The South Texas College of Law of Houston (South Texas Law) began in the basement of a Houston YMCA in 1923 with an inaugural class of 34 students. Less than 30 years later, its enrollment had already surpassed the University of Texas School of Law. South Texas Law remained a pioneer of legal education in the state. The law school was the first to confer a Juris Doctor degree in the state and in the 1970s gained a national reputation for its trial advocacy teams after winning the national competition four straight years in a row. South Texas Law continues to garner national recognition for its trial advocacy program while also becoming one of the most diverse law schools in the country. The law school has produced a number of influential politicians as well as two Texas Supreme Court justices. Although he never graduated, CBS News Anchor Dan Rather also attended South Texas Law.
The Juris Doctor degree at South Texas Law requires 90 credit hours for completion which may be earned either through a full or part-time program. Either path includes 39 mandatory credit hours as part of the “first-year” curriculum that focuses on the core courses of the American legal education: civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. In their first-year program, students are also required to take three additional substantive courses–federal income taxation, evidence, and professional responsibility–as well as practical, skill-based courses covering the fundamental skills of legal writing and research.
In addition to the first-year curriculum, all South Texas Law students complete a substantial writing project and six hours of professional skills courses. The remainder of the academic program is elective although South Texas Law offers a 16 different “Pathways to Practice” that suggest coursework and skill-based learning to prepare students for various career options.
Law students at South Texas Law may also study at a foreign law school as part of the school’s study abroad program. The law school offers both summer programs as well as full-semester study abroad options. In the summer program, South Texas Law has established partnerships with other law schools to offer students numerous options in places such as Ireland, the Czech Republic, and even Malta. South Texas Law offers two full-semester options either in Denmark or the Netherlands. In Denmark, students study at the University of Aarhus, the second olderst university in the country. In the Netherlands, students spend a semester in Leiden, the home of the country’s oldest University whose law schools sits in the center of the city.
Alongside the school’s academic programs, South Texas Law is also home to three thriving academic centers that offer students various curricular and extra-curricular opportunities to enhance their academics. South Texas Law is home to a center on international practice and national security, the Harry L. Reed Oil & Gas Law institute, and a center for transactional practice issues.
Career and Career Placement
Based on the most recent employment outcomes, over 82% of all graduates of South Texas Law are employed within 10 months of graduation. Of those employed, 94% are employed in careers that require a law license or prefer a Juris Doctor degree. Additionally, 92% of employed graduates are employed in long-term, full-time careers. Over 64% of graduates opted for work in a law firm setting with nearly 45% of all graduates choosing small law firms with less than 25 attorneys. South Texas Law graduates also opted in substantial percentages for careers in government or the public interest sector (16.7%) or in the business sector (14%). A small percentage of students secured judicial clerkships in the federal courts. Over 98% of all graduates remain in the state of Texas to begin their academic careers.
The South Texas Law Career Resources Center (CRC) offers a full range of services to both its students and alumni. These services work closely with the school’s Pathway to Practice program to guide students towards professions that marry their academic careers with their strengths and passions. The CRC manages the school’s on-campus interview program and collects resumes from interested students. All students meet with career advisors to learn about job search strategies as well as review their resumes and cover letters. Throughout the academic year, the CRC provides numerous career development programs ranging from speakers to networking events.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
South Texas Law is a leader in preparing students to practice law upon graduation. The law school’s professional skill course offerings fall into three main areas: the advocacy program, the clinical program, and the drafting and research.
The advocacy program at South Texas Law is one of the best in the country. The program includes mock trial and moot court teams that have won over 130 championships. These programs introduce students to the concepts of legal research, writing, and advocacy. The skills are then put into practice in mock court situations where students learn as they compete.
South Texas Law offers a variety of clinical programs including direct representation of clients, an externship program, and a community-based clinic. The law school offers six different practices areas where students work directly with clients on a variety of legal issues. In clinics, students practice law while under the supervision of faculty and while earning academic credit. The externship program affords students additional practice areas to work on their practical skills. In an externship, students spend time working alongside practicing attorneys in a variety of legal settings. The community-based clinic affords students the opportunity to give back to the Houston community through a number of pro bono projects where students use their legal skills to help the community.
South Texas Law also offers a number of course offerings focused on the critical skills of legal drafting and research where students can master complex skills necessary for their professional careers.
At South Texas Law, the law student is the center of attention. As an independent school, South Texas Law offers its students an impressive range of services to assist their academic careers and ensure a balanced approach to their studies and careers. The law school supports over 35 student organizations that reflect the school’s diverse backgrounds and beliefs. South Texas Law provides a number of programs to ensure all students achieve academic success as well as pass the bar exam. All students have access to mental health an counseling services.
The law school campus is located in the heart of downtown Houston just blocks away from the skyline district. The vibrant community surrounding the campus offers students endless opportunities for dining, entertainment, housing, and recreation. The city’s major downtown parks are just minutes from the law school. Student’s have a number of housing options both downtown or in the many neighborhoods in Houston’s outer loops. The city is one of the largest in the country offering students virtually every amenity. Famed for its diversity, Houston is a blend of cultures where all students can find experiences, food, and a quality of life that is hard to match.