About the Program
SMU Dedman School of Law has long been a leader amongst law schools in its genuine and unwavering commitment to public service. In 1947, it was one of the country’s first law schools to sponsor a community legal clinic to serve the poor, nearly twenty years before legal clinics became a national movement. Then, in 1996, SMU Dedman School of Law was the first law school in the state of Texas, to implement a mandatory Public Service Graduation Requirement. This legacy of public service is premised on the understanding that participating in public service plays a valuable role in the development of competent and responsible lawyers and also benefits the community by helping to meet the critical need for pro bono legal assistance.
The Office of Public Service at SMU Dedman School of Law coordinates the school’s pro bono efforts. Specifically, the office works to build relationships with the various nonprofit legal programs in the area, to develop new public service placement opportunities for the students, and to maintain a clear understanding of the particular and changing unmet needs in the community. Additionally, the office actively promotes the value of public service to the students, through such efforts as soliciting public service scholarship, stipend, and fellowship opportunities, hosting Public Advocate Day, an annual public interest career fair, and advising students interested in seeking a legal career in public service. The Office of Public Service is dedicated to developing and maintaining a diverse list of public service placements in the community so the students can find an opportunity to complete their public service hours requirement in an area of law that interests them.