Dallas will be home to the state’s next public law school under a bill that won tentative House approval today.
Budget woes mean funding for the law school remains uncertain, at least for the next two years. At that point, officials could come back to the Legislature again for funding, or seek tuition revenue bonds instead. But for now, the budget the Legislature is poised to approve does not include the $40 million needed to establish the school.
Still, North Texas lawmakers said simply getting approval for the University of North Texas Law School — which already passed the Senate — is a great achievement. This is the third legislative session in which they’ve pushed for it.
This seems like a good time to mention that there are 200 accredited law schools already pumping out J.D.s like rabbits on fertility drugs. Compare that — as some commenters did last night — with the 130 or so accredited medical schools. In terms of exclusivity, the legal profession is on the beach at Bethpage Black, while everybody else is enjoying an excellent tee time at Winged Foot.
It’s not even like North Texas needed a law school. More details after the jump.
Even the Texas State Higher Education Board didn’t think that Dallas was in dire need of a law school:
Dallas lawmakers have had to make their case over the requests of other regions for graduate schools. An amendment added to the UNT law school bill today would commission a study on how to bring a law school to South Texas. The bill, with the amendment, now returns to the Senate for consideration.
And the region’s lawmakers have had to battle the recommendations of Texas’ Higher Education Coordinating Board, which has said there’s no urgent need for a law school in North Texas.
But North Texas lawmakers, who clearly should be reading Above the Law instead of contributing to the oversupply of lawyers, really want a public law school in Dallas:
North Texas legislators vehemently disagree. They say that while the region has two private law schools — at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and Texas Wesleyan University in Fort Worth — there’s no option for students who can’t afford private school tuition.
The Dallas-Fort Worth area is the largest in the country without a public law school. Houston, meanwhile, has two, while Austin and Lubbock each have one.
Are Dallas area students who can’t afford private law school tuition aware that in recent times, scientific breakthroughs have lead to the invention of the “airplane”? Do they know that these contraptions — first contemplated by the renaissance thinker Leonardo da Vinci, who has been popularized in works such as The Da Vinci Code, and Wikipedia — are capable of traveling vast distances at great speeds? Verily, one can now cover the immense expanse of territory between Dallas and Austin with the ease of a majestic eagle, and the speed of a terrifying falcon.
The UNT Law School, which died in the House on a last-minute technicality in 2007, is also expected to be a boon for downtown Dallas: the historic Old City Hall has been set aside for the school, and the city of Dallas has offered more than $14 million in bond funds to get the facility ready, plus $2 million in start-up costs.
Oh yeah. I forgot. Law schools make money. It’s like opening a mint. It really doesn’t matter if there are any jobs available for law school graduates, or if there is any actual need for the institution, or if anyone can think of a better way to spend $40 million.
It’s profit baby, no other motive is necessary.
Texas House OKs UNT law school in Dallas [Dallas News]