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July 23, 2009

ABA Journal provides review of state of new Irvine law school

The August 2009 Issue of the ABA Journal has this new piece on the new UC law school, which is titled "Irvine by Erwin: Can a top legal academic create a law school that is both innovative and elite?".  The piece highlights innovations in various ways, as highlighted by this snippet:

With its first class — which has a median GPA of 3.65 and a median LSAT score of 167 — descending on campus this month, the 56-year-old Chemer­insky’s ambition is about to be put to the test. Can UC Irvine be both among the best law schools and among the most innovative?

If not, it will not be for lack of trying.  “There isn’t a need for another law school that replicates the others that are there,” Chemerinsky says.  “We have the wonderful benefit of a blank slate and the chance to create the ideal law school for the 21st century.”

UC Irvine will include an interdisciplinary curriculum and a mandatory semester in one of the planned eight law clinics.  Students will be required to conduct intake interviews for legal aid clients and to study international law in the first year — a subject that is merely optional in the upper classes at most schools.

Another innovation is the course titled “The Legal Profession.”  The two-semester class will bring in speakers from many areas of practice “so that students can gain a sense of the different kinds of work the profession does,” according to an online description of the curriculum.

Chemerinsky wants to maximize “serendip­itous interaction with faculty and students.”  That’s why lounge chairs sit outside the faculty offices, so the students don’t have to sit on the floor while waiting. The chairs are arranged in groups to encourage discussion.

Rocking chairs, modeled after one owned by librarian Beatrice Tice’s mother, will be placed near the library windows to promote serenity.  Reproductions of paintings of SoCal scenery, copied from some on view in the Orange County Art Museum, will further the Zen vibe.

The innovations extend beyond the learning environment.  Each student will be assigned a practicing lawyer as a mentor.  Financial planners will be invited to campus to help students with budgeting and — for those in the second class and beyond — managing the burden of law school loans.  Students will have multimedia portfolios to show potential employers, in addition to ordinary resumés.  They’ll receive grades, but there will be no class rankings.

July 23, 2009 in Deans and innovations | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 19, 2009

The bad summer

Reports are dribbling back to me from some students regarding their summer jobs, and it is a little grimmer than usual (as we all would probably expect).  At the largest firms, there is a great deal of uncertainty about future hiring, and many firms expect to put out fewer offers this year to the current crop of summer associates.  Moreover, the job of being a summer associate seems much less pleasant than it was even last year, as partners and associates are anxious and sometimes unable to make clear what is expected from the law students.  The experience varies greatly by firm, of course.

One possible outcome, and one that I hope for, is that more of our top students will consider government work and jobs in criminal law.  Quality improvement in those areas is good for everyone, and may be a positive outcome of this down economy.

-- Mark Osler

July 19, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack