Gift from Sherri and Robert Patton Will Enhance Legal Writing and Pro Bono Clinic at Baylor Law School
WACO, Texas (Sept. 28, 2017) – Baylor University today announced a gift of $2 million from Sherri W. and Robert “Bobby” L. Patton Jr. of Fort Worth that will enhance the legal writing and pro bono programs in the nationally ranked Baylor Law School. Their gift will help underwrite two programs that already distinguish Baylor Law among its peers, while also providing student scholarship assistance.
Established in honor and in memory of Sherri Wallace Patton’s father, the Charles E. Wallace Endowed Fund for Legal Writing will support programming in Baylor Law School’s Legal Writing Center that encourages excellence in legal writing. The Sherri W. and Robert L. Patton Jr. Endowed Fund for Pro Bono Clinics and Programs will provide overall support for the award-winning pro bono clinics and initiatives at Baylor Law School.
“Bobby and I know the value of well-reasoned and persuasive writing to the effectiveness and fairness of our nation’s legal system. In today’s world, writing is becoming a lost art, which makes Baylor Law School’s commitment to producing attorneys with a mastery of the written word all the more important,” said Sherri Patton. “We also believe in the importance of pro bono work and law students’ exposure to it. There is nothing better than learning from real-life experience. We hope our gift will help those who need legal representation as well as those who are providing it, both as law students and, in the future, as practicing attorneys.”
Reflecting Baylor’s Christian mission to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service, Baylor Law School provides its students and faculty members with a range of opportunities to provide pro bono legal services to underserved and vulnerable members of the community. In addition, Baylor Law School is one of only a few law schools in the nation with a comprehensive three-year, fully integrated writing program that focuses on the development of practice-ready writing skills.
“In making this truly remarkable gift, Sherri and Bobby Patton are stepping forward as champions of excellence in legal education and advocates for Baylor University’s mission to make a difference in the world,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone. “As the oldest law school in Texas, Baylor Law School has a proud tradition of producing graduates who are equipped for success and inspired to serve, and this gift will strengthen our ongoing efforts on both fronts.”
Led by a writing faculty with more than a century of experience in the practice of law and a half-century of full-time teaching, Baylor Law School’s writing program is hands-on, featuring one-on-one feedback and peer reviews. With faculty offices and meeting spaces that facilitate instruction and collaborative work, the Legal Writing Center is the hub of writing instruction at Baylor Law. The Pattons’ gift will enhance the utilization of the Center and optimize the use of space by moving the Baylor Law Review offices into a proximate area, thereby forming a tighter hub for writing and research. In addition, the gift will fund enhanced programming in the Legal Writing Center.
The Pattons’ gift also will enable Baylor Law School to convert and repurpose the former Baylor Law Review offices into a larger Pro Bono Clinic that is needed in order to serve a growing list of clients. Baylor Law School’s pro bono and public service programs include a Veterans’ Assistance Clinic, Deferred Action Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Immigration Clinic, Adoption Day and The People’s Law School, a free half-day program designed to educate the public about their legal rights and to make the law user-friendly. The expanded Pro Bono Clinic will house a clinic director, client counseling rooms and space for the Law School’s pro bono litigation team and pro bono transaction team. In addition, the Pattons’ gift will provide scholarship funding for law students.
“Baylor Law School has a long history of developing men and women who have the character, maturity, skills and values needed to assume leadership positions in a profession charged with responsibility for maintaining and improving our nation’s system of justice,” said Brad Toben, dean of Baylor Law School. “From the outset of their time with us, we help our students understand and embrace becoming servant leaders. Sherri and Bobby Patton’s gift will demonstrably advance our students’ experience, widen their perspectives and assist them financially.”
Sherri Wallace Patton graduated from Baylor University in 1984 with a bachelor of science in interior design. She subsequently studied at the Southern Methodist University Deadman School of Law, where she earned a juris doctor in 1988. She retired from a successful career in law that included serving as an assistant district attorney in Dallas.
Robert “Bobby” Louis Patton Jr. earned a bachelor of business administration from the University of Texas. In addition, he earned a law degree from St. Mary’s University and a master of laws from Southern Methodist University. He operates oil and gas properties and has holdings in insurance, real estate and other sectors, including co-owning the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Pattons have two children, Robert and Rachel Patton.
In appreciation of the Pattons’ gift, the courtyard entrance of Baylor Law School’s Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center will be designated the Charles E. Wallace Courtyard. After earning a bachelor of business administration from Baylor in 1955, Charles E. Wallace graduated from Baylor Law School in 1960 and went on to a distinguished legal career as a partner in the Waco law firm Wallace and Smith, which later became Wallace, Fisher and Neville. During his studies at Baylor, he served on the editorial board of the Baylor Law Review.
In addition to her father, Sherri Patton’s mother, Sandra Stoesser Wallace of Fort Worth, is a Baylor graduate, earning a bachelor of arts in education in 1959. Her brother, Scott Charles Wallace, also is a Baylor graduate, earning a bachelor of business administration (’88) from Baylor and a juris doctor (’91) from Baylor Law School, as well as a master of laws (’95) from Boston University.
“Baylor has been very important to our entire extended family, and Bobby and I wanted to honor my father and mother, in particular, with this gift. Baylor Law School had a tremendous impact on my father and, consequently, on me,” Sherri Patton said. “Having the courtyard named after my father is especially meaningful in that it combines both of my parents’ interests — my mother’s appreciation of nature and my father’s commitment to the law school that provided the foundation for his professional career. We welcomed this opportunity to help people and to advance the legal profession.”
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 16,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT BAYLOR LAW SCHOOL
Established in 1857, Baylor Law School was one of the first law schools in Texas and one of the first west of the Mississippi River. Today, the school has more than 7,400 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law School has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. The Law School boasts two governors, members or former members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, two former directors of the FBI, U.S. ambassadors, federal judges, justices of the Texas Supreme Court and members of the Texas Legislature, among its notable alumni. In its law specialties rankings, U.S. News & World Report ranked Baylor Law’s trial advocacy program as No. 4 in the nation. Baylor Law School is also ranked No. 55 in the magazine’s 2017 edition of “America’s Best Graduate Schools.” The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the “Best School for Practical Training,” and No. 4 in the nation in its most recent “Best Law School Facilities” listing. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law School received the 2015 American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award since the award’s inception in 1984. Learn more at baylor.edu/law.