The School of Law, then the Department of Law, opened along with the Department of Literature, Science, and Arts in 1883. The two departments occupied one building until the session of 1908-1909, when the Law Building was completed. This building served the needs of the School of Law until the completion in 1953 of Townes Hall, named for Judge John Charles Townes, dean of the school from 1907 through 1923. The enrollment, about six hundred in 1953, increased each year thereafter, necessitating additions to Townes Hall in 1964 and 1980. The 1980 addition is named Jesse H. Jones Hall in honor of the Houston philanthropist. These two connected buildings house the Tarlton Law Library/Joseph D. Jamail Center for Legal Research, the Stephen D. Susman Academic Center, and classrooms, offices, and support facilities for the faculty, staff, and students of the School of Law. The John B. Connally Center for the Administration of Justice, completed in 2000, houses a working courtroom and some of the finest facilities in the country for clinical education and advocacy skills training. All law school classrooms are equipped with modern educational technology.
The Tarlton Law Library/Jamail Center for Legal Research supports the research and curricular needs of the students and faculty of the School of Law, as well as the research needs of the University community, members of the bar, and the public. The highly qualified library staff provides reference services, offers individual and group instruction, and maintains and organizes the collection for efficient use. Lawyer-librarians teach advanced legal research in a range of topics, such as criminal justice, Texas law, corporate and securities law, and foreign and international law.
The Tarlton Law Library is one of the largest academic law libraries in the country, with a physical collection of more than a million volumes and extensive electronic resources. In addition to a comprehensive collection of United States primary and secondary legal materials in print and digital formats, Tarlton has a broad interdisciplinary collection from the social sciences and humanities. Special collections at Tarlton include significant foreign and international law resources; the papers of former United States Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark; feature films and fiction related to law and popular culture; and the Gavel Archive, a collection of feature films, TV shows, fiction related to law and popular culture, and all candidates for and winners of the American Bar Association’s prestigious Silver Gavel Award. Tarlton is a depository for United States, European Union, and Canadian government documents. Its exceptional collection of rare and antiquarian law books includes noted collections of early legal dictionaries, Texas law, and the works of John Selden.
The library offers law student access to BloombergLaw, LexisNexis, and Westlaw, the major online legal research services. Computers, a building-wide wireless network, printers, and scanners are available for law student use. The facility has group study rooms and a student lounge, and tables, carrels, and comfortable seating throughout. The Tarlton Law Library website offers online resources and finding aids, including digital collections highlighting Texas legal history and law school traditions.
Students in the School of Law also have access to the resources of the University Libraries, the Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center. Along with the Tarlton Law Library, these libraries constitute one of the largest academic library groups in the United States. Located across the street from the law school are the Nettie Lee Benson Latin American Collection and the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum. The Texas State Library, the State Law Library, and the Legislative Reference Library, all located in the state capitol complex, are also open to law students.