Current 1L here. It's been a while since I've visited this site. I decided to come back and take a look at the c/o 2016 prospects.
First, I want to wish all of you the best of luck in your application cycle. I remember how exciting, stressful, and tiring it was. As soon as it is done, make sure you take some time off to relax prior to starting school. I heard it many times prior to starting - take time off, don't prepare, blah blah blah - it's true. Believe me, there's really nothing you can do (other than getting your typing speed up) in order to be fully prepared. Best advice is to make sure your personal items are all in order so you don't have to worry about that once school starts.
Okay, now that I am done with that rant...
I love UCI Law. I am extremely happy with my decision. The students are great. The faculty (for the most part) is great. As LRslayer mentioned, there is very little, if any, competitiveness. Students share notes with each other, study with each other (among different study groups), and almost everyone (like 98%) gets along. Sure, there are a few that are depressed, don't like the area, have complaints about a professor here and there, don't enjoy the company of other classmates - you can't please everyone though. Personally, I enjoy law school and have never doubted my decision to attend UCI.
For those of you who are deciding whether to attend ASW....GO!!! It was excellent last year. Very fun and informative.
As LRslayer said, the faculty definitely has an open door policy. For example, I stopped in to see my Legal Professions (aka Ethics) professor today before heading over to spend ten minutes with Dean Chemerinsky to chat about a few random things. So, yes, while coffee with the Dean is great, you can honestly go see him anytime (when he isn't across the country attending to other matters, of course).
Also, I have to mention the mentoring program. Some students were assigned great mentors, some mediocre, and some students were assigned mentors that have yet to contact them. For me, it was the former. My mentor is in the field I am most interested in. So far, she has invited me to dinners with federal and state judges, cocktail events, lunches with attorneys in the field I want to enter, and has invited me to come along to sit in on some major federal trials (some of which she was not even a part of). To be sure, not everyone has had an experience like this with their mentor. Like I said, some have yet to be contacted.
I am still looking for a summer job; however, I just recently started looking. Those that started early were rewarded. For example, some 1L summer offers have been from an Indiana Supreme Court judge (student is from Indiana and wants to practice there), Article III judges, multiple ACLU offices, and some Washington D.C. government positions. There are many others, as well.
Chem is the master of clerkships. Instead of telling you what everyone already knows, I will share an example. Two c/o 2012 students started a relationship during law school. They wanted to remain together afterwards, yet both of them wanted Article III clerkships. They approached Chem with this. Chem was able to get them both Article III clerkships in Nashville, TN.
All in all, not everyone will agree with me on my UCI cheerleading; however, I am being 100% honest when I say it's a great place. It's not for everyone (for those who need to be in big cities), but if you love great weather and don't mind the "manufactured" life of south Orange County, then you'll most likely enjoy it here.
I guess my only complaint is that I have to sit next to LRslayer in one of my classes four times a week and hear her complain that she didn't get Chem as a Con Law professor.
Best wishes to you all, wherever you end up!