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lightknives11
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Postby lightknives11 » Thu Mar 15, 2012 11:47 pm

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Last edited by lightknives11 on Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:10 pm, edited 2 times in total.

rotel
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Re: State of UC Irvine from a potential student

Postby rotel » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:43 am

I'm in a similar sort of situation (I started a thread deciding between a few schools including UCI). I visited the campus, talked to a lot of people at the school and in the area, and I've just read and thought a lot about this. (The inaugural law review was really interesting; if they sent it to you, I recommend you read it).

So I'm no expert, but here's my impression. I'm sorry if this ends up being longish.

You noted the big things. They were able to recruit an incredible founding faculty (Chemerinsky's article in the LR talks about how he solved the collective action problem of recruiting a top-tier faculty from scratch). This helped them recruit more top faculty from top schools. Not only are these professors powerhouses in terms of scholarly impact, but they're incredible teachers. They aimed to get top teachers who are also great scholars, not just great scholars. Every student I spoke to confirmed this. So that's big.

Then there's something that goes unnoticed I think. They hired great administrative people. As a visiting student, it's the first thing I noticed. The difference between the administators at UCI and the administrators at every other school I visited was night and day, and, again, it was something Chemerinsky and the founding faculty took seriously. It is also something the students confirmed again and again. The administration is really easy to work with.

Another thing I was really impressed with was the thought they put into the structure of the law building. Everything is glass, to give the place an open feel of community, and they wanted students to feel comfortable dropping in on professors without appointment, so when they set up the area around the faculty offices, they made room for lots of places to sit, and made it an area where you would naturally roam around in. This is unlike a lot of the long hallways of offices. It's another small thing that demonstrates their underlying philosophy.

The students are great, and similar to the concentration on hiring good teachers as well as scholars, they take care to admit students who are (from what you can glean from a PS) engaged, friendly and nice. As a result the atmosphere in class and in the hallways is palpably different. The students were incredibly friendly and engaged in their law school.
And, as you noted, they are also strong students with strong numbers, so that will help with the rankings obviously. They seem to have a good balance between between "gaming the rankings" because they're important and maintaining a good atmosphere.

The given negative about UCI is, of course, the lack of an alumni base. Having a strong alumni base is helpful for employment of course. I think UCI makes up for this by having faculty who work for you. All the students I talked to noted that the faculty are very willing to open up their rolodexes for students to get them in good positions. Still, I think there has to be a timeframe when faculty have "used up" connections, but hopefully by then employers are enamored by UCI students so it's not necessary. Who knows.

In terms of prestige, my impression is that in California UCI is tentatively placed between UCLA/USC and UCD/UCH. I think that once the school gets established, it will shake out just like that. UCI will have a hard time meeting or beating UCLA/USC, at least for a while, if just because--all things being equal--the school in the huge diverse city has the advantage. In other words, it will be at least a while before UCI matches or beats UCLA/USC in LA, and there are more jobs, and more prestigious jobs in LA.

However, Orange County is an interesting placement. There aren't too many places where a new school could succeed, but before UCI started up the best school south of LA was USD, and that's a big rich region full of people and firms who value prestige. And it's absolutely true that OC firms have become skeptical and frustrated with UCLA/USC grads because these are people who tend to have one eye on LA.

Still, Orange County is a relatively small legal market, so one could argue that it still won't handle a law school all to itself. This might be true. For now it's not because the classes are so small, but as they grow (next class is projected at 120-140; long term this will get to about 200), it might become more true. By then, hopefully the economy will have rebounded somewhat. It's an open question, as is whether or not UCI will successfully break into the SD market. So far the signs are optimistic, but, again, we don't know.


All in all I think a student still has to value, to some degree, being a part of institution building. It's a new school, with an amazing atmosphere, but I don't think a student ought to decide on UCI strictly because it appears to be the most prestigious option. I think it's right to place it not far after UCLA/USC, but that's one man's educated opinion and one could certainly look at the same facts and believe otherwise. They've done a lot in three years, but a lot of the opportunities and paths that are built into an established schools's system are still in their infancy at UCI, or do not exist yet. So you should almost prefer to be a part of the building over going through a setup system.

So, all signs I think point to a school that will very quickly be not far behind UCLA/USC; perhaps that's where they are already. But still it's up in the air.

Also: You mentioned that you might be interested in PI. One thing I personally loved about UCI is that the dedication to PI is clearly honest. A lot of law schools talk about their concentration on PI, but, from what I hear, everything is really built to move you toward private practice. At UCI they either force, make it easy, or strongly encourage students to get involved in organizations early and throughout their schooling. This really impressed me. And the secondary benefit of this, from what I've heard and read, is that you've done actual work early on. Many students noted that summer employers were amazed by their ability to do certain types of work--work that other students hadn't been exposed to. I'm not 100% sold on this, but it's something I've heard, and if it's true, it will certainly benefit the issue I noted above about the lack of an alumni network when the faculty can no longer call up their connections.
Last edited by rotel on Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:56 am, edited 1 time in total.

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bk1
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Re: State of UC Irvine from a potential student

Postby bk1 » Fri Mar 16, 2012 12:50 am

1. Student Quality - not particularly relevant. Might influence hiring but it's really hard to say. Not to mention their applications have plummeted and without guaranteed schollies this year who knows what's going to happen.
2. Clerkships - if I'm not mistaken they have raised the class size each year since their first. I wouldn't count on their class of 2015 clerkship percentage being anywhere near their class of 2012.
3. Summer Jobs - everyone at any decent school should all be getting summer jobs, this is not impressive.
4. Faculty Rank - not relevant for jobs.
5. Dean Chemirinsky - not relevant for jobs. Though I've heard that their faculty has pulled in a bunch of favors to get their students hired. This is a good thing (which probably led to their clerkship placement), but I don't think it's necessarily something that's sustainable. Thus putting someone like you who would be class of 2015 at substantial risk.

If you want to clerk (and by that I assume A3 clerk) keep in mind that it is incredibly tough out of any school. I really wouldn't pick any school based on your desire to clerk unless that school was HYS because the differences between schools are too marginal to count on that front. I do think UCI for free is a good deal, but it compares to the other schools you're admitted to and what your goals are.

rotel
Posts: 9
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Re: State of UC Irvine from a potential student

Postby rotel » Fri Mar 16, 2012 1:09 am

bk1 wrote:1. Student Quality - not particularly relevant. Might influence hiring but it's really hard to say. Not to mention their applications have plummeted and without guaranteed schollies this year who knows what's going to happen.
2. Clerkships - if I'm not mistaken they have raised the class size each year since their first. I wouldn't count on their class of 2015 clerkship percentage being anywhere near their class of 2012.
3. Summer Jobs - everyone at any decent school should all be getting summer jobs, this is not impressive.
4. Faculty Rank - not relevant for jobs.
5. Dean Chemirinsky - not relevant for jobs. Though I've heard that their faculty has pulled in a bunch of favors to get their students hired. This is a good thing (which probably led to their clerkship placement), but I don't think it's necessarily something that's sustainable. Thus putting someone like you who would be class of 2015 at substantial risk.

If you want to clerk (and by that I assume A3 clerk) keep in mind that it is incredibly tough out of any school. I really wouldn't pick any school based on your desire to clerk unless that school was HYS because the differences between schools are too marginal to count on that front. I do think UCI for free is a good deal, but it compares to the other schools you're admitted to and what your goals are.


This is, I believe, all true. BK, I've noticed, is very level-headed (not that every commenter in here isn't..) But, still, the typical rebuttals.

to 1. It should help UCI that they've been instructed to increase class sizes only while they can maintain student quality. So even if the lack of scholarships makes it harder, it will help that they are under no pressure to bring the number of students up. UCI's need for scholarships certainly decreases as the optimism for the school's future grows. . Still, this is a question, especially in that it is impossible to maintain numbers if they admit the right combination of students, but the best ones opt to not attend.

to 2. Yes. Class size went from 60 to 8x to 89, and now they're aiming for 120 if they can do it. Clerkship numbers were crazy good, even accounting for the tiny class size, but one must consider the tiny class size. It will be way harder as class sizes increase.

to 3. True. The only rebuttal is that it's not that everyone had summer jobs, but the quality of those jobs--prestigious PI, big firms.. Again, this comes back to 2 though, and what BK mentioned in 5--that the faculty have been using their connections and this might not be sustainable forever.

to 4. Also true. It was relevant in getting the school off the ground. It got them attention, and set them up as "will be well ranked well," but it doesn't have any actual direct affect. Except that better teachers = better lawyers.

to 5. Yes, true. It just gives them credibility as a new school.

And I couldn't agree more with BK's last point. One shouldn't pick any school, and certainly not UCI, because the clerkship numbers were good for the starting year. There is no way of knowing how that will translate into future years. It's obviously more hopeful than an established school that's proven itself incapable of getting students clerkships, but it's no reason to choose the school.

ryemanhattan
Posts: 121
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Re: State of UC Irvine from a potential student

Postby ryemanhattan » Mon Apr 02, 2012 3:07 pm

Applications have doubled from last year to this year, says UCI admissions.


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