Visions of Change

Occasional Notes from the Dean

So Much Accomplished, So Much More Ahead

After years of planning, the University of California, Irvine, School of Law is no longer just an idea; it is a reality, with classes having begun for 60 terrific students on August 24, 2009. The start of the school year could not have gone better or more smoothly. The faculty rave about the students and everything I hear from the students is high praise for their teachers and classes.

It is thrilling to walk through our magnificent Law Library and see students studying and sitting in the group student rooms in intense conversations about the course material. The students are obviously thoroughly immersed in their classes, but they also have begun to form committees to form student government and to participate in the creation of the Law School. We also have created a weekly series of lunch speakers for students, organized by Professor Henry Weinstein. The most recent speaker was Richard Neely, former Chief Justice of the West Virginia Supreme Court.

I have begun what I plan to be a tradition of meeting with the students over coffee and cookies every other week to chat and hear their thoughts and concerns. At the first of these gatherings, we talked about everything, from when first-year students should outline, to what it is like to argue in the Supreme Court, to predictions for who will win the World Series. (Mine, reluctantly, was the Yankees over the Cardinals, which endeared me with neither Angels nor Dodgers fans).

At the same time that we are immersed in getting our inaugural students launched in our first semester of classes, we are working at planning for next year. The faculty appointments committee has begun reviewing possible candidates for the next group of faculty who will begin on July 1, 2010. We have started the process for recruiting the next class of students, including making available online our application for admission. We are in the midst of careful planning of the next phase of facilities renovation, which will include a trial court room, several medium and small classrooms, additional faculty offices, and space for student organizations.

We also are developing our existing programs and looking at starting new ones. For example, plans are solidifying for our Korean Law Center, part of our International Commerce and Law Institute. We are also in the midst of planning to include programs with China and Spain.

It is thrilling to be part of creating the new Law School. There is such a sense among students, faculty, and staff that we are creating something very special. As the first semester nears its half-way mark, it is a time for feeling great pride in what we’ve accomplished in a short time and also great determination to build on our beginning to create one of the finest law schools in the United States.

Sept. 17, 2009

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