Terry and Joan Oxford, who met at the Law School as students in 1976, have given $250,000 towards faculty excellence

Terrell W. Oxford, ’77, and Joan Oxford, ’76.

The last few years have been good for Terrell W. Oxford, ’77, managing partner at the Dallas office of Susman Godfrey LLP. His $226 million win in the fraud case Dillard’s, Inc. vs. i2 Technologies, Inc. earned a spot in the top ten national jury verdicts of 2010. He and his wife Joan Oxford, ’76, had long planned to make a donation to UT Law. After the Dillard’s case settled on appeal, he said, “It seemed like the time was right.”

The gift will go to supporting faculty excellence and will be recognized by the naming of a faculty lounge in the Law School’s Stephen D. Susman Academic Center. Oxford speaks highly of his overall experience in law school and of all his professors, but one particular faculty member had an outsized influence on his life. It was in the office of then-Professor Edward Cohen that Oxford, a second-year student at the time, first laid eyes on his future wife, then a 3L. “I was in the professor’s office,” Oxford remembered. “We must have been looking at the results of the US Open or something—we were both big tennis fans. Joan came in to see him, I happened to be in there, and he introduced us.”

The faculty lounge that bears Terry and Joan Oxford’s name will not be in the same area of the Law School as Edward Cohen’s old office, but perhaps it will someday serve a similarly crucial purpose in the life of another young lawyer. In any case, Oxford hopes that the gift goes to support continued excellence in faculty hiring and retention. “UT Law is a great law school,” he said. “A lot of that lies in the faculty that they’re able to attract and keep there. It was true when we were there and it’s true today.”

Not long after the introduction to Joan, Cohen also introduced Oxford to another lifelong partner, Steve Susman, ’65. When asked about his proudest professional achievements, Oxford joked, “I’ve put up with Steve Susman for all these years—or vice versa! He’s a great guy. I started working with him out of law school, and I’ve done it ever since.”

Those two key introductions from UT faculty paved the way for the next thirty-five years of Oxford’s life. Terry moved to Houston after graduation, while Joan practiced with Clark Thomas in Austin for a few years. After they married, Joan joined him in Houston, where she worked for the Gulf Oil Law Department. In 1987 they moved to Dallas, where Terry would establish the new Susman Godfrey office. Joan left practice and raised three children. Their youngest is now considering entering the legal profession. He even went to court to watch his father try the Dillard’s case in 2010. “Joan said something like she thought he was getting the bug,” Oxford said. “I said, well, he’s watching the most fun thing we do. We don’t get to do this often. I hope he doesn’t get to thinking every day is like this.”

The gift also coincides with Oxford’s thirty- fifth Law School class reunion, which he and Joan had to miss. They were busy biking from Houston to Austin in the BP MS 150 bike ride to raise money for multiple sclerosis research, and still going strong thirty-six years after that fateful first meeting in a UT Law professor’s office.—Mike Agresta

(Photo by Jay Brousseau)

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