Visions of Change

Occasional Notes from the Dean

Start of New Year Marks Important Half-Way Point

The beginning of the Spring 2011 semester means that our inaugural students now are more than half done with law school. Already plans are under way for their commencement in May 2012. So many good things are happening at the Law School right now.

The Law School will host five major symposia – an Immigration Law Symposium on Feb. 17 and 18; a conference on Race, Law and Class in March; a conference on enhancing the California Coast on March 4; a student-organized conference on Climate Change on April 1; and a conference on Virtual Worlds on April 8.

Additionally, we will have four professors delivering lectures in honor of their receiving chairs and becoming Chancellor’s Professors: Catherine Fisk on Feb. 8; Carrie Menkel-Meadow on March 1; Chris Tomlins on March 21; and Tony Reese on April 26.

On April 18, the second annual Mark Robinson Lecture will be delivered by Oklahoma City University President and former Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Robert Henry. Additionally, each week there are many speakers at the Law School through the Guest Speaker series organized by Henry Weinstein, and also those invited by student groups.

Our faculty continues to receive national recognition. A story in the November issue of National Jurist, a national magazine for law students, ranked our faculty ninth in the country among all law schools in terms of scholarly impact.

We are seeking to substantially expand our faculty by adding as many as 10 new colleagues to begin on July 1, 2011. To this point, five individuals have accepted our offers to join us for next year (pending, of course, formal approval through the university’s personnel process): Funmi Arewa, a professor at Northwestern University, who specializes in corporate law and intellectual property; Sameer Ashar, a professor at City University of New York School of Law, who will create an immigration law clinic; Jonathan Glater, an entry-level hire who brings experience at a large New York law firm and many years as a New York Times reporter, and who will teach in the business and criminal law areas; Katherine Porter, the Robert Braucher Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School and a professor at the University of Iowa Law School, who will teach bankruptcy and commercial law; and Robert Solomon, a clinical professor at Yale Law School and director of clinical education at Yale, who will create a community economic development clinic. I look forward to announcing other additions to the faculty in the weeks ahead.

The Law Review is about to publish its first issue, a collection of essays by the faculty on legal education. Three other issues will be published this year. The first Experian/Jones Day Moot Competition will be held for second-year law students. The problem focuses on whether federal courts may hear and give relief to an American citizen in a foreign country who is targeted for assassination. The competition will culminate in a final round on March 30, 2011.

We are aggressively recruiting students for the third entering class, to begin in August 2011. We have announced that all of the members of this class will receive at least a one-third scholarship.

Our students have also been involved in impressive activities. UCI Law student group Orange County Human Rights Association (OCHRA) organized two successful donation drives during the Fall 2010 semester. The three-week Thanksgiving Food Drive, led by 1L Carly Edelstein, netted more than 500 pounds of food - five times the goal of 100 pounds! - for the Orange County Food Bank and Second Harvest Food Bank of Orange County. That was followed by a two-week Holiday Gift Drive for women at CIW prison, which netted five full boxes of personal care items--everything from toothbrushes and toothpaste to tea and blank holiday cards. Gift Drive leaders were Lauren Kaplan, Jessica Hodgkins, Zeenat Hassan and David Rodwin.

Acrivi Coromelas and Matt Plunkett, Class of 2012, successfully advocated on behalf of a foster caregiver through a pro bono project with the Alliance for Children’s Rights and Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP. Due to their hard work, the monthly payments for an adoptive parent of a special-needs child have increased more than 50%. The caregiver was also provided retroactive payments.

Sam Lam and Mohammed Elayan, Class of 2012, helped win freedom for a detained Iraqi Christian seeking asylum. The two students spent dozens of hours researching domestic and international immigration law; drafting memos, briefs and motions; compiling information in the Iraqi Christian communities of El Cajon and Detroit; and at an Aug. 6 hearing, the two examined the one witness and argued a couple of obscure legal issues. The details of their efforts were recounted in a Daily Journal story.

Francisco Balderrama, Class of 2013, was one of only three law students chosen to receive the Hispanic Bar Association of Orange County's 2010 Wallace (Wally) R. Davis Memorial Scholarship, which provides financial assistance to Latino law students who have demonstrated a commitment to the Latino community. Francisco will be feted at the HBA's annual Installation Dinner & Scholarship Fundraiser in March 2011. He continues UCI Law's winning streak with this generous award: 2L Flor Tataje was a 2009 Wally Davis Scholarship winner.

Our facilities continue to grow. Our largest classrooms, including the Mark Robinson Courtroom, which was dedicated on January 10, are now complete and are stunning. Construction is beginning on additional classrooms and faculty offices on the fourth floor of the Law Building. These should be done by July and ready for fall classes.

It is thus a time of growth and excitement at the Law School. It should be a wonderful semester.

Jan. 24, 2011

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