front of building


Memphis Law was listed as having the "Best Law School Facilities" in the nation by Prelaw magazine. You can read the entire article by clicking here.

Over the past 125 years, the building that now houses the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law served as a U.S. Custom House, Court House, and Post Office. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. 

Constructed in the 1880s, the original building reflected the Italianate Revival style, had four floors, and was considered one of the most beautiful buildings in the South. The building grew along with downtown Memphis. During several projects, limestone was added to the exterior of the building, and marble was added to the interior. While the Custom House and Federal Court relocated, the Post Office maintained some offices in the building until the law school renovation began in early 2008.

Architects discovered and restored beautiful woodwork and intricate, hand-painted stencil designs. Wainscot paneling was repaired and relocated to various parts of the building. Original plaster decorations were restored, such as those on the ceiling in the historic courtroom.

In January 2010, nearly 500 students, professors, and staff began occupying the now 169,000-square-foot building, which functions as a state-of-the-art, 21st-century learning environment, complete with wireless Internet access, an open and accessible law library, and all the comforts of a modern, high-tech facility. Despite the renovations, the building retains much of its historic look.

Five bronze doors greet law school students, staff, and visitors in the east lobby, main reception, and security areas. Just around the corner stand bronze-fronted elevators and a ceremonial staircase. On the third floor sits the 1886/1929 U.S. Courtroom, which has been beautifully renovated and serves as the law school's principal courtroom for Moot Court competitions and for visiting courts.
The Plough Foundation Law Library encompasses all five floors of the south wing. The glass-walled Gordon Ball Scenic Reading Room is located on the top floor and provides a panoramic view of the Mississippi River.

The building's north wing is home to faculty and administrative offices, as well as a large student lounge, study areas, and a bookstore. With its own entrance from Front Street, the bottom level of the building contains the Legal Clinic, student lockers, and student organization offices. Situated in the center-rear of the facility are five state-of-the-art classrooms, which were incorporated into the 1903 addition to the building.

Combining both historic and modern elements, the home of the Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law will continue to serve the Memphis community for decades to come.

Facility Facts:

  • $42 million renovation to transform building to state-of-the-art legal education facility.
  • Original Tennessee marble, still in place today, inspired the color scheme throughout the historic building.
  • 24-hour Security: Students have 24/7 card access to the building.
  • The Plough Foundation Law Library: five floors, including a rare book room.
  • "Smart Classrooms" include the ability to podcast, individual electrical outlets for each student for laptop use, and stadium seating.
  • The architect, Bill Nixon, calls the Gordon Ball Scenic Reading Room the "jewel box" of the building because it features windows that stretch for 200 feet and offers an unmatched view of the Mississippi River.