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A Note from the Office of
Dean Leonard M. Baynes

The University of Houston Law Center has very generous alumni. Together, they had the confidence, inspiration, and foresight to help raise the $93 million for the construction of the ultra-modern John M. O’Quinn Law Building. The Law Building serves as an inspiration for our students by showcasing the many classrooms, offices and other spaces named by our alumni, faculty, and friends. These namings inspire our current students to achieve success like the pioneering alumni who preceded them. After Googling the donors and reading about their accomplishments, students tell me that they say to themselves: “I can be like them some day!” 

This UH Law philanthropic spirit continues and is demonstrated by the many alumni who have stepped up to fund law student scholarships. I am pleased to announce that the Law Center has raised $2.6 million this year and $6.5 million so far in this scholarship fundraising campaign. Our goal is to raise $10 million by 2026 so we are very close to meeting that goal! I hope you will be inspired to support this worthy cause.

Scholarships are very important because they help the Law Center enroll students with excellent credentials; scholarships are also vital to ensure the success of our very talented law students who have financial needs. Many students face financial anxiety that comes with paying tuition, student loan debt and other expenses. A generous scholarship can alleviate some of the financial burdens and anxieties that students face.

The following is a small sample of the UH Law students and recent graduates whose lives have been transformed by scholarships.

Hanna Niner

Hanna Niner, a 2023 Law Center alumna, while in law school, was a recipient of the Alvin & Susie Zimmerman Endowed Scholarship. Before being admitted into law school, figuring out the financial aspect of obtaining a J.D. was the missing piece of the puzzle.

“I almost didn’t go to law school,” she said in a recent  interview. “I put it off because I was so concerned about the cost. I didn’t have a lot of financial support and that made me pause to think about the realities of taking out substantial loans to pay for law school.

“I was afraid that taking out loans would inhibit my ability to do public interest work, so I put off the question of going to law school. The scholarship allowed me to go to law school and not feel hindered by so much law school debt. The financial support allowed me to graduate without letting finances dictate my decisions.”

Brady Mills

Brady Mills, a member of the Class of 2025, received the Dean’s Scholarship, the Roxella T. Cavazos Endowed Scholarship and the Billie J. Ellis Jr. Scholarship. As a father to a young son and a husband, the generosity of scholarship made a positive impact on his life.

“It’s amazing to realize that people care about your education and are willing to help you through it when they see nothing directly in return,” he said in a recent  interview. “You might be giving to someone who is just out of undergrad, single and has no family, and that’s great. You might be giving to someone who is 40 years old, on their second career and with a three-kid family. You never know, and no matter what, it’s just a blessing.”

Deborah Billy Gillis-Harry

Deborah Billy Gillis-Harry, a member of the Class of 2025, received a scholarship from Latham & Watkins. After being the beneficiary of someone else’s generosity, she hopes she can pay it forward in the future.

“Maybe one day I'll become a partner because a partner believed in me in my first year of law school and decided to invest in my education. This thought inspires me to give back when I get to the position where I’m able to,” she said in a recent interview.

These are just a few examples of the countless University of Houston Law Center students whose lives have been transformed by scholarships.

Beginning Sept.1, 2024, the minimum amount to endow a scholarship will increase from $25,000 to $50,000. Scholarships afford law students access to potentially life-changing opportunities, and this increased minimum endowment is well worth this bigger investment. But if you act before Sept. 1, you will be able to start an endowed scholarship for only $25,000. In establishing an endowed scholarship, you will also establish your Law Center legacy and serve as an inspiration for your scholarship recipient.

If you are interested in creating a positive impact on a law student’s life, while also strengthening the reputation of the Law Center, I encourage you to visit and give. 

Thank you to all our alumni for all that you do to help advance the cause of the University of Houston Law Center.

Leonard M. Baynes
Dean, Hugh Roy and Lillie Cranz Cullen Distinguished Chair, and Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center


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