Center for U.S. and Mexican Law


In carrying out projects, the Center works in partnership with other organizations, to combine the Center’s expertise on Mexican law and U.S. – Mexican relations with the resources of partner organizations. The Center’s goal is to provide sophisticated, balanced analyses that take into account differences between the legal cultures of Mexico and of the United States.  Activities of the Center fall generally into five categories:

  • Independent research.  The Center for U.S. and Mexican Law funds independent research projects, using its own resources as well as funding from external agencies.  The projects can be undertaken either by the Center, working with teams of experts; as well as projects undertaken jointly with partnering institutions.
  • Sponsored research projects.  The Center contracts with funding agencies, governmental as well as non-governmental, to carry out specific studies or research projects. 
  • Symposia. The Center organizes periodic symposia and seminars dealing with important issues in the development of Mexican law and of U.S. – Mexican relations. The Center periodically commissions studies to promote the exchange of ideas at symposia and international conferences. 
  • Visiting Professorships and Residencies at the University of Houston . The Center attracts visiting scholars from the United States, Mexico and other countries, to fulfill its role as a center for the exchange of ideas related to Mexican law and U.S. – Mexican relations
  • Projects to enhance professional cooperation.  The Center undertakes bi-national projects, in cooperation with partner institutions, to enhance cooperation among U.S. and Mexican lawyers, judges, academics and other professionals.

Current Initiatives

The following programs are currently in place at the University of Houston Law Center, under the sponsorship of the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law:

  • The Center has undertaken a critical bi-national study of the development of oil and gas resources in the Gulf of Mexico, with a focus on the particular issues springing from differences in regulation and development under U.S. and Mexican laws and regulations.  The multi-year study, to be carried out in phases, is briefly described here, as well as in an article from The Houston Lawyer.
    The goal is to identify potential areas of regulatory conflict that could endanger the environment of the Gulf of Mexico, a vast resource that is shared by the United States, Mexico and other neighbors.
  • The Center has initiated a binational study to examine whether legal services have kept up with dramatic increases in cross-border interactions between U.S. and Mexican populations.  The first phase of the research project will include a survey of cross-border legal services; an analysis of regulations dealing with cross-border legal services; a study of the requirements for licensing of foreign lawyers engaged in these services; and an assessment of the adequacy of legal education in preparing law students for practicing across the border. Subsequent phases will examine the impact of trade agreements, establish a database, look at challenges and opportunities, and offer proposals to improve the regulation of cross–border legal services in both countries.  A brief description of the project can be found here.
  • The Center serves  as Administrative Office of the North American Consortium on Legal Education NACLE (see  The Center for U.S. – Mexican Law and Policy administers and provides leadership to NACLE.
    • The Center manages several Mutual Cooperation Agreements with Mexican governmental institutions, with Mexican lawyers from these agencies enrolling in the UHLC Master of Laws program (with scholarship assistance), and with UH law students working as student interns in Mexican government agencies.  Currently, two Mutual Cooperation Agreements are active: an agreement with the Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores (Mexican Ministry of Foreign Relations), through the  Office of the Legal Adviser to the Foreign Minister; and an agreement with Petróleos Mexicanos (PEMEX), the Mexican national oil company, through the Office of the General Counsel of PEMEX.
  • Research in progress to produce the second edition of the treatise Mexican Law (Oxford UP, 2004), publication due in 2012 (Stephen Zamora, José Ramón Cossío Díaz, et al.)
  • Student exchange agreement with ITAM University School of Law.  The agreement promotes student and faculty exchanges between the Law Center and the law school at ITAM University, a leading private university in Mexico City.

Planned Initiatives

In its first phase of operations, the Center for U.S. – Mexican Law and Policy will focus on subject areas in which the University of Houston Law Center has garnered national and international recognition as a center for legal education and research. 

  • Rule of Law/Administration of Justice – The Center will combine the Center’s expertise on Mexico and on U.S. – Mexican relations with the particular capabilities of partner institutions to carry out specific, goal-oriented projects to promote the rule of law and administration of justice in Mexico and in the United States. 
  • Energy law – Houston is an important international energy center, with a diversified base of corporations and law firms that deal with all aspects of energy production (petroleum, electrical energy, wind power, etc.) in every region of the world.  The UH Law Center faculty boasts leading experts in these fields.  The Center for U.S. – Mexican Law and Policy will work with the Law Center’s Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Center (EENR)  ( to develop a series of specific proposals for research and educational programs to be designed for  Mexican energy agencies, including PEMEX (with which the Law Center has a Mutual Cooperation Agreement); the Mexican Secretaría de Energia (; the Mexican Federal Competition Commission (; and other agencies in the United States and Mexico.
  • Environmental law – Houston’s strong economic base in energy and in chemical and petrochemical industries has generated the need for a strong environmental protection industry to serve these industries.  UHLC’s EENR (see above) links energy issues with impacts on environment and natural resources.  In the initial phase, the Center will develop projects related to energy and environmental protection, as discussed in the preceding paragraph.
  • Health law – the UH Law Center houses the leading health law program in the United States, centered in the Law Center’s Health Law and Policy Institute  (HLPI, see  HLPI  is an interdisciplinary research center that takes full advantage of ties with Houston’s Texas Medical Center, an internationally recognized center comprising 49 hospitals, research institutions and related healthcare institutions. (see  The Center for U.S. – Mexican Law and Policy will partner with HLPI to provide research and educational programs to U.S. and Mexican agencies engaged in health care and cross-border health issues.