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January 15, 2013
New Law School Proposed for South Texas
At least two Texas legislators, Rep. Eddie Lucio, III of Harlingen and Rep. Armando Martinez of Weslaco, have filed bills to establish a public law school in the Rio Grande Valley. The two bills are similar to one another - the primary difference is that Lucio's bill would place the law school in the University of Texas System, while Martinez's bill would authorize the school to be created and operated by any willing and existing university system.
A law school in the fast-growing Rio Grande Valley has long been a goal for South Texas's legislative delegation. While the need for a new law school in this national market is doubtful, the Rio Grande Valley is greatly underserved. The nearest public law school to the Valley is the University of Texas at Austin some 300 miles away. The Rio Grande Valley appears by far to be the largest region in the nation, measured by population, located so far from a public law school. The two MSA's that make up the Valley have almost 1.2 million in population according to the last Census.
Texas created a public law school in the Dallas during the 2009 session - the University of North Texas Dallas (UNT-Dallas) College of Law is scheduled to open in the Fall of 2014. With law schools facing declining enrollment in this tough job market, getting yet another law school opened in Texas looks to be an uphill battle this session.
The Texas Legislature meets for 140 days during odd-numbered years, called special sessions excluded.