South Texas College of Law

By: Nancy Young

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: October 27, 2017

South Texas College of Law, in Houston, formerly known as South Texas School of Law and Commerce, was founded in 1923. It moved to a separate campus in the J. Robert Neal Building on Polk Street in 1964. Prior to that time, the law school and South Texas Junior College shared quarters in the downtown YMCA. Between 1949 and 1965 the number of semester hours required for the LL.B. degree increased from seventy-two to eighty-six. Effective in December 1965, the LL.B. degree was no longer offered, and students who completed requirements for graduation were awarded the Juris Doctor degree. Admission requirements to the law school rose from having a high school diploma in 1932 to sixty semester hours of college credit in 1938 and to ninety semester hours in 1955. After 1963 admission was dependent upon passing a law school admission test, and by 1965 applicants were required to have a baccalaureate degree. Under the auspices of South Texas College of Law, the South Texas Law Journal was established in 1953 (now known as the South Texas Law Review). Students also produce the Corporate Counsel Review, a publication designed for use in house by the State Bar of Texas; Currents, dealing with international trade and law; and Annotations, the school paper. In 1965 the law library contained 20,203 volumes, and the faculty consisted of five full-time instructors and sixteen part-time lecturers. In 1992 the library held 250,000 volumes. The school is accredited by the Supreme Court of Texas, the American Bar Association, the Texas Education Agency, and the Veterans Administration. Former deans have been Joseph C. Hutcheson, Jr., Edgar E. Townes, and John C. Jackson. G. R. Walker was dean in 1974, when student enrollment was 855 and the faculty numbered thirty-five. In 1992 William L. Wilks was president and dean. Students at the school regularly won a number of national competitions, including the American Bar Association National Moot Court Competition, during the 1980s and 1990s. Beyond courtroom training South Texas College of Law also provided training in alternative dispute resolution. South Texas is the ninth largest law school in the United States and is located on an entire city block in downtown Houston. Buildings include the South Texas College of Law Tower, the Roy and Lillie Cullen Building, and the Garland R. Walker Terrace. The campus became known as the Jesse H. Jones Legal Center at the South Texas College of Law in 1984. The school permanently houses the first and fourteenth Texas Courts of Appeals. The school also houses several independent legal institutes, including the Institute for Transnational Arbitration, the A. A. White Dispute Resolution Institute, the Legal Institute for Medical Studies, and the Texas Resource Center Capital Punishment Clinic. Coursework can be completed on a full-time or a part-time basis. In 1998 South Texas became a member of the Association of American Law Schools and signed an affiliation agreement with Texas A&M University. South Texas retained its private status. In 1999 the school broke ground for a five-story library addition, named in honor of distinguished alumnus Fred Parks. In the fall of 1999 there were 1,220 students enrolled at the school; about 70 percent attended full-time. There were fifty-four full-time faculty members and forty adjunct professors. Frank T. Read was president and dean of the school in 2001.

  • Education
  • Laws, Legislation, and Law Schools
  • Law, Law Enforcement, and Outlaws
  • Law Firms and Law Profession
Time Periods:
  • Texas in the 1920s
  • Great Depression
  • Texas Post World War II
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Nancy Young, “South Texas College of Law,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 28, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

October 27, 2017

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