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Harley Clark, the Texas district judge who in 1987 struck down the state's school-finance system as unconstitutional, will step down from the bench Dec. 1.

Judge Clark, whose decision was upheld last month by a unanimous Texas Supreme Court, will join a Houston law firm. Gov. William P. Clements will appoint a successor to complete Mr. Clark's term, which expires in 1991.

It will be up to Mr. Clark's successor to approve or reject whatever solution the legislature proposes to the school-finance problem. The legislature is scheduled to meet in special session next spring to deal with the issue.

Judge Clark is also renowned for his influence on the state's system of higher education: In his college days at the University of Texas, he originated the "Hook 'em Horns" hand gesture, which has become a tradition at sporting events featuring the university's Longhorn athletic teams.

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