May 20, 2019 — Victor Wright, a self-professed military “brat” who grew up to serve 22 years in the U.S. Air Force, earned a law degree along the way, and became in-house counsel to a major, international corporation, is ready to take on a new assignment as president of the UH Law Alumni Association.
His goals for his two-year term as alumni president are as lofty as the flights he once dreamt of making as a jet pilot before he was drawn to the law.
“I want to increase diversity and inclusion among members serving on the board and expand the reach of the alumni association geographically to include alumni outside of Houston and the state,” said Wright, a member of the Law Center Class of 1998.
“I also hope to continue to build on the momentum created through the building campaign and leverage that energy and excitement to reach underserved and less engaged alums to join ranks as we continue to expand and grow the global reach and impact of the Law Center.”
He said keys to greater alumni involvement include: Reaching out early to recent grads with relevant professional and social activities to make them want to stay connected to the Law Center; and improving the school’s email and social media strategy to develop more personalized and targeted communications, activities and programs designed to reach “alums who may view the association as less inclusive and frankly not for them.”
The product of a military family — his stepfather and three of four brothers are retired veterans — Wright lived in Louisiana and Hawaii before settling in Highland, Calif. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy, earning a B.S. in business management, and later an MBA from St. Mary’s University as a part-time student while stationed in San Antonio.
As most cadets at the academy, Wright said he wanted to become a fighter pilot like those in the movie “Top Gun” starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. “In my second-class year, however, I had a course called Military Law for Commanders and was intrigued by the litigation war stories that were told by the JAGs who taught the course. This is what initially inspired me to change my Air Force career track to becoming an Air Force JAG.”
After graduation from the academy, he served four years at Randolph Air Force Base in San Antonio before being accepted into the Air Force’s Funded Legal Education Program, a highly competitive program that sends active duty officers to law school to become military lawyers in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps.
“I have very fond memories of my years at the Law Center,” Wright said. “Since I was getting paid by the Air Force to attend school, I wish law school would have been six years instead of just three!”
Among his favorite classes were Professor David Crump’s Civil Procedure (”his teaching style reminded me of the military”) and Professor Ronald Turner’s HIV and the Law. He said a highpoint was working on the Law Review, especially as an African American writing his case note on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals controversial decision in the Hopwood v. University of Texas Law School affirmative action lawsuit.
“Most of all,” he said, “I appreciated interacting with and learning from my classmates who seemed to think it was pretty cool whenever I wore my uniform to class, which in hindsight was probably not as often as I was supposed to in the eyes of the Air Force.”
After graduating from the Law Center, he went on to serve seven years on active duty and eight years in the Air Force Reserve, retiring as a lieutenant colonel. His transition from military to civilian courtrooms required a “significant adjustment,” he said.
“In the JAG Corps, the core value of civility is demanded and expected of every JAG officer and there is a high-level of civility among JAG officers even when battling it out against each other in the courtroom. I didn’t quite find the same level of civility among civilian legal counsel when I joined my private practice law firm and began representing clients in employment litigation matters.”
He currently serves as in-house labor and employment counsel to KBR Inc.'s government solutions business segment where he directs legal services for more than 15,000 employees across the U.S. and internationally.
Wright is an active supporter of the Law School, financially through the Dean’s Society and the building campaign, and as a member of the alumni association and Law Review boards. He is also active in the community, serving as a mentor for Big Brother Big Sisters, KIPP Academy’s Northeast Houston Campus, and Covenant Glen United Method Church’s Boys Rites of Passage program. He and his wife, Lynell, who has a doctorate degree in pharmacy and works as medical director for a performance beauty company, have a daughter and son.
“My Law Center education has been invaluable and life-changing,” he said. “It allowed me to transition to an Air Force career as a JAG and put me on a path to a legal career spent serving in the federal government, private law firm practice, and now as in-house counsel at a large publicly traded corporation.”
The future of the Law Center is bright, Wright said, and the path to becoming one of the nation’s top tier law schools is clear: “Continue to build on the momentum that has already been built and find ways to expand that energy and excitement to reach even more alums to get involved in this journey.”