Text title treatment: Dialogue with the Deans

Law School

Brad Toben, Dean & the M.C. & Mattie Caston Chair of Law


What is the greatest challenge or opportunity that students in Baylor's Law School will face, and how is Baylor preparing them to face/address it?

Legal education and the profession are not going to go back to their pre-Great Recession conformation. Changes in the infrastructure of the profession, including technology, global-based outsourcing, the development of internet legal services vendors, the growing treatment of legal services as price sensitive commodities, and the broad deregulation of the legal profession in the global market are market drivers for the future. These factors will create the new normal. All this said, what counts is where we are going and how we frame the opportunities and challenges before our program. We are making sure that our students understand shifts in the profession, and, most important, we tweak and adjust our curricular program to make sure that they will have the skill sets that will serve them and those they serve well in a fluid market.

What do you hope students in the Law School gain during their time at Baylor?

My colleagues work to instill in our students that they will be professionals who will be doing the work of lawyers, which is at the base line solving problems that people cannot solve themselves. Those problems my involve any of a number of dimensions of the client's life--family interests, business interests, financial interests and even one's liberty.

What is the most significant thing Baylor graduates from the Law School offer to the world?

Genuine preparation for practice, character, integrity, professionalism and work ethic.

What is the most exciting/meaningful thing about being dean of Baylor’s Law School?

In my near 24 years as dean I have been blessed to see Baylor Law School in all of its dimensions and in so many arenas, including the University, the profession, the public sector, and--so important--among our alumni of whom we are so proud. My position has given me a broad vantage point about our school that has been both instructive and enjoyable. I have so many Baylor Law friends and a raft of memories that have accumulated over the years. This has been a profound blessing.

Do you have a mentor/memory or experience from your time at Baylor (or elsewhere) that deeply influenced who/where you are today?

So many often complain that "'they' should do something" or '"they' should not have done something." I believe that in life there's a danger of developing an attitude that somehow the ill-defined, non-descript "they" should always take care of something or the other. I've seen so many colleagues and Baylor Law alumni step forward with an entirely different attitude, not looking to "they" to accomplish a worthy end, but instead assuming personal responsibility for "making it happen." That attitude--"I[emphasis] am going to achieve this end...it is my [emphasis] responsibility"--is something I came to more fully appreciate a long time ago through my work. Personal responsibility--and not passive bystanding or claims of victimhood--are what has made our nation great. This is something of which we all need to remind ourselves when we catch ourselves complaining about the amorphous "they" and what has, or has not, unfolded.

Is there anything you want alumni or parents to know about you or your plans for the Law School? Please explain.

Our pro bono and public service program has been awarded the American Bar Association's highest honor for pro bono service. The ABA has given the award since 1984. Baylor Law is only the third law school to ever receive the award.