Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
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Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
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
Enrollment314 (FT)
Faculty26 (FT)/16 (PT Adjuncts)
USNWR ranking138 (tied)
Bar pass rate81.1% (July 2019)[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 2017 ABA-required disclosures, 69.69% of the Class of 2017 obtained full-time, long-term, bar passage-required employment 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 1909 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 5,000 students since its inception, and it currently has approximately 314 students and twenty-six full-time professors.[9] It is consistently named a "best value" in legal education by National Jurist Magazine. Additionally, it has a job placement rate such that 83% of graduates were employed, with 68% employed where bar admission was required, in long-term jobs within ten months of graduation (Class of 2016-2018).[10] In the winter 2018 issue of preLaw, the University of Memphis Law School received an A- grade in "Best Value Law Schools" list.[11] PreLaw has also recently included Memphis Law in their 2018 "Health Law Honor Roll." [12]

U.S. News & World Report ranks Memphis Law as tied for No. 138 of American law schools in its 2020 rankings.[13]

Memphis Law was recognized in 2014 by the National Jurist and preLaw magazine as having the "Best Law School Facilities in the Nation", and more recently, was named by the same publications as having the "Best Law School Building in the Nation." [14]

For the class entering in Fall 2019, 62.05% of applicants were accepted for admission, 20.9% of those accepted actually matriculated, with entering students having a median LSAT score of 152 and a median undergraduate grade point average of 3.2.[15]

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). Additionally, the school's Moot Court/Mock Trial program has a history of fielding teams from the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition teams to specialized teams such as the Duberstein Bankruptcy Section team and the ABA Mediation Team.[16]

The University of Memphis Law School was recognized in 2017 by Pre-law magazine as a "Most Diverse Law School" earning a B+ in diversity.[17]

New downtown campus

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.[18] 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.[19] The 169,000-square-foot (4-acre) building originally housed the late 19th century U.S. Customs House.[20] Built in the early 1880s, the Italianate Revival-style building opened in 1885.[21] Over the years, the building has served as Memphis' main customs house, federal court house, and most recently, as a U.S. post office.[22] It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.[23][24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

Memphis Law has been recognized by the National Jurist and preLaw magazine as having the "Best Law School Facilities in the Nation" in 2014, and more recently, was named by the same publications as having the "Best Law School Building in the Nation." [14]

Library facilities

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.[27]
  • Memphis Public Library, Cossitt Branch Library, located adjacent to the law school. As of 2019 this branch is no longer in service.[28]

Post-graduation employment

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.[29]

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.[30] 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) at Memphis Law for the 2017-18 academic year is $19,197 for Tennessee residents and $26,402 for non-residents.[31]

Notable alumni

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

Notable faculty

Memphis Law in popular culture

  • 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" (PDF). American Bar Association. Retrieved 2017.
  3. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-03-19. Retrieved .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. Cite has empty unknown parameter: |coauthors= (help)
  5. ^ Notes and Personals, University of Memphis Law School (1922), p. 758. The American Law School Review. Retrieved .
  6. ^ "Elliott E. Cheatham, The Law Schools of Tennessee (1949)". 21:3 Tennessee L. Rev. 283 (1950). Retrieved .
  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. ^ "Memphis Law Employment Statistics Class of 2016-18" (PDF). memphis.edu. The University of Memphis. Retrieved 2019.
  11. ^ https://mydigitalpublication.com/publication/frame.php?i=531663&p=38&pn=&ver=html5
  12. ^ https://bluetoad.com/publication/?i=517871&ver=html5&p=44
  13. ^ "University of Memphis (Humphreys)". usnews.com. US News & World Report, LP. Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ a b https://bluetoad.com/publication/?i=482098&p=&pn=#{'issue_id':482098,'page':22}
  15. ^ "Memphis Law School". lawschoolnumbers.com. Law School Numbers. Retrieved 2019.
  16. ^ https://www.memphis.edu/law/programs/travel-team-competitions.php
  17. ^ https://www.memphis.edu/law/about/diversity.php#:~:text=Recognized%20in%202017%20by%20Pre,consists%20of%2050%25%20female%20professors.
  18. ^ http://www.americaninterfile.com/news2.html (last accessed June 22, 2011)
  19. ^ [2] Memphis Law School exceeds $12M fundraising goal
  20. ^ 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
  21. ^ Id.
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-05-18. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Lost Memphis Profile, Custom House
  23. ^ http://nrhp.focus.nps.gov/natregadvancedsearch.do?searchtype=natregadvanced Archived 2013-02-15 at the Wayback Machine National Register Information System, NRIS No. 80003873
  24. ^ National Register of Historic Places, Record No. 384179, U.S. Post Office-Front Street Station
  25. ^ Id.
  26. ^ U of M Law School Ranked in Top 10 Nationally for Quality of Life Archived 2010-11-25 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-10-09. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (last accessed June 22, 2011)
  28. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2002-04-13. Retrieved .CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) (last accessed June 24, 2011)
  29. ^ Leichter, Matt. "Class of 2013 Employment Report". The Law School Tuition Bubble. Retrieved 2014.
  30. ^ "University of Memphis Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 2014.
  31. ^ https://www.memphis.edu/law/admissions/tuition-financial-aid.php
  32. ^ [3] President Obama Nominates Judge Bernice Bouie Donald for United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
  33. ^ [4] Archived 2018-04-24 at the Wayback Machine Governor Haslam Appoints Kirby to Tennessee Supreme Court
  34. ^ "James Dale Todd". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2013.
  35. ^ "Caroline C. Hunter". Federal Election Commission. Retrieved 2013.
  36. ^ Dedrick, Blair. "Leading by example". The University of Memphis Magazine. Archived from the original on January 18, 2017. Retrieved 2016.
  37. ^ "Jim Kyle". Project Vote Smart. Retrieved 2013.
  38. ^ "Stanley Thomas Anderson". Federal Judicial Center. Retrieved 2013.
  39. ^ "Stu Grimson". Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com. Retrieved 2013.
  40. ^ https://ballotpedia.org/Tracy_C._Hudson

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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