Visions of Change

Occasional Notes from the Dean during Startup

Beginning to Build the Dream

It is a thrilling time to be at UCI Law School. So much is happening right now on so many fronts as we prepare to open to our first class in August 2009.

Our founding faculty and administrators — each profiled on this website — have arrived. They're all working incredibly hard to create the new law school. At our first faculty meeting a few weeks ago, I began by emphasizing that we have the chance to create the ideal law school. As founding dean, I said that in all of our choices, large and small, we should do everything we can to make this a dream law school for the 21st Century.

Our vision for the school is simple: we are planning to do the best job of any law school in the country in preparing students for the highest levels of thepractice of law. But, how best to achieve this? Right now, the faculty is in the midst of intense discussions about how to create an innovative and effective curriculum. We have now had several meetings about how to achieve this, including focusing on how to best teach the skills of lawyering and how to integrate interdisciplinary instruction in the curriculum.

Much time is also being spent on recruiting our next group of faculty members, who will be joining us before classes begin in August. Our plan is to hire six additional faculty from a variety of fields and levels of experience. We now have 11 full-time faculty members and four faculty members with joint appointments. By hiring six more full-time faculty members, we will have about 20 faculty for an entering class of 60 students. No other law school in the country can come close to such a student-faculty ratio.

We also have begun to aggressively recruit prospective law students. Our application became available in September, and applications are already coming in. Victoria Ortiz, Director of Admissions and Assistant Dean for Student Services, and her staff and our faculty, are attending law student recruitment forums all over the country. We are continuing to raise money to achieve our goal of having a full scholarship for every student in our entering class for their three years of law school.

At the same time, we are moving forward to turn Berkeley Place, our home on campus, into a first-rate law school facility. We now have plans for a wonderful law library which is scheduled to be ready on June 12, 2009, two months before the first students arrive. Our administrative offices should be ready in February. We are working now on plans for the student lounge, student offices, and additional classrooms all to be ready for the arrival of students in August.

One need only walk through our suite of faculty offices and temporary administrative offices to pick up the spirit of community and the great shared excitement for the endeavor. When my friends ask how I am doing, I always respond by telling them that this is the most exciting job that I have ever had. There is much to be done in the next ten months before students arrive, but we have the faculty and administrators to achieve our goal of creating the ideal law school for 21st Century lawyers.

Oct. 20, 2008

Erwin Chemerinsky
Founding Dean
University of California, Irvine School of Law