The great state of Texas has given the nation some of the best business schools, respected religious colleges, and, of course, world-class football programs. But the Lone Star State is also home to some of America’s finest law schools.
That may come as a surprise with those who associate law school with the entertainment industry in California, the world of high finance in New York, or the tony old Ivy League schools along the East Coast. But when one considers the history of Texas, it becomes clearer that the state would be a prime place to study the law. With its diverse population, proximity to the Mexico border, and history of turmoil and progress, Texas offers students a myriad of topics to explore.
Accordingly, future lawyers can every type of law school in Texas, from private universities to state schools, from religious colleges to tier-one research universities.
Which one is right for you? That’s where College Gazette comes in to help. Using the rankings published in U.S. News & World Report, we’ve provided this list of the ten best law schools in Texas. We’ll take a look at their history, attributes, and even some of their most famous alumni.
With this list, you’ll be prepared to take the next step in your educational journey by studying law in Texas.
10. University of North Texas Dallas College of Law (Dallas, TX)
All law schools prepare their students to become lawyers, even if they become agents, politicians, or businessmen. But UNT-Dallas Law takes it one step further by explicitly teaching law to train public servants.
A relatively new school established in 2014, UNT-Dallas Law is the only public law school in the major Texas city. The school prides itself on its achievements in diversity and its real-world approach to instruction. Rather than spend time only in classrooms, students move quickly into gaining experience in negotiation and management, thanks to their lab-based approach and award-winning mock trial teams.
All of these elements advance the school’s larger goal to make law school affordable and accessible to students who might feel left out from traditional programs. In every aspect, UNT-Dallas Law strives to serve the community by finding new voices and helping them become public servants.
9. Texas Southern University Thurgood Marshall School of Law (Houston, TX)
One can get a good idea of Texas Southern University’s Thurgood Marshall School of Law by looking at the legendary Supreme Court Justice for whom the school is named. The law school of the state’s premier HBCU, TMSL offers a first-class legal education to its largely African-American student body.
TMSL has made its name on its commitment to social justice, taught to students through the Earl Carl Institute for Legal and Social Justice and the Institute for International and Immigration Law. The school also has the distinction of offering the nation’s first Masters of Law program focusing on immigration law.
With these resources, TSML prepares its student body to continue the tradition established by its namesake, breaking boundaries and creating a more equitable society for all.
8. St. Mary’s University School of Law (San Antonio, TX)
The School of Law at the private Catholic institution St. Mary’s University prides itself in its award-winning advocacy teams. Over the past twenty years, the school’s Moot Court team has won several championships, including two at the state level and a 2010 national championship in the Civil Rights and Liberties Moot Court Competition.
Success in these programs demonstrates the quality of the students at St. Mary’s Law, who count among their alumni U.S. Senator John Cornyn and Elma Salinas Ender, the first Hispanic woman to serve on a Texas state district court.
St. Mary’s Law students hone their skills while studying at the Sarita Kenedy East Law Library, San Antonio’s largest legal information center. The library also houses two legal journals, the St. Mary’s Law Journal, and The Scholar.
With such a rich foundation, it’s no wonder that St. Mary’s Law regularly creates legal winners.
7. South Texas College of Law Houston (Houston, TX)
Established by the YMCA in 1923 with the goal of offering night classes for future lawyers who worked day jobs, ST College of Law Houston is the city’s oldest law school. Attracting non-traditional students has proven to be a winning strategy for the school, which regularly receives national recognition for its success in Moot Court competitions. ST College of Law Houston has brought home more national championships than any other American law school, public or private.
Today, the school continues its commitment to non-traditional students, earning a top 50 spot from U.S. News & World Report for its part-time program. The magazine also ranked ST College of Law Houston 7th for its trial advocacy program.
As these accolades demonstrate, ST College of Law Houston brings into the legal field some much-needed perspective from those already living and working in the real world.
6. Texas Tech University School of Law (Lubbock, TX)
Every law student fantasizes about arguing a landmark case. But for Texas Tech Law graduate and adjunct instructor Brandon Beck, that dream became a reality when he successfully argued a case before the United States Supreme Court in 2019.
Beck was well-prepared for the occasion, thanks to his education from Texas Tech Law, whose competitive advocacy program has won over 45 national and international championships. Beck is not alone in carrying his education into the larger world, as 94.44% of test-takers pass the Bar Exam within two years.
These successes can only come from a school devoted to all aspects of the law. At Texas Tech Law, that devotion informs their eight practice clinics and their innovative energy law program. Each program equips every student at Texas Tech Law to not only pass the Bar but to someday even appear before the Supreme Court.
5. University of Houston Law Center (Houston, TX)
Every school on this list has its own impressive law library. But UH Law features something truly unique, the Judge Brown Admiralty Collection, a nationally known admiralty and maritime law collection. 2001’s Tropical Storm Allison seemed to destroy the entire collection, but it has since been restored, thanks to the Albertus book replacement project.
The Brown Collection is just one of the unique features found at UH Law, which offers eight special programs, covering everything from higher education law to criminal justice. Upperclassmen looking for more specialized training can participate in one of the school’s many clinics, in subjects such as mediation, juvenile defense, and immigration.
These programs have earned UH Law recognition from all major guides. U.S. News places it second in the nation for health care law and sixth for part-time programs, while the National Law Journal praises UH Law for placing many of its graduates into the nation’s 250 largest law firms.
4. Baylor University Law School (Waco, TX)
Founded in 1857, Baylor Law is the oldest law school in Texas. In its over 150 years, Baylor Law has produced some outstanding graduates, including former FBI Director William Sessions, sitting Congressman Louis Gohmert, and a bevy of judges on state and district courts.
Those looking to join that illustrious group will gain practical experience in one of Baylor Law’s five legal clinics. Not only do these clinics train future lawyers in issues such as immigration, entrepreneurship, and veterans’ affairs, but they serve over 1,500 Texans each year. So successful have been Baylor Law’s clinics that Josh Borderud, Director of Clinical Programs, won the 2020 Sandra Day O’Connor Award for Professional Service from the American Inns of the Court.
The honor shows that although Baylor Law has a long and storied history, it has no plans to stop creating first-class lawyers.
3. Texas A&M University School of Law (Fort Worth, TX)
Although it was founded in 1989, the Texas A&M School of Law became a major player when the school was acquired from Texas Wesleyan University by Texas A&M in 2013. Since that time, the school has lowered class sizes and added 30% more faculty, giving it an impressive student-faculty ratio of 8.4:1. It remains one of the most selective law schools in the country, accepting only 22.43% of applicants in 2020.
But those who do get accepted can not only participate in the school’s award-winning advocacy programs, but they also gain real-world experience in the student-run Texas A&M Law Fellowship. The Fellowship works to raise awareness of legal work in the public interest sector by hosting events and awarding fellowships to eligible students.
Texas A&M Law’s approach has been proven successful by their graduation numbers. Within 10 months of graduation, 92.3% of the Class of 2019 had full-time employment, with several serving in federal clerkships or large law firms.
2. Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law (Dallas, TX)
SMU Dedman School of Law not only boasts a 1.633 billion endowment as part of its parent institution, but it also has some of the most celebrated legal scholars working as faculty. Noted scholar on same-sex marriage Dale Carpenter teaches at Dedman, as does Bryan Garner, author of two books on legal practice co-written with former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia and of the widely used handbook Garner’s Modern English Usage.
These and other faculty members have trained a student body that has graduated five Fortune 500 CEOs, Texas Supreme Court judges, and many government officials on both the state and national levels.
Part of the education for these students occurred in the Underwood Law Library, the most extensive private academic law library west of the Mississippi River. Between those resources and the five independent journals published at SMU Law school, graduates take into the future practices a thorough understanding of the law.
1. University of Texas School of Law (Austin, TX)
With an acceptance rate of just 20.9%, Texas Law accepts fewer students than all but seven other law schools in the U.S. But those who do get accepted find success in the future, with 90% of the Class of 2019 going into full-time legal employment within nine months of graduation.
Among those graduates are some of the most famous names in law and politics, including former U.S. Secretary of State James Baker, Senior White House Advisor Paul Begala, and Sarah Weddington, who represented Jane Roe in 1973’s Roe v. Wade.
These and all practicing lawyers benefit from Texas Law’s Continuing Legal Education program, one of the oldest and most respected in the country. The program offers conferences and accreditation to professionals across the nation, helping lawyers and accountants face new legal challenges.