SMU Course Recommendations

SMU Law School prides itself on its broad, diverse, and relevant curriculum and encourages its students to take advantage of the educational richness such a curriculum offers. The Law School is proud to provide a curriculum that makes SMU far more than just a "bar preparation" law school.

Nevertheless, the Law School recognizes that it is in the best interest of each student to understand and take into account the demands he or she will face when taking the bar examination, whether in Texas or elsewhere. This document has therefore been prepared with the goal of providing each student guidance with respect to such demands so that he or she may select courses in such a way as to maximize his or her chances to pass the bar on the first attempt.

Research has demonstrated that the SMU graduates who are most at risk of not passing the bar on the first attempt are those students who graduate with a law school grade point average below 2.5. Within that higher risk group, the most significant difference between those who passed the bar on their first attempt and those who did not is the number of upper-class bar courses taken. Those who passed on their first attempt took an average of more than 8 upper class bar courses, while those who failed on their first attempt took only an average of 5.

It is therefore the recommendation of the faculty of the Law School that every student who is "at risk" (i.e., with a law school grade point average below 2.5) or who is close to being "at risk" take an absolute minimum of 8 upper-class primary bar courses. It is also recommended that the courses selected cover as many different bar exam subject areas as possible.


Important Note: Primary and Supplemental Courses
Courses are designated below as either "primary" or "supplemental" with respect to bar examination coverage. Simply stated, primary courses cover the bulk of the material actually tested on the bar exam in a particular subject area. Supplemental courses are closely related to a bar subject area but generally do not cover the basics. Thus, a supplemental course may not give a student the basic foundation for that particular subject area on the bar exam. As a general matter, supplemental courses should not be viewed as adequate substitutes for the primary courses in terms of their value in bar preparation. While there are many valid justifications for taking supplemental courses, bar preparation should generally not be the primary one.

I. Multistate Bar Exam

The Multistate Bar Exam (MBE) is a full day, 200 question multiple-choice exam administered in all but two states (Louisiana and Washington) and Puerto Rico on the last Wednesday of each February and July. The MBE consists of six subject areas: Contracts, Torts, Constitutional Law, Real Property, Evidence and Criminal Law/Procedure. With the exception of Evidence, the vast majority of the content tested on the MBE is covered in your first-year courses. Several subjects, however, may include questions covered in specific upper-class courses. (In addition to required first-year courses, students may choose to take an additional course in one or more subject areas.)

IV. Multistate Practice Exam

The Multistate Performance Test (MPT) is designed to test an applicant's ability to use fundamental lawyering skills in a realistic situation by completing a task which a beginning lawyer should be able to accomplish. The MPT consists of one ninety minute item, in which the examinee is furnished with a file of source documents and a library of research materials to be used in accomplishing the designated task. The MPT requires examinees to (1) sort detailed factual materials and separate relevant from irrelevant facts; (2) analyze statutory, case, and administrative materials for principles of law; (3) apply the law to the relevant facts in a manner likely to resolve a client's problem; (4) identify and resolve ethical dilemma, when present; (5) communicate effectively in writing; (6) complete a lawyering task within time restraints. In addition to Legal Research & Writing and the Lawyering courses, clinics, externships, and a variety of other courses provide opportunities to develop these skills.