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The Law Center embodies the “Power of LegaI Education” by transforming the world—one student at a time! As I start my second year as Dean, my overarching strategic goal is to enhance the “Power of Legal Education” and move the Law Center forward by improving its overall standing and recognition in the following key areas: (1) students; (2) faculty; (3) engagement of alumni and judges; and (4) building a world-class learning environment.

(1) Students

The 216 members of the J.D. Class of 2018 were drawn from 2,415 applicants, a 9 percent increase over the previous year, bucking the national trend which saw a 2 percent downturn. The median LSAT score remained steady at 159, while the median undergraduate GPA increased from 3.47 to 3.55, the highest since 2007. Of those first-year students, 32 are enrolled in the part-time program, with equally impressive credentials: median LSAT score of 158, and median undergraduate GPA of 3.63, which skyrocketed from 3.28 last year and is an historic high. This class is also quite diverse: 51.9 percent male and 48.1 percent female, and 35.6 percent minority with 21.2 percent of Hispanic/Latino origin, a record high. The incoming LL.M. class consists of 91 students of which 57 are foreign-trained attorneys having earned their law degrees in 27 different countries. This upcoming year, we plan to use sophisticated data analysis to continue to improve the acceptance rate and quality of next year’s class as well as using micro-targeted advertising to reach potential applicants.

(2) Faculty

Comprised of renowned scholars and fantastic teachers, the Law Center faculty faced attrition of six faculty members who retired and one who resigned (as a result of a lateral move). We plan to recruit new faculty members in several key areas: oil and gas, international/transactional law, property/natural resources/water law, and professional responsibility/ethics. We also plan to expand our clinical offerings in emerging and innovative areas of the law such as a homeless clinic focusing on LGBTQ youth and hire additional Lawyering Skills and Strategy faculty. In these key areas, we can serve the needs of the global, national and metropolitan community as well as distinguish ourselves from the competition.

In addition, we plan to continue to showcase the Law Center’s faculty. For instance, UHLC (along with SMU Dedman School of Law) hosted the first Texas Law Scholars Workshop on August 28, 2015. This workshop provided approximately 30 Texas law professors (with less than ten years of experience) a chance to meet and receive feedback on scholarly works-in-progress. The workshop burnished our reputation as an intellectual powerhouse among the Texas law professor community. Over the course of the academic year, we will seek other opportunities to ensure that the greater legal and academic community recognizes the scholarly strength of our faculty.

(3) Alumni, Judges, and the Legal Community

Our alumni are important and vital members of the Law Center’s family. The Law Center recently ranked #7 in the nation for networking. Enhancing and increasing the bonds among our alumni is crucial for the success of the Law Center. We plan another aggressive year of alumni outreach:

Alumni Receptions

Minority Reception  

Hotel ZaZa

Sept. 8, 2015

Class of 2005 Reunion

** Please note change of venue**

909 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002

Sept. 19, 2015

Breakfast at the Annual Judicial Education Conference (AJEC)

Dallas Sheraton

Sept. 28, 2015

Washington, DC Reception

Norton Rose Fulbright

Oct. 15, 2015

New York City Reception 

Apollo Theater

Jan. 6, 2016

Reception at State Bar of Texas Meeting  

Dallas/Forth Worth

June 16, 2016

Over the course of the next year, we also plan to hold alumni receptions in the Rio Grande Valley and Los Angeles, as well as hold a Class of 1991 Reunion.

We plan to celebrate alumna Judge Ruby Kless Sondock by reconfiguring the Sondock lecture series into the Sondock Jurist-in-Residence program where invited judges will be in residence at the Law Center for one day, speaking to faculty, students, and staff. The inaugural jurist-in-residence lecturers are:

Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann (2d Cir.)

Jan. 27, 2016

Judge Lee H. Rosenthal (S.D.Texas) 

Feb.15, 2016

Judge George C. Hanks (S.D. Texas)

March 21, 2016

Justice Jeffrey V. Brown (Texas Supreme Court)

April 18, 2016

4) World Class Learning Facility

Last year, a feasibility study was commissioned to study the capacity and inclination of our alumni and friends to support a new learning environment. The study confirmed the Law Center community’s vision for a new facility, and I am happy to report that, with UH President Khator’s endorsement, we are taking initial steps toward the realization of that vision. Over the next 18 to 24 months, we will initiate critical preparations before the formal launch of a campaign.

I am excited and extremely pleased with the outlook for the coming year. The Law Center has outstanding faculty, energetic staff, terrific students, and talented and engaged alumni and friends. By collaborating and working together, we can further enhance our already excellent Law Center and strengthen its reputation as we move forward.


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