St. Mary's University School of Law

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St. Mary's University School of Law
The Marianist Cross
Established 1927
School type Private
Dean Stephen M. Sheppard, J.S.D.
Location San Antonio, Texas, USA
Enrollment 863
Faculty 97[1]
USNWR ranking 140[2]
Bar pass rate Feb: 66.13; July: 84.76%
ABA profile St. Mary's Law Profile

St. Mary's University School of Law is one of the professional graduate schools of St. Mary's University. The law school is located in San Antonio, Texas, USA and is the oldest Catholic law school in the American Southwest. The University is a private Catholic university. The School of Law has an enrollment of about 860 students, pursuing either Juris Doctor (J.D.), Master of Laws (LL.M.), or Master of Jurisprudence (M.Jur.). degrees. St. Mary's is the first law school in Texas to offer the M.Jur., the graduate degree in the study of law for students not seeking to enter the practice of law.[3]

According to St. Mary's 2014 ABA-required disclosures, 1,154 people applied for admission to a class of 254.[4]


In October 1927, the San Antonio Bar Association established the San Antonio School of Law, and for seven years after its founding was administered by a board of governors under the control of the 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. The transfer was completed on October 1, 1934, and St. Mary's University School of Law was officially established.

The School of Law was then housed at St. Mary's University's then downtown campus at 112 College Street, situated near what would later become the city's largest tourist attraction, the San Antonio River Walk. Possessing several military bases, San Antonio experienced a surge of population and industry in the years immediately following the World War II. This exponential growth resulted in more law students. 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. It received accreditation from the ABA in February 1948 and became a member of the AALS in December 1949.

On December 19, 1967, the School of Law relocated from the College Street campus to join the main campus of St. Mary's. 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 comprising the Law Center. The school held its first classes the next month, in January 1968. Since 1968, the school has had several structures rededicated, renovated, or expanded, including the Law Administration Building, housing the office of the dean; the Law Classroom Building; and the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, dedicated in 1984 after the John G. and Marie Stella Kenedy Memorial Foundation gave the School of Law $7.5 million to fund its construction in January 1982.


The School of Law hosts the St. Mary's University Institute on World Legal Problems in Innsbruck, in the Tyrol region of Austria, which students have the opportunity to attend each summer. Currently under the direction of Professor Michael Ariens and Professor Mark Cochran, several prominent legal scholars have taught courses or lectured at the institute, including Chief Justice of the United States William Rehnquist, who returned for several summers, and Frank Höpfel, ad litem judge on the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The 2009 Distinguished Visiting Jurist was Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Alito.

Additionally, The St. Mary's University School of Law Institute on Chinese Law and Business is a new program of legal studies that prepares law students for the challenges of representing clients doing business with Chinese partners. Through an array of business-related courses, field trips, and guest speakers, the Institute introduces students to the Chinese legal system and the instruments of international and domestic law governing cross-border sales of goods, protection of intellectual property and investments. Participants learn about the practical realities of doing business in China, as well as the dispute resolution mechanisms that play a large role in enforcing private agreements between enterprises in China and the United States.

The School of Law offers many Judicial Internships to its students. In a judicial internship, a law student works a certain minimum number of hours for the court over the course of a semester. The intern is supervised by a judge, a law clerk or briefing attorney to a judge, or a staff attorney for the court. The nature of the work varies according to the needs of the court, but normally includes one or more legal research and writing projects. Trial court interns often have a greater opportunity than appellate court interns to observe courtroom proceedings. But appellate court interns are more likely to participate in the writing of opinions that may be published and become part of the body of legal precedent.

St. Mary's University School of Law operates judicial internship programs in conjunction with the following courts:

In addition to the internship programs operated by St. Mary's University School of Law, students from St. Mary's University often participate in three judicial internship programs in Austin that are operated under the supervision of the University of Texas School of Law. Those internships are with:


The School of Law is home to 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 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." The Center is directed by Professor Jeffrey Addicott, who is a Distinguished Professor of Law. In support of the Center's mission, Professor Addicott appears regularly on national news programs.[5]

The School of Law also hosts the Center for International Legal Studies. This program developed following the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and the establishment of the North American Development Bank in San Antonio. With the city fast becoming an important center of international trade and commerce, the School of Law created this program to develop relationships with foreign universities and conduct public service outreach in the Mexico-U.S. border area. Through course offerings, overseas programs, faculty and student exchanges, and other activities, the Center offers extensive exposure to comparative and international law. In particular, the School of Law's program focuses on the growing interest in international business and trade.

Many School of Law students participate in the The Center for Legal and Social Justice. Students that participate in the Center act as the attorney of record for indigent clients who cannot find legal help elsewhere. The Center offers three specific clinical programs to students: the Civil Justice Clinic; the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic; the Criminal Justice Clinic. Students in these clinical programs gain practical, hands-on experience in all aspects of case-handling under the direct supervision of a licensed attorney. They interview and counsel clients, investigate facts to obtain and organize evidence, draft legal documents, negotiate with opposing counsel and administrative agencies and try actual cases in district, county and administrative courts.


The Sarita Kenedy East Law Library is the largest legal information center in San Antonio and the surrounding area. A federal depository, the Library's collection consists of print, microfilm, and multimedia items totaling over 400,000 volumes (or equivalent). The facility includes two large reading rooms and shelving spaces, two computer labs, a Rare Book Room, an Alumni Room (for reading and receptions), 17 conference rooms (or group studies), 136 study carrels, three media/instruction classrooms, and three copy/printing centers. There is a popular reading area in the library with popular magazines and newspapers. There is also a student lounge for breaks and snacks. The library also houses the law review offices of the St. Mary's Law Journal and The Scholar. In addition, the library is home to the Office of Career Services.

In 2006, the Courtroom at St. Mary's underwent a $1 million renovation. The modernization project included the installation of information technology tools, which mirror that of the courtrooms in the Bexar County Courthouse. The Courtroom seats 300 and features interchangeable furniture and fixture configurations, suiting the needs of either appellate or trial proceedings. The full Texas Supreme Court, an en banc panel of Texas Courts of Appeals, and a panel of judges of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit have presided over mock proceedings in the Moot Courtroom.


The first issue of the St. Mary's Law Journal

The School of Law is home to three legal periodicals. The St. Mary's Law Journal is the School of Law's flagship journal. It is produced by the students of St. Mary's University School of Law. The Journal was founded in 1969 as a "practitioner's journal."[6] The Journal is consistently ranked among the most frequently cited law journals by state and federal courts. In the last five years, the Journal has ranked as high as #3 and as low as #31 for citations by courts out of 1,659 law reviews in the nation.[7]

Among the authors who have published in the St. Mary's Law Journal are William H. Rehnquist, former Chief Justice of the United States; Carla Hills, then a member of the President Gerald Ford's Cabinet; Father F. Darin, S.J., a former member of the House Watergate Committee; Broadus A. Spivey, President of the State Bar of Texas; and numerous Justices of the Texas Supreme Court and Courts of Appeals.[8]

In 2011, the St. Mary's Law Journal began producing the St. Mary's Journal on Legal Malpractice & Ethics, which is produced annually by the members of the Journal. This topic-specific journal addresses legal malpractice and ethics issues that impact the daily work of legal practitioners. To this effort, the St. Mary's Law Journal also hosts an annual Symposium on legal malpractice and ethics issues.

The School of Law is also home to The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Minority Issues. This topic-specific law review focuses exclusively on legal issues that impact minorities across the world. The Scholar's inaugural issue was published in 1999. The Scholar is currently ranked as the 8th most cited out of 44 minority issues law journals.[7]

Advocacy Programs

St. Mary's is home to several external advocacy teams: Mock Trial, Moot Court, Arbitration, and Negotiation. Since the year 2000, the Moot Court program has brought St. Mary’s two state championships, numerous regional championships, two national finalist rankings, and two national championships in advocacy. Along the way, St. Mary’s students have been individually recognized as well, receiving numerous brief and advocacy awards, including Best Brief at a National competition (twice), Best Brief in the State of Texas, and Best Advocate in the state (twice), region (twice), and nation (twice).

The St. Mary's Moot Court team was the 2010 national champions of the Civil Rights and Liberties Moot Court Competition (CRAL), conducted at Emory University School of Law, in Atlanta, Georgia. Marian Reilly, a St. Mary's student, was recognized for the second year in a row as the Best Brief Writer. Trevor Hall, another St. Mary's student, was awarded the Best Advocate Award for the final round.

The Black Law Student Association's Mock Trial Team recently competed at the Rocky Mountain Region Thurgood Marshall Mock Trial. The team was the champion of the 2008-2009 competition. They were regional finalists in the 2010 competition.

The School of Law has hosted a variety of advocacy competitions. Recently, the School of Law hosted the 2010 Lone Star Classic, an annual invitational mock trial tournament open to ABA-accredited law schools nationwide. Additionally, the School of Law recently hosted the National Finals of the Arbitration Competition, conducted by the ABA Law Student Division and the National Arbitration Forum.


According to St. Mary's official 2014 ABA-required disclosures, 80.4% of the class of 2013 were employed, of whom 80.4% held jobs requiring bar admission; 63.28% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[9]


The total cost of full-time attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at St. Mary's for the 2014-2015 academic year is $52,028, of which tuition is $32,340. The total cost for part-time attendance is $36,042, of which tuition is $17,248.[10]


Seven deans have assumed leadership at St. Mary's University School of Law:

  • 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
  • 2007-2014, Charles E. Cantú
  • 2014-Present, Stephen M. Sheppard

Notable Alumni

Judicial Branch

Legislative Branch

Executive Branch



  1. St. Mary's School of Law Official ABA Data
  2. [1]
  3. "St. Mary’s launches Master of Jurisprudence program for non-lawyers". Brownsville Herald. January 17, 2015. 
  4. "2014 Standard 509 Information Report" (PDF). St. Mary's University School of Law. Version 2014.4. 
  5. The Center for Terrorism Law | St. Mary's University School of Law
  6. History - St. Mary's Law Journal - San Antonio, Texas
  7. 7.0 7.1 Law Journals: Submissions and Ranking
  8. About St. Mary's Law Journal - San Antonio, Texas
  9. "Employment Statistics". St. Mary's University School of Law. 
  10. "Cost of Attendance". St. Mary's University School of Law. 
  11. "Berchelmann, Hon. David (Ret.)". Retrieved March 3, 2015. 
  12. Valerie Godines Fitzgerald, "Historic Path: Judge Ender retires from post," Laredo Morning Times, December 31, 2012, pp. 1, 14A
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External links

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