did you decide to join the University of California, Irvine School of Law faculty?
I thought it was a great opportunity to play a role in shaping the first public law school to be opened in California in decades. More specifically, I relished the chance to work at a law school led by Erwin Chemerinsky, a terrific constitutional scholar and a wonderful person who is dedicated to creating a school that will serve the public interest. I also welcome the opportunity to work at a school where the dean believes so strongly that there must be an emphasis on experiential and interdisciplinary learning—approaches that definitely were under-emphasized when I was in law school. Although I don’t want to over-emphasize the importance of my own role, it strikes me that Erwin’s decision to hire a journalist as one of his founding faculty members graphically illustrates that he is going to be working out of a new playbook.
Describe your work
as a journalist covering the law.
I have written a great deal about the death penalty, civil liberties, indigent defense, consumer fraud, workplace safety, mass torts and white-collar crime against the poor. As a journalist, I gravitated toward subjects with cutting-edge social issues in the hope that I could help educate the public on these topics. Stories I wrote helped free an innocent man from prison, after serving 24 years on a wrongful murder conviction, and played a role in sending a vicious slumlord to prison. I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly in America’s courtrooms and law offices and hope that I can bring students the perspective of someone who has observed the system closely and written about it.
What inspired you
to go to law school?
I entered law school in 1966 with the hope of becoming a civil rights lawyer. About two-thirds of the way through law school, I decided that I could make as socially useful a contribution as a journalist that I could as an attorney. I hope to continue to be socially useful as a member of the UC Irvine School of Law faculty.
What are you most
excited about doing in the first years of the law school?
I avidly look forward to helping shape curriculum and clinical programs at the law school, including assisting in the development of better ways to teach legal writing. In addition, I hope to help the law school forge relationships with other departments at UCI. In particular, I plan to teach a class each year in the Literary Journalism program in the School of Humanities and anticipate working with professors in the criminology program that is part of the School of Social Ecology.