Houston’s spirit of ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and community keeps this City in the forefront. An example of the uniqueness and forward thinking of Houstonians is University of Houston’s newest addition to its campus, the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law. It is the nation’s first independent research center for the study of Mexican law and legal aspects of U.S. - Mexico relations. The Center’s mission is to improve and promote cross border education, understanding and cooperation of law students, lawyers, judges, and other professionals from both Mexico and Canada. It will cooperate with various agencies to fund specific studies and research projects, as well as organize periodic symposia and participate in collaborative projects. www.law.uh.edu/mexican-law.
The man responsible for establishing this Center is Stephen Zamora. At the UH Law School, Professor Zamora directs the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law, and also serves as Director of the North American Consortium on Legal Education. He earned a B.A. degree from Stanford University and a law degree from the University of California at Berkeley. Zamora also served as a member of a dispute resolution panel that decided the first government-to-government dispute under NAFTA. Later, he received the Order of the Aztec Eagle, in recognition of his work in promoting U.S. - Mexican understanding. It is the highest distinction awarded by the Mexican government to a foreign national. He is also the lead author of the book Mexican Law and has authored numerous articles and book chapters on various areas of international law. For a complete biography, visit www.law.uh.edu/faculty/main.asp?PID=46. Additionally, he is Of Counsel with Haynes and Boone, LLP in Houston.
He stated that the impetus for the Center occurred when Justice José Ramon Cossiío Díaz, of the Mexican Supreme Court, agreed to accept a volunteer position as distinguished Jurist in Residence at the Center. Justice Díaz will be traveling to Houston on occasion to collaborate actively on research and educational programs that will improve U.S. – Mexican cooperation.
The Center’s principal goal is research, specifically research of U.S. – Mexico relations to shed light on developments in the law in both countries. It will also undertake programmatic activities to help fulfill their mission, including training lawyers, judges and other professionals. www.law.uh.edu/mexican-law/program-initiatives.asp#current.
Additionally, there is a student exchange agreement with ITAM University School of Law, a leading private university in Mexico City. The agreement promotes student and faculty exchanges between the universities, for example, several Mexican attorneys have participated in UH’s Master of Law (LL.M) program, including lawyers from Pemex and from the Mexican Foreign Ministry. www.law.uh.edu/llm. In turn, UH Law students have the opportunity to study and work in Mexico. UH recently placed two law students as interns in Pemex’ legal department and at the Mexican Foreign Ministry legal department, both organizations are located in Mexico City.
The Center is currently open to law students and legal professionals and it will continue to sponsor events for the public; such as the speech Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan delivered to a group of Houston’s government officials, dignitaries, business leaders, attorneys, and alumni at a kickoff luncheon held this summer. The Ambassador stated, “This center will provide enlightened argument and thoughtful research to the relations of the two countries.” His speech included a brief discussion on Mexico’s growing economy and the impact it will have on both sides of the border in areas such as immigration, job creation, and bi-national business. He said, “Opportunities exist…as do major challenges between countries that share a nearly 2,000-mile border…The United States and Mexico will succeed or fail together.” Mexico is the second largest trading partner of the U.S., there are numerous U.S. citizens of Mexican heritage, and many Mexican citizens reside in the U.S. The creation of the Center helps to strengthen the U.S. - Mexico relation as well as the Texas – Mexico connection.
Professor Zamora stated, “We are fortunate to be located in Houston, one of the most dynamic legal markets in the world, and in a major international center. You will find Houston-based lawyers, including our alumni, working all over the world. We are soon to launch a Global Law Alumni network to link our alumni around the world with the sophisticated international law alumni located in the U.S.”
Several companies and firms in Houston and Mexico promote and sponsor this new venture. However, the Center’s main challenge is continuing to attract support. The Center welcomes the sponsorship of all organizations including private and public agencies interested in this initiative. Contact Stephen Zamora at SZamora@central.UH.edu to become a supporter of the Center for U.S. and Mexican Law or for more information.