Editorial from the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, September 6, 2006
It's no surprise that Tom Law for many years was the go-to attorney in Fort Worth. He had the
ready-made name: Thos. H. Law. In fact, during law school at the University of Texas, he and
classmate (and future federal judge) William Wayne Justice contemplated forming a firm called
Law & Justice.
Instead, Law spent his career with Law, Snakard & Gambill, one of Fort Worth's most venerable
and influential institutions. Quiet and courtly, Law exerted influence across and beyond
Tarrant County. He died Saturday at age 88.
Over the years, he could be found representing major companies, being called upon by government
entities such as Tarrant County College and even administering a blind trust for then-U.S. House
Speaker Jim Wright. But Law didn't confine himself to advising clients or litigating lawsuits.
During his presidency of the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce, Leadership Fort Worth -- a program
for nurturing future community leaders -- was born. He served as president of the Rotary Club of
Fort Worth and the Fort Worth Exchange Club, among other organizations, helped start the Tarrant
County Bar Association and was a deacon and elder at First Presbyterian Church.
Law was named to the University of Texas board of regents, the system's governing body,
in 1975 -- just in time for controversy over the selection of UT-Austin's first female president,
Lorene Rogers. Law was elected vice chairman of the board in 1979. "Regent" might have been his
highest-ranking UT position, but it was only one of many posts through which he served his alma
mater. At various times, he was president of the UT System Foundation, vice president of the
UT Law School Association and a leader in the Ex-Students' Association.
Of course, he bled burnt orange. His father had taught Shakespeare at "The University" for
decades, and Law not only lettered in track and captained the debate team but also lost the
student body presidency to future Texas Gov. John Connally.
In 1992, the Texas Exes named Law a Distinguished Alum, along with former Dallas Mayor Annette
Strauss and Broadway director and dancer Tommy Tune.
In May, he was still advocating for his community. "It was 60 years ago this month that I left
the aircraft carrier on which I was serving in the Pacific," Law wrote to Navy Secretary Donald
Winter, joining the campaign to name a new littoral combat ship the USS Fort Worth. "I believe
that this designation would be well deserved by the City of Fort Worth and that it would both
attest to the collaborative relationship in the past and encourage it in the future," he wrote.
Back in 1975, when then-Gov. Dolph Briscoe chose three new UT regents, one drew fire in the Texas
Senate because of past membership in the John Birch Society; another prompted one senator to
vote "no" and a second to abstain. But Law won easy approval.
"I wish we had three Tom Laws to confirm instead of only one," said Lloyd Doggett, then a state
senator and now a member of Congress, according to Star-Telegram archives.
That's a sentiment widely shared among those who benefited from his counsel.