Outside and in-house counsel are investing in initiatives that provide attorneys with experience teaching at a law school and that mentor undergraduates who may attend law school.

The University of Houston Law Center, with support from Houston-based Andrews Kurth, has launched the Andrews Kurth Energy Law Scholars program to encourage scholarship in energy and environmental law. Over the next three years, five lawyers with energy and environmental experience will teach a class at the law school and “devote time to research, writing and other scholarly pursuits,” the law center announced recently in a press release.

“What we are trying to do is provide a way for people who are interested in getting into law teaching to have the opportunity to be able to research and write with the assistance of faculty members who specialize in their area, to get some experience teaching, and then go on the market,” says Richard Alderman, associate dean at the law school.

Three of the lawyers came to the law school this fall, and two others will arrive next fall. According to the UH Law Center press release, the scholars on board this fall are Julian Cardenas Garcia, a Venezuelan attorney and former doctoral research fellow at the French Center of International Trade and Investment Law; Susan D. Maples, a graduate of Columbia Law School who is a former natural resources adviser to the president of Liberia; and Susan Sakmar, an author and former adjunct professor at the University of San Francisco Law School.

In 2013, Justin Dargin, a doctoral candidate at the University of Oxford and a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, and Monika Ehrman will come to the UH law school for the program, according to the press release. Ehrman is general counsel at Ceres Resource Partners in Dallas.

Alderman says each lawyer will spend two years at the law center. He says the scholars will devote their first semester at the law school to research, and then each will teach a class for three semesters.

Andrews Kurth managing partner Bob Jewell did not return a telephone call seeking comment, but he writes in a press release that “Houston is synonymous with energy” and the firm is proud to partner with the law school on the program.

Pre-Law Program

AT&T has partnered with the University of Texas at Arlington’s pre-law program to provide opportunities for undergraduates to meet and work with the company’s in-house lawyers. During the 2012-2013 academic year, 24 AT&T staff attorneys will serve as mentors for UT-Arlington’s new Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center.

AT&T general counsel and senior executive vice president Wayne Watts says his Dallas-based company plans to provide buses to bring UT-Arlington students to Dallas for a tour of its corporate headquarters this fall and spring. He says the program will be a success “if we can help get some of these students into law school.”

Watts notes that the UT-Arlington campus has a diverse student population and AT&T’s participation will contribute to developing “a diversity pipeline” to ensure students with varied backgrounds enter law school.

After visiting with the people who planned the Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center, Watts says, “I could see me sitting in that room, as the first one in my family to go to college, and then the first one to go to law school, and I thought we can make this a little bit easier.”

Watts, a UT-Arlington graduate, says the company’s participation is not that costly in terms of money.

“It’s more about the time and effort,” he says.