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University of Houston Law Center Professor Michael A. Olivas, a Mexican-American, has been a thorn in the side of law schools nationwide for the past 15 years. That’s when he started the “Dirty Dozen List.” In 1982 he was just out of law school and a new professor in Houston when he began poking through the Association of American Law Schools faculty registry, looking for other Hispanic law professors. “I would look through all the names at the schools and it became clear to me after a while,” he says. “There was just nobody out there.” Four years later, in 1986, he decided to create a demand for Hispanic faculty by pointing out schools that had none. His idea was to publish an annual “Dirty Dozen List.” Since then, the number of Hispanics teaching law nationwide has risen from only 22 when he began teaching to 150 today. Olivas has also gained notoriety for his lectures delivered karaoke-style, with lyrics that chastise law schools for their lack of Hispanic professors. For lyrics, he uses the reasons cited by the deans for not having more Hispanic professors. But the fun often stops when the song is over — Olivas has taken a lot of professional grief for being so outspoken. He says it has certainly affected his professional mobility and realizes he would not be welcome at many of the schools he’s criticized. “I’ve had deans contact my dean to call me off,” he says. “I’ve received letters and e-mails that were dreadful. I won’t name a name, but a [former] dean in a Texas law school … once told me that his job was to produce Mexican-American faculty so that others could hire them.” Olivas says the former Texas dean’s comment is the first of his three favorite reasons law schools give for not hiring Hispanic professors. The other two reasons are: “I can’t get Latinos to move to the Midwest” and “I had one back in (pick a year) and she didn’t work out.” “Every time I see Michael I greet him with ‘Godfather’ or ‘Padrino,’ ” says David Lopez, associate dean at St. Mary’s University School of Law and a Mexican-American. “ He has done more than anybody to diversify law faculties, at least with respect to Latinos.” ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE Every fall Olivas published a list affectionately called the “Dirty Dozen,” but last year marked the end of this notorious missive. This year, he will issue a more benign “Report Card.” Why abandon the “Dirty Dozen List”? For Olivas, it just seemed time to start accentuating the positive. “We are no longer singling out just the schools that do badly but also schools that do well,” he says. “We decided to make it more comprehensive, declare victory and go home.” The new report card will be posted on Web sites and listservs and appear in the September 2001 Hispanic National Bar Association newsletter, Noticias. But Olivas is not just another law school critic with a pen and a modem connection. He is also a man of action, working tirelessly with the schools to help them integrate Hispanics into their faculty. During the past 15 years Olivas has been something of a liaison between Hispanic lawyers looking for teaching jobs and law schools looking to hire new professors. At his own expense, he provides the schools with packets of r�sum�s, articles on recruiting and other materials that will help them attract Hispanics. He also maintains correspondence with all 150 Hispanic law professors throughout the country. Any school that asks for the information gets it — they need only place a call to Olivas. He’ll find someone and do it for free. George A. Martinez, a professor of law at SMU, considers Olivas a mentor, having helped Martinez get his teaching positions. He believes Olivas is nationally revered. “He’s helped so many Latinos obtain teaching positions and has encouraged them once they’ve gotten positions,” Martinez says. “He is considered the dean of Latino law professors.” “I’m not sure anything I’ve done has been out of the ordinary,” says Olivas. “I do this as a service, duty and as a labor of love. I was just willing to throw my body on the barbed wire so others could pass over it.”

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