• * A legal writing program that starts in the first year and continues through the upper level courses.
  • * A clinical program that entitles every student to the opportunity to represent a live client.
  • * A unique law firm program that allows students to engage in simulated cases and transactions in specific practice areas.



  • * Committed to developing lawyers who serve the public good
  • * Committed to serving the Detroit community
  • * Founded on Jesuit and Mercy principles of service and the success of each individual

Study Internationally

Study Internationally

  • * Dual degree program with the University of Windsor
  • * Extensive international law and comparative law courses
  • * Established relationship with Universite d"Auvergne in Clermont-Ferrand, France



  • * Downtown Detroit Location provides proximity to courts and employers
  • * Strong Alumni Network dedicated to supporting UDM graduates
  • * ability to pursue a concentration in Immigration Law

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Basic Mexican Legal Research


Mexico is composed of thirty one "free and sovereign [sic] States" and a federal district that encompasses Mexico City (Avalos, 2000, pp. 4-5). As in the United States, the Mexican federal government consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches (Avalos, 2000, pp. 7-9), although "[t]he legislative branch of the federal government is comprised of the Senate and the Chamber of Deputies" (Avalos, 2000, p. 8) instead of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Mexico's judicial system is overseen by the Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nation (Avalos, 2000, p. 9). Similar to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Suprema Corte has "final appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts" (Avalos, 2000, p. 9). At the federal level, Mexico has both circuit and district courts (Avalos, 2000, p. 9). Mexico also has a Tax Court, Labor Court, and Military Court (Avalos, 2000, p. 10).

Under a savings clause in the 1917 Constitution, each of the thirty one states retains the power to enact its own constitution and laws, provided the laws adopted do not contradict the federal Constitution (Zamora, 2004, p.102). But the apparent analogy to the United States government and federalism falls short; Mexican federalism is generally a highly coordinated autonomy with the federal government maintaining de facto ultimate control (Zamora, 2004, p. 103).


An even more significant difference between the U.S. legal system (Louisiana notwithstanding) and Mexico is that "Mexico is a civil law country" (Olah, 2005, p. 597). But it differs from other civil law countries in that its "roots [] go back to 16th century Spanish law and to Pre-Columbian indigenous law" (Avalos, 2000, p. 1). When the conquistadores conquered Mexico, they imposed a Spanish rule of law, but retained indigenous "laws and legal institutions" that did not conflict with their own legal system (Avalos, 2000,p. 1). Spain also created new laws specific to Mexico (Avalos, 2000, p. 1). Today, however, all Mexican law is derived from the Constitution enacted in 1917, the Constitucion Politica de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos (Avalos, 2000, p. 3-4).

As a civil law country, Mexico also places a great emphasis on its legislatively created law. Legislative law encompasses statutes (leyes or estatudos) and codes (codigos), and, in some instances, executive branch decrees (Zamora, 2004, p. 81). Statutes consist of regulatory laws and ordinary laws, with regulatory laws controlling in case of conflict (Zamora, 2004, p. 81). Codes are "unitary work[s] that integrate[] all norms of a district branch of law in a systematic, comprehensive, organized, and logical manner" (Zamora, 2004, p. 81). Codes are "definitive and self-sufficient bodies of law" (Zamora, 2004, p. 81). It is assumed that legislative law will be adequate to resolve most issues that arise; therefore, statutes and codes tend to be detailed and lengthy (Avalos, 2000, p. 12).

In Mexico, codes are drafted by legal scholars. Because codes in civil law countries are developed by legal scholars, "the 'authorities' of the civil law tradition were, and continue to be legal scholars, and not judges and lawyers" (Avalos, 2000, p. 12). Accordingly, in countries like Mexico, judges and lawyers look to treatises written by prominent scholars, called doctrina, for authority, just as judges and lawyers in this country look to case law (Avalos, 2000, p. 12). Editorial Porrua publishes a series of "doctrinal treatises by the most prominent legal scholars of Mexico" (Avalos, 2000, p. 15).

Amparo suits (or jucio de amparo) are the most important type of cases heard by federal courts (Avalos, 2000, p. 10). Amparo is unique to the Mexican legal system; there is no equivalent action elsewhere (Avalos, 2000, p. 10). Essentially it is a compellation of multiple common law actions, including the writ of habeas corpus, injunction, error, mandamus, and certiorari (Avalos, 2000, p. 10).

The doctrine of stare decisis does not exist, at least in its United States' form. In Mexico, only the legislature can create new law (Avalos, 2000, p. 12-13). The Suprema Corte and federal courts can, however, "establish formally binding precedent called 'jurisprudencia'...by having five consecutive and consistent decisions on a point of law" (Avalos, 2000, p. 13). Jurisprudencia binds the courts that established it, and lower courts. If a treatise refers to jurisprudencia, it is referring to case law, not the study of law (Avalos, 2000, p. 13).

Researching Mexican Law:

Research on Mexican law begins with a code, or possibly a statute (Avalos, 2000, p. 14). Codes are published by private publishers, primarily Ediciones Andrade and Editorial Porrua (Avalos, 2000, p. 14). And some codes have been translated into English (Avalos, 2000, p.15). Once the proper code is located, scholars must locate the applicable doctrina, or interpretation of the law - the more renowned scholars are published by Editorial Porrua (Avalos, 2000, p. 16). Journals are also a good source for doctrina (Avalos, 2000, p. 16).

Once a researcher has identified the proper codes and doctrine, he or she should search for Suprema Corte jurisprudencia and tesis sobresalientes, important, but not binding decisions (Avalos, 2000, p. 16). Suprema Corte decisions are published in the Semanario Judicial de la Federacion, which is divided into series called Epocas (Avalos, 2000, p. 16-17). "The first four Epocas (1871-1910) are called 'juriprudencia historica'[, and have] no binding force [because] the current Constitution was not [yet adopted]" (Avalos, 2000, p. 17). The Semanario is difficult to use. Therefore, private publishers started publishing decisions "in more accessible formats" (Avalos, 2000, p. 17). Still, many Mexican trained lawyers skip researching jurisprudencia altogether because of its difficulty (Avalos, 2000, p. 18).


  • Avalos, F. (2000). The Mexican Legal System, 2nd Ed. Rothman: Littleton, CO. [KGF150 .A95 2000]
  • Olah, F. (2005-2006). Mexican Civil Code Annotated - Bilingual Edition (book review), Miami Inter-American Law Review, 37, pp. 597-610.
  • Zamora, S., et al. (2004). Mexican Law. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [KGF327 .Z36 2004]

Other Library Resources

  • Henry S. Dahl, Dahl's law dictionary = Diccionario juridico (Hein, 1992) [K52.S6 D33 1992]
  • John Henry Merryman and Rogelio Perez-Perdomo, The Civil Law Tradition: An Introduction to the Legal Systems of Europe and Latin America (3rd ed., Stanford University Press, 2007) [K585 .M47 2007]
  • Jorge A. Vargas, Mexican legal dictionary and desk reference (Thompson/West, 2003) [KGF102 .V37 2003]
  • The Federal Civil Code of Mexico (translated by J. Vargas, Thompson/West, 2005) [KGF404.32 .A52 2005]
  • Mexican commercial code annotated (translated by J. Vargas, Thompson/West, 2005) [KGF1054.31889 .V37 2005]
  • Mexican law : a treatise for legal practitioners and international investors (translated by J. Vargas, Thompson/West, 1998), vols. 1-4 [ KGF333.B86 M486 1998]


Reception at the State Bar of MI Annual Meeting in Novi - State Bar of Michigan

Thursday, October 8, 2015 - 4:30 pm

Dean Phyllis L. Crocker will host a cocktail reception for UDM Law alumni, State Bar dignitaries, members of the judiciary, faculty, and students at the Annual Meeting of the State Bar of Michigan at the Hyatt Place Hotel - Hyatt Cafe in Novi on Thursday, October 8, from 4:30 – 6:00 p.m.  She will make remarks at 5:15 p.m.
State Bar Annual Meeting Reception Invitation>>

Meet the Judges Reception - Atrium

Thursday, October 15, 2015 - 5:00 pm

Meet judges of the federal and state courts during a casual reception in the UDM Law atrium and café on Thursday, October 15.  The schedule for the evening  is:  registration from 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.; welcome remarks 6:00 - 6:10 p.m.; group photo 6:10 - 6:15 p.m.; network and meet the judges 6:15 - 7:30 p.m. UDM Law is co-sponsoring this event with the Catholic Lawyers Society of Detroit; Incorporated Society of Irish American Lawyers; and the Polish American Lawyers Society.
Meet the Judges Invitation>>
RSVP for Reception>>

Law Review Symposium on the Great Lakes - Room 226

Friday, October 16, 2015 - 9:30 am

The UDM Law Review will host a symposium entitled, "The Public Trust Doctrine:  An Ancient Tool for Protecting the Great Lakes from New Hazards," on Friday, October 16, from 9:30 a.m. - 3:15 p.m. in room 226.  Topics include, "A Proper Framework for the Public Trust Doctrine and the Great Lakes," and "Trails and Microplastics:  New Developments."  The symposium is complimentary but advance registration is required.

Law Review Symposium Invitation>>

Reunion for All Law Alumni - UDM Law Campus

Saturday, October 24, 2015 - 7:00 pm

The School of Law's annual Reunion will be held on Saturday, October 24, from 7:00 - 11:00 p.m. at the School's Riverfront Campus.  As part of the festivities, we will celebrate the the 50th anniversary of our clinical program; selection of Hon. Anthony J. Fiorella, Jr. as UDM's 2015 Alumni Award recipient and Richard T. Krisciunas as the 2015 Time and Talent Award recipient; and the special anniversaries of the classes of 1965, 1990, and 2005.  The Reunion is for all School of Law alumni.  Additional details may be found on the Reunion website.


November 14, 2015: Prospective Student Open House - UDM Law Campus

Saturday, November 14, 2015 - 9:00 am

Find out why men and women have been choosing UDM Law for over 100 years for their legal education.  Learn how UDM Law not only teaches you the law, but teaches you how to be a lawyer.  Through your education here, you will become a lawyer who makes a difference in your workplace and your community.  

Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the campus and speak with admissions representatives, faculty, and current students.  

January 7, 2016: Prospective Student Open House - UDM Law Campus

Thursday, January 7, 2016 - 5:30 pm

Find out why men and women have been choosing UDM Law for over 100 years for their legal education.  Learn how UDM Law not only teaches you the law, but teaches you how to be a lawyer.  Through your education here, you will become a lawyer who makes a difference in your workplace and your community.  

Attendees will have the opportunity to tour the campus and speak with admissions representatives, faculty, and current students.  


  • Professor Richard Broughton discusses gun control on WDET radio today

    Catch UDM Law Professor Richard Broughton with Detroit Free Press editor Stephen Henderson this morning on WDET's "Detroit Today." The subject is "Gun Control in America" from 9:00 - 9:40 a.m., and they will take phone calls. It will re-run again from 7:00 -7:40 p.m. this evening on WDET 101.3-FM. LISTEN NOW


    The legal community came together to celebrate UDM Law's 103rd annual Red Mass on September 29.  Judges, attorneys, civic leaders, faculty, and law students of all faiths filled Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church to pray together at the beginning of the new judicial term. View Red Mass Photos>>  Read More>>



    Professor Alex Vernon represented the Immigration Law Clinic in participating in "Become a Citizen Day" hosted by the Chaldean Community Foundation and the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit on Saturday, September 19, in Sterling Heights. Attorneys and volunteers from these organizations and other firms assisted permanent residents in applying for citizenship. This was part of a nation-wide effort coordinated by organizations including the American Immigration Lawyers Association.



    Four UDM Law students will compete in the Young Lawyers Section of the State Bar of Michigan's 16th Annual National Trial Advocacy Competition in Lansing on October 9-11, 2015. The prosecution team will be led by Scott Ruark and Nina Paolini-Lotarski, and the defense team members are Hannah Treppa and Patrina Bergamo.



    UDM Law will offer new programming this fall to meet the needs of its entrepreneurial-minded students and graduates interested in developing their own law practices. Eight different free workshops have been scheduled for September 23 to November 18 at the School of Law campus, exploring the practical implications of developing a solo or small firm practice, and some will also be available for online viewing. The School was awarded a $30,000 grant from the DeWitt C. Holbrook Memorial Fund to fund and expand its Solo and Small Firm Incubator Program to add these workshops through a new Center for Solo and Small Firm Practice.

    Register for Workshops>>

    Press Release>>


    In the Fall 2015 issue of Conversations, a semi-annual magazine published by the National Seminar on Jesuit Higher Education, alumnus Allen Elzerman '03 praises UDM Law's commitment to social and criminal justice.  In his article, "On Loan to the Poor," Elzerman discusses how he personifies that commitment through his work as a public defender and how his sense of fulfillment is more important than financial gain.

    On Loan to the Poor, Conversations magazine, Issue 48 - Fall 2015 (written by Allen Elzerman '03)