Those who knew Tim Partin when he was a teen may have wondered if he would have much of a future. “I was a bit of a juvenile delinquent,” said Partin. “I earned myself numerous trips to the courthouse for my teenage antics.” When fighting tickets for truancy, violating curfew and speeding, he would show up at the courthouse an hour or two early to observe other cases. “At first, I just wanted to see what I was in for, but eventually, I found myself truly fascinated,” he said. “I remember asking my dad if I could stay a little longer after a court appearance so I could watch a jury trial.”
His time in court paid off. “It didn’t take me long to see the difference a good lawyer and a jury made when it came to getting a fair shake from the criminal justice system,” said Partin. Finding himself disgusted by how people who represented themselves in trials by judge were railroaded by “gotcha’ tactics,” he started trying to learn everything thing he could about the law, both how it was written and applied in real life.
Following a “disastrous attempt” at college in Houston, Partin looked for a fresh start in a new city. He wanted to take another shot at his dream of becoming a lawyer, but was working in a low-income retail job. Enter Tarrant County College. “Not only was the South Campus beautiful and affordable,” he said, “but TCC had tailored plans for transferring to surrounding four-year universities.”
When Partin entered the pre-law program at The University of Texas at Dallas, he transferred 66 hours toward his bachelor's degree. “I was delighted to discover how well TCC had prepared me for university level classes,” he said. “The classes in government, math, English and political philosophy were just as good, and in some cases, much better at TCC.”
During Partin’s time at TCC, one professor stood out—Jeremy Byrd, who teaches philosophy at TCC South. Describing Byrd’s classes as “mind opening experiences,” Partin said students were “exposed to what seemed like limitless schools of thought.” He praised Byrd’s ability to “convincingly present the viewpoints of a wide range of philosophical perspectives without tipping his hand as to which he agrees with,” allowing students to look at the world through a variety of lenses.
According to Byrd, the focus of his classroom is critical thinking—learning to ask relevant questions and evaluate the quality of the available evidence. “I want my students to leave my classroom prepared to think for themselves,” he said.
Partin credits Byrd’s logic class as a direct contribution to his success in law today. “The concepts he taught mirrored strategies taught by the nation’s top test preparation courses for the logic games section of the Law School Admissions Test,” he said. “The skills he provided me are absolutely crucial to extracting only the relevant information from what is often an unintelligible legislative nightmare and applying it to a client’s unique set of facts to determine what the likely outcomes will be.”
Likewise, Byrd credits Partin for being an excellent student, always engaged and displaying a clear intellectual curiosity. “He wanted to learn, and he was prepared to question and challenge me. In short, Tim was one of those students who make me a better instructor.”
Partin, who has passed the bar exam and holds a provisional law license while waiting to take the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination, now serves as an associate at Kirkendall Dwyer LLP in Houston. His time at TCC still helps him today at the firm, which specializes in a variety of practice areas including personal injury, commercial litigation, maritime law, product liability and defective medical devices. “Many people would struggle to manage the nuances of such a wide range of practice areas,” said Alexander Dwyer, partner in the firm. “Tim’s versatility is a testament to the strong logical reasoning skills he attributes to his undergraduate and law school education.”
In an email to Byrd, Partin thanked him for his classes. He wrote, “As I look back at all I have accomplished over the past 10 years, I can’t help but recognize that your classes were the foundation of my logical reasoning tool kit which now more closely resembles a war chest.”