Christine P. Leatherberry '06

Headshot of Christine P. Leatherberry, adjunct faculty member at SMU Dedman School of Law.

Assistant Dean for Administration and Chief of Staff

Adjunct faculty




Christine Powers Leatherberry is the Assistant Dean for Administration and Chief of Staff. Prior to that, she was the Director of Alumni Relations and became an adjunct professor in 2020. When she was in private practice, Dean Leatherberry was named one of the Top 50 Up-and-Coming Women Attorneys in Texas from 2017 until 2020 and one of the Top 100 Up-and-Coming Attorneys in Texas from 2018 until 2020. From 2014 to 2020, she was honored on the exclusive list of Texas Rising Stars. She is also listed among the finest lawyers in the area by Best Lawyers in America. D Magazine named Dean Leatherberry on the annual list of Best Lawyers Under 40 for 2020. She keeps up her pro bono family law work through the law school and the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program.

Dean Leatherberry is board certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and was a partner at Connatser Family Law before joining SMU. She has been quoted in The New York Times and has been interviewed live on WFAA Channel 8 (ABC News) and the radio regarding various family law issues.

She is member of the Texas Academy of Family Law Specialists, a Fellow of the Dallas Bar Foundation, and a Fellow of the Texas Bar Foundation, an honor reserved for the top ⅓ of 1% of Texas attorneys. She is also a Bencher in the William “Mac” Taylor Inn of Court and serves on the Inn’s Leadership Committee.

In 2021, the Women in Law organization at SMU Law awarded Dean Leatherberry its Distinguished Faculty Member Award, after she was nominated by former students citing her efforts to inspire and promote women at SMU Law and the Dallas community at large. She is a co-advisor for Women in Law and directed the launch of the Jennifer M. Collins Women’s Leadership Initiative at SMU Law.

While studying at SMU Law, she earned a Trial Advocacy Scholarship, was on the Board of Advocates, was selected the Executive Board Member of the Year of the BOA, and interned for Judge Jay Patterson of the 101st District Court.

Dean Leatherberry earned her Bachelor of Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin with high honors in 2003 and her Juris Doctor from SMU graduating cum laude in 2006.

In fall 2001, she interned in the White House for First Lady Laura Bush in the Projects Office supporting reading and early childhood cognitive development initiatives. In conjunction with that internship, she was awarded a fellowship in The University of Texas System Bill Archer Fellowship Program and later helped found the Archer Fellow Alumni Association. In undergrad, she was also President of Beta Alpha Rho Pre-Law Fraternity.

Since returning to SMU Law, she planned joint events with the Dallas Bar Association, Dallas Women Lawyers Association, J.L. Turner Legal Association, Dallas Association of Young Lawyers, Moms in Law, Dallas LGBT Law Association, and Dallas Hispanic Bar Association, including the Women's Guide to Healing the Racial Divide: How to Talk to Each Other and Our Children About RaceLife After Law School – Perspectives of Newly Practicing Women Lawyers; and The Recent DACA and LGBTQ Supreme Court Decisions: What's Next?

In 2016, she helped create and still chairs the “Moms in Law” special interest group of DAYL, DBA, and DWLA.  Under her leadership, Moms in Law planned CLEs titled How Men Can be Better Allies to Women LawyersIs there a such thing as Work-Life Balance?How to Seek and Serve Your Clients – Business Development Tips with an Emphasis on Women Attorneys; and Women’s Guide to Building and Protecting Wealth.  Moms in Law also prepared the Parental Leave Initiative report, which was a joint project that surveyed the largest firms in Dallas for their parental leave policies.

Dean Leatherberry is a past chair of the Dallas Junior Board of Directors for Big Brothers Big Sisters and was a Big Sister to the same Little Sister for over 11 years. She is a member of the Junior League of Dallas and recently served on the Centennial Committee, chairing the Archives subcommittee, after previously serving on the Education and Grants for Innovative Teaching Committees. She is a graduate of the 2022-2023 class of the T. Boone Pickens Leadership Institute.

She has volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank, Education is Freedom, Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, and Methodist Dallas Medical Center in the NICU. She has been a Junior Associates Member at the DMA and a mentor for the Dallas Texas Exes Mentorship Program. In 2016-2017, Dean Leatherberry was also on the Host Committee for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Luncheon and was on the board of the Preston Hollow Early Childhood Association.

Area of expertise

  • Family Law


Bachelor of Journalism, high honors, The University of Texas at Austin
J.D., cum laude, SMU Dedman School of Law


Family Law


Family Law, 9 SMU Annual Texas Survey (2023) (with Joanna Grossman)

Family Law, 8 SMU Annual Texas Survey 89 (2022) (with Joanna Grossman)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Other publications

The Growing Relevance of Online Impersonation in Texas Family LawTexas Lawyer (2019)
Texas Lawyer

Millennials Have Their Own Unique Way to Avoid DivorceTexas Lawyer (2019)
Texas Lawyer



Women’s Guide to Building and Protecting Wealth
Speaker (Family Law)
(November 2019)

Presentation on Pro Bono Adoptions
DBA Board of Directors, Speaker
Dallas, TX (September 2019)

Mentoring Through Ages and Stages of Life
Dallas Area Paralegal Association, Speaker
Dallas, TX (August 2019)

How Men Can Be Better Allies to Working Lawyer Moms
Chair, Organizer
(June 2019)

How to Prepare for a Temporary Orders Hearing
Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, Speaker
Dallas, TX (July 2018)

Divorce with Contested Property Issues
Dallas Area Paralegal Association, Speaker
Dallas, TX (June 2018)

How to Make the Legal Profession More Mom-Friendly
Chair, Organizer
(May 2018)

Presentation and Communication Skills
UNT Dallas Law School, Speaker
Dallas, TX (March 2018)

Is there a such thing as a work-life balance as a Mom in Law?
Chair, Moderator
(April 2017)

Divorce with Contested Property Issues
Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program, Speaker
Dallas, TX (July 2016)

Handling Your First Jury Trial
Texas Law Center, Speaker
Dallas, TX (December 2011)


'The Mom Guilt Is Real'
Super Lawyers Magazine
March 2020

'Moms in Law' Unites Female Lawyers in North Texas for Support, Networking
Dallas Innovates
November 2018

In a Divorce, Who Gets Custody of Electronic Data?  The Lawyers
The New York Times
October 31, 2016

How to Talk to Children About Divorce (Live Interview)
September 2014

How Texas Views Measles Vaccinations When Divorced Parents Disagree
KRLD Radio
March 2015

Premarital Agreements
KLIF Radio
May 2014