SMU Dedman School of Law will launch a First Amendment Clinic in fall 2020 that will focus on issues including free speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly and petition.

The clinic is sponsored by a $900,000 donation from the Stanton Foundation that will cover the core operating expenses for five years.

“SMU is incredibly honored to be the recipient of this extraordinary gift,” said Jennifer Collins, dean of SMU Dedman School of Law, in a press release. “We are extremely grateful that the foundation recognized the talents of our constitutional law faculty and our long tradition of excellence in our clinical program by entrusting us with this opportunity.”

Tom Leatherbury, a partner in Vinson & Elkins, will serve as the clinic’s director. He serves as the practice group leader for the firms’ appellate practice and has 40 years of experience in state and federal appeals and trials.

“I am excited to announce that we have already secured an outstanding director, Tom Leatherbury, one of the most highly regarded First Amendment experts in the country. Tom will join the faculty as an adjunct professor in order to direct the clinic. We are so pleased our students will have the opportunity to work with such a gifted and experienced litigator,” Collins said.

Professors Lackland H. Bloom Jr., Dale Carpenter, and Jeff Kahn will serve as the clinic’s advisory committee. The law school is launching a nationwide search for a full-time fellow to handle day-to-day administration of the clinic.

For more information about SMU Dedman School of Law, go to