Dean Brad Toben to Return to Baylor Law School Faculty
Dean since 1991, Toben is the longest serving leader among the deans of the 200 American Bar Association accredited law schools
WACO, Texas (Feb. 8, 2023) – Bradley J. B. Toben, J.D. ’77, has decided to transition as dean of Baylor Law School and return to the faculty, effective July 1, 2023, Baylor University Provost Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., announced today.
Dean since 1991, Toben will continue to serve as The M.C. and Mattie Caston Professor of Law. Patricia Wilson, J.D., associate dean and professor of law, will serve as interim dean as of July 1. A national search for the next dean of Baylor Law School will begin in the 2023-24 academic year, with the search process announced at a later date.
“Dean Toben has had a profound impact on Baylor Law,” Provost Brickhouse said. “He has hired approximately 90% of the faculty and staff in the Law School. The wonderful Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center is the product of his vision and his labor. His knowledge of, and relationships within, the many Baylor Law constituencies run deep. Simply put, Baylor’s Law School is largely the product of the team Brad has created and cultivated for decades – and it is a very healthy law school.”
“Dean Brad Toben has served faithfully as a distinguished member of the Baylor Law faculty since 1983 and dean since 1991,” President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., added. “He has led Baylor Law through an era of tremendous change, while lending a significant voice to the national conversation in legal education. Thanks to Dean Toben, Baylor Law School is poised to continue as one of the nation’s premier teaching law schools for future practitioners for generations to come. We are deeply grateful for his remarkable leadership of Baylor Law for more than 31 years, and we pray God’s deepest blessings on him and his wife, Beth.”
Nationally, Toben is the longest-serving leader among the deans of the 200 American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law schools. Under his leadership, Baylor Law enjoys a reputation as a top teaching law school, whether students choose to focus on the Law School’s gemstone trial advocacy program, a business and transactional practice, a prosecution career or a criminal defense practice. Baylor Law has risen to the top 50 of U.S. law schools and is ranked No. 2 nationally for trial advocacy by U.S. News & World Report. Baylor Law also has continued its unparalleled success on the Texas bar exam, including the top pass rate on the most recent July 2022 exam. Likewise, the Law School consistently has had an enviable placement rate for its students. The fall 2022 matriculating class is the best credentialed ever, and the Law School’s enrollment is the most diverse ever, with 30.4% students of color and 54.7% women. Approximately 86.5% of the law students come from undergraduate institutions other than Baylor University.
Toben has led Baylor Law for the past three decades by building upon the successes and institutional objectives of his predecessors. During his time as dean, Baylor Law undertook an impressive building and endowment campaign, and in 2001, the Sheila and Walter Umphrey Law Center opened on the banks of the Brazos River. In addition, he has raised the Law School’s endowment from less than $1 million to more than $180 million, and recently celebrated Baylor Law substantially exceeding its $50 million Give Light fundraising goal.
His tenure has seen significant faculty and staff expansion, a marked reduction in the faculty-student ratio and the development of a vibrant pro bono and public service program that has won multiple awards from the ABA and state bar entities, including the ABA’s Pro Bono Publico award, which previously had been awarded to only three law schools over a three-decade period. Baylor Law also has developed several new curricular innovations, including programs focusing on professional development and on leadership, each the recipient of the ABA’s prestigious E. Smythe Award, in 2018 and 2022 respectively. Baylor Law offers one of the most rigorous across-the-curriculum legal writing programs in the nation, 15 professional curricular tracks, the nation’s first Executive LL.M. in Litigation Management, as well as several dual-degree programs.
In addition, under Toben, the Law School established a study abroad program at the Baylor Law Academy of the Advocate in St Andrews in Scotland, and a field placement program focused on juvenile justice in Lusaka, Zambia. Baylor Law students also compete with notable success in more than 40 interscholastic advocacy, transactional, negotiation and client counseling competitions, while the Law School sponsors three high-profile, national invitational competitions in mock trial, transactional law and writing skills.
Toben graduated from Baylor Law with a J.D. degree with honors in 1977, after completing his B.A. with honors in political science at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. He received an LL.M. degree from Harvard Law School in 1981 and then taught at Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis. His academic interests have focused in the areas of constitutional law, commercial law and bankruptcy.
Toben is an elected member of the American Law Institute and has served by appointment of the Governor of Texas as a Commissioner to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. He has been recognized as an Outstanding Young Alumnus of Baylor University and Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Missouri-St. Louis, which also presented him with the Distinguished Alumni Political Science Award. The Texas Trial Lawyers Association recognized him at a reception in his honor for “exemplary service and commitment as a guiding light in legal scholarship and the pursuit of justice.”
Toben has participated regularly in accreditation and membership inspections of law schools for the ABA and Association of American Law Schools and has been active in the State Bar of Texas, especially in the bankruptcy specialization certification program. He is licensed in Texas and Missouri, practiced in St. Louis and was previously of counsel to the firm of Dawson & Sodd in Texas. He is a Master of the Bench in the Judge Abner V. McCall American Inn of Court and a Fellow of the ABA and the Texas Bar Foundations.
He also has been active in numerous civic and charitable activities and has served as an elder, trustee, deacon and chair of the board of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY
Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.
ABOUT BAYLOR LAW
Established in 1857, Baylor Law 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 7,800 living alumni. It is accredited by the American Bar Association and is a member of the Association of American Law Schools. Baylor Law has a record of producing outstanding lawyers, many of whom decide upon a career in public service. Baylor Law 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 at No. 2 in the magazine’s 2023 edition of "America’s Best Graduate Schools." The National Jurist ranks Baylor Law as one of the "Best Schools for Practical Training" and one of the "Best Law School Facilities" in the country. The Business Insider places Baylor Law among the top 50 law schools in the nation. Baylor Law has received the American Bar Association Pro Bono Publico Award, making it only the third law school in the nation to be honored with the award in over 30 years since the award’s inception, and has twice received the ABA’s E. Smythe Gambrell Award for its programs in professional formation and in leadership development. Learn more at baylor.edu/law.