Visions of Change

Occasional Notes from the Dean

Looking Forward to 2010 after a Successful 2009

As the new year begins, the Law School starts its second semester on Jan. 11. The first one could not have gone better or more smoothly. Our experienced administrators and staff did a superb job in every way.

The reaction by both students and faculty to our innovative curriculum was overwhelmingly positive. In the fall, students took classes in Lawyering Skills, the Legal Profession, Procedural Analysis, Statutory Analysis, and Common Law Analysis: Private Ordering. This spring, students will continue their classes in Lawyering Skills and the Legal Profession. They also will take classes in Constitutional Analysis, International Legal Analysis, and Common Law Analysis: Public Ordering. I am very excited to be teaching Constitutional Analysis to all 60 students in our Inaugural Class, though for most classes this year, students are in sections of 20 or 30 students.

In addition to the classes mentioned above, Prof. Henry Weinstein organized a speaker series, with one or two speakers a week talking with the students at lunch. This included some of the most renowned lawyers in Southern California and also featured a moot court by an attorney preparing for an argument in the U.S. Supreme Court. Professors Catherine Fisk and Ann Southworth also brought in panels of speakers as part of the Legal Profession classes. Many students remarked to me that the speakers were among the best part of their first semester of law school. This will continue in the spring with a full slate of speakers, including another moot court for a lawyer shortly before his Supreme Court argument.

The Law School co-hosted its first major conference in the fall, an outstanding conference on environmental law. Prof. Alejandro Camacho presented one of the major papers. In the spring semester, we will hold a conference on patent law, organized by Prof. Dan Burk, and featuring many of the nation's leading experts on the subject. Additionally, there will be a conference on theory and method in legal history, organized by Professors Catherine Fisk and Chris Tomlins, which will also bring many of the country's top names in the field to the UC Irvine campus. The papers from these conferences will be published in the first issues of the UCI Law Review.

As the new year begins, I find that I am spending a great deal of my time planning for next year and the future. On Dec. 21, 2009, we publicly announced that we will provide at least a 50% scholarship to all students in the class that will enroll this fall, in August 2010. I am confident that this will help us again attract top-quality students. By all measures, the Inaugural Class is among the top 20 entering classes in the country. I am grateful to the donors who made this possible, especially Mark Robinson, who provided us with a $400,000 gift for scholarships for next year's class, which is in addition to his previous $1 million gift for scholarships.

We are in the midst of hiring at least four new faculty members. A number of outstanding candidates, both experienced professors and those beginning their careers as law teachers, have been to campus to meet the faculty and students. Students are an integral part of the hiring process: They meet each candidate, attend the presentations by the candidates, and provide important views for the hiring process.

We also are in the process of continuing the construction of facilities. By the time our next school year starts in August, we will have several new classrooms of various sizes, additional faculty offices, and a new student lounge. The facilities, especially the terrific Law Library, are among the school's great strengths.

The start of the new year is a time to pause and reflect on all that we have accomplished so far, and also to feel enormous excitement about what lies ahead in the months to come. It is truly thrilling to be a part of this.

Jan. 5, 2010

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