Established by The Regents of the University of California in November 2006, UC Irvine’s School of Law is the first public law school established in the state in more than 40 years, and only the second public law school in Southern California. Under the leadership of Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, UCI seeks to create the ideal law school for the 21st century by doing the best job of training lawyers for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession. The school’s innovative curriculum emphasizes outstanding classroom teaching combined with experiential learning and interdisciplinary study.
The school focuses on the Juris Doctor degree, which prepares students to practice law. Eventually it will also offer the Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) degrees. In addition to providing a solid legal foundation, the school will draw on UCI’s strengths as a research university by building collaborations with science, engineering, business, technology, social policy and health sciences. Interdisciplinary programs such as an accelerated J.D./M.B.A. and a dual J.D. and Master of Public Health degree also will be developed.
The school received a founding gift from the Donald Bren Foundation to endow 10 faculty chairs and a dean’s chair. It also received generous support from the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation, and Mark P. Robinson Jr. An inaugural class of 60 students began classes in August 2009. The school eventually will grow to include about 600 students and about 50 full-time faculty members.
The school has been granted full accreditation from the American Bar Association. It is housed temporarily on campus at the Law/Education building, formerly known as Berkeley Place, until a new building is constructed.
The school stresses public service as a key mission, and it intends to benefit underserved communities in several ways. In addition, various legal clinics will allow students to provide legal counsel to community members who would otherwise be unable to afford it. Other programs including generous scholarships and loan-forgiveness programs will also be designed to encourage graduates to pursue careers in public service.
Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean
Erwin Chemerinsky is the founding dean and distinguished professor of law, with a joint appointment in political science. Previously, he taught at Duke Law School for four years, during which he won the Duke University Scholar-Teacher of the Year Award in 2006. Before that he taught for 21 years at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, and served for four years as director of the Center for Communications Law and Policy. Dean Chemerinsky has also taught at UCLA School of Law and DePaul University College of Law. His areas of expertise are constitutional law, federal practice, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation. He is the author of seven books, most recently, The Conservative Assault on the Constitution (2010). He has also written books on Enhancing Government: Federalism for the 21st Century, Criminal Procedureand Federal Jurisdiction, a treatise and a casebook onConstitutional Law, and a book on Interpreting the Constitution. And he has written nearly 200 articles published in top law reviews, including Harvard Law Review, Yale Law Journal, Stanford Law Review,University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Michigan Law Review and Northwestern Law Review. He frequently argues cases before the nation’s highest courts, and also serves as a commentator on legal issues for national and local media. Dean Chemerinsky holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University.
- The school ’s faculty was ranked seventh in the nation in terms of scholarly impact in a July 2012 study. The previous year, in the same study, it was ninth.
- Several faculty members occupy Chancellor’s Chairs, endowed positions awarded to a very small number of UCI professors across the campus who demonstrate unusual academic merit.
- The inaugural class’s median grade point average was 3.61 and median LSAT scores was 167, which is comparable to those of classes at top 20 law schools. UCI Law was the most selective law school in the country in 2009, accepting only 4 percent of its more than 2,700 applicants.
- The highly diverse first class of 60 students comprises 57 percent women, 37 percent students of color, 25 percent out-of-state residents and three international students. Twenty percent of students in the inaugural class hold advanced degrees, including 10 master’s, one Ph.D., and one M.D.