SMU Dedman Law receives American Bar Association award for innovation and professionalism

E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award recognizes exemplary and innovative approach in experiential learning and professional development.

DALLAS (SMU) – SMU Dedman School of Law’s Professionalism Initiative has been named one of two national recipients of this year’s E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award, bestowed annually by the American Bar Association Standing Committee on Professionalism.  

SMU Law QuadThe award - established in 1991 to honor former ABA and American Bar Foundation President E. Smythe Gambrell - honors excellence and innovation in professionalism programs led by law schools, bar associations, professionalism commissions and other legal organizations. The award will be presented at the ABA’s annual meeting on August 11 in New York City. 

SMU Dedman School of Law’s flagship professionalism initiative is aimed at developing practice-ready, competent and thoughtful lawyers. “Professionalism is a core component of learning at SMU Law, incorporated into the first-year curriculum through a series of required programs,” says Jennifer Collins, Judge James Noel Dean and Professor of Law at SMU Dedman School of Law.  “Through our Inns of Court program, the Mustang Exchange mentoring program and the Public Service program, the professionalism initiative is designed to ensure that SMU graduates are ethical, compassionate attorneys committed to civility, public service and zealous advocacy on behalf of their clients.”

The Inns of Court program, generously sponsored by Haynes and Boone, LLP, is an interdisciplinary approach to the law school experience at SMU, with a special focus on the first year.  Through the Inns, new law students connect with fellow classmates, faculty, student leaders, career advisors and alumni for a community experience that extends throughout their time at the law school and beyond graduation.  The Inns help new law students to begin developing their professional lives with opportunities for networking and skills-building.  The Inns meetings provide valuable programing specifically designed to help students become more successful law students and develop as professionals. The core areas of focus include career and professional development, academic advising, alumni connection, student affairs, diversity and inclusion, and public service.

The Mustang Exchange “flash” mentor program develops student professionalism in both the classroom, through professionalism training, and in the real world, through one-on-one mentor meetings with esteemed lawyers.  This program connects each student with multiple alumni and legal mentors throughout the year, as opposed to a traditional mentorship model that pairs one student with only one mentor.  Students meet with mentors for one-on-one school and career conversations, mock interviews, and job shadowing experiences, allowing SMU Law students the chance to build their legal networks and professionalism skills from the very beginning of their studies.

SMU Law offers a comprehensive pro bono program designed to instill a commitment to service among its students throughout their professional careers.  In addition to its externships and clinical programs, all J.D. students at SMU are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of law-related public service to be eligible to graduate.  The Public Service Program strives to enhance students’ professional development through providing experiential learning opportunities and teaching the value of public service while expanding access to legal assistance for the under-served in our community.

SMU Dedman School of Law is very grateful to the American Bar Association for this recognition. 


SMU is a nationally ranked private university in Dallas founded 100 years ago. Today, SMU enrolls approximately 11,000 students who benefit from the academic opportunities and international reach of seven degree-granting schools.

 The School of Law at SMU was founded in 1925.  It was named Dedman School of Law in 2001 in honor of Dallas benefactors Nancy and Robert H. Dedman, Sr., and their family.  SMU Dedman Law enjoys a national and international reputation of distinction.  It is among the most competitive law schools in the country for admission, as well as one of the most successful in the placement of its graduates.