Dean's Note

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I start my fifth year in the "corner office" of the University of Houston Law Center with great pride in what we as a team have accomplished in those years, and also with tremendous excitement about what the future holds for the school. Our standing among the nation's law schools is solid, our programs and academic institutes are recognized at home and abroad, new hires have enhanced an already excellent faculty, alumni support and engagement is strong, and the quality of our diverse student body has never been higher. And, the Law Center is on the way toward fulfilling a long-overdue dream of building a modern, state-of-the art facility to reflect, and enhance, all that is going on at the school.

With the beginning of a new school year about to begin, I would like to share with you a few highlights from the previous year:

  • Building
    • As mentioned, phase one of our building campaign is on track with the goal of raising $10 million in seed money before the legislative session in January to show strong support for state funding. A site has been chosen just south of the existing Law Center and plans drafted for construction of a five-story, high-tech building with the look and amenities commensurate with a top-tier law school.
  • Class of '21
    • Although the numbers are not official yet, those admitted to the incoming class this fall represent the highest median UGPA, 3.61, and the greatest diversity, 46.3 percent, in memory as well as the highest LSAT, 160, since 2013. The Law Center offered admission to 865 students, about one-third of the 2,654 who applied. The final class size will not be determined until Oct. 5 when statistics are certified by the Law School Admission Council and sent to the American Bar Association, but as of the first day of classes, we have 174 full-time and 31 part-time entering students, 68.3 percent of whom received scholarships.
  • Rankings
    • Three Law Center specialty programs remain among the Top 10 in the nation, according to the annual U.S. News & World Report survey, with Health Law at #2, Intellectual Property #5 and the Part-time Program #7. PreLaw magazine graded our Health Law and Criminal Law programs a solid A. The LL.M. tax program was ranked #2 by Corporate Council magazine while the LL.M. Guide, a global directory and guide to more than 900 programs, placed the school's Energy and Health Law programs among the Top 10 in the world.
  • Harvey Relief Efforts
    • Members of the Law Center family rolled up their sleeves and pant legs to help each other and the community at large in the flooded aftermath of Hurricane Harvey last August. But relief efforts didn't stop when the water receded. Students and staff helped with cleanup and rebuilding efforts. The school's immigration, consumer law and mediation clinics pitched in to help with replacing lost documentation, and resolving complaints with contractors and landlords. The popular People's Law School program held a special session devoted to storm-related issues ranging from filing insurance claims to consumer fraud and rights under deceptive trade law. Nearly a year after Harvey devastated the area, the Hurricane Consumer Assistance Program was started with a $205,000 community assistance grant from the Greater Houston Community Foundation. In conjunction with the Law Center's clinics, the new program will operate a hotline to help individuals with continuing legal problems, but also will conduct workshops and neighborhood sessions to help people be better prepared for the next natural disaster.
  • Diversity
    • "Insight Into Diversity" magazine featured the Law Center —and me on its cover — as a model of law school efforts to diversify the legal profession. The article praised our Pre-Law Pipeline Program for its success in preparing undergraduates from groups historically underrepresented in the legal profession for law school and a career in the law. With an overall student body that is 36.4 percent people of color, the magazine noted the Law Center exceeds the national minority law school enrollment of 31.4 percent. The Law Center twice won the magazine's Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) Award. The school also was ranked 22nd by Hispanic Outlook on Education magazine and recognized as a "Most Diverse Law School" by prelaw magazine.
  • Pre-Law Pipeline Program
    • Our award-winning summer program received a $300,000 grant from the Law School Admission Council which will allow the school to expand its reach by providing a $1,000 stipend to students to cover expenses and pay for additional faculty and assistants. The program, which recently completed its fourth year, is designed to increase the number of lawyers from underrepresented groups by introducing undergraduates to the demands of law school and the opportunities of a career in the law.
  • Community Service
    • What started my first year as a single day of volunteer service for entering students before their first day of law school, has expanded into Community Service Days. Students, faculty and staff fan out across the city to help with a wide variety of projects ranging from packing boxes at food banks to cleaning parks to helping at legal workshops for juveniles, immigrants and veterans. The experience fosters a bond among incoming students, leads to lasting friendships, and instills a sense of public service in the future lawyers.
  • Speakers/Events
    • The Law Center continued to host speakers and events, ranging from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Star Jones and noted legal scholars to an oral argument of the Texas Supreme Court and visits of state and federal judges in the Sondock Jurist-in-Residence program.
  • Reaching Out
    • The Law Center is about to begin its third season of Briefcase radio, a weekly, minute-long look at a legal topic introduced by me and explained by a faculty expert on KUHF, the university's public radio station. We also launched an app that provides all the information a prospective student might want to know about the Law Center. Lastly, we have established an alumni chapter in Washington, D.C.

There is a lot to be proud of going on at the Law Center as we build the future of legal education together. 

Sincerely,

Leonard M. Baynes
Dean & Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center


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The University of Houston Law Center
100 Law Center
Houston, TX 77204-6060
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