LASSO Liaisons

Maria Rivera

Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid

Dear Admitted Students:

We proudly say that Texas Law is the best place anywhere to be a law student, as well as the best investment in legal education.  We want you to join our vibrant learning community.  At Texas Law, we value our relationships with our students and future alumni.  We think the resources we invest in ensuring you have a superior legal experience sets us apart from other law schools.  One-of-a-kind programs such as our Texas Law Society Program and the Texas Law Mentoring Program are examples of the high value we place on students building relationships with one another and with alumni.

In that spirit, I am proud to launch the Texas Law Longhorn Admitted Student Special Outreach Program (LASSO).  Through LASSO each Regular Admission admitted student will be paired with an Admissions Office staff member (a LASSO Liaison) to receive individualized assistance in the transition process from admitted student to matriculated student.  Below you will find some general information about each of our wonderful LASSO Liaisons: Sam Riley, Mario Villa, Dave Farnum, Michael Morales, and Jennifer Kryska.  Each LASSO Liaison is also paired with one of our Student Ambassadors, so that every admitted student has the opportunity to be matched with a current Texas Law student.

We hope the LASSO program will give you a taste of the kind of community we are at Texas Law.  Most importantly, we hope that the LASSO program will help you embark on this next exciting chapter in your life.

We look forward to having you with us in Austin next fall!

Hook 'em,


Maria is an attorney with ten years of legal practice. Prior to joining Texas Law in 2015, she served as the Managing Attorney for the Transactional Law Section of the Texas Office of the Attorney General's Child Support Division. The state's Attorney General named her as an Assistant Attorney General of the Year in 2015 for her work helping Texas families.  Maria previously served as Director of the Career Services Office at the University of Connecticut School of Law and as Associate Director for Admissions at Yale Law School. 

Maria received a BA, summa cum laude, from Texas A&M University and a JD from Harvard Law School. She has extensive board service for several non-profits, including serving as president of the Connecticut Hispanic Bar Association and as an officer in the Hispanic Bar Association of Austin Foundation.

Photo of Maria Rivera Send Email Phone: 512-232-1200

Samuel Riley

Senior Director for Admission Programs

Dr. Samuel Riley earned his masters and doctoral degrees from The University of Texas at Austin College of Education. Prior to his career in law school admissions, Dr. Riley was a financial aid administrator at UT Austin and a financial aid counselor at the School of Law. Before assuming his current position, he supervised the loans and scholarships department for the entire UT Austin campus. Dr. Riley has served in several different positions within the law school community including, in 2015, as the Interim Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid at the School of Law. Outside the law school, Dr. Riley has served as the Mentoring Committee Chair for the Minority Network for Law School Admissions Professionals and the following committees for the Law School Admissions Council (LSAC): the National Recruitment Work Group; the New Admission Personnel and Faculty Members Workshop (faculty member); and the PLUS Subcommittee. Dr. Riley is currently serving on the LSAC Finance and Legal Affairs Committee.

LASSO Team Student Ambassador:   Garrett, 2L

Mario Villa

Director of Student Recruitment and Financial Aid

Mario Villa is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and his Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration. He is a current doctoral student in Educational Leadership and Policy at UT Austin.  Before joining Texas Law in 2013, Mr. Villa advanced undergraduate recruitment efforts as the Director of the UT Austin-East Texas Admissions Center in Longview, Texas.  Outside of Texas Law, Mr. Villa is very active with his CrossFit/Olympic lifting community, the UT Austin Hispanic Faculty Staff Association, the UT Austin Pride and Equity Faculty Staff Association, and the Texas Exes. He volunteers as a member of Phi Delta Theta as a regional officer.

LASSO Team Student Ambassador:   Rebecca, 3L

Dave Farnum

Deputy to the Dean

Dave Farnum, born and raised in Rhode Island, is a graduate of Providence College where he earned a degree in Political Science and Humanities. He went on to earn a Master’s degree in Theology from St. Mary’s University and a Master’s degree in Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. Before arriving on the Forty Acres, Mr. Farnum worked in various fields including city and state government, corporate executive staffing, and on university campuses as a development officer and campus minister. He served as an assistant to the president of UT Austin for two years before joining his colleagues at Texas Law. On his days off, you can find him in one of the amazing movie theaters around Austin.

LASSO Team Student Ambassador:   Kiah, 3L


Michael Morales

Associate Director of Admissions

Michael Morales is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where he earned his Bachelor's degree in Education. He went on to earn a Master's degree in Sport Management from Sam Houston State University. Michael has worked in the Law School Admissions Office since 2015. Prior to his work at the Law School, Michael served at the Business School and in the Services for Students with Disabilities Office. In his free time he enjoys both watching and playing sports. You may also run into him entertaining crowds as he also performs as a DJ.

LASSO Team Student Ambassador:   Ashley, 3L

Jennifer Kryska

Admissions Assistant

Jennifer Kryska is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin where she earned her Bachelor's degree in Communications. She has worked in the Law School Admissions Office since 2017, but has worked for the University of Texas for well over a decade.  Prior to her work at the Law School, she served at Texas Student Publications, the Frank Erwin Center, Texas Performing Arts, and with UT System in the Office of General Counsel.  Jennifer has been a longtime Austin resident on and off for about twenty years now and is always happy to answer any questions you may have about the city.

LASSO Team Student Ambassador:   David, 3L