Representative Armando “Mando” Martinez Passes RGV Law School Bill out of Texas House

HB 103 Authorizes the Creation of a Law School in the Rio Grande Valley

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Austin, TX – State Representative Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) passed House Bill 103 out of the Texas House of Representatives. HB 103 authorizes the establishment of a law school in the Rio Grande Valley, open to any university system which desires to do so.

“The Rio Grande Valley has been neglected for decades when it comes to educational opportunities” said Representative Martinez, “It has only been through the hard work of our communities and elected officials that we have seen progress in this area. The creation of UT-RGV and its medical school, the emergence of other higher education institutions such as South Texas College, and the outstanding capabilities of our young students shows that the region has the resources to justify the creation of a law school in the Rio Grande Valley. House Bill 103 continues this progress and provides our region with another opportunity for our students to enjoy a world-class education.”

There are a number of reasons to justify the creation of a law school in the Rio Grande Valley, including a need for attorneys along the border, a lack of professional degree opportunities in the area, and the long distances to the nearest law schools. There is a disturbingly low attorney to population ratio along the border. According to the State Bar of Texas Department of Research & Analysis, the state ratio is 1 attorney for every 311 residents (1:311). In the Brownsville-Harlingen Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), that ratio is 1:736. For the McAllen-Edinburg-Mission MSA it is 1:805.

In addition to the attorney-population ratios, there is a glaring lack of professional degree opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley. UT-RGV offers 4 active doctoral programs and 2 cooperative doctoral programs. By comparison, UT-Austin offers 78 doctoral programs and Texas A&M offers 97 doctoral programs. Furthermore, the Rio Grande Valley is geographically isolated from other law schools. For a student from the Valley to attend law school, they would have to move 236 miles away to San Antonio, 305 miles away to Austin, or 341 miles away to Houston.

“HB 103 is a measured approach which will provide educational equity and address the need for professional degree opportunities in a region which has long been neglected,” stated Representative Martinez.