University. Matriculation in the University constitutes a declaration of compliance with all University rules and regulations.
Full-time students may not work more than 20 hours per week during the academic year. Violation of this ABA standard may subject a student to penalties under the Student Code of Professional Responsibility.
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 School of Law in any activity outside the regular work of the school.
Southern Methodist University will not discriminate in any employment practice, education program or educational activity on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability or veteran status. SMU’s commitment to equal opportunity includes nondiscrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. The director of Institutional Access and Equity has been designated to handle inquiries regarding the nondiscrimination policies and may be contacted at Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX 75275; 214-768-3601.
This nondiscrimination policy applies to the activities of the law school 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 (AALS).
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 is a federal law that grants to students the right to inspect, to obtain copies, to challenge and, to a degree, to control the release of information contained in his or her education records. The Act and Regulations are very lengthy, and, for that reason, SMU has issued guidelines that are available to students in the Division of Enrollment Services. Policy 1.18 of the University Policy Manual, accessible on SMU’s intranet, also discusses this law.
In general, no personally identifiable information from a student’s education record will be disclosed to any third party without written consent from the student. Several exceptions exist including these selected examples: (1) Information defined by SMU as directory information may be released unless the student sends a written request to the registrar that it be withheld. And, (2) Information may be released to a parent or guardian if the student is declared financially dependent upon the parent or guardian as defined by the Internal Revenue Service Code. A parent or guardian wishing to have access to a student’s education records must provide to the University registrar a completed Declaration of Student Dependency form, available in the Registrar’s Office.