The UC Regents approved UC Irvine’s proposal for a law school last Thursday, which will make UCI the second public law school to open in California since the one at UC Davis in 1965.
The school is scheduled to enroll approximately 65 students in fall 2009 and, within a span of five years, to enroll 600 students and employ 30 full-time faculty members. The school has already begun its national search for a founding dean.
The law school will be housed in existing buildings near Berkeley Place until the construction of a new building and a law library is completed six years from now.
‘Our selection as home to the next public law school in California is an unparalleled honor,’ said UCI Chancellor Michael Drake in a Nov. 16 press release. ‘With the campus’s reputation for building outstanding programs and the incredible level of local support for this initiative, I have complete confidence that the School of Law will become one more compelling example of excellence at UCI.’
UCI’s Academic Senate approved proposals for a law school in both 1989 and 2001. However, due to statewide budget constraints, the proposals were dismissed. UC Irvine submitted the proposal again earlier this year but withdrew it from review by the California Postsecondary Education Commission on Sept. 26.
The CPEC questioned UCI’s proposal based on a 2003 RAND Corp. study that found that lawyers in California outnumber the available jobs for them by 100,000.
UCI administrators nonetheless felt that Orange County should have a law school to accommodate the increasing number of students here who desire to pursue law.
‘With the diverse and growing population of Southern California, it seems essential that the region have more than one public law school,’ said UCI Communications Office Representative Christine Byrd. ‘Up until now, Northern California has had three public law schools at Hastings, Berkeley and Davis to Southern California’s one at UC Los Angeles, and all of these schools are operating at capacity without plans to expand in near future.’
Although the CPEC does not directly partake in the approval of university legislation, UCI nonetheless preferred to obtain the committee’s endorsement and therefore revised its proposal to demonstrate the need for a law school and its means of financing