October 15, 2013
Texas Tech University’s School of Law, consistently ranked among the top schools in the region and lauded for its student satisfaction, strong advocacy and moot court teams, and high employment rate, embraces the university’s overall commitment to diversity in higher education.
Various backgrounds bring diverse perspectives crucial to the study of law.
“We strive for diversity for its own sake,” explained Stephen Perez, assistant dean of admissions and recruitment for the law school. “We don’t have a specific program dedicated to ensuring a diverse class, but we believe it is central to the class experience to have diverse perspectives.”
The law school has boasted two of its most diverse classes in the last three years. A record 33 percent of the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 entering classes reported an ethnicity/race other than non-Hispanic or white. The female student population in the last several years has been at or near 50 percent for entering classes, and students came from a variety of countries, Perez said.
“We’re looking for folks who are academically qualified first and foremost, and from there we look at a variety of factors including work experience and life experience,” Perez said. “It’s a holistic review process and there are many differentiating factors that help us create a diverse class.”
Perez explained that when students come from different backgrounds, it benefits all students because they can bring unique outlooks crucial to the study of the law. He said the office of admissions offers travel stipends to encourage potential students to visit Lubbock and the school to see why Texas Tech is a great choice for students from varied backgrounds. Personal statements provide the admissions committee with an additional tool to understand a student’s unique perspective that makes them an attractive candidate.
“A diverse student body in a law school setting means having diversity in perspectives both in the interpretation of what the law is and what the law should be,” said Abel Villarreal Jr., president of the Hispanic Law Students Association. “Listening to other students with diverse backgrounds provides each law student with a more fruitful and complete view of the law.”
William Sanders, president of the Black Law Students Association agreed, saying that Texas Tech is clearly emphasizing issues of diversity in its admissions process.
“While there is still work to do, we are definitely heading in the right direction,” Sanders said. “Diversity is so important because it increases the educational experience by allowing us to learn from each other’s perspectives, personal values, customs and life experiences. In regards to the legal profession, diversity is important due to the significant role lawyers and judges play in creating and reforming laws, especially criminal laws, which affect minorities disproportionately.”
With the total cost for three years of law school topping $150,000 at some institutions across the country, Texas Tech is among U.S. News & World Report’s 2013 “Least Expensive Public Law Schools,” with tuition and fees of $22,518 per year for Texas residents. Low costs can help make a legal education affordable to people from many backgrounds, and Texas Tech offers a variety of loans, grants and scholarships to students who may not be able to afford the cost of tuition alone.
Not only is Texas Tech Law affordable, but with a 95.45 percent first-time pass rate, its graduates led all Texas public law schools on the February 2013 Texas Bar Examination.
“Texas Tech Law has never been more diverse than it is now,” Perez said. “It makes us proud to have students with such a variety of backgrounds and experiences representing Texas Tech.”
As part of the third annual Celebrate Diversity Awards Banquet, Texas Tech University’s Division of Institutional Diversity, Equity & Community Engagement will host broadcast journalist Soledad O’Brien. The banquet is at Oct. 16 at the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center.
The Celebrate Diversity Awards Banquet recognizes selected individuals for their work and advancement of diversity and inclusive excellence at Texas Tech. Proceeds from the banquet benefit the Celebrate Diversity Scholarship Fund.
The Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion is dedicated to create and support an environment that allows all members of the university community to be academically and professionally successful.