Visions of Change

Occasional Notes from the Dean during Startup

Realizing the Dream

On August 19, our inaugural class will arrive for orientation. Our founding administrators and faculty have been working tirelessly since last summer, and everything is on schedule for a wonderful beginning to our new law school.

We are well along in our goal to be a Top 20 law school from the outset. Our founding faculty, by every measure, are among the best in the United States. University of Chicago Law Professor Brian Leiter, on his influential blog, “The Leiter Report,” ranked our faculty as tied for 10th in the country with the University of Pennsylvania Law School in terms of scholarly impact. We will soon be announcing the new faculty who will join the Law School on July 1, 2009, and they are every bit as impressive.

Our entering class, by every measure, is among the top 20 in the country by traditional measures such as median LSAT and GPA. We actually were the most selective law school in the country, accepting only 4% of applicants (110 out of more than 2,700 applications), and with 68 acceptances, we were behind only Yale and Harvard in our “yield.” These spectacular numbers don’t adequately reflect the outstanding students who will begin classes in August. They come from all over the country, from diverse backgrounds and fields of study, to be part of shaping the new law school.

The faculty has designed an innovative curriculum designed to prepare students for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession. The first year will include a strong emphasis on lawyering skills, and will feature a year-long course on the legal profession, which will teach about the ethics of being a lawyer, as well as about topics such as the economics and psychology of the practice of law.

The remainder of the first year curriculum will teach about the methods of analysis that all lawyers use, such as common law analysis, statutory analysis, procedural analysis, constitutional analysis, and international legal analysis. Students, of course, will learn traditional material, such as contracts, torts, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law. But they will do so in a curriculum designed for the 21st century lawyer.

Construction of the law school’s facilities is actually ahead of schedule. Construction of the law library, on the first two floors of our south wing, is scheduled to be completed in early June. It will be a state of the art facility and a beautiful, comfortable place for students to study. The next suite of faculty offices also will be ready in June. Student lounge space, both on the fourth floor of the south wing (near the student lockers) and outside, will be ready for the arrival of students in August. Two new classrooms also will be ready by then.

The very existence of UCI Law School is the result of the tremendous efforts of many people over a long period of time. I am honored to be part of a terrific administrative team and faculty who are bringing their dreams to reality. In a very short time, we will open as one of the finest law schools in the United States. I know I speak for everyone at UCI when I say how very excited we are to begin!

May 10, 2009

Erwin Chemerinsky
Founding Dean and Distinguished Professor
University of California, Irvine School of Law