HOUSTON (Oct. 18, 2021) — Houston trial attorney Benny Agosto, Jr.’s recent gift to establish a diversity center at his alma mater, South Texas College of Law Houston, combined two of his life passions: giving back to the community and encouraging more diversity in the legal field.
In grateful recognition of the $3 million gift from Nikki and Benny Agosto, Jr. — one of the largest single gifts to any law school for this purpose — the new center will be named The Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center at South Texas College of Law Houston.
“To serve the most diverse city in the nation, South Texas College of Law Houston – as a mission-driven law school – must be the most intentionally and successfully diverse law school in the nation,” said President and Dean Michael F. Barry. “I am grateful to Benny and Nikki Agosto for helping us achieve our mission.”
The funding will create a new location to house The Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center and permit the hiring of a program director. Agosto’s gift also will support diversity scholarships and allow STCL Houston to develop relevant diversity programming aimed at the legal profession. In addition, STCL Houston will be able to expand the Hispanic Journal of Law and Policy — a peer-reviewed journal established at the law school by Agosto in 2016.
“The Agostos understand the importance of diversity to the legal profession,” Barry said. “They care deeply about helping more diverse students enter the field of law and succeed in their professional lives. The Benny Agosto, Jr. Diversity Center will place South Texas at the forefront of the conversation on diversity, equity and inclusion in the legal profession – and will allow us to invest in the students who will provide legal services to our diverse community.”
Agosto has focused much of his career helping change the face of law to become more diverse. “The legal field is sorely lacking minorities, and I have been proactive in my career to try to change that – starting in the law firm where I work,” Agosto said. “If we don’t do anything differently, 30 years from now the legal profession will look the same as it does today. I am personally working to change things, and I believe South Texas College of Law Houston is playing a key role in this transformation. It is one of the most diverse law schools in the nation, and I value the school’s mission and emphasis on ensuring all students have access to an exceptional legal education.”
STCL Houston Professor Shelby Moore, vice president of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, agrees that creating a center is important. “It’s important to exemplify our values inside this building,” she said.
“But true success demands that we bring as many people as possible along for this journey. We are the guardians of justice so we need to be the standard-bearers for diversity, equity and inclusion. This generous gift will continue to advance our mission in this direction.”
Agosto, a 1995 graduate of STCL Houston, is managing partner with Abraham Watkins Nichols Agosto Aziz and Stogner in Houston, the longest standing plaintiffs’ personal injury law firm in Texas. He has been admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court and the Supreme Court of Texas and is board-certified in personal injury trial law.
Agosto was born in New York City and raised in Puerto Rico. From a young age, he was taught by his parents that through hard work and determination, anything was possible — a principle he has applied throughout his life, in school, on the soccer field, and in the courtroom.
“Both of my parents have a sixth-grade education,” Agosto said. “Every day they would tell my four siblings and me to be sure to get an education. My father often said no one can ever take that away from you. My parents knew the struggles of being a migrant family without a formal education.”
Agosto previously established the Marina and Bernardino Agosto, Sr. Scholarship at STCL Houston in honor of his mother and late father.
He is a member of the Mexican American Bar Association of Texas and the past president of the Houston Bar Association. He founded the MABATx Scholarship Foundation, and most recently co-founded the HNBA Legal Education Fund, both of which benefit Hispanic law students. He was formerly chair of the board of editors for the Texas Bar Journal and editor in chief of the HNBA Journal of Law and Policy, which he cofounded. He received the State Bar of Texas 2006 and 2015 President’s Certificate of Merit and is a three-time recipient of the HBA President’s Award. In 2013 he was honored by State Bar of Texas – Hispanic Issues Section with the Pete Torres Jr. Community Service Award.
Agosto also has been honored by the Texas Minority Council Program as the Trailblazer Outside Counsel of the Year and was appointed by the ABA president to serve as a member of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Diversity in the Profession.
He consulted with the White House regarding President Barack Obama’s 2012 State of the Union Address and about the Latino agenda moving forward. In May of 2013, he was selected to participate in the Inaugural White House Hispanic Business Leader’s Summit. In addition to being featured on local and national TV, Agosto has published multiple articles in journals and periodicals with nationwide publications. Along with his daughter, Agosto authored the children’s book Victoria Goes to Court.
Agosto has twice been named one of the Nation’s 101 Most Influential Leaders in the Latino Community by Latino Leaders Magazine, in 2011 and 2012. The November 2018 issue named him to the Top Latino Lawyers List for the second consecutive year. Also, the October 2011 issue of Hispanic Business magazine named him as one of the 100 Influentials.