Say it ain’t so- is nepotism, cronyism and favoritism alive and well in the state of Texas!? Were students admitted that had no business being admitted to one of the top law schools in the state – our very own UT Law? The evidence suggests so.
Information has surfaced that some of the students had the worst test scores, worst grades and may not even have been able to pass the bar.
An organization known as watchdog.org stumbled upon a pattern of lawmakers and other connected persons securing admissions to UT Law for students that other by using normal objective admittance guidelines would have sent to a lot less prestigious school. Watchdog started by looking to the February Texas Bar Exam results, which oddly placed TOP law school UT last in the state in passage at 59 percent, and then looked back at those who failed more than once. Looking at the 90 UT grads failing more than once, Watchdog isolated 24:
- At least 15 of the students are politically connected, either through office, personal relationships, or campaign donations to officeholders who have figured in the fight over UT’s leadership.
- At least 12 of the students have roots in Laredo, home of state Sen. Judith Zaffirini, who is known to have pulled strings on behalf of other applicants. As Laredo has just 2 percent of the state’s population, it’s highly over represented in this sample.
- A half-dozen of the students have connections to state Rep. Joe Straus, his close allies, or a lobby shop that rose to prominence with Straus’s ascendance to speaker in 2009.
- Two of the students are known to have LSAT scores well below UT standards. James Ryan Pitts, son of House Appropriations Committee Chairman Jim Pitts, has now failed the bar exam three times since graduation after scoring a 155 and a 147 on the LSAT, which is scored on a scale of 120 to 180. Those scores rank in the 64th percentile and 33rd percentile nationwide, and are well below the scores in the mid-160s that UT usually requires.
- Another 2012 graduate with three LSAT scores in the 140s failed the bar exam twice, but because we don’t yet have scores for most of these students, we’re not singling her out and naming her.
Watchdog goes on to point out that some of the persons with piss poor performance WERE LEGISLATORS OR THEIR STAFFERS:
Two recent UT Law grads already were elected officials when they were admitted.
State Rep. Richard Peña Raymond, like [Sen. Judith] Zaffirini a Democrat from Laredo [Watchdog singles out Zaffirini as the connection that comes up most often in its probe], who was first elected in 1992, failed the bar exam in 2007 and 2008, and is not a member of the Texas bar.
State Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, first elected in 2002, failed the bar three times between 2010 and 2012, and is not a member of the bar, either. One of Rodriguez’s senior staffers, also a UT Law grad, failed the bar three times between 2009 and 2010.
What really bothers me about this is what bothers me about all schools that admit students that are unqualified. Many qualified students were not given the opportunity to study at these schools- which carry with them a certain amount of prestige and honor for their graduates. Often these are school, like UT law that churn out excellent graduates that go on to become titans in their industry.
I will not argue with anyone that UT law is not a good school – I believe it is a great school. But this is all tainted, as many of the ivy league schools in other parts of the country have been, for the favoritism they allow to take place in admitted a portion of their students.