February 2, 2020

Tom Leatherbury, one of the country’s leading First Amendment litigators, has been named director of the new First Amendment Clinic in SMU’s Dedman School of Law.

The new clinic will launch in the fall, thanks to a generous gift of $900,000 from the Stanton Foundation. The clinic will focus on First Amendment issues including free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly and petition. This funding will cover the core operating expenses of the clinic for five years.

Leatherbury, a partner in Vinson & Elkins LLP, will serve as director and adjunct professor, while the law school will appoint a full-time fellow to handle the clinic’s day-to-day administration.

“This is a great fit for my interests both in First Amendment work and in clinical education,” says Leatherbury. “It’s really important to me to train the next generation of lawyers, and in particular, to train them in First Amendment values which are so critical to our democracy.”

In a career spanning more than four decades, Leatherbury has regularly represented traditional and digital publishers, as well as broadcasters, in all aspects of media litigation, including libel, privacy and other torts, reporter’s privilege, newsgathering and access, misappropriation, and breach of contract actions.

In addition to his active First Amendment practice at Vinson & Elkins, Leatherbury also has worked on cases with First Amendment clinics at Yale Law School and at Cornell Law School.

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