Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
Academics & Programs: Boasting “a great program…great size…in a city with great opportunity,” the Dedman School of Law at Southern Methodist University has it all. “The local legal community draws heavily from the law school, and with a little initiative, a law student can easily network with numerous lawyers and judges in the area and beyond.” “Diverse course offerings” in “everything from the philosophical to the tediously practical” define the curriculum here, and “The legal clinics are absolutely amazing.” Externships and scholarly journals are abundant. Students say there are plenty of opportunities to get involved: “We have consistently won national moot court and mock trial competitions over the past two years, and the school has a great Trial Advocacy program co-taught by practitioners and judges.” A unique JD/MA program allows students to study economics as well as law, and students have the opportunity to study abroad in Oxford each summer. Academic complaints often revolve around the legal writing program, which “needs a massive overhaul” and, “while informational, [can] feel more like fifth grade English in the way [it is] approached.”
Fortunately, the “very distinguished” yet “easily approachable” professors “are very receptive to students and concerned with [their] learning” and “make an effort to be available.” They are “demanding of their students,” but “interesting and entertaining in the classroom.” Professors “make the classroom experience fun,” gushes one student. “My civil procedure exam was one of the funniest things I have ever read, with witty undercurrents and subtle political satire.” Opinions of the administration vary considerably. Some students say the deans seem “distant at times, but whenever you need them, they’re available and helpful.” Others tell us that the administration “does not care about the students” and gripe about “bureaucratic inefficiencies.”
Job prospects are very promising for SMU grads. Career Services is “actually concerned with helping you find a job.” “Dallas is a wonderful market that pays salaries on par with New York, but the quality of life is so much better,” according to students. “If you want to stay and practice in Dallas, you could not go to a better school.” SMU’s “exceptionally strong relationship with the Dallas legal market” provides an “extensive network of attorneys” “in every field imaginable.” “The alums are very supportive and willing to help out.” “A lot of doors are opened by attending the SMU Dedman School of Law, regardless of your class rank.” “I was able to secure a six-figure job without being on law review or moot court,” says a 3L. “There is definitely a huge hurdle” for students to face who do not want to practice in Texas, though.
Campus Life/Facilities: The “gorgeous” campus is full of “very pretty, collegiate-looking brick buildings” and “nestled in one of the nicest, most affluent neighborhoods in the Dallas area.” “The law school itself is further cloistered away from the rest of the university and, once inside, it is easy to forget you are sitting in the middle of a bustling metropolis.” “Large oak trees provide shady walkways, and outdoor study places are ample.” “The majority of classrooms are “very comfortable and accommodating,” and the “nearly flawless” wireless signal is “strong in every corner of the law school.” The library is “amazing,” “both with regard to holdings and ease of use.”
“Students in the full-time day program tend to be younger—either directly out of their undergraduate program or with only a year or two of work experience. Nevertheless, there are still many full-time students in their thirties or older.” Most are “Texas natives,” and all are “fun, attractive, and smart.” Some students are “cooperative, collegial, and very supportive of one another.” Others are “very competitive.” “There are definitely a few trust fund kids, but a lot of us are living off student loans as well,” says one student. “The parking garage does boast an unusual concentration of BMWs and Hummers,” agrees a 2L. “But as a non-Texan who shares a beat-up Honda with my wife, I’ve never felt out of place.” “Political views run the gamut, but the large majority of students are tolerant of opposing views.” SMU is also “remarkably GLBT-friendly.”
Regarding social events on campus, students say “There’s a club for everyone, whether you’re a gun-toting Second Amendment crusader or a die-hard liberal.” “The students put together a lot of fun activities,” ranging from happy hours to baseball games to tailgating events. “The highlight of everyone’s week is Bar Review where the Student Bar Association gets drink specials at a different local bar every Friday.” There’s also “a picnic/sports spectacular every semester.” SMU’s ritzy location is “great” in terms of safety but “can make finding student housing right next to school virtually impossible.” Beyond the neighborhood surrounding campus, “Big D” is one of the liveliest cities in the South and “a fun place to live.” “You get a great all-around legal education and have the resources of the Dallas–Fort Worth Metroplex right at your doorstep.”
* The Princeton Review is not affiliated with Princeton University.