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The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
by Kenneth Davis
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The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law has been recognized frequently for its contributions to its community and to legal education. Through its legal clinic, the school provides legal services to juveniles, abused women, the elderly, and others who might otherwise be unable to afford legal advice or representation.
The school's graduates include federal and state judges, trial attorneys and corporate lawyers, advocates for the poor, and environmental attorneys.
In 1965, the law school was accredited by the American Bar Association and has maintained its accreditation. The school changed its name to the University of Memphis pursuant to state legislation in 1994.
The law school's faculty have distinguished themselves by their commitment to teaching, legal research, and scholarship. Thirteen faculty members have earned graduate law degrees (LL.M.), and five faculty members have served as graduate law clerks for federal appellate and trial judges. In addition, several faculty members have been elected to the American Law Institute, and others serve as consultants to judicial commissions and are active participants in state and national bar associations.
The law school offers a rigorous curriculum that provides students with a solid foundation in diverse areas of law and an ample opportunity to gain practical experience and to specialize in areas of interest. The required first-year curriculum introduces students to the building blocks of American law: civil procedure, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. The Legal Method program teaches the basics of legal analysis, research, and writing.
The required second-year courses expose students to other fundamental areas of law and to diverse aspects to legal analysis. Second-year students take the following courses: Business Organizations, Constitutional Law, Criminal Procedure, Decedents' Estates, Evidence, Income Taxation, and Secured Transactions. These courses introduce students to many of the subjects tested on the bar examination and ensure that students who choose to specialize in an area of law are aware of the diversity of legal practice. Students must also complete the course in Professional Responsibility and satisfy the advanced writing requirement.
Beginning in the second year, students can utilize the law school's wide range of elective offerings. These courses permit specialization in specific areas of law, such as taxation or labor and employment law, or enable students to gain exposure to diverse aspects of legal practice. Students may also take advantage of the law school's extensive Clinical Program and various externship offerings.
Many of the students participate on moot court or mock trial teams. The school's moot court team recently finished second in the national moot court finals held at the New York City Bar Association headquarters. The competition, which was sponsored by the American College of Trial Lawyers and the New York City Bar Association, pitted 186 teams from 129 schools divided into 14 regions. The moot court team consisted of law students Todd Richardson, Shannon McKenna, and Mark Thompson. Law professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Barbara Kritchevsky coached the team.
Also, a number of students are involved with the school's two law journals, the University of Memphis Law Review and the Tennessee Journal of Practice and Procedure.
In addition to the law journals and the moot court and mock trial teams, the following are other organizations in which students can participate: Association of Trial Lawyers of America, Association for Women Attorneys, Black Law Students Association, Christian Legal Society, Environmental Law Council; Federalist Society, International Law Society, Law and Technology Society, Jewish Law Student Association, Memphis Tax Law Council, Phi Alpha Delta Law Fraternity, The Sports and Entertainment Law Society, and the Student Bar Association.
The school's dean, James R. Smoot, earned his law degree from Yale Law School in 1974. He was Executive Editor of the Yale Law Journal from 1973 to 1974. Additionally, Smoot served as Deputy General Counsel for the The Readers Digest Association, Inc., in New York from 1980 to 1989. He joined the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 1990 as an Assistant Professor of Law and was named dean last year. Smoot's teaching interests include Banking Law, Business Organizations, Contracts, Corporate Finance, International Finance, and Securities Regulation.