Leppert, Branch, West and Jackson Pitch the Downtown Law School: "Do It for Jimmy."

Another sneak peek at the exterior of the Municipal Building, should it become the University of North Texas law school in 2012
Another sneak peek at the exterior of the Municipal Building, should it become the University of North Texas law school in 2012

As the University of North Texas Law College -- or UNT at Dallas College of Law, whatever it's going to be called -- inches closer toward becoming a reality in the old Municipal Building downtown, its supporters are working overtime to get the entire state Legislature behind the idea. Which is why tomorrow's Austin American-Statesman will carry this op-ed by its four biggest proponents: Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert; state Senator Royce West; state Rep. Dan Branch, author of H.B. 59; and former Dallas County Judge Lee Jackson, chancellor of the University of North Texas System.

And why do they care so? Meet Jimmy.

Jimmy, a disabled Army veteran who served in Bosnia, dreams of becoming a lawyer "to help as many people as possible."

But Jimmy, a 36-year-old paralegal in Addison, is not your traditional law school applicant. His wife has an established career as an accountant, and the couple supports his disabled mother-in-law in Wylie.

To attend law school, Jimmy would rely on the Hazlewood Act, which provides educational benefits to honorably discharged Texans. However, the program is only available for public institutions, and North Texas lacks a public law school.

The Legislature has the power to change the ending to Jimmy's story and help other students who have put legal education plans on hold. Now is the time to create the UNT at Dallas College of Law.


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