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SMU News & Media Relations
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September 21, 2001

SMU DEDMAN SCHOOL OF LAW UNVEILS 21st-CENTURY CLASSROOM

DALLAS (SMU) -- Built in 1924, Florence Hall is the oldest of four buildings belonging to Southern Methodist University’s Dedman School of Law. Inside this traditional redbrick Georgian, however, can be found the future of legal education.

Nowhere is this more so than in room 207. The tiered classroom, which seats 116 students, recently underwent a major renovation, thanks to a $500,000 gift from SMU law school alumni Judy and Michael Shore. The Shores are both 1990 cum laude graduates of the law school and partners in the Dallas medical malpractice, personal injury and patent litigation law firm of Shore • Fineberg, L.L.P.

“This magnificent classroom reflects Judy and Michael Shore’s dedication to providing our students with an advanced learning environment equipped to prepare them for the practice of law in our technological era,” says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are grateful to them for making possible this enhancement in legal education for generations of law students.”

The recently completed classroom has been equipped with new acoustics and lighting, desks with individual electrical outlets, better wheelchair accessibility, and a teaching lectern wired for an overhead projection screen, DVDs, VCRs, document cameras and microphones.

The 77-year-old classroom also underwent a physical makeover, with the addition of custom-designed wood furnishings, wainscot and wide-plank oak floors. The room also has six glass cases that will display historical legal documents on loan from the Shores’ private collection. The documents include a contingent fee legal contract written by Abraham Lincoln and an arbitration award penned and signed by Thomas Jefferson.

“Judy and Michael Shore’s gift has allowed us to take a charming old room and transform it into one of the premier law school classrooms in the country,” said John Attanasio, dean of SMU’s Dedman School of Law and the William Hawley Atwell Chair in Constitutional Law. “The Judy and Michael Shore Classroom will advance the quality of education at one of the great law schools in the United States.”

When they announced their gift in 1998, the Shores saw a need for more technology in law classrooms to reflect the increasing use of it in courtrooms.

“It’s very important to a trial lawyer to be able to explain things to a jury, so they can visualize complex concepts. Audio-visual equipment once considered cutting-edge is now standard fare. This classroom will enable faculty to demonstrate to students the power of presentation,” Michael Shore said.

Not everything in the Judy and Michael Shore Classroom will be of a legal or technical nature. For the walls, the Shores have selected two portraits of some of their former clients, plaintiffs who have been injured in some form or fashion and were able to seek relief through the courts.

“We want law students to understand that clients must be the focus of any successful law practice,” Judy Shore said. “Without clients’ trust, no attorney can attain success.”

The renovation project fell to the Fort Worth firms of Sheffield Architects to design and contractor Ross Allison Inc. to build. Most of the work on the Judy and Michael Shore Classroom was completed over the summer in time for students returning to class this fall. In addition to the Judy and Michael Shore Classroom, the law school has renovated three other classrooms, including the Hillcrest Appellate Courtroom and Lecture Hall in the Underwood Law Library and, elsewhere in Florence Hall, a new trial courtroom and the Stewart Title Classroom.


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