Baylor's Umphrey Law Center 'A Good Model' For Japanese Visitors

  • News Photo 573
    View of the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center from the Brazos River.
  • News Photo 574
    Aerial view of the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center.
  • News Photo 572
    The Kronzer Appellate Advocacy Courtroom
Sept. 9, 2002

by Alan Hunt

A group of law professors, administrators and architects from a Japanese university will be taking a look at Baylor University's new $33 million Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center on Sunday, Sept. 15.

The five visitors, from Seinan Gakuin University, Fukuoka, Japan, are touring a select list of law schools in the U.S. and Canada in preparation for the building of a new law center at their own institution, said Professor William R. Trail, chairman of Baylor Law School's building committee. "Apparently, they are interested in seeing our classrooms, law library area, computer laboratories, lounge and other facilities."

Trail said the other law schools the group will visit include New York University, Columbia University, Harvard University, Boston University, and the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. "They are touring some very high-profile law schools - Baylor among them," said Trail.

In correspondence with Trail, Kazutake Okuma, a law professor at Seinan Gakuin University, said the Japanese legal education system is being restructured to provide law schools along the lines of U.S. law schools. He described Baylor's new 128,000-square-foot law school as "a good model for us."

Okuma spent a year at Baylor Law School in 1998-99 as a visiting professor, teaching International Commercial Transactions and Comparative Law. He also taught Legal Aspects of International Business at the Hankamer School of Business. Shortly before returning to Japan, he attended groundbreaking ceremonies in 1999 for the new Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center. Trail said Okuma will not be among the visiting group, which will be led by Professor Mamoru Koga, professor of international law.

The Japanese visitors will meet Trail and other members of the Baylor Law School building committee at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday. The five-member building committee supervised the design and construction of the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center. Planning for the new building started in 1994 and construction got underway in the fall of 1999. The first classes were held at the law center on Aug. 27 last year.

The building, which contains more than 30 miles of computer wiring, ranks among the nation's finest law school facilities with state-of-the-art classrooms, courtrooms, law library facilities, computer labs, seminar and meeting rooms, faculty and administrative offices, and common areas.

For more information, call Trail at 710-6588.

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