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UNT Law School Gets Hearing

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert
Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert

By Shelley Kofler, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-824202.mp3

Dallas, TX – Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert and UNT Chancellor Lee Jackson have spent the past two days testifying at the state capitol. KERA's Shelley Kofler reports they're asking lawmakers to approve the creation of the University of North Texas law school in downtown Dallas.

North Texas has two private law schools, at SMU in Dallas and Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth. But it's the largest urban area in the country without a more affordable, public law school. Two years ago the legislature came close to approving the University of North Texas law school in downtown Dallas. But a nasty squabble between area legislators shot down the bill.

Now the region is trying again, with a measure sponsored by influential Dallas lawmakers, Senator Royce West and Representative Dan Branch. At a Wednesday hearing before a House committee chaired by Branch, Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert talked about why a law school in the city's old municipal building makes a lot of sense.

Leppert: It takes a building that's in need of renovation. Breathes new life into the building. Enhances the downtown. Expands educational opportunities for students. And creates an asset for the future and the entire region.

Rep. Branch's bill proposes the state spend about $8.5 million over the next two years to get hire staff and begin building a library. If approved the UNT law school in Dallas could accept its first students as early as 2011.

Send E-mail to Shelley Kofler