UTSA Summer Law School Preparation Academy celebrates successful decade

law academy opening
law academy opening

Top photo: Mayor Julian Castro (second from left) with law academy students
Bottom photo: Academy alumna and supporter Gretchen Harting with Richard Gambitta, director of the UTSA Summer Law School Preparation Academy

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(June 22, 2011)--The Summer Law School Preparation Academy (SLSPA), hosted by the UTSA Institute for Law and Public Affairs, recently celebrated its 10th opening ceremony at the UTSA Downtown Campus. The academically intensive 12-credit-hour, three-month training course is credited with helping more than 300 academy students, including 50 in fall 2010 alone, enter into prestigious law schools across the country.

The daylong opening event featured presentations from legal experts, judicial officials, faculty and alumni of the SLSPA program. The summer program is led by faculty from UTSA and the University of Texas at Austin School of Law.

At the opening ceremony, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro praised the success of the program, which has helped more than 300 academy students gain admittance at more than 150 prestigious law schools. The institutions include Harvard University, Columbia University, New York University, University of California at Berkeley, University of Chicago, Washington University, University of Michigan, University of Texas at Austin and other top-ranked universities throughout the country.

"This program was highlighted by the American Bar Association as one of the most successful pre-law institutes in the nation," said Castro. "Every year, several of the academy students are accepted to some of the top schools in the United States."

Gretchen Harting, an alumna of the SLSPA inaugural class, overcame a number of obstacles and became a successful lawyer. Married at 18, divorced at 19 and working several jobs, Harting decided to enroll in college at age 24. She completed the academy, enrolled in law school at the University of California at Berkeley and went on to work for the Austin law firm McKool Smith PC. She was the lead attorney in a $200 million patent infringement lawsuit recently won by her firm in the U.S. Supreme Court.

"Where you go in your life only depends on where you see yourself," said Harting. "You are bound only by your imagination and your abilities."

Harting continues her support for the program by returning every summer to inspire and encourage academy students. This year, she presented a personal check for $2,500 and a matching check from her law firm to support the UTSA Summer Law School Preparation Academy.