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, Shannon Brown, Dave Farnum, and Terrie Pinkerton.

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, 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

Samuel Riley is a graduate of The University of Texas at Austin and obtained both his Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Higher Education Administration at the UT College of Education. He began as the Director for Admissions Programs at Texas Law in 2006. Prior to admissions, he served as supervisor of the Loans and Accounting section of the UT Austin Office of Student Financial Services. Dr. Riley has served on the Law School Admissions Council’s National Recruitment and 2015 Newcomers Planning work groups.

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. 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 the CrossFit/Olympic lifting community and the Texas Exes.  He serves as a board member of the UT Club-Young Texans Society, and volunteers as a member of Phi Delta Theta.

Shannon Brown

Director of Admissions

Shannon Brown received her J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law in 2003. Prior to joining the Admissions Office, Shannon spent seven years as an attorney in state government, working most recently for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Office of the Attorney General.  Prior to her state service, Shannon served as a staff attorney practicing immigration law with Catholic Charities of Central Texas.  She received her undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Chicago where she was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

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.

Terrie Pinkerton

Associate Director of Admissions

Terrie Pinkerton has been working at Texas Law for more than 20 years.  In her role as Associate Director of Admissions, Terrie reviews applications for admission and administers a wide range of outreach and recruitment programs for the law school. Born and raised in Dallas, Terrie spent her early career working for a number of large companies including Akin Gump, HOK Architects, and Deloitte & Touche. She later moved to the east coast and began working in higher education at The University of Virginia.  Terrie loves listening to music. If you need advice on the live music scene in Austin or tips on the ACL Music Festival, just ask Terrie.