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UHLC Discussion with the Dean highlights student and faculty accomplishments


 University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes

Nov. 5, 2021 – University of Houston Law Center Dean Leonard M. Baynes recently announced new faculty hires, chair appointments and grant winners at a Discussions with the Dean session held in October.

Baynes began by congratulating three UHLC graduates for placing among the highest-scoring test takers of the bar exam administered in February. Emily Seaman Hoy ’20 recorded the second-highest score, and Nicholas Kacal ’20 placed third. On the makeup exam in March, Julie Le ’20 earned the second-highest mark.

“We had three outstanding students who did fabulously on the exam, and the Texas Bar exam recognizes those students who score in the top three,” Baynes said. “This is the most we have ever had in one year.”

Baynes also said that Professor Sapna Kumar has been named the John Mixon Chair and Professor Gina Warren was selected as the A.L. O’Quinn Chair in Environmental Studies. He also mentioned appointments of named professorships being awarded to Associate Professor Emily Berman, Professor Meredith Duncan, Associate Professor Kellen Zale, Associate Professor James Nelson and Associate Professor David Kwok.

Baynes announced two new faculty members, Assistant Professor Jessica Bregant and Assistant Professor Peter Salib and the promotion to Clinical Associate Professor of Alissa Gomez, and appointment as director of all the UH Law Clinics to Clinical Associate Professor Chris Heard. He also announced that Associate Professor Zachary Kaufman and Associate Professor David Kwok would now be co-directors of the Criminal Justice Institute.

Baynes recognized Assistant Professor Andrew Michaels for being one of four UH scholars awarded an NSF grant for his policy algorithm project and Consumer Law Clinic Director Ryan Marquez for the $300,000 grant given from Texas Access to Justice Commission to work on the eviction crisis Texas and the nation are facing due to the pandemic.

Providing a quick look at the entering class of 2021, Baynes noted students as 55.5 percent female boasting a 161 median LSAT and a 3.64 median GPA. Composed of 245 J.D. and 36 LL.M. students, 27 of which are foreign, the class includes 25 transfer students and four visiting scholars.

“In terms of racial demographics, it is almost 40 percent minority and 60 percent white,” Baynes said. “Of the student demographic breakdown of the minority groups, it is almost 20 percent Hispanic, almost 15 percent Asian American and a little over 5 percent African American.”

Baynes gave an overview of the status of the upcoming law building, noting a unique, modern design that is functional and geared toward students, with state-of-the-art technology and innovations such as a meditation room, commuter showers, terrace with views of the Houston skyline and even a convenience store to enhance the Law Center experience.

“We will be the newest law school building in the state of Texas and one of the newest law school buildings in the country,” Baynes stated. “We are focused on making sure that it is a space that is not only functional, but beautiful with things that students can enjoy.”

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