X

Thank you for sharing!

Your article was successfully shared with the contacts you provided.
In William C. Powers Jr., the University of Texas School of Law may have found the ultimate insider. The law school last week continued its long history of promoting from within by naming Powers dean. He will take over in September when Mike Sharlot steps down. Powers not only has the support of faculty, students and alumni, but also has many friends in high places, including Lt. Gov. Rick Perry and Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Phillips. Powers says law school deans don’t go to the legislature on funding issues — that’s up to the university central administration — but his ties to Perry and other top lawmakers has to be a plus for the law school. He has advised legislators on lawsuit reform over the years. When Texans for Public Justice attacked the Supreme Court two years ago for allegedly taking money from lawyers and parties with cases before the court, Phillips asked Powers to prepare a chart concerning 138 cases decided by the court. The information was used by accountants Faske, Lay & Co. in a report that showed that Phillips voted against his contributors more than half the time. Powers, who had several cases pending at the court in 1998, says he doesn’t think there was any conflict of interest in helping Phillips. He also assisted Phillips this year in setting up a seminar at the law school when the National Conference of Chief Justices held its annual meeting in Austin. Along with Phillips and five other Supreme Court justices, Powers is a member of the American Law Institute. He has been working on a project analyzing apportionment of liability. Just five years ago, Powers, an expert in torts, was considered too defense-oriented in his ideology for some members of the plaintiffs bar. He dropped out of the running for dean in 1995 amid complaints by a handful of influential alumni. Powers, who became of counsel to Houston appellate boutique Hogan Dubose & Townsend in 1998, says he represents plaintiffs in about half of the cases he handles. On May 24, he argued before Texas’s 3rd Court of Appeals in Austin on behalf of the parents of a boy who died from a reaction to a prescription drug. Anyway, says Powers, he plans to cut back dramatically or eliminate his outside work. He says he wouldn’t want to be involved in any controversial cases, but he mainly wants to devote all of his energies to being dean. “Being the dean is a challenging and time-consuming job,” he says. Powers, who has been at the law school for 23 years, says he also will have to cut back on teaching, an area where he has received the highest honors. He has been recognized for his classroom talents by appointment to the Academy of Distinguished Teachers. But other than an occasional seminar, Powers says he’ll have to spend his time being an administrator. Powers says his priorities will include continuing efforts to diversify the student body and faculty. The law school has slowly been building back its numbers of African-American and Mexican-American students after the 1996 Hopwood ruling ended affirmative-action admissions. In 1997, the law school was the center of a firestorm when Professor Lino Graglia said some minority cultures don’t encourage achievement. Most faculty members signed a letter criticizing Graglia’s comments, but Powers did not. “As much as I disagreed with his comments, people have a right to express their opinions,” Powers says. Another challenge facing Powers is a perception that the law school isn’t the most hospitable place for women faculty. That perception has been fueled by a series of tenure denials leading to a relatively low number of women professors. It could receive further discussion by the recent publication of an anonymous satire about UT Law faculty politics in the UCLA Women’s Law Journal. Sheldon Ekland-Olson, the UT Austin executive vice president and provost who appointed Powers, says in a press release that “there are clear indications that a strong faculty recruitment initiative, including enhanced representation of women, is needed.” “We need to make it a high, high priority to attract women to the faculty,” Powers says. Powers, a Harvard Law School graduate, says he thinks he will be an effective fund-raiser because of his ties to alumni through law school activities and work on cases. “I know our alumni and that’s an asset for the dean,” he says. Powers will earn $185,000 and an additional $15,000 from the endowed chair he holds. He says the Law School Foundation will provide a salary supplement that is yet to be determined.

This content has been archived. It is available exclusively through our partner LexisNexis®.

To view this content, please continue to Lexis Advance®.

Not a Lexis Advance® Subscriber? Subscribe Now

Why am I seeing this?

LexisNexis® is now the exclusive third party online distributor of the broad collection of current and archived versions of ALM's legal news publications. LexisNexis® customers will be able to access and use ALM's content by subscribing to the LexisNexis® services via Lexis Advance®. This includes content from the National Law Journal®, The American Lawyer®, Law Technology News®, The New York Law Journal® and Corporate Counsel®, as well as ALM's other newspapers, directories, legal treatises, published and unpublished court opinions, and other sources of legal information.

ALM's content plays a significant role in your work and research, and now through this alliance LexisNexis® will bring you access to an even more comprehensive collection of legal content.

For questions call 1-877-256-2472 or contact us at [email protected]

 
 

ALM Legal Publication Newsletters

Sign Up Today and Never Miss Another Story.

As part of your digital membership, you can sign up for an unlimited number of a wide range of complimentary newsletters. Visit your My Account page to make your selections. Get the timely legal news and critical analysis you cannot afford to miss. Tailored just for you. In your inbox. Every day.

Copyright © 2020 ALM Media Properties, LLC. All Rights Reserved.