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St. Mary's University School of Law

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St. Mary's University School of Law
Established
School type
Dean
Location San Antonio, TX, US
Enrollment
Faculty (See List)
Annual tuition
Outlines 9 (See List)


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St. Mary's University School of Law has the distinction of being the oldest Catholic law school in the American Southwest. It is located in San Antonio, Texas. Approximately seven hundred students are currently pursuing either a juris doctor or LL.M. at the School of Law.

Foundation and Formative Years

San Antonio School of Law, 1927-1934

In October of 1927, the San Antonio Bar Association established the San Antonio School of Law in San Antonio, Texas. For a period of seven years after its founding, the School of Law was administered by a Board of Governors under the control of the San Antonio Bar Association. Until the School of Law became associated with a physical campus, classes were held at the Bexar County Courthouse. In an attempt to maximize educational and material resources of the fledgling institution, the Board of Governors negotiated with St. Mary’s University regarding a transfer of the School of Law’s administrative control. This transfer was effected on October 1, 1934, and St. Mary’s University School of Law was officially born.

College Street Campus, 1934-1967

The School of Law was housed at St. Mary’s University’s then downtown campus at 112 College Street, situated near what would later become San Antonio’s largest tourist attraction, the Riverwalk. Possessing several military bases, San Antonio experienced a surge of population and industry in the years immediately following the Second World War. This exponential growth stimulated an interest in the practice and study of law in San Antonio. To meet these new demands adequately, the School of Law organized itself to meet the requirements of the American Bar Association and the Association of American Law Schools, earning ABA and AALS approval in February 1948 and December 1949, respectively.

The School of Law: 1967-present

The School of Law relocated from the College Street campus to join the parent campus of St. Mary’s University on December 19, 1967. A multi-million dollar expansion project had provided for the addition of eight new buildings to the main university campus, including a lecture hall, law library, and faculty building that would comprise the Law Center. The school held its first classes the next month, in January of 1968.

Since that time, the school has seen the rededication, renovation, or addition of several structures: the Law Administration Building to house the Offices of the Dean; the Law Classroom Building; and the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, dedicated in 1984. In January 1982, the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation granted the School of Law $7.5 million to fund the new law library's construction.

As a federal depository library the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library remains the largest legal information center in the San Antonio and surrounding area, currently housing over 400,000 volumes. In addition to providing ample study rooms, multimedia centers, and meeting space, the Law Library contains the offices for student publications such as the St. Mary’s Law Journal, ranked nationally in the top ten among law reviews cited by state and federal courts, and The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review on Minority Issues.

Over the summer of 2006, the moot courtroom located in the 1960's Law Classroom building received a $1 million update in design and technology that brought the courtroom into the 21st century. The installation of the latest voice, data and video technology allows for the training of St. Mary's students in the increasingly sophisticated modern courtrooms in which they will practice. The new courtroom seats three hundred attendees and features interchangeable furniture and fixture configurations to suit the needs of appellate or trial proceedings. The Moot Courtroom accommodates the requirements of large groups of officials, whether seating a Federal grand jury or a nine-member panel of judges or justices. The latter function is useful when, as in the past, the full Texas Supreme Court, an en banc panel of Texas Courts of Appeals, or a panel of judges from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit convenes in the Moot Courtroom to hear live proceedings on the St. Mary's campus.

Beginning with the Fall of 2007, it will also be the only law school in the region offering a part-time evening program.

Innsbrück: Institute on World Legal Problems

Each summer, law students have the opportunity to pursue coursework at the St. Mary’s University Institute on World Legal Problems in Innsbrück, located in the scenic Tyrol region of Austria. Typically, courses and lectures are taught by legal scholars of international renown. Recent notables have include former Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court William H. Rehnquist, who returned for several summers; Frank Höpfel, an ad litem judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia; the 2007 Distinguished Visiting Jurist is United States Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

Center for Terrorism Law

St. Mary’s University School of Law also hosts the Center for Terrorism Law, whose aim is to address “current and potential legal issues related to terrorism in light of the challenge of achieving and maintaining a proper balance between global security and civil justice.” The Center for Terrorism Law recently secured a $1 million U.S. Department of Defense appropriation to study “Homeland Defense and Civil Support Threat Information Collection.” This grant was conditioned upon “independent information gathering [by the Center] to compile and study all of the various state legislation that has been enacted (particularly since 9/11) related to how various state governments have chosen to balance the issue of increased security concerns and the protection of civil liberties.”

Deans Past and Present

The following six individuals have served as dean of the St. Mary’s University Law School:

  • 1927-1938, Anton N. Moursund
  • 1938-1942, Henry B. Dieleman
  • 1946-1978, Ernest A. Raba
  • 1978-1989, James N. Castleberry, Jr.
  • 1989-1998, Barbara Bader Aldave
  • 1998-2007, Robert William "Bill" Piatt

Notable alumni

External links