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James Davis Named Vice President for Legal Affairs at UT Austin

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James Davis

AUSTIN, Texas — James Davis has been named vice president for legal affairs for The University of Texas at Austin, President Gregory L. Fenves announced in a letter to the UT campus Monday.

A veteran attorney with private and public sector experience, Davis has a bachelor’s degree in history from UT Austin and grew up on the Forty Acres as the son of a longtime faculty member and department chair.

Davis has served as deputy attorney general for civil litigation for the state of Texas since 2015. He will begin on Nov. 19 his new role, in which he will serve as general counsel to the university and oversee the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs.

“Jim Davis is a talented and accomplished public servant and attorney who has spent much of his career supporting his country and state. I am delighted he will be returning to the Forty Acres to provide leadership and guidance to the university,” Fenves said. “Among his many accomplishments, Jim is most proud of being a Texas Ex. He understands the needs and challenges facing the flagship university of Texas and has the vision to help us continue to excel.”

He first moved to Austin at the age of 4 when his father, Robert Davis, became chair of the university’s Radio, Television and Film Department, a position he held for 12 years.

Davis served in the U.S. Navy for four years as a cryptologic technician officer. He was awarded the National Defense Service Ribbon and Commanding Officer Commendation for Outstanding Service during the Gulf War before returning to Austin to attend UT.

After earning a bachelor’s degree from the College of Liberal Arts, he graduated from Harvard University Law School and returned to Austin once again to work as a briefing attorney at the Supreme Court of Texas. He then spent 14 years at Locke Lord LLP before joining the Texas attorney general’s office, where for three years he has represented more than 200 state agencies, boards and commissions to advance their policy goals.

“Most of my life has revolved around the Forty Acres, and I am excited to come home to serve my university,” Davis said. “I thank President Fenves for this opportunity and am looking forward to helping The University of Texas at Austin as it continues its mission to change the world.”

Davis replaces Patricia Ohlendorf, who stepped down as vice president for legal affairs on Aug. 31 after 20 years and will continue as a special assistant to the university through Dec. 31. Chief Compliance Office Leo Barnes has served as interim vice president and general counsel since Sept. 1.