Contact: Meredith Dickenson or Ellen Sterner
SMU News & Media Relations
(214) 768-7654

March 3, 2003


DALLAS (SMU) --Beginning fall 2004, SMU's Dedman School of Law will offer an evening law program.

"The addition of an evening law program strengthens our partnership with the Metroplex and ensures the continued growth and national stature of the Dedman School of Law," says SMU President R. Gerald Turner. "As we continue to raise the quality of the Law School, it's important to make our programs more accessible to those in the community with high potential for success in the study of law. SMU is pleased to take the lead in filling an important need for a population of students who otherwise would lack the opportunity to study law at a premier private university."

The evening law program will give people with full-time careers the flexibility and opportunity to pursue a J.D. degree. SMU Law Dean John Attanasio hailed the decision by the school's faculty as an important milestone for the local community and the Dedman School of Law.

"As the only law school in Dallas, we owe this service to the community, which has supported us so well," Attanasio said. "We know that there is an amazing talent pool of students here who, but for a more flexible schedule, would pursue a law degree."

According to a market study conducted by the law school last spring, demand for an evening program in the Dallas area is strong. In the space of two weeks, the study received more than 1,700 responses; 71 percent of the qualified respondents said they definitely or probably would apply for admission.

Most of the people who responded to the market study are currently in professional fields; 43 percent of respondents have master's degrees and six percent have doctorates. The most frequently cited careers were in human resources, financial services and health care. Other occupations listed were information technology specialists, paralegals and chief executive officers of small-to-mid-sized companies.

"The university and the law school are to be commended for reassessing how to offer legal education beyond the traditional model. There are not many schools that would be so adaptable to change," said Michael M. Boone, SMU trustee and law alumnus ('67) and founding partner with the firm Haynes & Boone L.L.P. "This is a great step forward that will benefit the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex."

As with the day program, students enrolled in the evening program must complete 90 hours. The course of study can take four years to complete. Students in the evening program will take the same required courses as the day program. In addition, the evening program students will be offered a wide array of electives in such areas as tax and commercial law, intellectual property and corporate law.

To accommodate both programs, the Dedman School of Law will decrease enrollment in the day program from approximately 250 students to 175 students. The school anticipates that the evening program will enroll 80 to 90 students each year.

Ranked in the top tier of American law schools by U.S. News & World Report, the Dedman School of Law is recognized for its strength in corporate and tax law. Its other core strengths include international and comparative law, trial and dispute resolution, banking law, health law, environmental law, and law and technology.

"Access to a quality legal education motivated many of us on the faculty to support this program," said Bill Dorsaneo, Chief Justice John and Lena Hickman Distinguished Faculty Fellow and professor of law and co-chair of the Evening Program Committee. "Another goal is to see the Dedman School of Law continue to rise in prominence and become one of the top 25 law schools in the nation."

The evening program will begin fall 2004; applications for the program will be available by late 2003. Applicants must have taken the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) and have attended an accredited four-year college or university. To apply or learn more about the evening program, visit the Dedman School of Law Web site at or call 214-768-4237. The law school is planning an information session for prospective students June 2003.