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Karen L. Kelley

Assistant Dean for Clinical Programs | Clinical Professor of Law | Englehardt Research Fellow


Contact Information


  • J.D., University of Texas School of Law, 1988
  • B.A., Rice University, English Literature and Legal Studies, 1985

License to Practice

  • Texas
  • District of Columbia

Specialties and Courses

  • Externship course
  • Social Security disability claims


Kelley provides administrative leadership for the programs of the School of Law’s Center for Legal and Social Justice (the “CLSJ”), which include the Clinical, Externship and Pro Bono Programs. The CLSJ programs provide students opportunities to gain real-life lawyering skills, often serving income-limited clients otherwise unlikely to obtain representation. Kelley also teaches in the curricular component of the Externship course. She received the Distinguished Faculty Award in 2016.

Before becoming Assistant Dean for Clinical Programs, Kelley taught for several years in the Civil Justice Clinic, supervising students representing clients in Social Security disability claims. Before joining the faculty at St. Mary’s, she practiced for several years at Bexar County Legal Aid, focusing on Social Security disability claims and health care advocacy, and prior to that, at the Washington D.C. law firm of Patton Boggs, primarily with its Food and Drug Administration practice group.