The start of a new school year is always an exciting time, filled with optimism, challenges, and opportunities. The start of my sixth year at the University of Houston Law Center is just as exciting as my first. It means a new group of bright students eager to learn, new faces with new ideas and talents in the classrooms, and new programs to enhance the learning experience and expand our reach.
This year also started on a high note when the UH System Board of Regents approved $78 million on Aug. 22 toward construction of a new Law Center to replace our 50-year-old facility. That long-held dream is about to get off the drawing board and become a reality.
The 200-plus aspiring lawyers in the Class of 2022 is a select group drawn from a broad base of backgrounds and experiences. Applications were up, and fewer than one-third of applicants were accepted. Their academic credentials matched last year’s record-setting median GPA and median LSAT scores, and the percentage of women broke last year’s record when they first became the majority. We have bolstered our International Law and Immigration programs with excellent new faculty, enhanced our global outreach and graduate programs with the appointment of an executive director, laid the groundwork for establishing a new research initiative, and bolstered our bar prep program with terrific new faculty.
These are just some of the ways we are improving the educational experience and opportunities at the Law Center. I would like to introduce some of the new faculty and staff members who will help make this happen:
- Elizabeth Trujillo, Mary Ann & Lawrence E. Faust Professor of Law, is the founding director of the Initiative on Global Law and Policy for the Americas. An international law scholar and 1999 graduate of the Law Center, Trujillo will oversee the Initiative’s research projects, conferences and other programs. She also will teach Contracts, International Trade, NAFTA, Trade, Investment, and Development, Trends in International Law, and Sustainable Development. Prior to joining the Law Center faculty, she taught at Texas A&M University School of Law where she was also the co-convener for their new Global and Comparative Law Program and an affiliated faculty member with the Texas A&M University Energy Institute. Trujillo previously taught as a full professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston and has been a visiting scholar at Harvard Law School and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Germany. She is an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation Research Fellow. She previously worked for the Houston office of LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene and MacRae in the areas of corporate law, project finance and international business transactions, with an emphasis on energy and Latin America. In 2017, she was elected to the American Law Institute and in 2018, to the Executive Council of the American Society of International Law.
- Karen Jones will coordinate graduate programs and extend the Law Center’s reach worldwide in the newly created position of Executive Director of Global and Graduate Programs. She will provide strategic vision, guidance and direction to the operation of all global and graduate programs, including internships, visiting scholars, partnerships, and collaborations with law schools, domestic and international. A graduate of Southern Methodist University Law School, and DePaul University with a masters in sociology. She co-founded and managed a legal clinic in Chicago. She has an extensive background in global corporate transactions, program development, operations and management. Most recently she taught at Rice University, head of the sports law concentration. She also previously served as the program coordinator for the International Sport Law Center at T.M.C. Asser Instituut in The Hague, Netherlands. She teaches Negotiation in Sports as an adjunct professor at the Law Center and helps coach students for ADR competitions. She has guest-lectured and taught at several universities in the U.S. and in Europe.
- Zachary D. Kaufman, Associate Professor of Law and Political Science, is a graduate of Yale Law School, where he was Editor-in-Chief of the Yale Law & Policy Review, and Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar and earned a PhD. He will teach courses in International Law, Criminal Law, and International and Transitional Justice. He also holds appointments at the University’s Department of Political Science and Hobby School of Public Affairs. Prior to joining the UH faculty, Kaufman taught at Stanford Law School and was a senior fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He has served in all three branches of the U.S. government: He was a U.S. Supreme Court fellow and clerk to a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit; a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow on the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and served at the U.S. Departments of State and Justice. He also has served at three international war crimes tribunals.
- Daniel I Morales, Associate Professor of Law and George A. Butler Research Professor, is a Yale Law School graduate who will teach Immigration Law, “Crimmigration,” and Latinos and the Law. His research addresses the legal problems that arise because immigration law acts on noncitizens, yet is made by and for the citizenry. Morales joins the Law Center faculty from DePaul University, where he was honored with the College of Law's Excellence in Teaching Award and the University's Spirit of Inquiry Award for research excellence. He began his academic career as a William H. Hastie Fellow at the University of Wisconsin Law School and subsequently clerked for both the Hon. R. Guy Cole Jr., U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, and the Hon. Joan B. Gottschall, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois.
- Megan L. Davis, Clinical Assistant Professor and Law Center graduate, teaches Introduction to American Law to FLLMs and Legal Analysis and Writing, a course designed to improve the essay and practical writing skills of third-year students in preparation for the bar exam. She also teaches an Education Law class. Prior to joining the Law Center, Davis practiced as a school law attorney and represented Texas school districts in matters varying from contracts and procurement to internal investigations. She established a legal department for a non-profit radio station and ticketing agency prior to entering private practice. Her career began as a deputy city attorney with a blend of criminal prosecution and transactional work.
These initiatives and new faculty members will not only help us in providing an exceptional legal education, but enhance our standing among the nation’s top law schools. It’s going to be another great year!
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