Thomas S. Leatherbury

Headshot of Thomas S. Leatherbury, adjunct faculty member at SMU Dedman School of Law.

Director of the First Amendment Clinic and Clinical Professor of Law

Full-time faculty

Tom Leatherbury is the Director of the First Amendment Clinic at SMU Dedman School of Law. Tom is also is an appellate lawyer with forty years of experience in state and federal appeals and trials. During that time, he has worked on commercial, tort, intellectual property and health care cases, as well as class actions. Tom has made 37 appellate
and countless trial court arguments, and has tried or handled the appellate-related portions of close to 20 jury trials.

Tom has also regularly represented traditional and digital publishers and broadcasters in all aspects of media litigation throughout his career, including libel, privacy and other torts, reporter’s privilege, newsgathering and access, misappropriation, and breach of contract actions.

Tom is also deeply committed to training young lawyers in Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses and to an extensive range of pro bono work, from family to immigration to constitutional law. Among many other honors, he was recently named a fellow in the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, was presented with the Dallas Bar Foundation Justinian Award, and was awarded a Presidential Citation from the State Bar of Texas for his commitment to helping its diversity and inclusion efforts. Additionally, Tom received the Harry M. Reasoner Justice for All Award from the Texas Access to Justice Commission and was named a Senior Statesperson in National First Amendment Law by Chambers USA.

Area of expertise

  • Appellate Practice and Advocacy
  • Class Actions
  • First Amendment Law


B.A., History summa cum laude, Yale College
J.D., Yale Law School


First Amendment Clinic