Thomas Wm. Mayo

Headshot of Thomas Wm. Mayo, faculty member at SMU Dedman School of Law.

Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor and Professor of Law

Full-time faculty




Thomas Wm. Mayo was an associate with the Rochester, New York firm of Nixon, Hargrave, Devans & Doyle (now Nixon Peabody, LLP) after which he served as a law clerk to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He then practiced with the Washington, D.C., firm of Covington & Burling LLP in the areas of antitrust, securities fraud, election law, and communications. In addition to his position at SMU, Professor Mayo is an Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School and is a co-principal investigator and past Director of SMU’s Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility (2005-10). He is a co-founder of the Legal Hospice of Texas, the state's first pro bono legal clinic for persons with HIV/AIDS and terminal illnesses. He was a member of the Council of the Health Law Section of the State Bar of Texas for 23 years and is a founding Fellow and past board member of the American Health Law Association, a Fellow in the Dallas Institute for Humanities and Culture, and a recipient of the Dallas Medical Society’s Heath Award for his contributions to medicine and leadership in Dallas County. He was elected to membership in the American Law Institute in 2012 and was the poetry columnist for the Dallas Morning News from 1998-2008.

Professor Mayo has previously taught Administrative Law, Business Torts, Civil Procedure, Comparative & International Health Law, Constitutional Law I & II, Election Law, Family Law, Federal Courts, First Amendment Seminar (team-taught), Land Use, Legislation, and Nonprofit Organizations and currently teaches Law & Medicine: Bioethics; Law & Medicine: Health Care; Law, Literature & Medicine; Legislation & Regulation, Public Health Law & Ethics, and Torts. He has received the law school's outstanding teacher award three times, as well as the University's outstanding volunteer award for community service, President's Associate award as the outstanding member of the tenured faculty, and the University's Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Award. He has given nearly 300 public lectures on health-law-related subjects and made nearly 2,000 media appearances around the world, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, USA Today, BBC World Service Radio, The Economist, Anderson Cooper 360, NPR (Morning Edition, All Things Considered), MSNBC, CBS Evening News and NBC (Today, Nightly News).

Area of expertise

  • Bioethics
  • Election Law
  • Health Law
  • Non-profit Organizations


B.A., Amherst College
J.D., Syracuse University College of Law


Law and Medicine: Health Care
Law and Medicine: Bioethics
Public Health Law and Ethics
Law, Literature and Medicine
Nonprofit Organizations
Legislation & Regulation




Foreword: Cruzan and the ‘Right to Die’, 73 SMU Law Review 3 (2020)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Foreword (Collection: Foundational Voices in 2020 and Beyond), 73 SMU Law Review Forum 23 (2020)
SMU Repository

'To Shield Thee from Diseases of the World': The Past, Present, and Possible Future of Immunization Policy, 13 Journal of Health and Life Sciences Law 3 (2020) (with Wendi Campbell Rogaliner and Elicia Grilley Green)
Journal of Health & Life Sciences Law

Brain-Dead and Pregnant in Texas, 14 American Journal of Bioethics 15 (2014)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Tax-Exempt Hospitals: Renewed Focus on Indigent Care, 4 Journal of Health & Life Sciences Law 140 (2010)
SSRN | SMU Repository

The Baby Doe Rules and Texas's 'Futility Law' in the NICU, 25 Georgia State University Law Review 1003-17 (2009)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Three Ways of Looking at a Health Law and Literature Class, 1 Drexel Law Review 512 (2009)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Living and Dying in a Post-Schiavo World, 38 Journal of Health Law 587 (2006)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Sex, Marriage, and Law: What Hope of Harmony?, 42 Washburn Law Journal 269 (2003)
SSRN | SMU Repository

The First Fifty Years: Health Law's Greatest Hits, 50 Syracuse Law Review 1261 (2000)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Book chapters

Using the Humanities to Explore Professionalism in Medical and Law Schools, in ETHICS AT THE HEART OF HIGHER EDUCATION (Kirk & Crespo eds. 2020)

Law, Ethics and Clinical Judgement, in RUDOLPH'S PEDIATRICS, 23rd ed. (McGraw-Hill Education 2018) 

Bioethics, in FUNDAMENTALS OF HEALTH LAW, 7th ed. (AHLA 2018)

Twyla Tharp Goes to Law School: On the Use of the Visual and Performing Arts in Professional Education, in BEYOND TEXT IN LEGAL EDUCATION -- VOL. II: THE MORAL IMAGINATION AND THE LEGAL LIFE (Ashgate Press 2012)

Futility: My Life, in THE PICTURE OF HEALTH:  MEDICAL ETHICS AND THE MOVIES (Oxford University Press 2011)

Bioethics, in HEALTH LAW PRACTICE GUIDE (2d ed. 2009 and 3d ed. 2011)

Bioethics, in FUNDAMENTALS OF HEALTH LAW (2d ed. 2000; 3d ed. 2004; 4th ed. 2008; and 5th ed. 2011)

Living Greatly in the Law: Three Lessons, in  LAW, CULTURE AND ECONOMIC DEVLOPMMENT: A LIBER AMICORUM FOR PROFESSOR ROBERTO MacLEAN, CBE, STUDIES SERIES IN INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL ECONOMIC, AND TECHNOLOGY LAW (Vol 8 2007: Successor to the Yearbook of International Financial and Economic Law)
SMU Repository

Ethical Aspects of Neurosurgical Practice, in TEXTBOOK OF NEUROLOGICAL SURGERY (Lippincott Williams & Wilkins 2002) (with Howard Morgan, M.D.)

Determination of Death: Legal and Ethical Issues, in ESSENTIALS OF PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE, 2d ed. (Levin & Morriss 1997)
SMU Repository

Withholding and Withdrawing Life-Sustaining Treatment:  Legal Issues, in ESSENTIALS OF PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE, 2d ed. (Levin & Morriss 1997)

Editor, SECTION 15, Ethical and Legal Issues, in ESSENTIALS OF PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE, 2d ed. (Levin & Morriss 1997)

Fifth Circuit, in SANCTIONS UNDER RULE 11 AND OTHER POWERS, 2d ed. (ABA 1988)


Other publications

Health Care Law, 63 SMU Law Review 607 (2010) (with Hallie Graves)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Health Care Law, 62 SMU Law Review 1245 (2009) (with Tara Kepler and Lewis Lefko)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Active Surveillance Cultures and Contact Precautions for Control of Multidrug-Resistent Organisms:  Ethical Considerations, 47 Journal of Clinical Infectious Diseases 110 (2008) (coauthored)
SMU Repository

Managing and Reporting Community Incidents:  Ethical Considerations, 25 Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 937 (October 2006)
SMU Repository

Getting Political with Science, 13 SMU Research 21 (2006)
SMU Repository

Medical Futility in the NICU: Hope for a Resolution, 116 Pediatrics 1219 (2005) (with Robert L. Fine et al.)
American Academy of Pediatrics

Health Insurance and Cardiac Transplantation:  A Call for Reform, 45 Journal of American College of Cardiology 1388 (2005) (with Louise P. King et al.)
Journal of the American College of Cardiology

U.S. Supreme Court to Decide Whether HMOs Can Be Sued for Negligent Treatment Decisions, 8 Mealey’s Managed Care Liability Report 26-29 (March 2004)
SMU Repository

Commentary, Changing Professional Values, 22 Pediatric Infectious Diseases Journal 1096 (Dec. 2003)
The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal

Health Care Law, 56 SMU Law Review 1767 (2003)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Resolution of Futility by Due Process: Early Experience with the Texas Advance Directives Act, ACT, 138 Annals of Internal Medicine 743 (May 2003) (with Robert Fine, M.D.)
Annals of Internal Medicine

U.S. Supreme Court to Review Kentucky's "Any Willing Provider Law," Mealey’s Managed Care Report (2002)

Health Care Law, 55 SMU Law Review 1113 (2002)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Health Care Law, 53 SMU Law Review 1101 (2000)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Symposium on Statutory Interpretation: Foreword, 53 SMU Law Review (2000)
SMU Repository

Qui Tam on the Lam: Fifth Circuit Fire the First Salvo - Will the Supreme Court Be Next?, Matthew Bender Health Care Law Monthly (Dec. 1999) 

Life-and-Death Decisions, 75 Texas Medicine 64 (Nov. 1999) (with Robert Fine, M.D.)

Health Care Law52 SMU Law Review 1259 (1999)
SSRN | SMU Repository

Texas' New Physician Collection Bargaining Statute - Helping to Fatten Physicians' Wallets and Make Patients' Leaner, Matthew Bender Health Care Law Monthly 3 (Sept. 1999)

Treatment Alternatives for the Dying Patient: Medical Ethics and the Law, 11 Baylor University Medical Center Proceedings 175 (1998) (with Robert Fine, M.D.)
SMU Repository

Health Care Law, 50 SMU Law Review 1275 (1997) (with Larry A. Maxwell)
SMU Repository

Health Care Law, 49 SMU Law Review 1089 (1996)
 | SMU Repository