UNT Dallas College of Law announced a historic gift to its Law Library today in Austin, Texas, at a luncheon honoring former Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Jackson (“Jack”) Pope. Justice Pope donated his personal law library to the new public law school, which will enroll its first class in Fall 2014. Justice Pope’s donation includes signed copies of his personal set of Southwest Reporters covering the 35 years during which he served on the Court of Appeals and on the Texas Supreme Court.
Royal Furgeson, founding Dean of UNT Dallas College of Law, hosted the luncheon in honor of Justice Pope. Other attendees included Nathan Hecht, current Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court, Wallace Jefferson, who recently retired as Chief Justice, and Thomas Phillips, who also served as Chief Justice. Together, these four men served in the role of Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court from 1982 to the present, a period of 31 years.
“UNT Dallas College of Law, as the newest public law school in the State, is especially honored to receive this generous gift from Justice Pope, who served the people of Texas as judge longer than any Texas jurist in history,” said Furgeson in his comments. Noting Justice Pope’s pioneering role in establishing judicial ethics codes as well as his creation of a method for providing funding for legal services for the poor in Texas, Dean Furgeson stated that “our law school hopes to show its gratitude through our commitment to professional formation and to access to justice.”
Pope served as the twenty-third chief justice from 1982-1985, crowning a long and distinguished career of law practice and judicial service. A graduate of Abilene Christian College and University of Texas School of Law, Pope was first licensed to practice law on June 7, 1937. He began his career in Corpus Christi, Texas, in private practice. During World War II, as the father of two young children, he was exempted from military service; nonetheless, he enlisted in the Naval Reserve and served for the final two years of the war. He returned briefly to private practice before his first appointment in 1946 to the civil court of the 94th District. He went on to serve on the Court of Civil Appeals and then was first elected to the Supreme Court of Texas in 1964. He was appointed Chief Justice in 1982 by Governor William P. Clements and served until his retirement in 1985. During his thirty-eight year judicial career, he was the author of over 1,100 opinions. After his retirement, Justice Pope was a founding member of the Texas Center for Legal Ethics, as well as the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society.
Justice Pope signed the original Texas Supreme Court order that created the IOLTA program, a method for providing funding for legal services for the poor from interest on lawyers’ trust accounts. In May 2013, Governor Perry signed the Jack Pope law, which raised the level of IOLTA funds that can be transferred for legal services.
Also attending the event from UNT Dallas College of Law were Ellen S. Pryor, Professor and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, and Edward T. Hart, Assistant Professor and Assistant Dean for Law Library. “This personal and signed collection from Justice Pope has special meaning for a new, 21st century law school library,” said Professor Hart. “While technological and digital advancements have greatly altered tools and techniques for finding and using information, this collection represents what remains essential to law and lawyering, including the common law process, the civil justice system, and principled judging.”
UNT Dallas College of Law is a new public law school located in downtown Dallas, in a recently renovated historic building. Authorized by the legislature in 2009, the College of Law is now accepting applications for the inaugural law class, which will be seated in fall 2014.
UNT Dallas College of Law will provide: a legal education that is aimed at excellence in developing the full range of practice-related competencies; be a leader in best practices for legal education; widen access to legal education for qualifying students who lack realistic access due to cost, location, or the current dominance of the LSAT in admission and scholarship decisions; create opportunity through affordable tuition; and contribute to the legal profession and the Dallas-Fort Worth community. UNT Dallas College of Law is part of the UNT System.