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STCL Houston Alumni Attorney Expresses Gratitude with Giving

Home Law School News STCL Houston Alumni Attorney Expresses Gratitude with Giving

Jose S. Lopez ’03 emigrated from Honduras to the United States at age 6 and devoted himself to education. He readily assimilated into American culture while retaining his pride for his country of origin and has made a name for himself in Greater Houston as a philanthropist and owner of Lopez Law Firm. 

Lopez said he cannot imagine where he would be without South Texas Law. He was not born with access to an excellent education. Looking back over two decades of accomplishments reminds him of the grit they required. “It’s good to dream, but you have to get up and realize those dreams,” he said.  

When he immigrated from Honduras, the country was a final holdout in the communist takeover of Central America. Honduras would soon democratically elect a president after nearly two decades of authoritarian military control. Cuba and Nicaragua stoked civil unrest, using Honduras like a hub for distributing weapons and aid to nearby communist guerrillas. Simmering political tensions were inflamed further by brutal civil wars in surrounding countries. The Honduran election captivated international attention. As Honduras teetered toward revolution, Lopez’s mother uprooted him and his sisters and brought them to the United States.

After arriving in the U.S. — and experiencing the loneliness peculiar to a nonnative speaker in a new home — Lopez immersed himself in school. Undeterred by the odds against him, he fervently pushed higher, graduating with honors from the University of Houston with a Bachelor of Arts in political science and government. 

Lopez went to work for a Fortune 500 oil and gas company, but being in the corporate world only confirmed that his true dream was to become a lawyer. South Texas Law attracted him with its prestigious reputation, prime location near the courthouses of downtown Houston, and diverse student body. “I found my niche here at South Texas,” he said.

The community at South Texas Law embraced him wholeheartedly. As an immigrant and heritage Spanish speaker, Lopez enjoyed the diverse student body. “I met people who looked like me,” Lopez recalled. “We were all equals.” Lopez forged lifelong friendships and professional connections at South Texas Law that continue to enrich his life more than two decades later. 

“I always felt heard,” Lopez said, remembering Dean T. Gerald Treece’s mentorship. Despite having hundreds of students, Dean Treece always knew Lopez’s name, surprising him each time. 

Lopez found his calling at South Texas Law, finally reassured he was fulfilling his mother’s dreams for him. “It was stressful at the time and caused a lot of anxiety, but, looking back, it was fun.” Lopez enjoyed the school’s first-class amenities. He had every resource at his fingertips in the long hours spent studying at the Fred Parks Law Library with his classmates. And although his idealism never waned, his worldview suddenly shifted from passenger to pilot. 

Lopez saw in his casebooks and campus legal clinics how difficult it is for immigrants to navigate the U.S. legal system. Recognizing the critical need for accessible legal representation, Lopez embarked on his mission to help others who are struggling to adapt to a different culture. He has recovered millions of dollars on behalf of predominantly Spanish-speaking and immigrant personal injury clients.

Community service has always been important to Lopez, but he began volunteering in earnest when he had downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Lopez recalls thinking, “What better time than now?” Since then, his firm has distributed food, school supplies, and other essentials to more than 100,000 families through the Houston Food Bank. He also partners with Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Houston Independent School District. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner declared Oct. 10, 2022, as Jose Lopez Day. 

Lopez received the 2023 South Texas Public Service Award from Dean Michael F. Barry, who praised him for dedicating his legal expertise to service. But Lopez’s goal has never been fame or infamy. “My goal was just to help people,” he said. “The pandemic was the match that lit the flame.”

Lopez is collaborating with South Texas Law to establish the Lopez Family Scholarship Endowment, aimed at supporting first-generation and women law students. By investing in education and empowerment, Lopez hopes to leave a legacy of intentional diversity at South Texas Law. 

“Without South Texas, none of this would be possible,” Lopez said. “I have a lot of gratitude.”

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