Ward Farnsworth 2015-10-26 13:14:44
Our goal at Texas—and as a dean, my passion—is to set up our students for great careers in the law. The market for traditional legal jobs has become tighter in recent years, and nontraditional paths are becoming less predictable. In response, we’re focused on helping our students in three ways: preparation, mentoring, and economics. Preparation. We take pride in turning out sophisticated graduates who have high-level analytical skills. We also want to produce students who can deliver value to their employers as soon as they hit the ground. We spend a lot of time talking to those employers—firms, judges, public-interest organizations, government agencies—about how we can make our students ready to excel on arrival. One theme we hear emphasized is the value of practical experience. We work hard on that. Our school has one of the largest clinical programs in the country: 16 clinics in which our students help real clients with real problems under the supervision of talented professors. Most students take part in at least one of those clinics. They usually say it was one of the best opportunities they had in law school. We have also found increasing demand for lawyers with financial and business literacy. To help advance that cause, we’ve partnered with faculty at the McCombs School of Business at UT and are developing offerings of our own—innovative classes that prepare our students to understand their clients and their clients’ problems. Mentoring. I’m big on mentoring. As our students enter a changing profession, what I think they need more than anything is guidance from the veteran professionals in our alumni community. There is no substitute for their experience. I’ve therefore hired a director of mentoring programs to make sure those connections are available to every one of our newcomers. My vision is that when you come to UT, you aren’t just joining a community of students—you’re joining a huge and accomplished community of former students. When you need help navigating the profession, 25,000 prior graduates have your back. (If you’re an alum who wants to help in this way, please write to me.) Economics. The idea of the UT Law School has always been to provide a top-tier education and top-tier credential without putting our students into top-tier debt. It’s more important than ever in a world where few lawyers end in the same role they had when their careers started. We want our graduates to have flexibility, and flexibility is hard to maintain if you come out of school with six-figure loans to pay back. I’m happy to say that our in-state tuition is still lower, by a lot, than every other school in the top 15, and it has stayed the same for many years now. (And many of our out-of-state students are granted in-state tuition.) But it’s much higher than it used to be (currently about $33,000). The state now provides a very small share of our budget. So my highest priority is raising scholarship funds for our students. I’m asking every one of our graduates to consider the return on investment they obtained by coming to this school. For most, the return has been tremendous. And I’m asking them—here and now—to do what they can, whether a lot or a little, to keep that tradition alive by helping with our scholarship fund: the Endowment for Excellence. So far the response to this campaign has been great. Our graduates are a loyal bunch. I’ll end where I started: we specialize in listening to employers. Let me hear from you! FOUNDED 1883 ENROLLMENT 975 ANNUAL TUITION AND FEES $33,162 NUMBER OF GRADUATES IN 2000 444 NUMBER OF GRADUATES IN 2015 335 PERCENTAGE OF 2014 GRADUATES WHO HAD JOBS BY MARCH 2015 91 percent PERCENTAGE OF 2014 GRADUATES WITH FULL-TIME, J.D.-REQUIRED/J.D.-ADVANTAGE JOBS THAT WERE SUBSIDIZED BY THE LAW SCHOOL 7.6 percent AVERAGE DEBT LOAD OF A 2014 GRADUATE $74,429, an increase from 2013 WARD FARNSWORTH taught for 15 years at the Boston University School of Law, where he also served as associate dean for academic affairs, before becoming dean at the University of Texas School of Law. He teaches courses on torts, contracts, civil procedure, admiralty, and rhetoric and currently is the reporter for the American Law Institute’s Restatement (Third) Torts: Liability for Economic Harm. Farnsworth graduated with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 1994 and afterward served as a law clerk to Anthony M. Kennedy, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, and as a law clerk to Richard A. Posner, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. He has also served as legal adviser to the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal in the Hague.
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