The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Founded in 1962 and ABA-accredited since 1965, the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law is named after the president of the university at the time of the law school's inception. It is the only law school in Memphis. With approximately 320 students and 26 full-time faculty members, it is a fairly small school. Originally located on the large University of Memphis campus in a largely residential area in the center of the city, the law school has recently moved to the downtown area, which is at the western edge of the city, overlooking the Mississippi River. The school now occupies a newly renovated, historical building that has served as a court house, a customs house, and a post office. This location places the school in Memphis's legal, business, and governmental center. Classes in the new facility began in January 2010.
Admissions & tuition
742 people applied for 2018 entry into the J.D. program, of whom 314 ultimately chose to attend. The 25th and 75th percentiles for the GPAs of the 2021 full time entering class were 2.93 and 3.64, respectively; the 25th and 75th percentile LSAT scores were 148 and 155, respectively. This makes Memphis slightly more competitive than many similarly-ranked programs.
The University of Memphis is a public school, so it offers different tuition rates to Tennessee residents and out-of-state students. For the 2018-19 academic year, in-state tuition and fees was $19,197, while out-of-state tuition and fees equaled $26,402. With the addition of room and board (estimated at only $10,425), books, and other personal expenses, total cost of attendance was $37,859 for in-state students and $45,064 for out-of-state students. Owing to Memphis's location in the southwest corner of Tennessee, the school offers a "border county" tuition waiver that allows students from certain counties in Arkansas and Mississippi to pay the in-state tuition rate.
Memphis has a small part-time program, which enables students to enroll in fewer hours than full-time students. This is not an evening program - part-time students attend classes during the day with full-time students. Students are not able to choose the day and time of courses. By attending classes during the fall, spring, and summer semesters, part-time students will normally graduate in four and one-half years. Graduation requirements in the part-time program are the same as the full-time program. A part-time student is required to enroll in 8 to 11 hours each semester, for a total of 90 law hours. Part-time students may not request a transfer to the full-time program until they have completed the first-year curriculum.
Academics & curriculum
Memphis Law offers both a full-time day program and a part-time day program. The part-time program is for a limited number of students whose other responsibilities make full-time study difficult. Our curriculum is designed to challenge students and prepare them for the practice of law. The curriculum reflects a commitment to traditional legal education with the emphasis on fundamental lawyering skills and core areas of knowledge.
Memphis Law operates on the semester system and requires 90 semester hours for the J.D. degree. A full-time student is required to enroll in at least 12 hours each semester. Students in the full-time program normally graduate in three years. Summer classes are sometimes available and students can graduate after five semesters and two summer sessions of full-time study.
Part-time students normally will graduate in four or four-and-one-half years (including summer semesters). Graduation requirements for those students enrolled in the part-time program are the same as for those students enrolled in the full-time program. A part-time student is required to enroll in at least eight hours, but may enroll in no more than 11 hours, each semester.
The school offers clinics in child and family litigation, civil litigation, neighborhood preservation, housing adjudication, mediation, and elder law. Memphis Law offers students two optional dual-degree programs, one joint-degree program and a part-time program (a JD/MBA, JD/MA in political science, a JD/MPH and a Fast Track MPH, respectively). For a limited number of students, externships are available with a number of our community partners and governmental agencies.
For students who are not currently qualified for admission but who show potential for successful study of law, Memphis offers the Tennessee Institute for Pre-Law (TIP). The TIP website states that it is open to Tennessee and border county residents "from diverse backgrounds and circumstances" and bills itself as an initiative to increase diversity in the classroom. The application asks whether the applicant is a graduate of a historically minority-oriented undergraduate institution, a foreign-born resident or a first-generation American, the first in his/her family to attend college, disabled, or economically disadvantaged. If accepted, the applicant will attend classes over the summer, free of charge and with a $1,000-$2,000 stipend. Successful completion of these classes guarantees the student a place in that fall's entering class.
Employment prospects & bar passage
Most Memphis students sit the Tennessee bar. For those students sitting the July 2017 administration, 81% of Memphis graduates passed, compared with the state's average of 78.83%.
For the classes graduating from 2015-2017, the School of Law reports that 88% of "known graduates seeking employment" were able to find employment 10 months after graduation. Of these 88%, 59% went into private practice, 11% into business and industry, 14% into government work, 9% into clerkships, 4% into public interest, and 1% into L.L.M. programs or other academic programs.
Quality of life
1-bedroom apartments in downtown Memphis within 1 mile of the law school start at $399 per month, and for students who prefer to live further away from campus and drive in, these low prices continue as you move away from downtown and towards the main university campus. The city's attractions include many museums and festivals, as well as the Memphis Zoo, which widely considered to be one of the best zoos in the United States and is one of very few to house giant pandas. Memphis's rich musical history is reflected in its many music-oriented entertainment options. The climate, characterized by hot summers and mild winters, may also be an attraction to some students.
The Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law may lack the prestige that some students seek in a law school, but its in-state tuition is extraordinarily cheap and its location has become extremely desirable. For the student who could obtain some extra information from the career services office, such as response rate to the employment survey and geographical location of those successfully employed, and who was satisfied with what s/he learned, the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law could be a very affordable and enjoyable way to obtain a legal education.
University of Memphis - Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
1 N Front St, Memphis, TN 38103-2189
Phone: (901) 678-2421
The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law
Tuition: ~$14,000 (Tennessee and border county residents), ~$36,000 (non-residents)
Bar Passage Rate: 90.7% (TN)
% Employed 9 months after graduation: 95%
Median Starting Salary: $59,281 (Class of 2008, 42% reporting)
Number of 1Ls: 136 (FT), 7 (PT)
Median GPA: 3.43 (FT), 3.44 (PT)
Median LSAT: 156 (FT), 154 (PT)