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Sunday, September 24, 2023

Faculty & Staff

New dean of UH law center aims to enhance school’s reputation


Leonard M. Baynes is the first black dean of the Law Center.  |  Courtesy of the UH Law Center

With a mission in mind and a plan in hand, Leonard M. Baynes hopes to keep the Law Center strong and increase its recognition as a global and national law school.

Baynes, 56,  the ninth dean of the UH Law Center, was born in New York to immigrants from the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. He will become the first black dean of the UH Law Center.

“Dean Baynes possesses a sophisticated understanding of the changing landscape of legal education, as well as the passion, energy and vision required to take our University of Houston Law Center to even greater heights,” said Renu Khator, Chancellor of the UH System and President of the UH, according to the Houston Chronicle.

“His knowledge of law and business blends perfectly with the entrepreneurial spirit of UH and the city of Houston.”

Baynes received his B.S. in finance and economics from New York University, and J.D. and M.B.A. from Columbia University. Before arriving to UH to serve as dean, Baynes served as a professor and inaugural director of the Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development at St. John’s University School of Law in New York City, which partnered with non-profits that worked with underprivileged students.

During his time at the Brown Center, Baynes brought in $1.6 million in his eight years there and negotiated reallocation of $800,000 in the school’s United Negro College Fund for use by the center.

“My goals for the law school in the next years are to stay very competitive, hire a lot faculty, and specifically distinguish ourselves from the competition,” Baynes said.

Baynes’ priorities for the law center include expanding career placement efforts, improving Law Center rankings, maintaining high admission standards, and supporting construction of a new building.

In addition to holding administrative roles, Baynes has served as chair of three committees for the Association of American Law Schools, as scholar-in-residence at the Federal Communications Commission, as in-house counsel at NYNEX Corp and as an associate at the Wall Street office of Gaston and Snow LLP.

“The positions and experiences that I held in the past lead me to know that being Dean is the next step,” Baynes said.

Baynes has written more than 25 law review articles on corporate law, communications law, and diversity, and is in the final stages of co-authoring the case book, “Telecommunications Law: Convergence and Competition,” to be published by Wolters Kluwer.

In addition, Baynes has been an expert witness at the FCC Federal Advisory Committee for Diversity in broadcast ownership. He was inducted into the Minority Media & Telecommunications Council Hall of Fame, where former FCC Commissioner and MMTC Chair Henry Rivera described Baynes as “a champion for diversity.”

“The University of Houston Law Center is the leading law school in the nation’s fourth largest city and stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the best law schools in the country for its quality of legal education and success of our alumni,” said Jarvis Hollingsworth, chairman of the Board of Regent, in the Houston Chronicle.

“Dean Baynes’ dynamic leadership will serve to enhance our relationships with alumni, members of the legal profession, the judiciary, community members, state and local government, and other external constituencies.”

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