University of Texas School of Law

University of Texas School of Law

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The University of Texas
School of Law
The University of Texas at Austin seal.png
Established 1883
Type Public
Parent institution The University of Texas at Austin
Dean Ward Farnsworth
Students 1484
Location Austin, TXUSA
Mascot Peregrinus

The University of Texas School of Law (UT Law) is an ABA-certified American law school located on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. The school is currently ranked No. 15 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report,[1] and is consistently ranked among the top twenty law schools in the United States.[2] The school has also ranked No. 1 for the biggest return on investment among law schools in the United States.[3]The law school has been in operation since the founding of the University in 1883. It was one of only two schools at the University when it was founded; the other was the liberal arts school. The school offers both Juris Doctor and Master of Laws degrees.[2] It also offers dual degree programs with the JD, such as an MBAMPA, and PhD.[4]

The school has 19,000 living alumni, over 4,000 of whom practice law outside of Texas.[2]The law school has graduated the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Tom C. Clark as well as a number of heads of state and corporate executives.

According to The University of Texas’ 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 77.2% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[5]


UT Law is among the most selective law schools in the nation. For the class of 2010, 5,815 students applied and 24% were accepted with a class median LSAT score of 167. Although the minimum GPA to apply is 2.2, the median GPA for the admitted class is 3.71. The average age of admitted students is 24, and women make up 46% of the class. UT Law admits students from over 30 US states.[4][6] Emphasizing its role as a public institution, UT Law reserves 65% of the seats in each first-year class for Texas residents.


The University of Texas School of Law was founded in 1883.[2] In 1914, the school created its first course on oil and gas law, and in 1941 a legal aid clinic was started.[2]

Prior to the US Civil Rights Movement, the school was limited to white students, but the school’s admissions policies were challenged from two different directions in high-profile 20th century federal court cases that were important to the long struggle over segregation, integration, and diversity in American education.

Sweatt v. Painter (1950)[edit]

Illustration of the Law Building on a postcard (1908–1924).

The school was sued in the civil rights case of Sweatt v. Painter (1950). The case involved Heman Marion Sweatt, a black man who was refused admission to the School of Law on the grounds that substantially equivalent facilities (meeting the requirements of Plessy v. Ferguson) were offered by the state’s law school for blacks. When the plaintiff first applied to the University of Texas, there was no law school in Texas which admitted blacks. Instead of granting the plaintiff a writ of mandamus, the Texas trial court “continued” the case for six months to allow the state time to create a law school for blacks, which it developed in Houston.

The Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision, saying that the separate school failed to offer Sweatt an equal legal education. The Court noted that the University of Texas School of Law had 16 full-time and three part-time professors, 850 students and a law library of 65,000 volumes, while the separate school the state set up for blacks had five full-time professors, 23 students and a library of 16,500 volumes. But the Court held that even “more important” than these quantitative differences were differences such as “reputation of the faculty, experience of the administration, position and influence of the alumni, standing in the community, traditions and prestige.” Because the separate school could not provide an “equal” education, the Court ordered that Hemann Sweatt be admitted to University of Texas School of Law.

Sweatt v. Painter was the first major test case in the long-term litigation strategy of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund that led to the landmark Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954.[7] Marshall and the NAACP correctly calculated that they could dismantle segregation by building up a series of precedents, beginning at UT Law School, before moving on to the more explosive question of racial integration in elementary schools.

Hopwood v. Texas (1996)[edit]

In 1992, plaintiff Cheryl Hopwood, a White American woman, sued the School of Law on the grounds that she had not been admitted even though her grades and test scores were better than those of some minority candidates who were admitted pursuant to an affirmative action program. Texas Monthly editor Paul Burka later described Hopwood as “the perfect plaintiff to question the fairness of reverse discrimination” because of her academic credentials and personal hardships which she had endured (including a young daughter suffering from a muscular disease).[8]

With her attorney Steven Wayne Smith, later a two-year member of the Texas Supreme Court, Hopwood won her case, Hopwood v. Texas, in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, which ruled that the school “may not use race as a factor in deciding which applicants to admit in order to achieve a diverse student body, to combat the perceived effects of a hostile environment at the law school, to alleviate the law school’s poor reputation in the minority community, or to eliminate any present effects of past discrimination by actors other than the law school.”[9] The case did not reach the Supreme Court.

However, the Supreme Court ruled in Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), a case involving the University of Michigan, that the United States Constitution “does not prohibit the law school’s narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body.” This effectively reversed the decision ofHopwood v. Texas.[10]


Students at the University of Texas School of Law publish twelve law journals.

Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice[edit]

The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice, located at the University of Texas School of Law, serves as a focal point for critical, interdisciplinary analysis and practice of human rights and social justice.”[11][12] The Rapoport Center was founded in 2004 by Professor Karen Engle, Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law, thanks to a generous gift from the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation to the University of Texas School of Law.[13][14] The Rapoport Foundation was founded in 1986 by Bernard Rapoport and his wife Audre. In 2010, Daniel Brinks, Associate Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, became co-director of the Center.[15] The Center has over one hundred affiliated faculty members from various schools and departments within the University of Texas at Austin.

In February 2013, the Rapoport Center received a three-year, $150,000 grant from the Creekmore and Adele Fath Charitable Foundation to highlight the life and career of Sissy Farenthold, an American Democratic politician, activist, lawyer and educator, perhaps best known for her run for Texas Governor and for her nomination for Vice President in the 1972 Democratic National Convention.[16] The project documents Farenthold’s contributions to Texas and U.S. politics, the women’s peace movement, and international human rights and justice. The Rapoport Center will work with the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History (where Farenthold’s papers are housed) in order to process and preserve Farenthold’s papers, digitize archival documents and images, produce videotaped interviews, and expand the content of the Rapoport Center’s website.[17]

Center for Women in Law[edit]

In 2008 the law school announced the creation of the Center for Women in Law[18] to, “To eliminate the barriers that have thwarted the advancement of women in the legal profession for the past several decades, and thereby enhance the legal profession and its ability to serve an increasingly diverse and globally connected society.”[19]

Continuing Legal Education[edit]

The University of Texas School of Law Continuing Legal Education (UT Law CLE) is one of the oldest and most distinguished providers of professional education in the country, offering over 50 advanced conferences annually that provide CLE and CPE credit to national legal and accounting professionals.

Some of the School’s signature programs include Stanley M. Johanson Estate Planning Workshop, Taxation Conference, Jay L. Westbrook Bankruptcy Law, Ernest E. Smith Oil, Gas and Mineral Law, Immigration and Nationality Law and Page Keeton Civil Litigation, which have been offered continuously for over 35 years. Other highly regarded programs in the portfolio include Mergers and Acquisitions Institute, International Upstream Energy Transactions, Parker C. Fielder Oil and Gas Tax (presented with the IRS) and Patent Law Institutes presented in Austin and at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Notable alumni[edit]


According to UT official 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 77.2% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation.[63] UT’s Law School Transparency under-employment score is 10.8%, indicating the percentage of the Class of 2013 unemployed, pursuing an additional degree, or working in a non-professional, short-term, or part-time job nine months after graduation.[64]


The total cost of attendance (indicating the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses) at UT for the 2013-2014 academic year is $53,698 for residents and $70,050 for non-residents.[65] The Law School Transparency estimated debt-financed cost of attendance for three years is $197,389 for residents and $254,278 for nonresidents.


MBA Hiring on the Upswing

Good news for this year’s business-school graduates: 80% of employers expect to hire M.B.A.s from the class of 2014, up from 73% last year and 50% back in 2009, according to a survey of recruiters at more than 550 firms worldwide.

The survey was conducted by the Graduate Management Admission Council, which administers the GMAT business school admission test, and includes responses from 36 FortuneFT.T 0.00% 100 companies.


Scalia on Law School

“It seems to me that the law-school-in-two-years proposal rests on the premise that law school is—or ought to be—a trade school,” the justice said. “It is not that. It is a school preparing men and women not for a trade but for a profession—-the profession of law.”

It is something of an open secret now that the second and third years of school offer a student the chance to study whatever strikes his or her fancy—so long as there is a professor who has the same fancy… In more than a few law schools, including some of the most prestigious (the University of Chicago, for example), it is possible to graduate without ever having studied the First Amendment.