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Alumni Spotlight

First Amendment rights a driving force behind career of UHLC alumnus Jakob '04

University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes, left, and alumnus Jason Jakob '04, right.

University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes, left, and alumnus Jason Jakob '04, right.

April 16, 2018 — Jason Jakob established his career as an attorney who is willing to defend his outspoken clients' right to free speech.

Jakob, a 2004 alumnus of the University of Houston Law Center, has applied a similar sense of expression to his Jaguar F-TYPE Convertible. His vehicle is noticeable to many other motorists in San Antonio because of the car's beautiful lines. But to make it even more recognizable, Jakob displays a fondness for his law school with custom UH vanity plates.

"I'm proud of the UH Law Center and its academic accolades," Jakob said. "I wanted to show that UH is a superior law school. I'm proud of my law school and so I first went to the DPS and saw there was a UH plate and thought 'Wow, that would be awesome.' I was going to get UH-LAW1, but it had already been taken so I just put JJ-ESQ."

Jakob is the co-founder and senior partner at Diaz Jakob, LLC, and is known most for his passion in the area of Constitutional law. He made national headlines in 2007 when he represented a client who faced charges after burning Mexico's flag in front of the Alamo, the San Antonio Street Preacher Case, and suing governmental entities both in state and federal courts.

"We have an absolute right to have differing opinions on speech," Jakob said. "Even though it's unpopular, sometimes you have to protect those unpopular beliefs even though they're not your own. That is a very important lesson for lawyers."

Jakob credits David Dow, the Law Center's Cullen Professor of Law, for helping him develop his enthusiasm for Constitutional law.

"He had a profound impact on me when I was a 1L," Jakob said. "I have carried the same Constitution in my pocket since my very first day of law school. It's just something I hold very dear, and my beliefs are based on the Constitution. I believe we have to protect our fundamental rights -- from each other and sometimes from an overzealous government."

Jakob also has a penchant for trial advocacy because he enjoys being able to utilize the fundamental skills he was taught as an attorney.

"You have an impact not only on your client, but you have an impact on the rationale of the jury and the jury system," Jakob said. "There's nothing more amazing than to get a jury to agree with you, and there's a certain trial high that goes along with that.

"We have some great lawyers all the way around. The idea that you are adversaries is very important with opposing counsel, but we also have to remember that we're professionals. At the end of the day you still have to work with that individual. It's not about trying to make an enemy, it's about advocating your case."

Janet Heppard, assistant professor of clinical practice, also earned Jakob's praises for her ability to prepare students for trials. He noted the importance of clinics in helping student attorneys gain the confidence they need to try cases later in their careers.

"The advocacy clinics are fantastic, and I recommend that to anybody who wants to do trial," Jakob said. "Professor Heppard was just a magnificent person there to coach you, but not to try your case for you.

"They always say that law school teaches you how to think like a lawyer. A lot of times, the clinics help introduce how to practice like a lawyer. The Law Center does a really fantastic job of that with clinics, moot court and all of those type of programs. It really is a diverse law school."