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University of Texas Law School

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Title: University of Texas Law School  
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University of Texas Law School

The University of Texas
School of Law
Established 1883
Type Public
Parent institution The University of Texas at Austin
Dean Ward Farnsworth
Students 1484
Location Austin, TX, USA
Mascot Peregrinus

The University of Texas School of Law is an ABA-certified American law school located on the campus of The University of Texas at Austin. 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.[1] It also offers dual degree programs with the JD, such as an MBA, MPA, and PhD.[2] The school has been ranked No. 15 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report,[3] and is consistently ranked among the top twenty law schools in the United States.[1] The school has also ranked No. 1 for the biggest return on investment among law schools in the United States.[4]

The school has 19,000 living alumni, over 4,000 of whom practice law outside of Texas.[1]


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.[2][5] 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.[1] In 1914, the school created its first course on oil and gas law, and in 1941 a legal aid clinic was started.[1]

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)

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.[6] 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)

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).[7]

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."[8] 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 of Hopwood v. Texas.[9]


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

  • American Journal of Criminal Law
  • Texas Environmental Law Journal
  • Texas Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy
  • Texas Intellectual Property Law Journal
  • Texas International Law Journal
  • Texas Journal of Oil, Gas & Energy Law
  • Texas Journal of Women and the Law
  • [1]
  • [2]
  • Texas Review of Entertainment and Sports Law
  • [3]
  • [4]

Notable alumni


External links

  • The University of Texas School of Law

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