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Our Story

Mission

South Texas College of Law Houston provides a diverse body of students with the opportunity to obtain an exceptional legal education, preparing graduates to serve their community and the profession with distinction.

Institutional Assessment

What is Institutional Assessment?

Institutional assessment involves an ongoing, systematic process of data collection and analysis. The purpose is to monitor and understand whether an institution is achieving its goals and mission and seeking improvements in student learning, programs and services.

The Office of Assessment and Research (OAR)

The OAR at STCL Houston collects data, analyzes information and conducts research to support strategic planning and institutional research and planning. STCL Houston uses its assessment program to evaluate all aspects of institutional effectiveness. In 2003, the law school created the Office of Assessment and Research.

Institutional Assessment Cycle
OAR Components of Institutional Assessment

The work of OAR is a critical component of institutional planning and evaluation. This office is active in the strategic planning process with regard to both planning and evaluation.

OAR conducts assessments throughout the institution. Assessment reports are used to inform the policy decisions made by the law school administration and the faculty. OAR reports to the associate dean for academics. The associate dean oversees the work of the office and works directly with it on assessment programs including strategic planning and evaluation.

The Work of the OAR

Strategic Planning and Evaluation

Assess the Strategic Plan progress through the Measure of Success Assessment Plan
Provide support to the Strategic Planning Oversight Committee

Committees & Departments

Perform scholarship committee data analysis
Advice and evaluate assessment program for the Program Effectiveness Committee
Advice and evaluate assessment plans for Academic Success Committee

Stakeholder Feedback

Develop and analyze the Campus Climate Survey
Develop and analyze student, faculty and staff surveys
Develop and analyze student and alumni focus groups

Incoming students

Analyze scholarship data

Student Learning

Assess institutional and student learning outcomes
Analyze curriculum mapping

Graduating students

Develop Bar Passage reports
Collect and analyze employment data

Government agencies & accrediting organizations

Collect and submit IPEDS data
Collect and submit ABA Annual Questionnaire, Bar Passage Questionnaire, and Employment Questionnaire

Faculty

Conduct course evaluations
Conduct ad hoc surveys and research projects

STCL Houston Learning Outcomes for Graduates

The law school’s goal is to educate its graduates to become responsible members of the legal profession dedicated to providing highly competent, effective, and ethical legal representation for their clients.

To achieve those objectives, the faculty of the law school has identified the Learning Outcomes described below. Taken together, these Learning Outcomes describe the faculty’s expectations for the knowledge, skills, and professionalism South Texas students should have when they graduate. Every course in the law school curriculum is designed to contribute to the attainment of some, but not all, of these Learning Outcomes, and each course will emphasize a particular subset of them.

Learning Outcome 1: Substantive Law and Legal Process Knowledge

Graduates of the law school will demonstrate mastery of the foundational areas of legal knowledge and legal processes with the proficiency suitable for a competent entry-level practitioner.

Performance criteria may include, but not be limited to, the demonstrated knowledge of:

 (a) the basic rules, principles, doctrines, concepts, and policies (i) in foundational areas of legal knowledge, including Civil Procedure, Constitutional Law, Contracts, Criminal Law, Evidence, Federal Income Taxation, Professional Responsibility, Property, and Torts, and (ii) in such other subjects sufficient to become eligible for admission to the practice of law;

 (b) the roles and differing characteristics by which law is made and changed for the various sources of law, state and federal, including the common law; constitutions; legislation; administrative regulations; and the judicial interpretation of legislation, regulations, and constitutions, including international legal materials; and

 (c) how to assess the advantages and disadvantages of the various forms of dispute resolution techniques, including both adjudicative processes, like jury and bench trials, arbitration, and adjudicative hearings, and less formal processes, like negotiation, conciliation, and mediation.

Learning Outcome 2: Legal Analysis, Reasoning, and Problem Solving

Graduates of the law school will demonstrate the ability to perform legal analysis, legal reasoning, and legal problem solving with the proficiency suitable for a competent entry-level practitioner.

Performance criteria may include, but not be limited to, the demonstrated ability to:

 (a) both orally and in writing (i) identify and articulate the legal issues presented in a variety of factual settings; (ii) recognize and assess the significance of potentially relevant facts, and determine and state the legal rules and principles relevant to the resolution of those issues; and (iii) formulate and evaluate the effectiveness of alternative legal arguments addressing the issues presented, including marshalling the legally significant facts;

 (b) both orally and in writing (i) analyze and interpret the legal rules and principles contained in judicial opinions, statutes, administrative regulations, and other legal authorities; (ii) explain the public policies underlying those rule and principles; and (iii) where appropriate, construct plausible alternative interpretations of the legal authorities; and

 (c) assist in solving a client’s legal problem or accomplishing a client’s legal objective by virtue of being able to (i) identify the client’s problem; (ii) evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of competing alternative solutions; and (iii) formulate and implement a plan of action.

Learning Outcome 3: Legal Research

Graduates of the law school will be able independently to conduct effective legal research with the proficiency suitable for a competent entry-level practitioner.

Performance criteria may include, but not be limited to, the demonstrated ability to:

(a) develop and implement an efficient and comprehensive research plan;

 (b) locate, retrieve, organize, analyze, and evaluate appropriate legal, factual, and policy source material in both written and digital formats; and

 (c) differentiate and assess the types and relevance of legal authorities.

Learning Outcome 4: Other Professional Skills, Including Effective Communication

Graduates of the law school will be able to perform such other professional skills as are appropriate for a new lawyer in their chosen areas of specialization with proficiency appropriate for a competent entry-level practitioner.

Performance criteria may include, but not be limited to, the demonstrated ability to:

 (a) both orally and in writing, communicate effectively by organizing and delivering appropriate, cogent, and persuasive communications for both legal and non-legal audiences;

 (b) engage effectively in client interviewing and counseling, negotiation, factual investigation and analysis, trial advocacy, conflict resolution, and cultural competency; and

 (c) engage effectively in drafting professional documents for litigation and drafting professional documents for transactions.

Learning Outcome 5: Professional and Ethical Responsibility

Graduates of the law school will be able to demonstrate an ability to exercise the professional judgment and ethical standards expected of a competent entry-level practitioner.

Performance criteria may include, but not be limited to, the demonstrated ability to:

 (a) identify the basic rules, principles, and policies governing the professional responsibilities of lawyers in the United States;

 (b) recognize, reflect upon, and respond appropriately to the ethical issues likely to arise in the practice of law; and

 (c) understand and support the role of lawyers in society and the professional responsibilities of lawyers in promoting justice and the access to justice and in service to the community.

Learning Outcome 6: Self-Management and Collaboration

Graduates of the law school will be able to the skills and concepts required for the effective and efficient management of law practice with the proficiency suitable for a competent entry-level practitioner.

Performance criteria may include, but not be limited to, the demonstrated ability to:

 (a) diagnose their own needs to increase their legal knowledge or to improve their legal skills, formulate professional development goals, identify appropriate professional development resources, and choose and implement a learning strategy for increasing knowledge or improving skills, making use of both self-reflection and feedback, as appropriate;

 (b) organize and manage legal work independently; and

 (c) collaborate effectively.

History

South Texas College of Law Houston was the city’s first law school, established at the YMCA by prominent Houston leaders to ensure working professionals could gain an exceptional legal education. So began a tradition of educational excellence and relevant career preparation that has now spanned a century.

First established as South Texas School of Law, it opened its doors Sept. 24, 1923, with seven part-time instructors and 34 students. Classes were held in a single room in the YMCA, with wooden fans suspended from the ceiling and chairs with arms that served as desks. By 1945, when it changed its name to South Texas College of Law, enrollment had surpassed the University of Texas School of Law for the first time.

In the following years, the law school experienced consistent growth in faculty, students, educational quality, and visibility. Reflecting this, South Texas received provisional accreditation from the American Bar Association’s House of Delegates in 1959 and earned the ABA’s full accreditation in 1969. During that decade, it became the first law school in Texas to award a J.D. degree to graduates.

A key moment in the law school’s history came in 1974 when it hosted the first Spurgeon Bell Moot Court Competition. This was a critical step in establishing South Texas’s reputation in advocacy — a reputation that has only grown stronger over time. Under Professor T. Gerald Treece’s leadership, the advocacy program became a national advocacy powerhouse. In 1979, the program was for the first time named one of the best in the country.

After South Texas won the ABA National Appellate Advocacy Competition for the fourth straight year in 1993, the ABA retired the national trophies for best team and best brief to the school. The following year, a South Texas team won the Association of the Bar of New York National Moot Court Competition, nicknamed “the Super Bowl of trial advocacy.” By 2016, the Advocacy Program earned “best of the decade” recognition.

As it continued to grow, STCL Houston also became known as one of the nation’s most diverse law schools. Enrollment would increase significantly among women and minority students, eventually leading to high rankings from a number of national publications. In the final years of the 20th century, STCL Houston built on its commitment to provide a high-quality, relevant legal education that prepared graduates for a successful career. It gained membership in the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) by a unanimous vote and also created the unique Consortium for Innovative Legal Education (CILE) with four other independent law schools.

Now, the law school is located at 1303 San Jacinto in a building that takes up an entire city block. In fall 2022, STCL Houston began its 100th year of classes and continued innovating — adding a part-time, primarily online schedule to allow students to earn its exceptional J.D. degree from anywhere. In the centennial year of 2023, the law school will honor the past, celebrate the present, and build the future.

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Houston’s Oldest Law School

The law school was founded because the city’s foremost business leaders and legal minds recognized a great need to train attorneys and sought to address it. Since that time, STCL Houston has become a vital institution in the region’s legal landscape. Now 100 years old and thriving, the law school maintains the mission focus established a century ago while addressing the emerging needs of the 21st century.

Achievements & Awards

STCL Houston Achievements and Awards

South Texas Law students have won 141 national advocacy championships. Also, U.S. News & World Report recently ranked the advocacy program No. 3 in the nation for trial advocacy. As an advocacy powerhouse, STCL Houston has consistently been among the top 10 programs for many years.

STCL Houston students have achieved 24 first-place national and international dispute resolution wins in the past decade. Through the work of the Frank Evans Center for Conflict Resolution, the school was ranked as a “Top Law School for ADR” by preLaw magazine in 2021.

The law school has won 15 American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Championships, more than any other law school in the nation.

STCL Houston has brought home five first-place Best Brief awards in the American Society of Legal Writers’ Scribes Competition, the most prestigious legal writing competition in the country. No other law school has claimed this honor more than once.

The Texas Access to Justice Commission awarded South Texas the 2022 Access to Justice Law School Commitment to Service Award in recognition of the law school’s extensive pro bono service. STCL Houston has received this prestigious award, which is open to all accredited law schools in Texas, four times in the 11 years it has been presented.

Three STCL Houston individuals dedicated to pro bono legal service were named to the 2023 AALS Pro Bono Honor Roll hosted by the Pro Bono and Access to Justice Section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS):

Student Profile

Students
Enrolled
Undergrad Institutions
Undergrad
Majors
States
Represented
Female
Male

White

51.06%

Hispanic

26.96%

Black or
African American

7.75%

Asian

7.32%

Not Reported

5.2%

<More than one

1.27%

American Indian

.21%

Native Hawaiian

.21%

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