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Tuesday, August 28, 2012

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Media Contact: Bridget Lewis, Office:817-272-3317, Cell:214-577-9094, blewis@uta.edu

The University of Texas at Arlington’s new Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center is partnering with worldwide communications giant AT&T to help prepare students for law school and the practice of law.

The center launches this fall and will offer students help with course planning, preparation for the Law School Admission Test, application to law school, mock trial experience and one-on-one mentoring from practicing attorneys.

UT Arlington alumni and supporters have raised $700,000 toward a planned $2 million endowment to sustain the center’s activities.

The Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center is expected to serve 200 students a year. The departments of Political Science, History, Criminology and Criminal Justice and Philosophy each offer a pre-law concentration within the College of Liberal Arts. But the new center will be open to all UT Arlington students.

AT&T has agreed to identify 24 staff attorneys who will serve as mentors for the new center during the 2012-13 academic year. The Dallas-based company plans to transport two groups of UT Arlington students to Dallas for a tour of corporate headquarters this fall and spring.

Juanita Dorsey Harris, an AT&T attorney, is coordinating the mentoring program on behalf of her company. She said that corporate mentors understand the importance of  “reaching back into the community to encourage others.”

“I stand on the shoulders of those who encouraged and supported me on my journey toward a career as an attorney, and I am honored to reach out to lend a helping hand to others making that same journey,” Harris said.

AT&T’s decision to partner with The University of Texas at Arlington followed a meeting last spring between students interested in law and UT Arlington alumnus Wayne Watts, who leads the company’s corporate legal team as general counsel and senior executive vice president. Watts also serves on the UT Arlington Development Board.

Elisabeth Cawthon, an associate professor of history and interim director of the Pre-Law Center, attended that meeting. Watts walked away impressed by the articulate and thoughtful students, she said.

“Wayne shared his story of growing up in Oak Cliff, putting himself through school and becoming a first-generation college student,” Cawthon said. “He appreciates the benefit that diversity, both racial and economic background, can bring.”

AT&T legal staff will take part in the Pre-Law Center’s “Meet and Greet” scheduled for noon, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2012, in University Hall, Room 002, 601 S. Nedderman Drive.

Beth Wright, dean of the UT Arlington College of Liberal Arts, said the new center will serve the strong interest in social justice among many students, adding: “Many students come to learn that a knowledge of law can serve them well whether they have a background in liberal arts disciplines, in business, science or engineering.” 

Harris said: “Programs such as the UTA Pre-Law Center mentoring program are extremely helpful in exposing students to the various careers that are available to them.”

For more information about the UT Arlington Pre-Law and Legal Studies Center, please visit www.uta.edu/prelaw. Attorneys who are interested in contributing or donating professionally may contact Elisabeth Cawthon by email at cawthon2@uta.edu.

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 33,500 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.

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The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.

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