The law school mourns the loss of James “Jim” R. Smoot, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Law who passed away Tuesday, July 12, 2011. A memorial service and reception to honor
his many contributions to the law school and the greater legal community will be held
Monday, August 8, with remarks beginning at 5 p.m. at the Cecil C. Humphreys School
of Law in downtown Memphis. We extend an invitation to the entire community to join
President Raines, Dean Kevin Smith, the Law Alumni Chapter, and the University of
Memphis family for the memorial service. Please join Dean Emeritus Smoot’s family and friends to
remember his life and achievements.
A fund has been established in Jim’s memory at the Cecil C. Humphrey’s School of Law.
Make checks payable to University of Memphis Foundation and mail to: Department 238,
U of M Foundation, P.O. Box 1000, Memphis, TN 38148-0001. Include instructions to
designate your gift to the Dean Emeritus James R. Smoot Scholarship Fund. Online gifts
may be made by clicking here.
The Commercial Appeal reflects on Jim's life and legacy.
Leading the law school to a higher level
Dean Emeritus Smoot joined the law school faculty in 1990, left for a brief period
to teach at Valparaiso University School of Law, and rejoined the faculty of the Cecil
C. Humphreys School of Law in 1998. His courses included banking law, business organizations,
contracts, corporate finance, international finance and securities regulations. From
2004-2008 he served as Dean, and it is in this leadership position that he had an
instrumental role in the relocation of the law school to the former U.S. Custom House,
Court House and Post Office.
“Colleagues, students and friends who knew former Law School Dean Jim Smoot are deeply
saddened by his death. His legacy at the University of Memphis is a wonderful one
– not only the intangible impressions he left behind as an individual, but for the
distinctive, historic building that now houses the law school in downtown Memphis.
As Dean of the Law School, Jim was a prime force behind that endeavor, and he was
very proud of its many programs and successes. We will miss him greatly.”
Dr. Shirley C. Raines, President, The University of Memphis
“Jim was a passionate teacher, generous mentor, and wonderful colleague. His efforts
as Dean resulted in two transformational events for the law school – the move to the
state-of-the-art building in downtown Memphis and the highly successful capital campaign.
Jim had a truly lasting impact on the law school and on the lives of its students,
faculty and staff. He will be greatly missed.”
Kevin H. Smith, Dean and Thomas B. Preston Professor of Law, The Cecil C. Humphreys
School of Law
“Jim Smoot made an indelible impression on so many and no doubt upon the Cecil C.
Humphreys School of Law. As a man with both vision and passion, and a keen eye for
the finer things in life, he inspired us all to take action and refused to take no
for an answer, as he aided in the law school’s move to the grand, historic downtown
building. The law school community and its alumni will be forever grateful for Jim’s
Tanja Thompson (JD ‘97), President, The University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School
of Law Alumni Chapter
Teaching interests: Banking Law, Business Organizations, Contracts, Corporate Finance, International
Finance, Securities Regulation.
Education: B.A., 1968, University of Southern California (summa cum laude); J.D., 1974, Yale
Experience: Law Clerk, Hon. Henry J. Friendly, United States Circuit Judge, Court of Appeals
for the Second Circuit, 1974-75; Corporate Associate, Cravath, Swaine & Moore, New
York and Paris, 1975-1979; Deputy General Counsel, The Readers Digest Association,
Inc., New York, 1980-1989; Assistant Professor of Law, The University of Memphis
School of Law, 1990-93; Assistant Professor of Law and Associate Professor of Law,
Valparaiso University School of Law, 1993-98; Associate Dean and Associate Professor
of Law, The University of Memphis, 1998-1999; Associate Dean for Academic Affairs
and Professor of Law, The University of Memphis, 1999-2004; Dean and Professor of
Law, The University of Memphis, 2004-2008
Admitted: New York, Tennessee, United States Supreme Court, various other federal courts.
Achievements/Publications: Executive Editor, The Yale Law Journal (1973-74). Professor Smoot wrote about financial institutions and markets.