Southern Methodist University (Dedman) Profile, Dallas, Texas |

Southern Methodist University (Dedman)

Rank 46


3315 Daniel Avenue,

Dallas, TX 75205









Overview 2

The School of Law at SMU was established in February 1925. Highlighting the celebration of its 75th year, SMU School of Law was named Dedman School of Law in 2001 in honor of Dallas benefactors Nancy and Robert H. Dedman, Sr., and their family. With more than 15,000 graduates, SMU Dedman School of Law has a national and international reputation of training prominent lawyers in both law and business. The Dean of the law school is JENNIFER M. COLLINS, Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law. Dean Collins joined SMU Dedman School of Law in July 2014.

We continue to provide our students with the best possible education and help them secure outstanding employment outcomes upon graduation.

  • The SMU Law faculty is recognized throughout the region, nation, and even internationally for its contributions to the law.
  • We have innovative ways for our students to gain practical legal experience in areas that complement our curricular strengths, including business and corporate law, international law, intellectual property, energy law, and family law and advocacy.
  • Dedman School of Law publishes five law journals and has ten legal clinics and projects serving diverse community needs with free or low-cost legal service. Pro bono legal service is a requirement for graduation.
  • The Underwood Law Library houses the largest private law collection in the Southwest.
  • Prominent Alumni SMU law graduates include Texas Supreme Court justices, members of the U.S. Congress, an ambassador, a governor, foreign ministers and members of the highest courts worldwide, as well as partners at leading law firms and general counsels at major corporations.

Student-Faculty Ratio 3


Admission Criteria 4

25th-75th Percentile 155-163 3.39-3.78
Median* 161 3.67

The above LSAT and GPA data pertain to the 2016 entering class.

Director of admissions Jill Nikirk
Application deadline April 15

Law School Admissions details based on 2016 data.

*Medians have been calculated by averaging the 25th- and 75th-percentile values released by the law schools and have been rounded up to the nearest whole number for LSAT scores and to the nearest one-hundredth for GPAs.

Admission Statistics 5

Approximate number of applications 1598
Number accepted 714
Percentage accepted 44.7%

The above admission details are based on 2016 data.

Law School Cost 6

Tuition and fees Full-time: Full-time: $51,096 per year
Part-time: $38,323 per year
Room and board $19,800
Books $2,000
Miscellaneous expenses $7,570

Class Ranking and Grades 7

Students enrolled in the School of Law receive letter grades based on the following:

A 4.000
A- 3.700
B+ 3.300
B 3.000
B- 2.700
C+ 2.300
C 2.000
C- 1.700
D 1.000
F 0.000

The minimum passing grade is D or 1.000 and an average of C or 2.000 is necessary for graduation.

In most classes, final exams are graded anonymously by professors at the end of each semester. In other classes, such as Edited Writing Classes and clinics, the identity of the student is known. Grading is within the academic discretion of the professor and some professors also consider other factors, such as class participation and attendance. Students should always refer to the course syllabi for classes to determine the grading procedure for each class. Once final grades have been determined, they are submitted to the Law School Registrar’s Office. The Registrar’s Office enters the grades into my.SMU and students view their grades via their student account.

Once all grades have been entered, the Registrar’s Office calculates class percentiles based on cumulative GPAs and the GPA cut-offs are released to the students via e-mail. Only the cut-offs for top 33% and 50% are released to first year day students after the fall semester of their first year. After their second semester, cut-offs for top 10% and top 25% are also released. Evening students receive class percentiles after the spring semester of their second year. All cut-offs (top 10%, 25%, 33%, and 50%) are released to upper-class students after the fall and spring semesters. Specific class ranks for students are only released to the individual student upon request and only after graduation from the law school. August and December graduates are ranked with those students who graduate in May of the following year.

The Dean’s Lists for each class are processed by the Registrar’s Office after class percentiles have been released. Dean’s Lists are based on term GPA’s only. To be eligible for Dean’s List an evening student must be enrolled in and pass at least 9 graded hours and a day student must be enrolled in and pass at least 12 graded hours. Dean’s Lists are based on the top 25% of each section of the class based upon such section’s semester GPAs.

Grade Normalization (Curve)8

Law students at the Dedman School of Law are not given an individual class rank until graduation. Class rank percentiles are released for (1) the full-time first year law class, (2) the combined full-time second year law class and the third year, part-time Evening Program law class, and (3) the combined full-time third year law class and the fourth year, part-time Evening Program law class.

After Fall 2016 Semester:

Class of 2019
219 Students
Class of 2018
234 Students
Class of 2017
243 Students
Top 33%: 3.225
Top 50%: 3.075
Top 10%: 3.630
Top 25%: 3.391
Top 33%: 3.291
Top 50%: 3.128
Top 10%: 3.602
Top 25%: 3.406
Top 33%: 3.328
Top 50%: 3.165

Second-Year Evening Program Students

Part-time Evening Program students, during their first and second years of law school, are not ranked. They may, however, gain a general understanding of their class standing by comparing their GPA to the class rank percentiles, which are listed above. Resumes for Evening Program students, during their first and second years, will indicate that their class rank is an “estimated class rank”.

Honors 9-10

Honor Criteria
Order of the Coif 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.
Summa cum laude 3.8
Magna cum laude 3.6
Cum laude 3.2
The Dean’s Lists The Dean’s Lists for each class are processed by the Registrar’s Office after class percentiles have been released. Dean’s Lists are based on term GPA’s only. To be eligible for Dean’s List an evening student must be enrolled in and pass at least 9 graded hours and a day student must be enrolled in and pass at least 12 graded hours. Dean’s Lists are based on the top 25% of each section of the class based upon such section’s semester GPAs.

Those graduates who receive honors will receive a plain diploma (without honors listed) during the Law School Hooding Ceremony. A new diploma with honors listed will be mailed to the graduate after graduation. Graduates should make sure their home address is correct in my.SMU.

Awards 11

Name of Award Selection Process
Order of the Coif Cumulative GPA
Barristers Selected by current students
Phi Delta Phi Award Highest grade in class
Brief Awards Nominated by Legal Research & Writing Professor
Scholarships Financial Aid Committee chooses from top 20%
Dean's List Top 25% of each section each semester

Journals 12

Students have the opportunity to receive academic credit for and participate in the publication of five law reviews — the SMU Law Review, the Journal of Air Law and Commerce, The International Lawyer, the Law and Business Review of the Americas and the SMU Science and Technology Law Review. The SMU Law Review and the Journal of Air Law and Commerce are published by the SMU Law Review Association. The International Lawyer and Law & Business Review of the Americas are published by the International Law Review Association of SMU. The law reviews select their editorial staffs on the basis of academic performance and a writing competition. The writing competition is open to students who have completed all first-year required courses and generally is held during the summer.

The operation and management of each publication is vested in an elected board of editors. The board is selected from those students who have served at least one year on the staff of the law review and who have exhibited a strong ability in legal research and writing. The work of students on the school’s publications has produced periodicals of permanent value to the legal profession.

The SMU Law Review, formerly the Southwestern Law Journal, is published four times each year and reaches law schools, attorneys, and judges throughout the United States and abroad. Each issue includes articles by prominent legal scholars and practitioners dealing with significant questions of local, national, and international law. In addition, articles by students analyze recent cases, statutes, and developments in the law. Each year one issue of the SMU Law Review is devoted to an Annual Survey of Texas Law and contains articles by attorneys, law professors, and judges concerning current developments in the law of Texas. All editing is done by student members of the board of editors and the staff. Members of the SMU Law Review receive academic credit for their work. The SMU Law Review Association sponsors the annual SMU Corporate Counsel Symposium on current developments in corporate law. Selected papers from the symposium may be published in one of its issues. The symposium attracts corporate practitioners from throughout the United States.

The Journal of Air Law and Commerce, a quarterly publication of the School of Law, was founded at Northwestern University in 1930 and moved to SMU in 1961. The oldest scholarly periodical in the English language devoted primarily to the legal and economic problems affecting aviation and space, it has a worldwide circulation of more than 2,300 subscribers in some 54 countries. Articles by distinguished lawyers, economists, government officials, and scholars deal with domestic and international problems of the airline industry, private aviation, and outer space, as well as general legal topics that have a significant impact on the area of aviation. Also included are student commentaries on a variety of topical issues, case notes on recent decisions, book reviews, and editorial comments. The Journal of Air Law and Commerce sponsors an annual symposium on selected problems in aviation law and publishes selected papers from that symposium in one of its issues. More than 500 aviation lawyers and industry representatives annually attend.

The International Lawyer, is the official triannual publication of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law. Prior to 2013, it was a quarterly publication that included a special Year in Review issue, which is now a separate annual publication known as The Year in Review. The ABA published the inaugural issue of The International Lawyer in 1966, and SMU has been the proud home of this prestigious journal since 1986. Since then, The International Lawyer has grown to become the most widely distributed U.S. international law review in the world, enjoying subscriptions of approximately 22,000 readers in more than 90 countries. In an effort to satisfy its worldwide readership, this publication focuses primarily on practical issues of international law, including trade, licensing, direct investment, finance, taxation, litigation, and dispute resolution.

The Year in Review, previously included as an issue of The International Lawyer, is now its own annual publication of the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law. It has had a place as a prestigious ABA publication since 1966 and has called SMU Dedman School of Law its home since 1986. The Year in Review, as its name suggests, is an annual survey of the law from around the world. On average, thirty to forty Committees of the ABA/SIL contribute to the publication and capture the germane legal developments, key pieces of legislation, and landmark decisions that help to shape the legal tapestry of their respective countries and areas of interest. Catering to the ABA/SIL membership and others, The YIR shares in the same readership as TIL.

The Law and Business Review of the Americas, (formerly, NAFTA: The Law and Business Review of the Americas) is an interdisciplinary publication addressing the legal, business, economic, political, and social dimensions of the North American Free Trade Agreement, its implementation, its evolution and expansion, and its overall impact on doing business in the Americas. This journal is a quarterly publication produced by the SMU Dedman School of Law (and its Law Institute of the Americas) in association with the Section of International Law and Practice of the American Bar Association, the SMU Cox School of Business, the SMU Department of Economics and Political Science, and the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (Queen Mary and Westfield College, University of London).

The SMU Science and Technology Law Review, formerly the Computer Law Review and Technology Journal is SMU’s newest scholarly publication. This journal is published three times a year. The journal is also published on the Internet, allowing worldwide access to its articles. Students from the SMU Dedman School of Law serve as the editorial board and staff members. The journal focuses on national and international technology-based legal issues, including the legal use and limits of hardware and software, and patent, copyright, and intellectual property law.

Moot Court 13

Students at the law school have many opportunities to participate in oral advocacy competitions.

The Board of Advocates (BOA) is a organization led by an Executive Board composed of students and a faculty sponsor. The BOA's primary purpose is to promote practical experience in written and oral advocacy through a variety of competitions throughout the school year, and a Mock Trial Academy during the summer. The competitions are an excellent source for students desiring "real world" advocacy exposure and experience.

The BOA coordinates intramural mock trial, moot court, negotiation, client counseling, and mediation competitions which are open to all SMU law students, as well as the Jackson Walker Moot Court Competition for all first year students. These competitions are judged by local practitioners and members of the law faculty. The BOA also sponsors student teams for various state, national, and international interscholastic mock trial, moot court, negotiation, client counseling, and mediation competitions.

Clinical Programs 14

Beginning in 1947, the Clinical Program at SMU Dedman School of Law was among the country’s first to sponsor a community legal clinic. Today, it remains a national model of excellence. Dedman Law’s clinical program has evolved to reflect changing perspectives in legal education and innovation in legal practice. All the while, Dedman Law remains committed to the ideals that have shaped it from the beginning: public service, professional responsibility, and outstanding skills training.

The program encompasses 10 specialized clinics and projects where, under the supervision of clinic directors, our students serve as advocates on behalf of the community in many areas of the law. Dedman Law’s clinical education program is central to our mission of providing outstanding legal education and public service, along with developing professional responsibility.

  • Civil Clinic
  • Consumer Advocacy Project
  • Criminal Clinic
  • Federal Taxpayers Clinic
  • Judge Elmo B. Hunter Legal Center for Victims of Crimes Against Women
  • Innocence Clinic
  • Patent Law Clinic
  • Small Business and Trademark Clinic
  • VanSickle Family Law Clinic
  • W. W. Caruth, Jr. Child Advocacy Clinic

Placement Facts 15

Starting Salaries (2015 Graduates Employed Full-Time)

Private sector (25th-75th percentile) $67,500 - $ 154,000
Private sector - Median $90,000
Public service - Median $60,000

Employment Details

Graduates known to be employed at graduation 58.6%
Graduates known to be employed ten months after graduation 83.7%

Areas of Legal Practice

Graduates Employed In Percentage
Law Firms 65.9%
Business and Industry 18.9%
Government 8.8%
Public Interest Organizations 0.9%
Judicial Clerkships 4.6%
Academia 0.9%
Unknown N/A



SMU’s Externship Program provides students with the opportunity to learn by doing. They work in carefully selected legal settings under the supervision of a mentor-attorney and a member of the law faculty. Student externs observe and participate in lawyering tasks, gaining both valuable skills and a sense of the kind of lawyer they wish to become. In addition, externships foster sensitivity to the social, political and professional implications of the legal process.

Corporate Counsel Externship

Students work in corporate legal departments while also taking a weekly corporate counsel class that explores substantive areas of the law as well as practical skills like working with outside counsel and conducting an internal investigation. Students apply in February and, if accepted, are assigned to a corporate legal department.

Federal Judicial Externship

Students participating in this externship are individually selected by federal judges for their chambers, to work directly with the judge and his/her law clerks on pending matters. A 5th Circuit Appellate Judge, and 19 additional U.S. District Court, Magistrate and Bankruptcy Judges in Dallas, Plano, Fort Worth and Sherman participate. Externs in this program also take a related class that reflects on the role of federal judges and courts, and enhances the students’ research and writing skills.

Government & Public Interest Externship

Students apply directly to the field placements to be selected for the opportunity to participate in these government and public interest placements. In addition, students must enroll in a weekly class that explores the role of the lawyer in public service, helps students achieve their learning goals, and encourages reflection on the externship experience. Students should watch for announcements regarding opportunities to apply for many of these externships through the Office of Career Services.

Federal & Judicial Externship Program

The federal judicial externship course is an academic program that combines an 8 week judicial writing class with hands-on fieldwork in the chambers of a federal circuit, district, magistrate or bankruptcy judge, working directly with the judge and judicial law clerks.

The Federal Judicial Externship Course allows students to work in chambers of a federal judge for a semester for academic credit. Along with an 8 -week companion course seminar (75 minute classes), the externships deliver invaluable learning experiences for students, providing a window into the federal judicial process, from the judicial perspective, as well as focused real-world experience in honing legal research, analysis and writing skills. The seminar course is “front-loaded,” to teach externs the types of motions, briefing and orders they will encounter in chambers, and includes academic inquiry through readings and journal writing. Externs work under close supervision and receive regular feedback from the judge, judicial law clerks, and the law school faculty supervisor, and engage in self-reflection and assessment. Both the work in chambers and the class are graded Credit/No Credit, and there is no final examination. The two credits earned for work in chambers count as two of the permitted six hours of academic credit that can be earned through externships.


After completing their first year of law school, JD students are encouraged to gain legal experience through internships in nonprofit and government legal offices. Several public interest internships are available for SMU law students only and the links below describe the opportunities and application deadlines. A number of national non-profit organizations also offer Public Interest internships as do many government agencies. To find government opportunities, the law school subscribes to one of the Government Honors & Internship Handbook, a comprehensive resource which contains an extensive list of continually updated government internships in the United States.

Student Organizations 19

  • Aggie Law Students
  • American Constitution Society
  • Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA)
  • Association for Law and Politics
  • Association for Public Interest Law
  • Association of International Petroleum Negotiators (AIPN)
  • Black Law Students Association
  • Board of Advocates
  • Christian Legal Society
  • Corporate Law Association
  • Criminal Law Association
  • Energy Law Association
  • Environmental Law Society
  • Family Law Association
  • Federalist Law Society
  • Health Law Association
  • Hispanic Law Students Association
  • Intellectual Property Organization
  • International Law Review Association
  • International Law Society
  • J. Reuben Clark Society
  • Jewish Law Students Association
  • Labor and Employment Law Students Association
  • Longhorn Bar Association
  • Muslim Law Students Association
  • Older Wiser Law Students (OWLS)
  • OUTlaw
  • Phi Alpha Delta Legal Fraternity
  • Phi Delta Phi Legal Fraternity
  • Real Estate Law Association
  • Second Amendment Foundation
  • SMU Law Review Association
  • Sports & Entertainment Law Association
  • Student Bar Association
  • Texas Trial Lawyers Association (TTLA)
  • Women in Law