The University of Memphis—Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law

The information on this page was provided by the law school.

Official Guide to ABA-Approved JD Programs


The JD Program

The University of Memphis—Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is located in the historic former US Custom House, Courthouse, and Post Office in the heart of the legal, business, and cultural district that is downtown Memphis. The beautiful state-of-the-art building offers a magnificent view of the Mississippi River and is within blocks of numerous law offices and both state and federal courthouses. This location gives students unparalleled opportunities for experiential learning and easy access to cultural attractions. Memphis Law students consistently praise the law school’s quality of life, due in large part to the impressive building aesthetics, sense of community, location, classroom facilities, social life, and library staff. These benefits are paired with a solid, practice-focused education. Memphis Law traditionally has a high bar-passage rate and a solid job-placement rate for graduates and has been nationally recognized for its facility and value—an honor that considers not only bar passage and employment rates, but financial factors of student debt, tuition, and cost of living.

Memphis is one of the South’s largest, most beautiful, and diverse cities. The city possesses a rich history and an unmatched musical heritage ranging from Graceland and Sun Studios to the National Civil Rights and Rock and Soul Museums. This is enhanced by the temperate climate, which allows ample opportunity for year-round activities. In particular, Memphis in May Music Fest and BBQ Fest draw visitors from not just around the country, but the world. The city boasts one of the lowest cost-of-living rates of any major US city, making it ideal for students and allowing broader access to everything the city has to offer. All these factors contribute to the city of Memphis being named as one of the “World’s Greatest Places for 2021” by TIME Magazine.

Memphis Law brings together unique individuals with a wide variety of cultural, geographic, employment, and academic backgrounds. Many of its students come to law school immediately after finishing their undergraduate education; however, a significant number have been in the workforce or have completed advanced degrees. The school recognizes that diversity within the student body enriches the classroom experience for all students and enhances the overall quality of the educational program, and therefore, strives to ensure that both traditional and nontraditional students have an opportunity to succeed.

History of the School of Law

The University of Memphis—Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law opened in 1962, was accredited by the American Bar Association (ABA) in 1965 and is an active member of the Association of American Law Schools. The law school was named in honor of Cecil C. Humphreys, then-president of Memphis State University and a distinguished educator. Dr. Humphreys was instrumental in working with the state legislature to found the law school. Over its first 50 years, Memphis Law developed a reputation for excellence in preparing practice-ready attorneys. Today, the law school’s more than 5,000 graduates practice with distinction as lawyers, judges, and public officials in 48 states. Memphis Law moved to its current downtown location in 2010, following a $42-million renovation to the 1878 building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, to enhance its relationship with the legal community and greatly increase experiential learning opportunities for its students. Our urban location gives students easy access to the courts and the legal community.

The University of Memphis

The University of Memphis serves as a regional center for education, service, and research, and it is linked historically, intellectually, and emotionally to the city of Memphis. It is a learning-centered metropolitan research university that enrolls more than 20,000 students and is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Curriculum

Memphis Law offers a full-time and a part-time JD program. The first-year curriculum introduces students to core areas of the law and to the building blocks of law practice. The goal of the first-year curriculum is to introduce students to the unique way lawyers’ reason and solve problems. The second- and third-year curricula continue students’ training for the practice of law through a variety of required, elective, and experiential-learning courses. The upper-level curriculum is designed to expose students to a wide variety of practice areas, as well as those areas of law that complete a well-rounded legal education. To ensure students receive a practice-focused legal education, all students are required to complete an experiential learning experience as part of their graduation requirements. Memphis Law recognizes the importance of pro bono service and requires each student to perform 40 hours of uncompensated, supervised, law-related public service in order to graduate.

Experiential Learning Opportunities

Our innovative Legal Clinic program has been ranked as a TOP 50 Clinical Training Program in the 2022 U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Our in-house legal clinics in Elder Law, Housing Adjudication (recently recognized as among the country’s most innovative clinics), Mediation, Neighborhood Preservation (anti-blight litigation), and a Medical-Legal Partnership (a unique collaboration with LeBonheur Children’s Hospital and Memphis Area Legal Services) offer upper-level students training through the vehicle of faculty-supervised, live-client representation. Specially admitted to practice by the Tennessee Supreme Court, clinic students perform case-related work, participate in classroom seminars and case supervision sessions, and complete reading assignments, writing assignments, oral presentations, simulations, and exercises designed to encourage the development of lawyering skills at both practical and theoretical levels.

Students also may earn credit and hands-on training through enrollment in Memphis Law’s robust externship program that combines supervised field placements in judicial, governmental, and nonprofit legal settings with a weekly, faculty-led classroom seminar designed to explore issues of professionalism, ethics, and experiential learning. Recent externship placements include

  • US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit and various other federal and state courts
  • US Attorney’s Office
  • Office of the Federal Public Defender
  • Tennessee Office of the Post-Conviction Defender
  • Shelby County District Attorney General’s Office
  • Shelby County Public Defender’s Office
  • US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)
  • City of Memphis Law Division
  • The University of Memphis Office of Legal Counsel
  • Memphis-Shelby County Airport Authority
  • St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
  • Regional One Health Hospital
  • Methodist LeBonheur Hospital
  • Memphis Area Legal Services, Inc.
  • Community Legal Center

Dual- and Joint-Degree Programs

Memphis Law offers three dual- or joint-degree programs:

  • JD/MBA—a joint-degree program designed to allow students to graduate with both an MBA and a JD degree.
  • JD/MA—a dual-degree program designed to allow law students to earn an MA in political science while working toward the JD degree.
  • JD/MPH—a dual-degree program designed to allow students to earn an MPH and a JD degree. The program is designed to allow students to work either as public health professionals or as lawyers specializing in health care issues.

Certificate Programs

Memphis Law offers four specialized Professional Certificate programs that enable students to follow a specialized course of study, working closely with faculty with expertise in the respective fields:

  • Advocacy: A student who receives the Certificate in Advocacy will have demonstrated knowledge of fundamental principles of trial and appellate advocacy and competence in the skills essential to a career in litigation.
  • Business Law: A student who receives the Business Law Certificate will have completed coursework that focuses on fundamental principles of business-related legal issues and skills essential to a business-related practice.
  • Health Law: A Certificate in Health Law will help prepare a law student for a career in a related health law or policy field.
  • Tax Law: A student who receives the Tax Law Certificate will have completed a focused and rigorous course of study in tax law and other tax-related legal subjects and will be prepared for the practice and advanced study of taxation.

Library and Information Technology

The University of Memphis law library serves students, faculty, the legal community, and the public with reference services and access to its collection of print and electronic resources. The law library occupies five levels of the historic law school and offers students many options for study—from private study rooms to a fourth-floor, glass-enclosed reading room with a panoramic view of the Mississippi River. Students have access to computers in labs and open study areas. There is wireless access throughout the building.

Student Programs and Activities

The University of Memphis Law Review is a scholarly journal edited and staffed entirely by students. Law Review members have numerous opportunities to improve their legal research, writing, and editing skills. Each year, The University of Memphis Law Review hosts a symposium on a current legal issue and welcomes speakers from all over the nation.

The Moot Court Board is composed of 20 third-year students who are dedicated to the development of advocacy skills. In addition to in-school competitions, the law school fields teams in national moot court, mock trial, bankruptcy, labor, and alternative dispute resolution competitions. The University of Memphis teams have earned national recognition for their performances in major national moot court and mock trial competitions.

Most recently, our ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition team won their regional competition and proceeded to Nationals in 2022. Additionally, the Memphis Law Black Student Association (BLSA) Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition team came in 1st place in the 2022 Southern Regional Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition and proceeded to Nationals as well. This follows the Thurgood Marshall’s team Top 3 finish in their 2021 Regional competition.

In 2021, the Memphis Law BLSA Mock Trial team placed in the Top 3 in the Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition.

The Memphis Law Wagner Moot Court Team finished as the National Runner-Up in the 43rd Annual Robert F. Wagner Labor and Employment Law Competition in 2019. Also in 2019-20, our National Moot Court Competition team was named the Region VII Champion with a team member being named as Best Oral Advocate. Additionally, the law school’s Duberstein Bankruptcy teams competed and won the U.S. Sixth Circuit’s inaugural Shapero Cup Regional Duberstein Competition in 2019. Finally, the ABA National Appellate team reached the Regional competition finals in 2020 and won Best Brief in the region. The team also won their Regional Competition at the 2019 Philadelphia Regionals and advanced to the Top 16 at the National Competition in Chicago.

There are 27 active student organizations, ranging from legal fraternities to special interest and service organizations. The Student Bar Association coordinates a wide variety of activities, ranging from a 5K charity race in downtown Memphis to social events and a speaker series. The Public Action Law Society annually hosts an Alternative Spring Break, which is one of the longest-running student-led alternative spring break programs in the country. Memphis Law has student organizations that focus on the importance of diversity, which include the Black Law Students Association, and the Hispanic Law Students Association.

Admission

Applicants are evaluated by the Admissions Office based on their highest LSAT score, cumulative undergraduate GPA, and a variety of non-quantifiable factors such as the academic rigor of the applicant’s undergraduate institution, the level and quality of coursework, letters of recommendation or evaluations, personal statement, graduate work, employment during and after college, extracurricular activities, and educational diversity.

Career Services

The Career Services Office provides information about employment opportunities and career exploration, with seminars on job-search skills and roundtable discussions with practitioners. Students and graduates have access to our data management program, Simplicity, which houses job postings, resource materials, and the like. In addition to hosting many firms, corporations, and public interest/governmental employers for on-campus interviewing and seminars, Memphis Law is a member of several organizations that conduct annual recruiting conferences. The University of Memphis has graduates practicing in 48 states across the nation and in several foreign countries.

Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law

Applicants from Tennessee, Crittenden County in Arkansas, and De Soto, Marshall, Tate, and Tunica counties in Mississippi are eligible to apply for the Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law (TIP) program, which facilitates law school admission for students from diverse backgrounds who do not meet traditional academic standards for admission. Participants who successfully complete the program are guaranteed admission to the law school for the fall semester immediately following the program. The TIP program is available to applicants who will have met the requirements for a bachelor’s degree prior to the start of the program. The TIP program is four weeks of classroom instruction and one week of exams that simulates the first-year law school curriculum.

Learn more about the JD program at Memphis Law

Joint-Degree Programs

Memphis Law offers students two optional dual-degree programs, one joint-degree program and a part-time program.

Dual- and Joint-Degrees:

  • JD/MBA
  • JD/MA in Political Science
  • JD/MPH
  • Fast Track MPH

Student Life

Co-Curricular Activities

The University of Memphis Law Review is a scholarly journal edited and staffed entirely by students. Law Review members have numerous opportunities to improve their legal research, writing, and editing skills. Each year, The University of Memphis Law Review hosts a symposium on a current legal issue and welcomes speakers from all over the nation.

The Moot Court Board is composed of 20 third-year students who are dedicated to the development of advocacy skills. In addition to in-school competitions, the law school fields teams in national moot court, mock trial, bankruptcy, labor, and alternative dispute resolution competitions. The University of Memphis teams have earned national recognition for their performances in major national moot court and mock trial competitions.

Most recently, our ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition team won their regional competition and proceeded to Nationals in 2022. Additionally, the Memphis Law Black Student Association (BLSA) Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition team came in 1st place in the 2022 Southern Regional Thurgood Marshall Moot Court Competition and proceeded to Nationals as well. This follows the Thurgood Marshall’s team Top 3 finish in their 2021 Regional competition.

In 2021, the Memphis Law BLSA Mock Trial team placed in the Top 3 in the Constance Baker Motley Mock Trial Competition.

The Memphis Law Wagner Moot Court Team finished as the National Runner-Up in the 43rd Annual Robert F. Wagner Labor and Employment Law Competition in 2019. Also in 2019-20, our National Moot Court Competition team was named the Region VII Champion with a team member being named as Best Oral Advocate. Additionally, the law school’s Duberstein Bankruptcy teams competed and won the U.S. Sixth Circuit’s inaugural Shapero Cup Regional Duberstein Competition in 2019. Finally, the ABA National Appellate team reached the Regional competition finals in 2020 and won Best Brief in the region. The team also won their Regional Competition at the 2019 Philadelphia Regionals and advanced to the Top 16 at the National Competition in Chicago.

There are 27 active student organizations, ranging from legal fraternities to special interest and service organizations. The Student Bar Association coordinates a wide variety of activities, ranging from a 5K charity race in downtown Memphis to social events and a speaker series. The Public Action Law Society annually hosts an Alternative Spring Break, which is one of the longest-running student-led alternative spring break programs in the country. Memphis Law has student organizations that focus on the importance of diversity, which include the Black Law Students Association, and the Hispanic Law Students Association.

Housing in Memphis

The majority of Memphis law students live in Downtown, Midtown, East Memphis, and on Mud Island. There are also other suburban areas that are very convenient for shopping, dining, and entertainment. Downtown is a busy corporate area with many restaurants, night spots, office buildings, and high rise apartments. Midtown, the cultural center of the city, is characterized by tree-lined streets and beautifully remodeled historic homes. Cordova is one of the newer areas of town surrounding a large mall and many other amenities. Germantown, Bartlett, and Collierville are three of the incorporated areas with very good school systems and a strong sense of community.

Memphis - The City

Memphis is a very special place, with a character, a texture, and a feel that doesn't exist in the same way in any other city.

It has a legendary character that is undoubtedly the reason that "Memphis" is mentioned in more song lyrics than any other place on earth. Location has plenty to do with it. Memphis' powerful spot on the Mississippi River in the extreme southwest corner of Tennessee and its role as the biggest city in the Mid-South have historically made the city a magnet for attracting people from all over the Delta, Mississippi, Arkansas, West Tennessee, northern Alabama, and Missouri.

Memphis is like that; it sneaks up on you, touches your soul, and makes you go, "What was that?" This influx of people blended with the locals, creating an interesting and distinct confluence of cultures. This cultural convergence is inextricably woven into the fabric of Memphis' history and is absolutely part of Memphis' vibe today.

All of this gives Memphis a special, unforgettable yet hard-to-describe feeling. It's a city with heart and soul. It's manifested in the people, in the places, in the food, in the culture, and in the history of the city itself. 

We're proud of our city and proud of the way the world has recognized us of late, with a variety of different accolades such as:

  • A Forbes Magazine top 15 listing in the top U.S. Cities with Emerging Downtowns list.
  • One of the Top Ten Tastiest Towns, according to Southern Living.
  • CNN listed us as one of the Hottest Housing Markets in the United States in 2014.
  • Memphis is consistently ranked as one of the most affordable cities, with recent high rankings in the Huffington Post and Kiplinger.
  • We've got Beale Street, the #1 Most Iconic American Street, according to USA Today.
  • The Memphis Grizzlies were named the #1 Sports Team in ESPN Magazine's 2013 "Ultimate Standings" list.

Diversity and Inclusion

The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law has been ranked the 19th best law school nationally for African American students in the latest issue of preLaw magazine. Memphis Law was also included among the top schools on the magazine's annual "Diversity Honor Roll" for 2022.

Memphis Law offers one of the oldest and most successful pre-admission programs for diverse applicants in the nation,” said Dean Katharine Schaffzin. “We consistently enroll 1L classes with an extremely high percentage of diverse students, often 30% or more of the class. Memphis Law has actively sought to improve the climate within the law school, while growing the number of student support resources and pipeline programs available to prepare potential diverse law school applicants." PreLaw Magazine examined several of the law school's wide-ranging diversity efforts and pipelining initiatives in their ranking.

The annual Diversity & Pre-Law Week is one of the law school’s most comprehensive diversity & inclusion recruitment events and devotes programming to highlight diverse student experiences and organizations while providing valuable information about the law school admissions process. This year’s event featured American Civil Liberties Union President Deborah Archer as the keynote speaker.

The law school also proudly offers the Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law (TIP) program, which is a unique admissions-by-performance program for Tennessee and border county residents that show potential for law school academic success and bring diversity to the entering class.

Another successful diversity initiative is the Memphis Professional Development Program (MPDP), which supports diverse and first-generation Memphis Law students by providing professional development opportunities that maximize potential in law school and beyond.

Partnering with the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC), Memphis Law also offers our successful pipeline program in the Prelaw Undergrad Scholars (PLUS) Program for currently enrolled college freshmen and sophomores from diverse or underrepresented backgrounds. This summer program offers a first-hand introduction to the legal field and allows students to learn if a legal career is right for them, lets them network with practicing attorneys, develop confidence and skills needed to succeed in law school and the application process, learn about legal brief writing, appellate advocacy, and have the opportunity to argue a legal brief in a moot court competition.

Other recent Diversity & Inclusion-related accomplishments for Memphis Law include being included in the 2021 Best Law Schools for African Americans rankings by preLaw Magazine; being ranked in the Top 25 for law degrees awarded to African Americans; a past recipient of the Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award; and past rankings as a Best Bargain Law School for Black Law Students and a Top 5 Best Regional Law School for Black Students from Lawyers of Color Magazine.

Career Placement and Bar Passage

Career Services

The Career Services Office provides information about employment opportunities and career exploration, with seminars on job-search skills and roundtable discussions with practitioners. Students and graduates have access to our data management program, Simplicity, which houses job postings, resource materials, and the like. In addition to hosting many firms, corporations, and public interest/governmental employers for on-campus interviewing and seminars, Memphis Law is a member of several organizations that conduct annual recruiting conferences. The University of Memphis has graduates practicing in 48 states across the nation and in several foreign countries.

Bar Preparation

In addition to what you learn in your law school classes and the commercial bar review courses, the University of Memphis School of Law also offers workshops and programs designed to help you assess and practice the skills necessary for passing the bar. These workshops cover each part of the bar exam– the essay, multiple choice and performance test portions. Thus, you have the opportunity to not only learn the appropriate substance but to also hone the necessary skills related to each portion of the bar exam.

Our curriculum also includes a required upper-level bar preparation course for graduation. This is a course to help graduating students prepare for the bar exam both by reviewing some substantive law and instructing on how successfully to navigate multiple-choice, essay and Multistate Performance

Test questions. The class reviews substantive criminal law, constitutional law and tort law. Students answer simulated multistate and essay questions and receive regular feedback on their performance. There will be graded mid-term and final examinations and a graded Multistate Performance Test. It’s

important to remember that this course is in addition to, not a substitute for, a summer bar exam preparation course.

Learn more about career placement and bar passage at Memphis Law

Tuition and Aid

Expense Cost
Tuition
$17,402.00
Fees
$2,096.00
Expected Cost of Attendance
$41,675.00

Admission Decisions: Beyond the Numbers

The University of Memphis School of Law welcomes applications for admission. The application typically opens in early September and there is no application fee. The priority application deadline is March 15th.  

A significant factor in the admission decision process is the admission index, which is based on the undergraduate grade point average and the LSAT score. The undergraduate grade point average used in the admission index is the cumulative grade point average found on the Credential Assembly Service (CAS) report produced by LSAC. Also considered are factors deemed to be predictive of success in law school as set forth in the application, personal statement, letters of recommendation, and the applicant's CAS report. Such factors may include, but are not limited to overall academic record, co-curricular activities, community involvement, employment, and other life experiences.

Learn more about admission at Memphis Law

Admitted Applicant Profile

25-75% UGPA Range at Memphis:

3.02 to 3.62

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Memphis:

150 to 155

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Memphis:

3.02 to 3.62

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Memphis:

150 to 155

120
135
150
165
180

25-75% UGPA Range at Memphis:

3.02 to 3.62

2.00
2.58
3.16
3.74
4.33

25-75% LSAT Score Range at Memphis:

150 to 155

120
135
150
165
180

Contact Information

1 N. Front Street,
Memphis, TN 38103-2189,
United States