Test Drive

An investment in our graduates, your Firm, and the future of our legal community.

Test Drive is a pioneering concept enabling Class of 2023 graduates from SMU Dedman School of Law to target legal employers with whom there is potential employment and to work for that employer full-time, on a provisional basis, toward the goal of securing long-term employment. Test Drive is an opportunity for Class of 2023 graduates to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, work ethic, and professionalism to legal employers with whom they desire to work. 

Graduates have secured Test Drive employment in law firms, corporations, and non-profit organizations, not only in Texas but all over the country. Read this article about the success of Test Drive

By applying to participate in Test Drive, the employer represents it has an identified need to hire a new associate for full-time, long-term employment.

How to initiate a Test Drive:

To register for a one-month Test Drive, the employer must submit the Test Drive Employer Registration Form. Employers may review the form and complete it online through DocuSign here

To initiate funding for Test Drive employment, the Law School must receive the Employer Registration form prior to the date employment commences.  Upon receipt of the Employer Registration and the approval of Test Drive, the Law School will disburse to the employer $3,500 within approximately four weeks of receiving a W-9 from the employer. The employer is responsible for paying the graduate employee's salary (a minimum of $3,500) less applicable federal and state withholdings and other deductions. 

Test Drive is only available to recent SMU Dedman Law graduates who are registered and approved to participate in the Test Drive program. Contact Marcie Davis at mydavis@smu.edu if you need to verify a graduate's eligibility. 

What happens after the initial Test Drive?

At the end of the 4-week Test Drive, an employer will have three options: 

1. Offer employment: Offer full-time employment to the graduate and, if the graduate accepts, complete and submit for approval through DocuSign the Test Drive Request - Month Two, along with a copy of the graduate's offer letter and graduate's signature confirming acceptance and, upon receipt and approval, the School will send the employer a check for $3,500 to offset graduate's compensation for month two; 

2. Continue the Test Drive for an additional month: Should the employer need more time to assess the graduate's performance, the employer may continue the Test Drive for an additional month, providing that 1) the employer has a discussion with the graduate about the terms of prospective employment, including responsibilities and expectations, salary and benefits, 2) employer and graduate agree to continue Test Drive toward an offer of full-time, long-term employment, and 3) employer submits for approval the Test Drive Request – Month Two before commencing the second month of employment. Upon approval, the Test Drive may proceed for Month Two, but no check will be issued to the employer unless, at the end of month two, an offer of full-time employment is made to the graduate and the graduate accepts. In that case, the employer may submit a copy of its offer letter with the graduate’s signature confirming acceptance and, upon receipt, Dean Davis will submit all paperwork to the Finance Office. Approximately 4 weeks after receipt of the executed offer letter, the School will fund $3,500 of the graduate’s salary for month two by sending the employer a check; or

3. End Test DriveAt the end of month one, either the employer or graduate may decide not to proceed with an offer or the second month of Test Drive. In this case, neither party shall have any further obligations.

To post a Test Drive position:

Complete the Test Drive Job Posting Form.

We are grateful for the continued support the legal community has shown for our law school and thank you for considering Test Drive.

Jason P. Nance
Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law

Marcie Y. Davis
Assistant Dean of Career Services