Ready, Set, Law School

Please check this page throughout summer for important information regarding orientation and summer assignments.


You received your Summer Packet via email from us with a comprehensive list of summer requirements and further information about health insurance, parking, obtaining your student ID, orientation, etc.  

Please be sure to check your email, including your SMU email, for important information, updates and reminders throughout the summer.  

Also, keep an eye on each section of the Admitted Students Website for updates!  If you have any questions about your summer requirements as you work through the Summer Packet, please email us at


Orientation - First-year JD Students

Mandatory orientation for all incoming JD students will be held all day on Tuesday, August 14, Wednesday, August 15, and Thursday, August 16

Tuesday, August 14:  On Tuesday, you will meet your new classmates, hear from local bar association representatives, meet your student mentors and some professors, and attend sessions aimed at helping you prepare for class. Lunch will be provided. Dress is casual. Your Student Bar Association (SBA) mentors will be hosting a casual get-together for you after formal orientation activities end for the day.  You should bring your Orientation Book, a notepad, and a pen. 

Wednesday, August 15: On Wednesday, you will attend a variety of breakout sessions and attend a luncheon with some alumni. Dress is business or business casual. Because our alumni guests will be coming from work, suits are appropriate for everyone. If you do not have a suit, pants and a dress shirt are acceptable for men, and women may wear either a skirt or pants with a blouse, or a dress. You should bring your Orientation Book, a notepad, and a pen. 

Thursday, August 16:  On Thursday, we will have a very busy day.  You will hear from your legal writing professors, and attend another session to help you prepare for class. Dress is casual. We will give you a t-shirt on Tuesday for you to wear on Thursday, and please wear cool, comfortable clothes with your t-shirt as lunch and the social event will be outside. Lunch will be provided. The SBA is planning a social event to begin around 4:30 p.m. after orientation ends.  You should bring your Orientation Book, a notepad, and a pen.  We recommend bringing your materials in a backpack and leaving computers at home.

Please check back for more information closer to orientation.

Orientation - Transfer and Visiting Students

Orientation for incoming transfer and visiting students will be held on August 17, 2018. Please check back for more information.


The first day of class is August 20, 2018. 

Special Note For International Students

Please refer to the Have To's page on the Admitted Students Website for information about requirements for international students.

Preparing for Orientation and Law School


1. In preparation for orientation activities, please purchase and read What Every Law Student Really Needs to Know: An Introduction to the Study of Law (2nd ed.) by Tracey E. George and Suzanna Sherry. Note: be sure to get the second edition, NOT the first edition. Several orientation sessions will be based upon this book, AKA your “Orientation Book,” so it is very important that you read it before you arrive for orientation and bring it with you every day.

You are also required to read two books this summer to prepare for your Legal Research, Writing and Advocacy Course.  Before school begins, please read Plain English for Lawyers (5th ed.) by Richard C. Wydick and Grammar, Punctuation & Style:  A Quick Guide for Lawyers and Other Writers by Deborah Cupples and Margaret Temple-Smith.

These three books are mandatory assignments.  

2. You will need to complete the LEGAL WRITING CLASSES AND DIAGNOSTIC WRITING ASSIGNMENT AND GRAMMAR TEST, and bring both completed assignments with you to the August 16 orientation session that your legal writing professor will lead. 

These two assignments are in addition to the books you were assigned to read in the SUMMER PACKET.

3. First Video Assignment: What will studying be like in law school? Although you will be exposed to many kinds of materials, you will spend quite a bit of time reading cases decided by trial and appellate courts, and reading those cases is how you learn the law. You’ve probably heard that law students are expected to “brief” the cases that they read as part of their class preparation. The process of briefing is actually a structured way to make sure that you develop the skill of analyzing and engaging with the law as it appears in the cases.

You will hear more about class preparation at orientation, but to give you a head start, we’ve asked Professor of Law Beth Thornburg to put together some materials about how to brief a case. (You can find out more about Professor Thornburg HERE.)

Here’s what you should do, before orientation begins:

Start with “How to Brief a Case – Part 1” and follow the instructions within it. You can either do all of it in one sitting, or space it out over time. (Each video indicates how long it is – but note that the time required for Parts 2 and 3 will include the time you take to practice writing segments of a case brief.)

After you watch the videos and practice writing a brief, you may want to view this SAMPLE BRIEF of the Kiefer case. Remember, class preparation will be discussed at orientation, and viewing these videos before orientation will allow you to take full advantage of the orientation program. We hope that this information and exercise will contribute to your confidence and success as law school begins.

4. Second Video Assignment: “This video is intended to provide a very brief introduction to the 9 major moments in a civil trial that produce most of the appeals 1Ls will read about in their non-criminal-law courses (i.e., Torts, Property, Contracts, Constitutional Law, and Legislation/Regulation). It is best viewed after viewing Professor Thornburg's orientation lecture on "How to Brief a Case," but that's by no means required.” – Professor Thomas Wm. Mayo

Click Here for the Second Video Assignment

Law School

Admitted students frequently ask what they should be doing now to prepare to enter law school in the fall. Most importantly, be sure to read your Summer Packet, along with the three books listed above, under Orientation.

In addition, law school will be different from any academic endeavor you have faced, and the best way to succeed is to come into the fall semester with a realistic idea of what to expect. We asked some of our faculty members and others to compile a list of books they would recommend to an incoming law student. These readings are completely optional.

Again, this list of books is an optional reading list.  

Below you will find information and instructions for your additional mandatory law school preparation, once these assignments have been decided by your professors.  

Please check back frequently throughout the summer for updates.

Assignments due on the first day of class

Your assignments will be posted on the Course Schedules and Information page on the law school registrar’s website. The Course Schedules and Information page will have a link to the first day of class assignments page where your assignments will be posted.  Some of your assignments may refer to the TWEN site. You will receive instructions for accessing TWEN during orientation

SMU Email Address and Student ID Numbers

Within a few weeks of your admission, you should have received your SMU e-mail address and ID number. This information was mailed to you from the SMU Enrollment Services Office. You will continue to receive emails from the Admissions Office to the email address you put in your law school application, however, other departments within the university and in particular the Financial Aid Office will only send emails about your enrollment at SMU to your SMU email account.

Living in Dallas

The law school is located on the northwest corner of SMU's main campus in Dallas, Texas. The campus is situated just five miles from downtown Dallas in a beautiful residential neighborhood surrounded by shops, restaurants, and services. It is a village within the city offering an abundance of activities within walking distance.

SMU offers a wide variety of university-owned housing. Graduate dormitories, off-campus apartments, duplexes, and houses are available. For on-campus housing information, contact Residence Life & Student Housing at 214-768-2407. The Admissions Office has also compiled a list of housing options to aid in your search.  

Looking for a roommate?  Enter your information in this Google Doc to make connections with other incoming students interested in sharing housing.

Order a Parking Permit or DART Pass

Approximately 48 hours after the registrar has put you into your classes (mid-July), you may order your parking permit or DART pass online at Please see the Summer Packet for more information.

All parking permits will be mailed. You will be able to print a temporary permit when you place your order. If you do not receive your permanent parking permit before your temporary permit expires, you must go to the Parking and ID Card Services office (in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center). Order your permanent parking permit ASAP in order to avoid having to do this!

The Admissions Office will email you a separate, printable parking permit for orientation.

Interested in a Student DART Pass? Please click here, and see your Summer Packet for more detailed information.

TollTag enrollment for SMU parking:  Your TollTag can be used to provide quick access into certain parking areas such as the Airline Parking Center.  For more information and to enroll your TollTag for SMU parking, click here.

Overflow parking:  Please be aware that during the first couple of weeks of school, the Daniel Parking Center garage can be very crowded. Overflow parking is located in the Airline Parking Center garage which is just a short walk from the Law Quad.  

Get a Student ID Card

After the registrar has put you into your classes (mid-July), go to the SMU ID Card Services webpage and log in using your SMU student ID number and the password you created when you activated your SMU email account. Upload a color photo that conforms to the requirements set out on the upload page.

You also have the option of having your photo taken at the student ID office instead of uploading a picture yourself. 

If you upload a photo that meets the requirements by July 27, you will be able to pick up your ID card at orientation.  If you submit your photo after July 27, you must go in person to the SMU Parking and ID Card Services Office located in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center, Suite 216 to have your card printed before the first day of class. Cards will be printed while you wait and take approximately 5-10 minutes to print on a first-come, first-served basis.  Please arrive before 4:15 p.m.

Order your textbooks

After the registrar has enrolled you in your classes, go to:, and click on “Student Homepage.” Once you click that link, you will see a bar on the left-side of the screen that includes “SMU Bookstore.” That link will direct you to the SMU bookstore. The SMU bookstore is located in Barnes and Noble on the south end of campus, 3060 Mockingbird Lane, Dallas, Texas 75205, 214-768-2435. The link to the SMU bookstore website is here.