Visions of Change

Occasional Notes from the Dean

A First Year Beyond Expectation

We have finished our first year of classes and it could not have gone better. Our 60 inaugural students are terrific, the best students I have had in 30 years of teaching. Great credit for this amazing class goes to Dean Victoria Ortiz, our Director of Admissions and Assistant Dean of Student Services. Of course, we also have recruited and now admitted the Class of 2013, another wonderful class, which will arrive in August.

Our faculty has been remarkably prolific. Collectively, they also have produced a very impressive body of books, law review articles, and other scholarly work. We have hired three great new faculty members for next year. Sarah Lawsky specializes in tax law and joins us from George Washington University Law School. Michael Robinson-Dorn will be a clinical professor of law and director of our new Environmental Law Clinic. He comes to us from the University of Washington School of Law, where he also was the director of the environmental clinic. Christopher Whytock teaches and writes in the area of business law and international law; he joins our faculty from the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law. The process of faculty hiring is enormously time consuming, and I am very grateful to the faculty appointments committee and especially its chair, Prof. Tony Reese.

We have hired new staff in virtually every area of the Law School’s operations. We also have worked hard to plan new facilities (classrooms, faculty offices, a student lounge, student organization space and much more), which will be ready by August. Administratively, things could not have gone more efficiently. Many deserve credit for this, most of all Dean Rebecca Avila, our Assistant Dean for Administration and Finance. Dean Beatrice Tice, our Associate Dean of Library and Information Services, has overseen the development of an outstanding Law Library and a terrific group of librarians and staff.

We have received remarkable publicity. No law school in the country has had — or may ever have — the kind of great coverage that we have gotten this year. Dean Rex Bossert, our Assistant Dean for Communications and Public Affairs, gets a tremendous amount of the credit.

Notwithstanding tough economic times, we continue to be very successful in development. Earlier this spring, we signed an agreement for a $2.5 million gift for a U.S.-China Institute for Business and Law. We have continued to raise money for scholarships and student fellowships. Charles Cannon, Assistant Dean for Development and External Affairs, has done an amazing job in development.

We have begun to build a vibrant intellectual life for the school. We held several excellent symposia this year, including one on environmental law (organized by Prof. Joe DiMento), one on patent law (organized by Prof. Dan Burk), and one on legal history (organized by Profs. Chris Tomlins and Catherine Fisk). Papers from these symposia will be published in three issues of the first volume of the UC Irvine Law Review. Prof. Henry Weinstein has done an outstanding job of bringing in guest speakers for the students throughout the year. We have had a number of faculty workshops and our first endowed lecture: The annual Mark P. Robinson Jr. Lecture was delivered this year by New York University law professor Burt Neuborne. We also co-sponsored a number of conferences for lawyers with law firms and bar groups.

Our students have done so much to be part of creating the new Law School. They created a Public Interest Law Fund and ran a spectacular fundraising auction. They have created many student organizations, such as a Student Bar Association, a Women’s Law Association, an underrepresented students association, and others. The students have worked very hard to create the Law Review. They did this in addition to their first-year studies and with almost all of them doing pro bono work this semester. Pro Bono Director Anna Davis did a remarkable job of finding pro bono work for the students. Career Development Director Liz Schroeder played an instrumental role in helping each student obtain a job for this summer.

I realize that by listing some accomplishments, I inevitably have left many out. Most of all, our faculty has provided outstanding instruction. Our faculty, staff, and students have worked together to create a very special, collegial community.

I am so proud to be a part of this Law School. I am pleased with what we have accomplished in our first academic year and I am very excited about what lies ahead.

June 1, 2010

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