Joseph W. McKnight
Dedman School of Law 2014
Joseph McKnight is the Larry and Jane Harlan Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Law.
He has made historic contributions to scholarship in legal history and to law reform
in Texas. After graduating from the University of Texas, he was awarded a Rhodes Scholarship and
earned three degrees from Oxford University, followed by a Master of Laws at Columbia University.
He retires this year from the law faculty of SMU, where he has served for six decades. In 1991 he
became the Larry and Jane Harlan Senior Research Fellow and Professor of Law in SMU's Dedman
School of Law. He has been a visiting professor at five other law schools, including the University of
Edinburgh and the London School of Economics. He directed the Texas Family Code project, which
achieved reform in that vital area of law. He was principal drafter of the Texas Matrimonial Property
Act, recognizing property rights of married women, and a major drafter of other important Texas
statutes. McKnight has published six books and established an invaluable collection of rare legal books
at SMU. A leader in historical preservation efforts, he has worked diligently to preserve significant
sites throughout Texas. For his dedicated service to SMU, his distinguished scholarship and his
leadership in the legal community, Southern Methodist University is honored to confer upon Joseph
W. McKnight the degree of Doctor of Laws, honoris causa. He retires as Professor
Emeritus of Law.