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Stephen H. Philbin, II Fellowship,
First Amendment / Media Law

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About the Fellowship

Stephen H. Philbin, II was a partner with the firm of Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely in Dallas and a leading authority on media law, advising many of the large media organizations in Texas.  He was a zealous defender of the First Amendment and the go-to lawyer of The Dallas Morning News and other publications, and broadcast companies owned by what was then known as the A.H. Belo Corporation on libel law, regulations and licensing of broadcast properties, and fair comment rulings.

Stephen Philbin had a great dedication to the freedom of the press and a love for newsgathering.  He was at his best when he was asked to provide pre-publication review of stories that had some risk and enjoyed working with the reporters ironing out any problems he spotted with his expert eye while still getting the essence of the story across.  It was a great passion of his.  He was an enthusiastic, dedicated, driven advocate for the press.  While Steve had a broad-ranging law practice, representing and championing the media and journalists was the most important aspect to him personally.  Steve grew up in Wharton, TX and followed his grandfather’s career path by receiving his undergraduate degree from Yale University and his law degree from Harvard Law School.  


Following his untimely death from leukemia in 1982 at age 39, the family of Stephen Philbin established a memorial award for journalists, selected by the Dallas Bar Association Media Relations Committee, for excellence in legal reporting.  The Stephen H. Philbin, II Awards have been given since 1983.  Susan Rowan Philbin, Steve’s sister, broadened the memorial awards to include a summer fellowship in First Amendment/Media Law to encourage law students who have a similar passion as Steve.   


The Stephen H. Philbin, II Fellowship will award a stipend each summer to two SMU Law students who have completed their first or second year of law school and place them in a six- to ten-week summer internship in the SMU Law First Amendment Clinic. The stipend will be $5,000 (6 weeks) up to $8,333 (10 weeks). The students will work closely with the Clinic Director and Clinic Fellow on the Clinic’s highly active docket, including First Amendment civil rights claims, defamation cases, and counseling of journalists and media organizations. The work will involve a mix of litigation and counseling, and the students should expect to gain experience in drafting pleadings, briefs, letters, and other documents and in working with co-counsel and opposing counsel.   

2023 Stephen H. Philbin, II Fellowship First Amendment / Media Law Recipient 

Bradley Kucera

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2L, SMU Dedman School of Law



1 / Applications for 1L and 2L SMU students are available at the SMU Law Career Counseling Services. The successful applicant will be selected by a committee of the Dallas Bar Foundation.
2 / To be considered for this fellowship, students must include a completed application form, a letter of interest, resume, and current law school transcript by January 12, 2024.

Interested in Our Stephen H. Philbin II Fellowship?

Application will be available through the Career Counseling offices at the law schools Listed Below:

Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law
StephenPhilbin Award_Fellowship

About Stephen H. Philbin, II

The Stephen Philbin Awards, established in 1983, commemorate the legacy of Stephen H. Philbin, II a distinguished member of the Dallas Bar Association and a partner at Locke Purnell Boren Laney & Neely. Stephen, who passed away in 1982 due to leukemia, was a prominent figure in Texas media law. He provided counsel to The Dallas Morning News and other A.H. Belo Corporation-owned publications and broadcast companies on matters such as libel law, broadcasting regulations, licensing, and fair comment rulings. Stephen held a law degree from Harvard University School of Law and earned a bachelor's degree in philosophy from Yale University. To honor his significant contributions, an anonymous donor, acting through the Dallas Bar Foundation, sponsors the Stephen H. Philbin, II Awards, recognizing outstanding achievements in legal reporting. Since 1983, the Dallas Bar Association has annually presented these awards.

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Contributions can also be sent to:

Dallas Bar Foundation – Stephen H. Philbin, II Fellowship
01 Ross Avenue Dallas, TX 75201

If you have any questions please contact Elizabeth Philipp, Executive Director, at 214.220.7487.

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