College of Law

Community

The legal profession is highly competitive, so it’s nice that UT Law offers a true family atmosphere with a diverse group of supportive classmates, faculty, and staff. As a student, you’ll also have access to UT’s vast alumni network for mentoring opportunities, career connections, and professional advice.

There are plenty of opportunities for you to get involved and foster lifelong connections throughout your time in law school. UT Law is home to five student-produced journals, as well as over a dozen student organizations, which foster community, fellowship, scholarship, service, and much more!

The values of the College of Law

UT Law is committed to ensuring our students learn in a welcoming, open, and inclusive community. The Dean’s Circle and Alumni Council fully support that commitment, sharing the following words with the college community in 2016:

We unequivocally denounce all forms of discrimination and the promotion of violence, and we celebrate the college’s dedication to providing a legal education that is second to none.

For 125 years, the college has stood at the vanguard of American legal education. Our successes in clinical training, which we pioneered in 1947; theory; ethics; mentorship; pro bono service; and professional leadership all rest on the bedrock principle that inclusion is integral to excellence. The college’s primary goal is to prepare students to zealously and competently represent people of all backgrounds, and our student body, faculty, and administration reflect that aim. In times of challenge, we come together as one because we do not countenance prejudice, bias, or bigotry of any kind.

Our fidelity to these values is unwavering. We embrace differences; we do not deride them. We venerate unity and reject factionalism. And we pursue excellence, always. This is what it means to be part of the University of Tennessee College of Law.

A historical commitment

Our historical commitment to diversity has allowed generations of students from different backgrounds to foster lifelong connections and broaden their horizons in preparation for an increasingly global legal market. In 1909, the College of Law graduated its first woman, Maude Riseden Hughett—the first female law school graduate in the South. Lincoln Blakeney was the first black student to enroll at UT Law and was one of the first two black students admitted to the entire University of Tennessee. The College of Law graduated its first black student, RBJ Campbelle Jr., in 1956.

Our inclusion of historically underrepresented groups has long extended to our faculty, staff, and leadership as well. The first female faculty member was hired in 1972, and the first black faculty member was hired in 1982. The college’s ninth dean, Marilyn Virginia Yarbrough, was both UT Law’s first female dean and the first and only person of color to lead the college. As of 1989, she was the only black woman dean of an ABA-approved law school. She was one of the first women to become dean of a major American law school and was the first black woman to serve as dean of a Southern law school. During her tenure, Yarbrough persuaded UT to secure funds to renovate and structurally unify the college’s facility.

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