Dean's Note

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As Dean of the University of Houston Law Center, I proclaim that the 2015-2016 academic year will honor the accomplishments of our trailblazing UHLC alumna Justice Ruby Kless Sondock.

Like so many trailblazers, Justice Sondock's career epitomizes the "power of legal education." Legal education changed the trajectory of her life. As a woman in a male-dominated profession, Justice Sondock did not let societal convention and backwards thinking stop her. Like so many other women trailblazers, Justice Sondock succeeded with grace, dignity, self-assurance and courage, not letting any obstacles or barriers stand in her way.

In 1962, Justice Sondock was one of only five women in her graduating class at the University of Houston Law Center. It is reported that she started law school with the aim of becoming "the best legal secretary in town." She graduated first in her class and was admitted to the Texas bar one year before she graduated from law school. In fact, she passed the Texas bar exam without taking a bar review class. Within only one year of practice, she argued a case before the Texas Supreme Court. After practicing law for twelve years, she was appointed a judge on the Harris County Domestic Relations Court in 1973 becoming the first woman district court judge in Harris County. After serving in this capacity for four years, she was then appointed to the 234th District Court again making her the first woman to have that honor.

In 1982, Justice Sondock was appointed to the Texas Supreme Court to serve the unexpired term of a deceased justice. With this appointment, she became the first woman to serve on the Texas Supreme Court in a regular session of the Court. Justice Sondock neither sought election for a full term nor accepted the later nomination to serve the unexpired term of then-retiring Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Joe Greenhill. Instead she returned to the District Court, and ran unopposed. After serving as a judge, Justice Sondock has worked as a successful private mediator in Houston.

I now have the pleasure of announcing that Justice Ruby Kless Sondock will be recognized as a "Texas Legal Legend" by the Litigation Section of the State Bar of Texas. A Texas Legal Legend is honored for his/her accomplishments and life's work, which enhances "the public's understanding of the historical importance of lawyers and the importance of making a difference – not just a living. These Legends are examples of lawyers who have spent their professional careers serving others and taking on challenges that are much bigger than themselves."

On November 11, 2015, we plan to celebrate Justice Sondock's recognition as a Texas Legend at the Law Center at a lunchtime event for faculty, staff, and students. We are also planning an event early next year for our alumni, the judiciary, and friends of the Law Center similarly honor Justice Sondock's accomplishments.

As Dean, I am proud to celebrate the accomplishments of all of our alumni, especially those of trailblazers like Justice Ruby Kless Sondock.


Leonard M. Baynes
Dean & Professor of Law
University of Houston Law Center

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