June 1, 2020 - Growing up in Dickinson, Texas amid the political turmoil of anti-Vietnam war sentiments, the end of segregation in public schools, the Watergate scandal and subsequent resignation of President Richard Nixon, Mitchel Winick took an interest in politics and social justice at an early age.
The 1978 graduate of the University of Houston Law Center felt destined for law school, and has developed a passion for assisting the next generation of legal professionals. Winick has dedicated the past 20 years of his career to being a legal educator. He currently serves as President and Dean of the three-school system - Monterey College of Law, San Luis Obispo College of Law, and Kern County College of Law.
“The old saying goes, ‘if you love what you do, you will never have to work a day in your life,’” Winick said. “That is how I feel about the privilege of serving as dean of a community-based law school system that answers the growing need for access to justice across so many of our communities.”
While attending the Law Center, Winick had a formative experience during his 3L year when given an opportunity to teach Business Law in the University’s undergraduate program.
“It turned out that I loved teaching and continued teaching Business Law part-time for two years after graduating from law school,” he said. “Simultaneously, I pursued a career as a business consultant and venture capitalist for start-up companies. Unfortunately, as my business consulting career expanded, I gave up teaching ‘temporarily’ for the next 20 years.”
When the Houston economy downturned in the 1980’s, Winick combined his business and law experience to specialize as a law firm consultant. This change eventually brought him back to the classroom, where he was able to teach lawyers in the areas of business planning, marketing and the emerging use of technology.
“Law school teaching evolved into an offer to serve as an Assistant Dean and Lecturer at Texas Tech School of Law for six years and subsequently the opportunity to serve as Dean of Monterey College of Law,” he said. “It turns out that the requirements for serving as both the chief executive officer and chief academic officer for our system of three regional law schools is a perfect blend of the business and academic experience I acquired along my very non-traditional career path.
“I am a firm believer in the business philosophy that the character and quality of an organization is established at the top. Whether you lead a law school, law firm, or corporation, the way that senior management treats co-workers, clients, and business associates resonates throughout the organization and ultimately is reflected in the reputation and quality of the work performed.”
Winick believes passionately in the importance of diversity and representation within our legal profession.
“We need a bench and bar that understands the needs and challenges facing underserved communities,” Winick said. “We need lawyers and judges who will defend the rule of law in times of crisis. Law schools play a critical role in finding and preparing the lawyers, judges, and community leaders who will meet these needs competently, ethically, and professionally.
“My small role in this process is to provide an educational environment that has the financial and academic resources, shared mission, and measurable outcomes that help achieve these goals.”
When reminiscing on his time at the Law Center, Winick recalls the late Professor Yale L. Rosenberg as his favorite instructor.
“He had the ability to make even complicated and technical aspects of the law seem relevant,” Winick said. “He was demanding, but respectful in the way he encouraged classroom discussion. He never allowed his obvious expertise and intelligence to stand as a barrier to connecting students with the law.
“Although I am certainly not a typical Law Center graduate, there is no question that my legal education served as the foundation of my business and academic career every step along the way.”
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