Sept. 10, 2018 - After 15 years of service in the Office of the General Counsel at the University of Houston, Eric Bentley is taking his career westward as the vice chancellor and general counsel for the Texas Tech University System.
Bentley, a 2004 alumnus of the University of Houston Law Center, began in his new role on Sept. 10. Bentley was most recently the senior associate general counsel at UH.
"I'm really excited about being able to impact a wide variety of matters at such wonderful universities," Bentley said. "The Texas Tech University System has dynamic individuals and leaders and I'm excited to be part of the university system's culture.
"It's a great opportunity for me. It's like managing a small law firm that has the most diverse areas of practice that you could possibly have."
Working as a general counsel at a university can involve matters ranging from athletics and law enforcement to litigation, transactional work and constitutional issues relating to due process. Bentley credits a Higher Education Law course taught by Professor Michael A. Olivas for sparking his interest in that practice area.
"I just fell in love with it," he said. "I think it's the best job in the world. I really do. The issues you get to work on are so varied and you never know what's going to happen from day to day. It's very fast paced and that's the fun of it."
Olivas played a role in Bentley's career again by helping him secure an internship during his 3L years of law school in UH's Office of the General Counsel. It would remain his professional home for 15 years.
"I wouldn't have had that opportunity had it not been for the Law Center and Professor Olivas getting my foot in the door," Bentley said. "Once I did the internship and was mentored by Dona Cornell, one of the best general counsels in the country, I realized that this is my calling. When I think back to what the law center faculty and a law degree did for me, it did everything."
Bentley said his passion for higher education law stems from its varied nature, whether it's doing litigation or transactional work, covering First Amendment issues and other constitutional matters involving due process or dealing with athletics, employment and law enforcement.
While he will miss his colleagues and friends on the UH campus, Bentley is looking forward to putting his own stamp on the Texas Tech University System's Office of General Counsel.
"The strong relationships and the great people I've worked with over the 15 years here are the hardest things about leaving UH," Bentley said. "You build those strong relationships because being in-house you work very closely with your clients on a regular basis.
"But I'm excited about being able to go into a place that is already functioning at a very high level and has extremely talented attorneys and support staff," Bentley said. "I look forward to bringing a slightly different and creative approach to some things, but will also make sure we're keeping the approach that's already working well."