by Cristy Lindberg
Even after graduating in 2017 as a new lawyer, Emilio Longoria, J.D., quickly realized that he was drawn to legal issues with no easy answer.
For instance, when the Houston rodeo shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, he pondered whether closing the rodeo and barring participants from doing their shows was a violation of property rights.
“There are good reasons to say why it might not be, but it’s no fun to do the easy answer,” Longoria said. “So I’d write more about it every single day and I thought to myself, ‘Man, how fun would it be if this was actually my job?’”
That’s when Longoria decided academia would be the perfect fit. He joined St. Mary’s University School of Law as Assistant Professor in Fall 2021 with expertise in property law and land-use regulations.
Q: Could you tell us about yourself? What’s your background?
A: My mom is from France and my dad is from Mexico. They met in graduate school in Texas and decided to start their careers in Houston. I was born and raised there, but with pretty shallow roots. I went to a mix of Catholic and public schools growing up, then Rice for undergraduate and the University of Texas School of Law. Afterward, I went to go work for a big law firm. That taught me a lot about what I wanted out of my career. I clerked for a federal judge who sat in Galveston and tried to figure out what to do next. A couple of my professors from UT offered me a position with their firm doing work I specialize in, which is eminent domain, representing landowners in eminent domain actions. I loved it so much, I started writing about it.
Q: What’s it like being a new professor at St. Mary’s?
A: This has been such a welcoming environment. Everybody reached out to me when I was hired. Everyone opened their door and was willing to take me to lunch or give me advice. I haven’t taught higher ed anywhere else, but I couldn’t imagine it being better. Colin Marks, J.D., Associate Dean for Strategic Partnerships and Innovative Programs, has been wonderful and gives me tips about teaching. Al Kauffman, J.D., Professor of Law, shows me all the good restaurants around the area. Ramona Lampley, J.D., Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, has been very attentive and has reached out to me a lot. School of Law Dean Patricia Roberts, J.D., will let me know if somebody says something kind about me, and I really love that. André Hampton, J.D., Professor of Law, teaches another night section class, and he gives me tips and great ideas for how to do my class going forward.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about San Antonio?
A: I had never, ever heard of a puffy taco. And now I can’t stop eating them. I’ve put on so much weight since I started teaching because Henry’s Puffy Tacos is not far from the campus and to have a puffy taco is a delight. It’s something I really love.
Q: What would you like St. Mary’s Law students who haven’t taken your class to know?
A: When you asked the question, it made me laugh, because I heard from several students my first semester — because I taught an elective for second- and third-year J.D. students — that they were afraid to take my class because they didn’t have any information about me. So I want them to know I’m a very nice guy. I’m very kind, you’ll have fun. I’m not going to give you too hard of a time. But certainly, the whole class breaks down if you don’t read and participate. But I think it’s for a good cause and there are fun lessons there. I also have great guest speakers come in. I have a couple of judges I’m very close to, so if you want to clerk and you’re interested in meeting some judges, I’m a great professor to get to know because I can introduce you to some fun people.
Q: What’s your best advice for current law students?
A: Working hard and putting your best foot forward is extremely important, but so is taking the breaks you need and doing the things you must do to stay healthy and preserve your sanity. I want everybody to work extremely hard, but don’t let that come at the expense of your personal or family life. We’re doing this to make the lives of those who we advocate for better and to have fun and enjoy ourselves. It’s totally appropriate to take a weekend off and go see a movie with friends, have dinner and enjoy yourself. At the end of the day, this should be fun. It’s your career and you should like it or else maybe you’re not in the right job.
Q: Is there anything else we haven’t talked about that you’d like to mention or say?
A: My grandfather used to own the bullfighting ring in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. My dad is part of the bullfighting club in Houston, and they travel the world to see bullfights and I’m a junior member. So, if anybody wants to talk bullfighting, stop by the office. Come by and we can talk about toros.