AUSTIN, Texas—The University of Texas at Austin School of Law and The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) today (July 17) will announce their partnership in establishing a pre-law program in San Antonio to better prepare prospective law students from UTSA to succeed in the legal profession.
A ceremony to formally announce the program will be held in San Antonio at the Buena Vista Street Building, Meeting/Assembly Room 1.338, from 6 to 8 p.m. today (July 17).
UTSA President Ricardo Romo and The University of Texas at Austin School of Law Dean Bill Powers will join a cadre of state officials and members of the Texas Bar Association at the UTSA Downtown Campus in unveiling plans for the UTSA Institute for Law and Public Affairs. The institute will offer a one-year certificate program aimed at helping UTSA students perform well on the standardized law school admissions test and complete the challenging law school curriculum.
"It’s been estimated that less than 10 percent of those in the legal profession are minorities," said State Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, who was graduated from UTSA and The University of Texas at Austin School of Law (J.D. ’98). "I’m excited about the institute because of the possibilities it introduces to minority students, as well as to the entire San Antonio and South Texas community."
The Institute for Law and Public Affairs at UTSA broadens the vision of the successful pre-law institute at UT El Paso. The new institute will create a certificate program for yearlong classes combined with two summer pre-law academies, to begin in the summer of 2002. This fall, letters to students will ask for summer academy applications. The institute will sponsor lecture series, symposia and seminars of interest to the South Texas legal community. The institute plans to hold an annual "Eyes of Texas Lecture Series," focusing on issues of special interest to our state.
UTSA’s Downtown Campus will house the new institute and Dr. Richard Gambitta, chair of the department of political science and geography, will direct the institute, which will begin Sept. 1.
"This innovative program will expose UTSA students to rigorous training, using some of the best teachers from the School of Law and UTSA," said Dean Bill Powers of the UT Austin School of Law. "The training will help them succeed in law and public affairs. But even if these students choose not to go to law school, they will be better positioned for the field of their choice."
Romo said, "This collaboration between the UT School of Law and UTSA marks an important milestone in UTSA’s aspiration of providing students with one of the best pre-law programs available anywhere."
Gambitta said, "Beyond pre-law education, the institute will have important research and outreach roles, focusing on issues of importance to the people and governments of Texas. Overall, the institute will be a partnership in law and public affairs linking the UTSA, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, and the people and students of South Texas."
Several leading professors from The University of Texas at Austin School of Law will work with the San Antonio students, including Professor Jack Getman, senior lecturers Terri LeClercq, Ph.D., and David Sokolow and the admissions director, Assistant Dean Shelli Soto.
The new program was based on the successful program at The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP) developed jointly by UTEP and The University of Texas at Austin School of Law. Now into its third year, the program has demonstrably increased the number of students who have been accepted into law schools nationwide, including The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Harvard, University of Virginia, Columbia, Texas Tech and others.
The Law School Preparation Institute at UTEP was designed to provide intensive pre-law training for selected students over the summers before their junior and senior years. Students were selected for the program on academic performance and maturity of interest in law.
The Texas Legislature supports the program with a $1 million grant for Border Legal Studies. Bob Webking, Ph.D., professor of political science at UTEP, and Bill Weaver, Ph.D., conceived the idea for the program and serve as the faculty for the institute. The program is supported by a variety of sources, including The University of Texas at El Paso and its Public Policy Research Center, the UT System, The University of Texas at Austin School of Law, Baylor Law School, Texas Wesleyan Law School, the Texas College of Probate Judges, the El Paso Bar Association, the Mexican-American Bar Association and several individual attorneys in El Paso.