Houston Law gets big gift for new building

Houston, we don’t have a problem.

Houston — specifically the University of Houston Law Center — has anything but.

Not unless you call getting a $16 million gift a problem. (We don’t.) The money will help pay for the cost of the construction of its new law school building. It’s coming from The John M. O’Quinn Foundation, named after the late attorney and philanthropist who was a school alumnus.

His name will grace the new $90 million building. Construction begins next year. The current complex dates back to 1947, is partially underground and is prone to flooding.

“John would be incredibly proud to know that his name was on the building of this dynamic law school where he started his journey in the legal profession. John often talked about how the Law Center was best at preparing him and others for the real world of law and how he envisioned a state-of-the-art facility for the law school.  I know he is smiling from above today,” said Rob C. Wilson III, president of The John M. O’Quinn Foundation.

Said UH Law Center Dean Leonard Baynes: “John M. O’Quinn arose from humble beginnings, and through the power of his UH legal education, he became one of the nation’s top trial lawyers winning more than $21 billion for his clients. Having his name permanently on our new building will inspire our students that they too can overcome their life circumstances, be outstanding trial lawyers and give back to their communities.”

Law schools have been getting some serious money of late. The University of Pennsylvania got $125 million. It named the school after the donor, the W.P. Carey Foundation, and announced it would be known as the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

Simultaneously, it announced the shortened version would go from Penn Law School to Carey Law School.

That’s when Penn Law had a problem.

Many students and alumni were upset with school leaders for messing with history. After the blowback, the name was changed back to Penn Law. In the fall of 2022, it will be rebranded as Penn Carey Law.

In Houston, it's all systems go, it appears.

“It cannot be overstated the impact that John M. O’Quinn and his foundation have had on the growth and success of the University of Houston,” said Eloise Brice, UH vice president for university advancement. “His steadfast commitment to the Law Center and advancing its mission of academic excellence will resonate for many years to come.”