University of California, Irvine

School of Law

About the school

School of Law

UCI's School of Law is the first public law school in California in nearly 50 years. Fulfilling a longstanding vision of the campus, the school opened its doors to its first class of 60 law students in 2009. Today, the school has 46 full-time faculty members and more than 300 students.

The School of Law is an innovative and visionary school focused on training talented and passionate lawyers. It is driven by academic excellence, intellectual rigor and a commitment to enrich communities through public service. From the outset, its goal has been to create one of the top law schools in the country and to prepare students for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession. The school combines the best of a large and renowned academic institution with a collegial, supportive and friendly environment.

Law faculty members are accomplished thought leaders from around the country with a broad range of expertise. The school's curriculum is innovative, challenging and hands-on with an emphasis on strategic problem-solving. Additionally, clinical education is a cornerstone of the school experience. Each student is required to participate in a clinic and many students engage in pro bono work. Ninety percent of UCI law students provide pro bono legal services to the underserved in the community. Through the school's pro bono and clinical programs combined, students provide more than 35,000 hours of hands-on legal services each year. Students develop practical legal skills through public interest work in appellate litigation, community and economic development, domestic violence, environmental law, fair employment and housing, immigrant rights, intellectual property, arts, technology, international human rights and international justice.

The School of Law also is highly interdisciplinary, with many faculty members holding joint appointments across the campus. Students can take courses in other fields and can earn joint degrees in almost any area. A robust array of programs complements the school's curriculum including speaker series and a myriad of student organizations.

The school received its 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.

The school was granted full accreditation from the American Bar Association in June 2014.

L. Song Richardson, Dean

L. Song Richardson was appointed dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, effective Jan. 1, 2018. Richardson has been a member of the faculty at UCI Law since 2014 and serves as Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs since 2016. She received a J.D. from Yale Law School and a B.A., cum laude, from Harvard University in Psychology. With a Joint Appointment in Criminology, Law & Society, Richardson teaches and writes in the areas of Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Law and Social Science. She serves on the Faculty Advisory Board for the Center on Law, Equality and Race and is also a Faculty Affiliate for the Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy. Richardson is a member of the American Law Institute, the country’s leading independent organization made up of elected judges, academics, and practitioners which publishes works to clarify and improve the law. She is also the 2011 recipient of the American Association of Law School’s Derrick Bell Award, which recognizes a junior faculty member’s extraordinary contribution to legal education, the legal system or social justice through mentoring, teaching, and scholarship. Her article titled, “Police Efficiency and the Fourth Amendment,” was selected as a “Must Read” by the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. Her co-edited book, “The Future of Criminal Justice in America,” was published by Cambridge University Press. Richardson frequently presents her work at academic symposia, non-academic legal conferences, and is frequently invited to speak across the country for judges, prosecutors, public defenders, police officers and private industry.

Richardson’s interdisciplinary research uses lessons from cognitive and social psychology to study criminal procedure, criminal law and policing. Her scholarship has been published by law journals at Yale, Cornell, Northwestern, Southern California, and Minnesota, among others.   


The School of Law continues to rank highly among its peers. In its first year of eligibility, it was ranked No. 30 by U.S. News & World Report. This was the highest debut ranking by any new law school in the publication's history. Additionally, the school's clinical program ranked No. 11 and its intellectual property law program ranked No. 23. The school, the only top-tier school to be listed in the top 10 index for student diversity, also had the seventh best student-faculty ratio of any law school in the country.

Other accolades include:

  • Faculty ranked seventh in the nation in terms of scholarly impact in a recent study by the University of St. Thomas School of Law
  • Nine faculty members occupy Chancellor's Chairs, endowed positions awarded to a select number of UCI professors across the campus who demonstrate unusual academic merit
  • Professor Rick Hasen was named one of the 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America by The National Law Journal in 2013
  • The school is consistently ranked among the top 50 Go-To Law Schools by The National Law Journal
  • Founding Dean Erwin Chemerinsky was named one of the most influential people in legal education in the country by National Jurist magazine in 2012
  • Post-graduation professional opportunities for students are outstanding and include federal judicial clerkships, large law firm employment and public interest legal positions locally and nationally. At least 85 percent of the school's class of 2014 is employed in full-time long-term jobs that require or utilize a J.D.

Centers and Institutes

UCI School of Law centers and institutes provide in-depth impact by forging interdisciplinary partnerships with leaders from around the world. These include:

  • Center for Biotechnology & Global Health Policy
  • Center for Globalization, Law & Society
  • Center for Land, Environment & Natural Resources (CLEANR)
  • Center on Law, Equality & Race (CLEaR)
  • Center in Law, Society & Culture (CLSC)
  • UCI Interdisciplinary Center on Family Violence
  • Korea Law Center
  • John S. & Marilyn Long U.S.-China Institute for Business & Law