Visions of Change

Occasional Notes from the Dean

“Each year, it becomes clearer that we are succeeding in our goal of being one of the top law schools in the country.”

Erwin Chemerinsky
Founding Dean

The Second Class Spreads Its Wings

On Saturday, May 11, 2013, we celebrated our second commencement with the graduation of the Class of 2013. An audience of nearly 1,000 people heard inspirational words from California Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chancellor Michael Drake, and graduating student David Pierucci. The 85 men and women who participated in commencement unquestionably have been partners in creating the law school. They have spent countless hours in numerous student organizations, the Moot Court program, the law review, the student government and so much more.

They have done enormous pro bono work. Ninety-one percent of the students did pro bono work during law school. Seventeen of the students in the Class of 2013 wore gold cords at commencement for logging at least 120 hours of pro bono work during their tenure at UCI Law, and another 17 wore gold sashes for performing 200 (or more) hours during their three years here. Each student has participated in one of our clinics and received the invaluable training that provides.

As we celebrated the Class of 2013, we also continued to be dazzled by the successes of the Class of 2012. In November 2012, we learned that our first graduates had the second-highest bar pass rate on the California bar of any California law school behind only Stanford, and this month we learned that all but one of the students who took the February bar passed. In fact, we now have had a number of students take bar exams in other states – Alaska, Pennsylvania, Texas, and a few in New York – and all have passed.

In April, we were able to announce that every student in the Class of 2012 had full-time legal employment, with two students enrolled in full-time graduate programs. UCI Law was 11th in the country in students employed nine months after graduation, in the top 20 of law schools placing students in the largest 250 law firms, and second behind Yale in placing our students in federal judicial clerkships.

Commencement marks the end of our academic year and in every way it was wonderful. This year, we engaged in a major expansion and renovation of our Law Library under the direction of Associate Dean Beatrice Tice. The new space is stunning and a great place for students to work and study.

We had a wide array of terrific lectures, including the fourth annual Mark P. Robinson Jr. Lecture delivered by Harvard Law Professor David Wilkins, the third annual Al Meyerhoff Public Interest Lecture delivered by civil rights attorney and NYU Law Professor Bryan Stevenson, and the second annual Raymond Pryke First Amendment lecture delivered by Kelli Sager, a preeminent attorney who specializes in litigation on behalf of the press.

The Center for Land, Environment, and Natural Resources sponsored prominent speakers such as attorney Kenneth Feinberg. The Center on Law, Equality and Race sponsored a talk by UCLA Law Professor Devon Carbado. As part of the John S. and Marilyn Long U.S.-China Institute for Business and Law, there was a lecture series which included some of the most prominent global experts on China and its legal system. Professors Henry Weinstein and Ezra Ross coordinated a speaker series for students that had terrific speakers literally every week. And there were a number of great symposia, concluding with a student-organized symposium on law and economics.

On April 26, we had the first annual Public Service Awards dinner and honored the federal district court judges of Orange County: Cormac Carney, David Carter, Andrew Guilford, James Selna, Alicemarie Stotler, and Josephine Staton Tucker.

We look ahead to a tremendously exciting 2013-14 school year. Next year, the law school will be considered for full accreditation by the American Bar Association. On Jan. 27, 2014, we will have our fourth annual Moot Court finals, to be judged by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Sixth Circuit Judge Martha Daughtrey, and Ninth Circuit Judge William Fletcher. We will once more have many terrific speakers and symposia throughout the year.

Each year, it becomes clearer that we are succeeding in our goal of being one of the top law schools in the country. Each year, too, we face new challenges. We now need to embark on a major campaign to raise funds for a new law school building with the goal of having it completed by 2018.

We complete our fourth year of having students with enormous optimism for our future.

May 24, 2013

Erwin Chemerinsky
Founding Dean and Distinguished Professor, Raymond Pryke Professor of First Amendment Law
University of California, Irvine School of Law