UH Ready for Legal Action over South Texas College of Law’s Houston Rebranding

UH READY FOR LEGAL ACTION OVER SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW’S HOUSTON REBRANDING University of Houston Law Center, Third Ward, Houston, 77004“It has come to the University of Houston’s attention that South Texas College of Law has announced that it is changing its name to Houston College of Law. . . . The University of Houston is concerned about the significant confusion this creates in the marketplace and will take any and all appropriate legal actions to protect the interests of our institution, our brand, and our standing in the communities we serve.” [University of Houston; previously on Swamplot] Photo of University of Houston Law Center: Douglas R.

31 Comment

  • So….there was no communication between the two about the imminent name change? No forewarning that a name change was being considered? That seems short-sighted. Especially when the person you will potentially piss off is a lawyer. Seems like the midnight rollout of the new name, logos and all was done quickly on purpose – to try to ramrod the change in the face of expected opposition.

  • Wow UH seems pretty defensive right now (going against UT and now this). I guess they think they own the city now?

  • UH is right to sue them. This will be very confusing for people outside the legal industry, and a constant point of clarification for people within it. “U of Houston or Houston College?”

    I always thought the historical name have an otherwise bottom tier law school some credibility as an “institution.” But, if you abandon the name which dates back to when Houston was “South Texas,” then you become just another low tier JD mill, wantonly tossing graduates into a world of very little legal work.

  • *gave, not have

  • I suggest this school conflict be settled in a suitably Texan manner — on the grassy gridiron. And no, UH doesn’t get to send in their undergraduates.

  • STCL’s precipitate action was intended to be a fait accompli. Will be interesting to see how this plays out.

  • If a court action does come to pass, it would be great if the Court enters an order that limits each side to counsel that graduated from each institution – no sneaking in UT, Harvard or Stanford graduates! Partisans could then dress in school colors (although it looks like South Texas, er, Houston College may be trying to horn in on the red and white, also) to cheer on their respective institution. Good Texas legal fun!

  • UH having an issue with the new name and pursuing legal action, really? It’s not like the STCL changed their name to Houston University Law. And UH doesn’t have our city’s named trademarked with a school’s name?Does the proximity to each school really matter? I’ve never seen road signs for the “new” college, but granted there’s minimal road signs for UH.

    If UH really has an issue with the name, why they have allowed UH- Downtown to co-exist? They’re separate colleges with a trivial link.

    In my humble opinion, UH has too much funds in the coffer. They’re fighting this issue and one with UT. Thye’re on a building spree; not just with academic facilities (football stadium, basketball arena overhaul) but academic buildings (mall-like student center, etc.).

    Going back to the name dispute, curious to see when UH gives up.

  • I don’t know if UH Law Center wants to go toe to toe with Houston College of Law (formerly South Texas College of Law) in court . Houston College produces the best trail lawyers in the country.

  • Brian, though STCL-HCL is ranked lower than UHLC, it’s hardly bottom-tier. STCL-HCL has a well-respected clinical program that prepares lawyers for a quick path to the courtroom upon passing the bar. Higher rated law schools tend to have a more academic than practical bent, corresponding with higher LSAT scores of their incoming students. I remember a phrase from my law school days “the A students become professors, the B students judges and the C students make $1M”.

    BTW, if STCL-HCL is bottom-tier, where does that leave TSU?

  • Ooops – my comment was directed at Observer, not Brian

  • although some fine trial lawyers come out of South Texas, the quality of the students across the board are not considered anywhere near the same as UH. I think the new name is confusing, so I would try to block it. Although lawyers will say they went to UH, it’s not uncommon for someone to just say they went to Houston. They won’t be able to do that anymore. (Frankly, I think we’re kidding ourselves if we don’t think South Texas is trying to trade off the UH name.)

  • UH has a top rated intellectual property program. I am sure the Dean’s inbox lit up with emails from alums offering to take a pro bono swipe at Stickle.
    I think this goes back to the failed attempt to associate with Texas A&M. Stickle has always been trying to get out of the role as the fallback school for people who do not get in to the ranked law schools. The trial advocacy program is no longer as attractive now that we have such extensive tort reform and alternative dispute resolution has significantly reduced the amount of trial work. Then, Texas A&M took over the Texas Wesleyan School of Law and scuttled any chance of Stickle being branded with collies and gigems.
    With no big university suitor left to marry, Stickle decided to rebrand. It is a bit silly to think that it will change anything after the school has been Stickle since 1923. It may alienate alums. I know old UH alums who still put Bates College of Law on their CVs.

  • @ Cynic

    The saying: “the A students become professors, the B students judges and the C students make $1M” had been since you went to law school. It is now:

    “A students get jobs, B students are unemployed, C students fail the bar repeatedly until they give up”

  • The University of Houston Law Center has spent a long time building an excellent reputation while South Texas has continued to operate as a JD mill, accepting anyone who applies. This is clearly an effort to confuse people between the two. UT would do the same thing if South Texas had changed their name to Texas College of Law at Houston.

  • @ Oldschool

    If you recall, it was STCL that turned down A&M’s offer to affiliate. And who would blame them? It would have only hurt STCL’s reputation.

  • First, I’m not a lawyer so I don’t have a dog in this hunt. But, I think STCL (I’m not calling it by its new name) is in the wrong for trying to cozy its name up to a rising UH entity. The University’s College of Law is well-regarded and turns out well-trained lawyers. STCL’s students seem to do well in moot court from my prior knowledge so they seem to also turn out well-trained lawyers.
    All in all, if both produce well-trained lawyers, why does STCL need to skooch over to make it sound like they are the University of Houston’s law school?

  • @Major Market,
    I’d assume the timing has to do with Houston’s growing credibility in recent years and trying to hitch a ride on the cities name for better branding and recruiting purposes. As everyone has mentioned, I can’t imagine law schooIs will be a growth business again for a long time so now is as good of a time as any to sharpen the knives and go fight for some more market share. Going to get a lot worse before it gets better.
    I know anything starting off with “South Texas’ would be automatic pass for me and Houston’s in East Texas anyhow.

  • @blake.
    UH does go after individuals that go to UHD that try to make it sound like they went to UH. As I understand it, it’s mostly the staff they had problems with, but I could see where students would want to do this too.

  • Correct me if i’m wrong, but doesn’t STCL have a large night school program geared towards more mature students who have a full time job, and can only work toward their JD on a part time basis?
    Though the usage of “South Texas” today tends to indicate for many San Antonio and points South, I find it odd that a 90 year old institution sought to re-brand themselves overnight without a whiff of this getting into the local media ahead of time. And, no, UH does not own the rights to “Houston”, but they do have a case when you follow the name Houston with verbiage about a college or academic program. That said, did you know that the University of Kentucky actually has trademark rights to the usage of the word “Kentucky”?

  • @Bama: I am not sure who ultimately pulled the plug. The problem was that they ran afoul with the Texas Higher Education Board when they jumped the gun on renaming the school. They were never able to come up with a public/private partnership deal that could get through the politics of the state regulator. But then the Texas Wesleyan deal went through the process like a hot knife through butter.
    But the sting of losing that deal and the rapidly changing legal market has been cause for the soul searching at Stickle. Stickle dropped out of the US News rankings, but TAMU Law is making progress and UH has also moved up recently. And with recent news of students suing law schools after they failed to get work after graduation, Stickle faces a lot of challenges going forward as a wider net law school that is focused on trial lawyers in a market where fewer and fewer lawyers are trying cases.

  • Solution: close south Texas college of law. Too many lawyers not enough work. Kind of pointless to keep going. Why are we really keeping all these law schools open. Eliminate STCL and TSU. Eliminate Wesleyan. Make Texas tech students practice law in west Texas or NM only.

  • South Texas and Texas A & M – Public-Private Legal Snafu (and peripheral confusion issues)

    “The Court notes that South Texas College of Law and Texas A & M University have continued to act under the Affiliation Agreement throughout this litigation as though the validity of the agreement were not in question. Yet, filing of this suit clearly establishes that South Texas College of Law recognizes that questions about the validity of the agreement exist, and Texas A & M University is clearly aware of its own lengthy history of unsuccessful bids to obtain authority for a law school. Texas A & M University may not obtain by private contract what has been denied it through proper regulatory and legislative channels. The Affiliation Agreement is in direct conflict with the statutory scheme set out in the Texas Education Code and the public policy regarding higher education embodied in that scheme and would render the role of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board meaningless. The Affiliation Agreement also purports to bind Texas A & M University to an exclusive relationship with South Texas College of Law that further treads on the authority of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board during the pendency of the agreement.”

    In re SOUTH TEXAS COLLEGE OF LAW and Texas A & M University, Relators. 4 S.W.3d 219 (1999)
    Read the rest here, if interested:
    https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=9235085034040399004&q=%22South+Texas+School+of+Law%22&hl=en&as_sdt=4,44 http://www.search.txcourts.gov/Case.aspx?cn=99-0830&coa=cossup (Tex. Sup. Ct. docket)
    http://www.search.txcourts.gov/Case.aspx?cn=01-0303&coa=cossup (docket)

  • Essay question: Compare and contrast Baylor College of Medicine, Baylor University and Baylor University Medical Center. Extra credit for explaining their religious affiliations and identifying the cities in which they are located.

  • Listening to you guys argue about who has the best lawschool in Houston is like arguing about who has the best football team in Canada.

  • @Cad, all the Baylor entities were originally funded by the Baylor family. The case of the many Baylors has nothing to do with this.

    @Ection, UH is the best law school in Houston. There’s really no reasonable way to argue otherwise. The issue is about STCL trading in on UH’s reputation. It would be so easy to do something like South Texas College of Law at Houston, but that would make too much sense.

  • @Observer And I’m sure there’s a best football team in Canada. But no one cares.

  • Yeah? Well, you know, that’s just like, your opinion, man.

  • @Mr Ection – I’m not sure I understand your point. Certainly people reading a Houston blog would be interested to know that entrance standards at one local law school are vastly higher. It certainly matters to grads of the more difficult law school that people know it was a difficult to enter school and not a JD mill. My god, what happens when Texas Southern with its 20 last point discrepancy changes their name too. You literally only need to be able to spell your own name to get admitted to TSU. Will they be able to trade in on the UH reputation also?

  • *LSAT not last

  • Lawyers are some of the most elitist people in the world when it comes to pedigree. Want to know the difference between 50th and 100th ranked in the high end legal world? There isn’t one. I’ve seen 2 incredibly highly qualified UH lawyers get rejected from our legal department, which is an IP department, and the only reason was their pedigree.
    I’m not saying it’s fair. I’m not saying it’s right. In fact I think it’s idiotic and it’s one more strike on my list for why I don’t like lawyers. But lawyers are snobs like no one else.
    Which is pretty hilarious for a 3 year degree. Fastest “doctorate” in the world.