Baylor Law Professor Elected to the American Law Institute

Jan. 29, 1998

by Larry D. Brumley

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University law professor William D. Underwood has become the first faculty member in the history of Baylor Law School to be elected to membership in the prestigious American Law Institute. Underwood also serves as Baylor's senior counsel, the university's chief legal officer.

"Bill exemplifies the quality instructors that we have here at the Baylor Law School," said Brad Toben, dean of the law school. "His impressive academic achievements and commitment to service, combined with the fact that he serves on the front lines as the university's senior counsel give him a unique perspective on the key legal issues that impact today's legal practitioner. This emphasis on scholarship, service and practical legal experience makes a Baylor legal education unique from other law schools in Texas and the nation. Our mission is to consistently produce the finest legal graduates in the nation, and professors like Bill allow us to reach that goal year after year," Toben said.

Election to The American Law Institute is highly exclusive with membership limited to only 3,000 of the more than 750,000 lawyers nationwide. Prospective members are considered on the basis of exemplary professional achievement and a demonstrated interest in the improvement of law. The institute's membership includes eminent federal and state judges, distinguished attorneys, and respected law professors. Ex officio members of the institute are the chief justice of the United States, associate justices of the Supreme Court, chief judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals, chief justices of the highest state courts and deans of law schools that are members of the Association of American Law Schools.

Temple attorney Jim Bowmer, a former president of the State Bar of Texas, nominated Underwood for election to the institute. Frank Newton, dean of the Texas Tech School of Law and the current president of the State Bar of Texas, and the Honorable Tom Reavley, judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, seconded the nomination.

College of Law in 1985 and his B.A. magna cum laude from Oklahoma Baptist University in 1982, will focus his efforts on a current institute project, the Restatement of Laws Governing Lawyers.

"Our nation's system has served as the foundation for the remarkable growth and prosperity that our citizens have enjoyed for more than two centuries," Underwood said. "The lawyer's role in this system is premised on the ideal of service to our clients and to society as a whole through the ethical and spirited advocacy of important issues. Being able to have an impact in helping to maintain and further this ideal is very appealing to me. I am honored to have been elected to the institute and eager to get started."

Organized in 1923 to help address uncertainty and complexity in American law, The American Law Institute's mission is to promote the clarification and simplification of the law and its better adaptation to social needs, to secure the better administration of justice, and to encourage and carry on scholarly and scientific legal work. Some of the institute's most notable work has included the formulation of two series of restatements of the common law, as well as numerous modification projects, model acts, and studies. These include the Model Penal Code, the Uniform Commercial Code (in association with the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws), Principles of Corporate Governance, a Federal Securities Code, and various federal taxation proposals. Legal practitioners and scholars alike have traditionally granted the institute's work greater authority than that of any other legal treatise.

Established in 1857, Baylor School of Law shares the university's mission to educate men and women by integrating academic excellence and Christian commitment within a caring community. With approximately 400 students and 20 faculty members, the Baylor School of Law is small by choice in order to offer students unparalleled interaction and learning opportunities with instructors. The law school is committed to developing graduates who are "complete lawyers," trained in all facets of the law, including theoretical analysis, practical application, legal writing, advocacy, negotiation and counseling skills.

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