The Dallas Morning News carried some articles and ads for Jefferson School of Law and Jefferson University. Students published a yearbook, the Jeffersonian, in 1932.
The success of the law school in Dallas led Priest to add a branch campus in Fort Worth in 1929 and to incorporate as a university in 1931. To the law school were added a liberal arts college, a school of business administration and commerce, and a school of secretarial training. A college of engineering was added the first year. The liberal arts college apparently lasted only one year. In 1936 the school was re-chartered as Jefferson Law School.
J.S.L. was a small school. The American Law School Review lists enrollment as 50 in 1923, 63 in 1924, 81 in 1925 and 118 in 1929. Opening enrollment at Jefferson University was listed as 135 with 200 expected.
For a small night school, Jefferson College of Law offered a full college experience. A Speakers” Club and a college debate team were active by 1925. The Jeffersonians, the school orchestra, performed in regular radio programs in 1925. The Morning News shows a 32-piece band performing in 1931. J.S.L. had a chapter of the Alpha Beta Sigma fraternity in 1929. The School held an annual banquet for students and alumni.
Jefferson School of Law is listed as “closed” in 1937.
Bricks and Mortar
The first classes were held in the law offices of Priest, Herndon & Hughes at 405 Dallas County State Bank Building. This was a new twelve-story structure at the corner of Main and Lamar in the downtown area. Bank of America Plaza now occupies the site. In 1925 a larger enrollment necessitated additional space for freshmen classes; these were taught in the nearby Avery Building. By 1929 Classes had been moved to 914 ½ Main Street and later across the street to 913 Main.
But when Jefferson received university status in 1931, it moved to a new home at 210 S. Harwood at the corner with Jackson—also near down town. In 1921 Sanborn Fire Insurance map listed the three-story fireproof building as a telephone office building.
None of these buildings stand today.
Jefferson School of Law, a night school, was founded in 1919 by Andrew J. Priest, a Dallas lawyer. Apparently a very successful three-year program, J.S.L. boasted that 95% of its graduates were successful on the bar exam in 1922 and were exempted from it in 1930. In 1922 J.S.L. dropped textbooks in favor of casebooks as a means of instruction. In 1927 a mood court was added to give students practice in preparing court papers, questioning witnesses, and arguing cases.
Federal Judge Sarah T. Hughes taught classes at Jefferson Law School. She later administered the oath of office to President Lyndon Johnson
Team name: Lawyers (1930), Bobcats (1931), Rangers (1932)
Jefferson School of Law began a football program in 1930, competing unsuccessfully against John Tarleton Agricultural School, Peacock Military Academy, Weatherford Junior College, and Southwest Vocational School. Even with the new team name, teams were little more successful in 1931. A 7-6 win over Simmons College Freshmen and a scoreless draw with Decatur Baptist College were set against defeats by several junior colleges.
Football entered a new era at Jefferson University with the hiring of Nick Dobbs as coach in 1932. Dobbs brought not only the Notre Dame style of play, but also a team composed of instant transfers from other colleges, and he tried for a big-time schedule. His Rangers went undefeated, but many colleges refused to play a school which adhered to no conference eligibility rules. The highlight of the season was a 12-6 win over Oklahoma A&M. On December 9, President Priest declared the entire team ineligible for failure to attend classes, and so the ended Jefferson’s football history.