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The University of Texas at Austin
School of Law
Established 1883
Type Public
Dean Lawrence Sager
Students 1484
Location Austin, TX, USA

The University of Texas School of Law is an ABA-certified American law school located on the University of Texas at Austin campus. The law school has been in existence 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]

The law school is consistently ranked among the top twenty law schools in the nation and has a reputation for turning out high-profile lawyers and public servants. The school is ranked #15 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[2]



UT Law is among the most selective law schools in the nation. For the 2008-2009 entering class, 24% of applicants were accepted with a class median LSAT score of 167 and median GPA of 3.71. [1] 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.

Limited to white students for decades, the school's admissions policies were challenged from different directions in two 20th century cases decided by the US Supreme Court. Since the Court's decision in a third case, Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), the court ruled a law school may use "narrowly tailored" considerations of race to further the benefits of a diverse student body. It has been involved in two high profile cases concerning race and admissions.


Sweatt v. Painter (1950)

The school was sued in the civil rights United States Supreme Court 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, Texas.

The Supreme Court reversed the lower court decision, saying that the separate school failed to measure up because of quantitative differences in facilities and intangible factors such as its isolation from most of the future lawyers with whom its graduates would interact. The documentation of the court's decision includes the following differences in facilities between The University of Texas Law School and the separate law school for blacks: The University of Texas School of Law had 16 full-time and 3 part-time professors, 850 students and a law library of 65,000 volumes, while the separate school had 5 full-time professors, 23 students and a library of 16,500 volumes.

The court held that education could be measured only in intangibles.

Hopwood v. Texas (1996)

In 1992, plaintiff Cheryl Hopwood, a White American woman, was denied admission to the School of Law despite being better qualified than many admitted minority candidates. 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).[3]

The case of Hopwood v. Texas (1996) was the first successful legal challenge to affirmative action in student admissions since Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978) ruled quotas were unconstitutional. The 5th Circuit 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."[4]

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.[5]


  • Notable rejections include President George W. Bush, who was denied admission in the fall of 1970.[2]


  1. ^ "History of the Law School". The University of Texas School of Law. Retrieved 9 April 2006. 
  2. ^ Search - Law - Best Graduate Schools - Education - US News and World Report
  3. ^ Burka, Paul. "Law - Cheryl Hopwood." Texas Monthly (Sept. 1996)
  4. ^ Hopwood v. Texas, 78 F.3d 932 (5th Cir. 1996)
  5. ^ See Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306 (2003) (stating that the Supreme Court's purpose in deciding Grutter's case was "to resolve the disagreement among the Courts of Appeals on a question of national importance: Whether diversity is a compelling interest that can justify the narrowly tailored use of race in selecting applicants for admission to public universities. Compare Hopwood v. Texas, 78 F.3d 932 (CA5 1996) (holding that diversity is not a compelling state interest) with [another case] holding that it is."
  6. ^ Waters, Lawrence Leslie (1950). Steel Trails to Santa Fe. Lawrence, Kansas: University of Kansas Press. p. 421. 
  7. ^ Martin, Douglas. "William Conner, Judge Expert in Patent Law, Dies at 89", The New York Times, July 19, 2009. Accessed July 20, 2009.

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