Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Remembering Professor Karen R. Smith

Professor Karen SmithSouthwestern Community Mourns the Loss of Beloved Professor and Criminal Law Expert Karen Smith

Professor Karen R. Smith, a widely admired member of the Southwestern faculty for more than 30 years, passed away on December 5, following a courageous three-year battle with cancer.

"Karen Smith was truly the model of an inspiring and nurturing teacher and advisor to thousands of Southwestern students," Dean Susan Prager said. "Her devotion to her students was legendary, and her impact on the expansion of the law school's criminal law and trial advocacy curriculum, as well as the SCALE program, was tremendous. Karen was also a highly effective administrator and leader, and Southwestern benefited in a multiplicity of ways from her guidance. She will be greatly missed and remembered as an extraordinary educator, as well as a thoughtful and passionate advocate, a devoted friend and a pathbreaker."

Professor Smith was one of the most honored faculty members by students in Southwestern's long history as reflected in the numerous times she received the Excellence in Teaching Award, Commencement Grand Marshal honors and tributes by the Women's Law Association and Black Law Students Association. She was so highly regarded by her former students, that even after many years as successful professionals, they would continue to seek her counsel on some of their most complex cases. Continue reading about Professor Smith.

The links below feature tributes to Professor Smith presented during a memorial service held in January 2014.

The family has requested that donations in her memory be made to the Professor Karen R. Smith Scholarship Endowment Fund at Southwestern. The fund will provide financial assistance to outstanding female students of color at the law school. Information regarding the fund may be obtained from Associate Dean Debra Leathers at

Click here to make a donation online (select "Prof. Karen R. Smith Scholarship Endowment Fund" in the drop-down box under Gift Designation).