Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
University of Memphis
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
MottoImaginari. Cogitare. Facere.
Parent schoolUniversity of Memphis
School typePublic
Parent endowment$180 million
DeanKatharine Schaffzin
LocationMemphis, Tennessee, US
35°08′44″N 90°03′17″W / 35.14565°N 90.05469°W / 35.14565; -90.05469Coordinates: 35°08′44″N 90°03′17″W / 35.14565°N 90.05469°W / 35.14565; -90.05469
Enrollment320 (FT)/30 (PT)
Faculty25 (FT & Deans, etc)/10 (PT)
Bar pass rate91.07% (July 2013)[1]
ABA profileUniversity of Memphis, School of Law

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is an American Bar Association accredited law school and is the only law school in Memphis, Tennessee. The school has been associated with the University of Memphis since the law school's formation in 1962. The school was named in honor of former University president Cecil Clarence Humphreys. It is also referred to as U of M Law, Memphis Law, or Memphis Law School.

According to Memphis Law's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 60.5% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners.[2]


The law school was founded in 1962 as the Memphis State University College of Law. It gained ABA accreditation three years later in 1965.[3] Former Memphis businessman Herbert Herff was a major benefactor to the University of Memphis. When he died in 1966, Herff left the bulk of his estate in trust with the State of Tennessee for the benefit of the University. Among his Foundation's funding is the Herbert Herff Presidential Law Scholarships and the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law.

Prior to the law school's founding, there were several other law schools in Memphis, including Memphis Law School, and Southern Law School (not to be confused with Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, LA), both of which subsequently merged with Memphis State University Law School.[4] Memphis Law School existed as early as 1922 as the University of Memphis School of Law.[5] Despite the names, neither Southern Law University nor the early University of Memphis School of Law had university connections, but rather offered part-time legal education programs, though both were approved by the State Board of Law Examiners.[6]

The law school joined the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) in 2001.[7] Reflecting the law school's increased profile, the Tennessee Supreme Court convened at the University of Memphis School of Law on November 4, 2010.[8] In September 2012, the law school celebrated its semicentennial.


The new Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law, a former United States federal courthouse, opened in 2010.

The law school has graduated more than 4,500 students since its inception, and it currently has approximately 460 students and twenty-three full-time professors.[9] It is consistently named an “excellent value” in legal education by National Jurist Magazine. Additionally, for the last two years, it has a top law school job placement rate in the state with over 98% of graduates being employed within nine months of graduation. The bar passage rate for the July 2006 exam was 92.4%, the highest of any law school in Tennessee and well over the state average of 79.8%.[10] In the 2007 Back to School issue of preLaw, the University of Memphis Law School was ranked fifth in the list of "Best Value Law Schools." [11]

Many students participate on moot court or mock trial teams or are involved with the school's law journal, the University of Memphis Law Review (founded in 1970). In January 2011, the law faculty formally endorsed the formation of a second student-edited law review, the biannual Mental Health Law and Policy Journal, which is the first law journal of its kind in the nation.[12] Additionally, the school's Moot Court/Mock Trial program has sent seven teams in ten years to the national competitions.[13]

New downtown campus[edit]

Main lobby of University of Memphis School of Law

Because of inadequate, old facilities, former Dean James Smoot positioned the law school for a move from its building on the University's main campus in East Memphis to a former customs house on the Mississippi River in downtown Memphis. The new law school campus is more than twice the size of the old campus.[14] Until purchased by the law school, a portion of the building had been serving as a post office. Designed by Memphis firms Askew Nixon Ferguson Architects and Fleming Associates Architects, the new law school is located in the heart of Memphis' downtown. Tennessee's governor, Phil Bredesen, has also lent his support and pledged forty-one million dollars in state funds for the move. Along with the purpose-specific interior redesign, the architect (Bill Nixon) oversaw structural renovations, including a $2 million seismic retrofit. The move was officially announced on January 12, 2006, and it was anticipated that the downtown facility would be ready for classes January 2010.

As of Fall 2010, the new downtown campus is fully operational, with a dedication ceremony held on January 16, 2010.[15] The 169,000-square-foot (4-acre) building originally housed the late 19th century U.S. Customs House.[16] Built in the early 1880s, the Italianate Revival-style building opened in 1885.[17] Over the years, the building has served as Memphis' main customs house, federal court house, and most recently, as a U.S. post office.[18] It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[19][20]

Among features preserved in the restoration are the old federal courtroom, which now serves as one of the law school's moot courtrooms. During the restoration, a number of architectural details were rediscovered, including a decorative ceiling and roof monitor.[21] The South Wing of the law school serves as the Plough Law Library; the library occupies all five levels of the South Wing, and includes West-facing glass walls overlooking the Mississippi River. The law library contains more than 250,000 volumes of books, journals and other legal materials. In addition, two of the building's 10 original security vaults serve as study spaces and small offices.

In the North Wing, administrative and faculty offices are on the second and third floors. The first floor houses a student lounge, study areas and a law student bookstore. The North Wing's lowest level contains the University of Memphis Legal Clinic, locker rooms and student organization offices. As a result of digital security measures, students, faculty and staff have 24/7 access to the law school, study rooms, and library.

Following the law school's move to the downtown location in 2010, it was ranked by the Princeton Review as a top 10 law school nationally for quality of life.[22]

Library facilities[edit]

The new law school campus houses the Plough Foundation Law Library, which contains more than 270,000 volumes of books and microforms including statutes, court reports, digests, encyclopedias, treatises, loose-leaf services, periodicals, and government documents. The Law Library serves as a selective depository library for U.S. government publications since 1979. In addition to its own law library resources, students and staff also have access to the following libraries:

  • McWherter Library—the main University of Memphis library and its departmental branches;
  • Shelby County Law Library, located on the third floor of the Shelby County Courthouse, two blocks away from the law school.[23]
  • Memphis Public Library, Cossitt Branch Library, located adjacent to the law school.[24]

Post-graduation employment[edit]

According to Memphis Law's official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 60.5% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo-practitioners.[2] The school ranked 75th out of the 201 ABA-approved law schools in terms of the percentage of 2013 graduates with non-school-funded, full-time, long-term, bar passage required jobs nine months after graduation.[25]

Memphis Law's Law School Transparency under-employment score is 23.4%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[26] 83.1% of the Class of 2013 was employed in some capacity while 15.3% were unemployed nine months graduation.[2]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at Memphis Law for the 2014-2015 academic year is $33,067 for Tennessee residents and $54,939 for non-residents.[27]

The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $130,983.[28]

Notable alumni[edit]

View of University of Memphis, School of Law facing north.

Notable faculty[edit]

Memphis Law in popular culture[edit]

  • In the 1997 Hollywood film The Rainmaker, Rudy Baylor (played by Matt Damon) is a graduate of University of Memphis, School of Law.
  • Reggie Love, the lawyer played by Susan Sarandon in "The Client", mentioned she attended Memphis State, which is what the University was formerly known as.


  1. ^ [1] TN Board of Law Examiners: University of Memphis School of Law
  2. ^ a b c "Section of Legal Education, Employment Summary Report". American Bar Association. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-19. Retrieved 2010-12-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Official LSAC Guide: University of Memphis, School of Law
  4. ^ Montell, William (2005). Tales from Tennessee Lawyers. University Press of Kentucky. p. 222. ISBN 0-8131-2369-0.
  5. ^ Notes and Personals, University of Memphis Law School (1922), p. 758. The American Law School Review. Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  6. ^ "Elliott E. Cheatham, The Law Schools of Tennessee (1949)". 21:3 Tennessee L. Rev. 283 (1950). Retrieved 2010-12-05.
  7. ^ http://www.aals.org/about_memberschools.php AALS Membership Directory
  8. ^ http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2010/nov/05/u-of-m-vandy-law-schools-rank-high/ University of Memphis Ranks High, The Commercial Appeal (November 5, 2010)
  9. ^ http://www.top-law-schools.com/university-of-memphis.html Top Law Schools - Memphis Law Profile
  10. ^ http://www.law.memphis.edu/admissions/statistics.htm University of Memphis, School of Law Statistics
  11. ^ http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/cypress/prelaw-bts07/index.php?startpage=25 preLaw Magazine
  12. ^ http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/2011/mar/15/university-memphis-law-school-ranked-140th-nation/ Mental Health Law and Policy Journal - Comment
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-08-20. Retrieved 2008-01-08.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law Moot Court Program
  14. ^ http://www.americaninterfile.com/news2.html (last accessed June 22, 2011)
  15. ^ [2] Memphis Law School exceeds $12M fundraising goal
  16. ^ http://www.hydefoundation.org/news/2010/01/11/university-of-memphis-law-school-opens-today-in-former-us-customs-house.111398 University of Memphis Law School opens today in former U.S. Customs House
  17. ^ Id.
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-18. Retrieved 2011-01-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) Lost Memphis Profile, Custom House
  19. ^ http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natregadvancedsearch.do?searchtype=natregadvanced National Register Information System, NRIS No. 80003873
  20. ^ National Register of Historic Places, Record No. 384179, U.S. Post Office-Front Street Station
  21. ^ Id.
  22. ^ U of M Law School Ranked in Top 10 Nationally for Quality of Life Archived 2010-11-25 at the Wayback Machine
  23. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-09. Retrieved 2011-06-24.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) (last accessed June 22, 2011)
  24. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2002-04-13. Retrieved 2014-01-07.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link) (last accessed June 24, 2011)
  25. ^ Leichter, Matt. "Class of 2013 Employment Report". The Law School Tuition Bubble. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  26. ^ "University of Memphis Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  27. ^ "Estimated Tuition & Costs". The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Archived from the original on 20 July 2014. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  28. ^ "University of Memphis Profile, Cost". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 20 July 2014.
  29. ^ [3] President Obama Nominates Judge Bernice Bouie Donald for United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  30. ^ [4] Governor Haslam Appoints Kirby to Tennessee Supreme Court
  31. ^ "James Dale Todd". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  32. ^ "Caroline C. Hunter". Federal Election Commission. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  33. ^ Dedrick, Blair. "Leading by example". The University of Memphis Magazine. Retrieved September 14, 2016.
  34. ^ "Jim Kyle". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  35. ^ "Stanley Thomas Anderson". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  36. ^ "Stu Grimson". Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com. Retrieved 22 April 2013.
  37. ^ https://ballotpedia.org/Tracy_C._Hudson

External links[edit]