Interim Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law, Thurgood Marshall School of Law Texas Southern University (Houston, Texas)
James Matthew Douglas was born in 1944 in Onalaska, Texas, the third of nine children to Mr. and Mrs. Desso Douglas. He grew up in north Houston and attended Houston public schools, graduating from Kashmere Gardens High School in 1962. He graduated from Texas Southern University in 1966, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics. Mr. Douglas earned his Juris Doctorate degree in May 1970 from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University where he graduated number one, was a member of the school’s Moot Court Team, and was the recipient of ten American Jurisprudence Awards. He continued his legal studies at Stanford University’s School of Law where he received a J.S.M. degree in Computer Law in June 1971.
James Matthew Douglas began his professional career with Singer General Precision – NASA in Houston, Texas, where he was a computer analyst assigned to the Lunar Module Mission Simulator and was specifically responsible for program development and analysis of the Environmental Control and Interface, and the Reaction Control Systems for five years. Mr. Douglas began his teaching career as an Assistant Professor of Law at his alma mater, Texas Southern University, in September 1971, where he taught the first course in “computer law” offered in American legal education. He continued his teaching career at Cleveland State University’s Cleveland-Marshall College of Law in September 1972, where he became the first African-American member of the law faculty in the history of this law school. While at Cleveland-Marshall School of Law, he began his career in law school administration in the fall of 1974, when he became the law school’s first African-American administrator, serving in the capacity of Assistant Dean of Student Affairs. Mr. Douglas extended his legal education career at Syracuse University’s College of Law in September 1975 where once again he became this law school’s first African-American faculty member and its first African-American administrator. During his tenure at Syracuse, he served as Associate Professor of Law and Associate Dean. Mr. Douglas received tenure at Syracuse during the fall of 1977 and in July of 1980, he continued his career in legal education at the Northeastern University School of Law as Professor of Law until returning to his alma mater, Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University.
In August of 1981, Mr. Douglas became the seventh dean in the history of the Thurgood Marshall School of Law. Mr. Douglas also served as a professor of Contracts Law and as the Ex-Officio member on several faculty committees. He has dedicated his life to the continuing legal education of students from all ethnic backgrounds. During his tenure as Dean, he was not only involved in issues that affected the Law School and the University but also in issues that affected the community as a whole. He served as president and member of numerous boards and committees both in the legal profession and the community at large.
In August of 1995, Mr. Douglas was appointed Interim Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Texas Southern University. After two months as Provost, he was appointed Interim President of Texas Southern University. On December 8, 1995, Mr. Douglas was appointed the ninth President of his alma mater. In the fall of 1999, Mr. Douglas returned to legal education when he became the Distinguished Professor of Law at the Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
In the summer of 2000 Mr. Douglas was hired by Florida A. and M. University to develop plans for its newly approved law school. His plans included all curriculum designs, humans resource needs, facility designs, and budget preparations. In other words, his work included all plans necessary to start up a new law school. The Florida A. and M. Law School opened in the fall of 2002 and received ABA provisional accreditation in the summer of 2004. In June of 2005 Mr. Douglas returned to the Florida A & M Law School as its Interim Dean were he remained until January of 2007.
In January of 2007 Mr. Douglas again returned to the Thurgood Marshall School of Law as the Distinguished Professor of Law In February of 2008 Douglas again moved back into university administration when he assumed the position of Interim provost under the newly appointed president of Texas Southern University. He remained in this position until October of 2008 when he was appointed Executive Vice President. In June of 2009 Douglas added the duties of the Interim General Counsel to his set of responsibilities. In March of 2012, Douglas’ duties would once again change and so would his title.
He became Vice President for Governmental Relations and Community Affairs. This was a totally new office for the university and required the design and development of all necessary processes. In the fall of 2013 Douglas once again returned to his beloved Thurgood Marshall School of Law where he influences the minds of future lawyers. Always on the move, Douglas returned to an administration position in the fall of 2016 as Interim Dean of The Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
Mr. Douglas has served or is currently serving as a member of numerous boards and professional organizations such as the American Bar Association, State Bar of Texas, Houston Bar Association, National Bar Association, Gulf Coast Legal Foundation, Hiscock Legal Aid Society, Law School Admissions Council, The Homeless, Boy Scouts of America, NAACP, Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, 100 Black Men of Metropolitan Houston, and the Advisory Board of Butterworth Legal Publishers, to name a few. He is a member of several professional organizations including The Fellows of the American Bar Foundation, the Texas Bar Foundation, the Houston Bar Foundation ,the National Bar Foundation and was voted Outstanding Alumnus of Texas Southern University in 1972. He has received various prestigious awards including the National Bar Association’s Profiles of Prominence Award, the Mickey Leland Humanitarian Award, the Texas Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Contribution to Legal Education Award, and Who’s Who of Emerging Leaders in America Award.
Mr. Douglas’ accomplishments consist of, but are not limited to, various publications and numerous professional newspaper and magazine articles and professional lectures. He has also published several law review articles. He is married to Tanya Smith Douglas and has three children, DeLicia Renee’ Smith, Erika Carter and James Matthew Douglas II.