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SMU Dedman Law

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Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Richard R. Lee Endowed Professor of Law

Email: ethornbu@mail.smu.edu

Phone: 214-768-2613

Web: http://sites.google.com/site/beththornburg


B.A., 1976, College of William and Mary
J.D., 1979, Southern Methodist University

Dean Thornburg teaches and writes in the area of civil procedure and alternative dispute resolution. Drawing on her experience with civil rights and commercial litigation, her scholarship focuses on the procedural fairness of the litigation process, especially at the pleadings, discovery, and jury charge stages. She also writes and speaks in the areas of comparative procedure, online dispute resolution, and the intersection of law and culture.

Dean Thornburg's articles have appeared in a number of prominent law reviews in the U.S. and abroad. She is the co-author (with Professor Dorsaneo) of a study guide for Civil Procedure and two Texas procedure casebooks, and has contributed chapters to books on civil procedure issues in consumer law, sports law, computer law, and classic civil procedure cases.  Her most recent book is Lawtalk: The Unknown Stories Behind Familiar Legal Expressions, published by Yale University Press (with co-authors).
She teaches Civil Procedure, Conflict of Laws, Complex Litigation, Texas procedure, Remedies, and an advanced procedure seminar. Thornburg has visited at the law schools at William & Mary, University of Edinburgh, West Virginia University, and the University of Melbourne.

In 2013, SMU selected Thornburg to receive the University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award, an award established by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of the United Methodist Church for the purpose of recognizing outstanding faculty members for their dedication and contributions to the learning arts and to the institution.  Dean Thornburg served as Director of Center for Teaching Excellence from 2012-2014.

Primary Articles

A Community of Procedure Scholars:  Teaching Procedure and the Legal Academy, 51 Osgoode Hall Law Review 93 (2013).

Defining Civil Disputes:  Lessons from Two Jurisdictions,35 Melbourne University Law Review 208 (2011) (with Cameron) (Peer reviewed) (cited by Federal Court of Australia, Case Management Handbook 25 (Oct. 2011)).

Reaping What We Sow: Anti-Litigation Rhetoric, Limited Budgets, and Declining Support for Civil Courts, 30 Civil Justice Quarterly 74 (2011).

Saving Civil Justice, 84 Tulane Law Review 247 (2010) (review essay of Hazel Genn, Judging Civil Justice).

The Managerial Judge Goes to Trial, 44 University of Richmond Law Review 101 (2010).

Law, Facts, and Power, 114 Penn State Law Review - Penn Statim 1 (2010).

The Curious Appellate Judge: Ethical Limits on Independent Research, 28 Review of Litigation 133 (2008).

Judicial Hellholes, Lawsuit Climates and Bad Social Science: Lessons from West Virginia, 110 West Virginia Law Review 1097 (2008). 

Designer Trials, 2006 Journal of Dispute Resolution 181 (invited contribution for symposium on Vanishing Trial Project).

Just Say "No Fishing": The Lure of Metaphor, 40 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 1 (2006).

Contracting with Tortfeasors: Mandatory Arbitration Clauses and Personal Injury Claims, 65 Law & Contemporary Problems 253-278 (2003) (invited symposium contribution).

Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control: Lessons from the ICANN Dispute Resolution Process, 7 Journal of Small & Emerging Business 191 (2001) (Reprinted in 6 Computer Law & Technology Journal 89 (2001).

Going Private: Technology, Due Process, and Internet Dispute Resolution, 34 University of California Davis Law Review 151 (2000) [Reprinted in part in John Rothchild, Margaret Jane Radin & Gregory M. Silverman, INTERNET COMMERCE: THE EMERGING FRAMEWORK (2001)].

Giving the "Haves" a Little More: Considering the 1998 Discovery Proposals, 52 SMU Law Review 229 (1999) [a portion of this article is reprinted in Subrin, Minow, Brodin, & Main, CIVIL PROCEDURE: DOCTRINE, PRACTICE & CONTEXT (2000)].

Metaphors Matter: How Images of Battle, Sports, and Sex Shape the Adversary System, 10 Wisconsin Women's Law Journal 225 (1995) [a portion of this article is reprinted as a chapter in Davis, Mathewson & Shropshire, SPORTS AND THE LAW: A MODERN ANTHOLOGY (1999)].

The Power and the Process: Instructions and the Civil Jury, 66 Fordham Law Review 1837 (1998).


LAWTALK (Yale University Press) (with Galanter, Shapiro, and Clapp) (2011) (excerpts from reviews posted on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/Lawtalk-Unknown-Stories-Familiar-Expressions/dp/030017246X
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: CIVIL PROCEDURE (LexisNexis 3d ed. 2012) (with Dorsaneo) (and prior editions).

TEXAS CIVIL PROCEDURE: PRE-TRIAL LITIGATION 2013-2014 (with Dorsaneo, Carlson, and Crump) (and prior editions).
TEXAS CIVIL PROCEDURE: TRIAL AND APPELLATE PRACTICE 2013-14 (with Dorsaneo, Carlson, and Crump) (and prior editions).


"Hearts, Minds, and the Politics of Procedural Rulemaking," Through a Glass Starkly: Civil Procedure Reassessed, Northeastern University School of Law (April 2014).

"Judicial Research on the Internet Outside the Record," Midwestern Conference of Chief Justices (NCSC-sponsored conference) (October 2013).

"National Judicial Ethics Workshop for U.S. Bankruptcy Judges," (April & August 2013).

"Lessons from Lawtalk," SMU Town & Gown (April 2013).

"Digital Humanities: Implications for Teaching," Futures for Humanistic Learning Research Cluster, Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute (October 2012).

"Private as Public and Public as Private: U.S. MTBE Litigation," Law & Society Conference, June 2012 (part of Global Class Actions Research Group).

"Judicial Research on the Internet Outside the Record," National Workshop for U.S. Magistrate Judges (April & July 2012).

Panelist, "Ethics and Judicial Research," Seventh Circuit Judicial Conference (May 2011).

Invited Participant, "Teaching Civil Procedure in Common Law Countries Project," (England, June 2010).

"The Rhetoric of Tort Reform: Considering the U.S. and Australia," Sydney Law School (March 2010).

"Manipulating Public Perception of Law and Courts," University of Melbourne Law School (March 2010).