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.

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, where he won the Duke University Scholar-Teacher of the Year Award. Before that he taught for 21 years at the USC Gould Gould School of Law and served for four years as director of its Center or Communications Law and Policy. Chemerinksy also taught at UCLA School of Law and DePaul University College of Law. His areas of expertise include constitutional law, federal practice, civil rights and civil liberties, and appellate litigation. He is the author of several books, most recently The Case Against the Supreme Court, published in 2014. His other titles include Enhancing Government: Federalism for the 21st Century, Criminal Procedure, Federal Jurisdiction, Interpreting the Constitution and Constitutional Law. He has written more than 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. Chemerinsky frequently argues cases before the nation's highest courts and serves as a commentator on legal issues for national and local media. In January 2014, he was named the most influential person in legal education in the U.S. by National Jurist. Chemerinsky holds a law degree from Harvard Law School and a bachelor's degree from Northwestern University.


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
  • 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