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September 18, 2002


DALLAS (SMU) -- The credentials of entering students continued to climb this year at the SMU Dedman School of Law. John Attanasio, dean of the law school and the William Hawley Atwell Chair in Constitutional Law, says the new students have the best credentials of any class in the law school's 77-year-old history.

"We are very proud of this class," said Attanasio. "The first-, second-, and third-year classes we have right now are the highest credentialed classes in the history of the Dedman School of Law."

This year's entering class boasts a median undergraduate GPA of 3.50 and a median Law School Admission Test (LSAT) score of 160. Over the last five years, the median GPA for entering students has risen steadily from 3.17 to 3.50, and scores on the LSAT have increased from the 74th (157) to the 83rd (160) percentile.

In addition, 20 percent of this year's entering class are minorities, including 13 African-Americans, 20 Asian-Americans, 16 Hispanics and 2 Native Americans. Minority enrollment in the first-year class has increased from 12.8 percent in 1997 to 20 percent this year.

The undergraduate institutions attended by these students include all of the outstanding universities in Texas as well as Yale, Columbia, Stanford, Dartmouth, Cornell, Duke and Vanderbilt. The University of Virginia, with five graduates attending Dedman School of Law this year, was the most represented out-of-state university.

According to Lynn Bozalis, assistant dean and the director of admissions at the Dedman School of Law, applicants faced fierce competition for a seat in this year's entering class. Of the record number of 2,338 applications received last spring, only 607 students, or 26 percent of all applicants, were admitted into the class.

"When the actual number of those admitted showed up for class Aug. 22, the ratio was ten applicants for every one spot available in the first-year class," Bozalis said. She says the Dedman School of Law saw a 48 percent increase in applications from the year before. (During the same time period, applications to law schools nationwide were up 26 percent).

This fall the law school has a total enrollment of 909 students, with 824 enrolled in the J.D. program. Most graduates of the Dedman School of Law receive the basic Juris Doctor (J.D.) degree, a full-time, three-year degree program. The school also awards two joint degrees: the Juris Doctor/Master of Business Administration (J.D./M.B.A.), a four-and-one-half-year program offered with Edwin L. Cox School of Business and the Juris Doctor/Master of Applied Economics (J.D./M.A.), a four-year program offered with the Department of Economics in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The school offers a Master of Laws (L.L.M.) degree in taxation and a Master of Laws degree in comparative and international law (M.C.L.) for foreign law school graduates. It also offers, on a limited basis, a general Master of Laws degree and a Doctor of Science of Law (S.J.D.) degree.