UC Irvine withdrew its proposal for a law school from review by the California Postsecondary Education Commission on Sept. 26, but the administration has not given up hope. The proposal is now being revised in accordance with CPEC recommendations.
‘Contrary to recent reports in the media, [UCI’s proposal] is actively under consideration by the University of California,’ said Christine Byrd from the UCI Communications Office in a press release dated Sept. 19.
A recent Los Angeles Times report written by David Haldan indicated that the law school proposal was withdrawn altogether when, according to Byrd, it was only withdrawn from the CPEC review.
‘Chancellor Michael Drake will give an informational presentation and answer questions on the law school at the UC Board of Regents meeting in San Francisco,’ Byrd said.
The CPEC acts as an advisory board for the governor and the UC Board of Regents on matters concerning higher education. According to CPEC’s Web site, the role of the group is ‘to assure the effective utilization of public postsecondary education resources, thereby eliminating waste and unnecessary duplication, and to promote diversity, innovation, and responsiveness to student and societal needs.’
The committee’s decision is not a prerequisite for passing university legislation; CPEC is only an advisory board. However, UCI very much wants their endorsement, according to Byrd.
CPEC’s recommendation to revise the proposal was due to the committee’s belief that the proposal failed in three out of seven areas, dealing mostly with need and financing.
Their major reason for questioning the need for another law school in California was a 2003 Rand Co. study which found that the projected number of lawyers in California exceeded the amount of jobs for lawyers by about 100,000.
UCI counters that the law school proposal addresses a specific need for public facilities in Orange County. While Northern California has four public law schools, Southern California only has the UCLA School of Law.
Byrd was also quick to point out that Southern California has more prospective lawyers than Northern California.
‘The opportunity to open a law school at Irvine increases accessibility for California’s students in an area that has one of the fastest-growing and most diverse populations in the country,’ Byrd said. ‘It’s also important to note that financing for the law school is incorporated into UCI’s overall growth plan and will not require any special augmentations or allocations from the state.’
Setbacks aside, UCI is dedicated to working with CPEC on revising their withdrawn proposal. Once the new proposal is submitted, CPEC will have 60 days to rule on their endorsement.
Chancellor Drake has introduced the proposal as an information-only item to the UC Board of Regents, but they will most likely rule on the proposal at their meeting in mid-November.
‘Chancellor Drake is very optimistic,’ Byrd said.