What's in a Name? Plenty, Lawyers Say

     FORT WORTH (CN) - Since Texas A&M University bought the Texas Wesleyan University School of Law last year, it has unfairly refused to acknowledge the law school graduates as A&M alumni, frustrated Wesleyan graduates claim in a complaint to the American Bar Association.
     Texas A&M agreed to purchase the private, downtown Fort Worth law school in June 2012, becoming the first public law school in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. It has been renamed the Texas A&M School of Law.
     Since the purchase, law school graduates have the updated school name on their diplomas and are eligible to receive Aggie rings.
     Five hundred pre-acquisition graduates of Texas Wesleyan petitioned Texas A&M on July 23, asking the school to reconsider its decision not to reissue them law diplomas with the updated school name.
     A dozen graduates also filed a complaint against Texas A&M with the ABA.
     "TAMU School of Law claims credit for the accomplishments of pre-acquisition graduates in press releases dating back to 2003," the alumni said in a statement. "TAMU School of Law reports to third-party reporting websites that its students have performed more than 95,000 hours of pro bono work, though the overwhelming majority of those hours were performed by pre-acquisition graduates. TAMU School of Law's website currently states: 'To date, Texas A&M law students have provided more than 120,000 hours of pro bono legal services which equates to more than $2.4 million in total legal services given to the community.'"
     The alumni claim this treatment violates Texas A&M's Code of Honor, which states the Aggies do not "lie, cheat or steal or tolerate those who do."
     TWU graduate Warren Norred, of Arlington, said the alumni want to complete the name change on the students' side, since Texas A&M claims accreditation since 1994.
     "When my wife changed her name, she did not become a new person and have a new birthday, though she did have to obtain a new drivers' license and update other documents," Norred told Courthouse News on Friday. "This is no different. The school has changed its name, but it is the same school. It has not changed its accreditation date. TAMU has changed many of the documents, and needs to complete the job."
     The alumni claim that Texas A&M's policy "significantly decreases the value" of their law degrees because they cannot state on their resumes that they attended a law school that still exists.
     "Given the current job market, obtaining a position at a large firm is difficult for graduates from even the best law schools in the country, let alone graduates of a school whose name is not on the ABA's list of accredited law schools," the alumni said in a statement. "A decision to reissue diplomas to TWU School of Law alumni is a matter of respect for the work that made TAMU School of Law possible, and the right thing to do."
     The law school was founded in 1989 as the Dallas/Fort Worth School of Law; it joined TWU in 1992.
     Under the terms of the purchase, Texas Wesleyan will maintain ownership and control of the law school building and its four-block campus, and will lease the facilities to Texas A&M for 40 years. Texas A&M owns and operates the law school, whose faculty and staff are now Texas A&M employees.
     Texas A&M's flagship campus is 180 south of Fort Worth, in College Station. Texas A&M officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday.