UCIpost wrote:Constant lurker, first time poster! Fellow 0L, so as always, take everything I say with a grain of salt!
Damn that's a bummer about Chemerinsky. From all the research I've done, it definitely seemed that he wasn't going to be sticking around much longer as dean anyways (I think his contract is up next year and there was a lot of talk at the ASW last year about him taking a sabbatial and stepping down to a more limited role on the UCI faculty after his 10 years were up). From what I gauged tho, it seemed like his plans were more geared to phasing into retirement. The fact that he's seriously considering becoming Dean at UCB definitely makes me reevaluate some of the stuff I read. IIRC I did see in an interview he gave that he was thinking about sticking around as Dean for a few years after his contract to help the fundraising effort to get the new law school building built. Hopefully prospective students will get a good idea on his intentions before the SIR in a few weeks. Unfortunately I am of the belief that Chemerinsky going from UCI to UCB is definitely problematic for the school going forward. While I don't think saying UCI is a sinking ship if this were to happen would be an accurate assessment, there is no doubt that Dean Chemerinsky is the definitive face of UCI law (IMO more so than any other Dean for their respective institution).
Pure speculation, but him leaving UCI completely could potentially have a few different adverse effects.
1) I think it has the potential to have a non-neglible impact on fundraising by the school (especially with the plans for getting construction on that shiny new law building under way).
2) I think within the alumni/legal community surrounding UCI this could really be a big letdown. A lot of UCI law grads/students I have spoken to in the past are really prideful of their school and this could maybe detract from the overall sentiment certain people have toward the school (particularly those that are already somewhat disengaged).
3) As someone who lives in Southern California (LAC) and for work has to travel around California and other parts of the west coast, a lot of the what is known about UCI law within this region is wrapped up in the general recognition of Dean Chemerinsky (as well as it being a new law school). For the lawyers/governmenal/political/other people who have a general understanding of legal education/the profession/legal community, I have spoken to (mostly in CA) and brought up UCI law in conversation with, a mention of Dean Chemerinsky is usually quick to follow (purely anecdotal, I know). As UCI grows and tries to expand its reach within California and the surrounding states, I feel that losing Chemerinsky will have an impact on the way the school is viewed by those that have the most basic understanding of it (i.e. not much). How much of an impact this might have, I do not know, but I feel that losing some of that cache in networking situations outside of Orange County isn't great.
4) Not only does the school lose Chemerinsky as a Dean, it also loses him as a professor. From what I've heard his con law class is really great and just talking to him in general is really interesting (pretty sure he used to do/does an individual dinner with each UCI law student and overall seems really engaged with the student body). Also if he were to move up north, I would think, his wife professor Catherine Fisk would go with him (again pure speculation as I know nothing about them personally, their marriage or professor Fisk's goals in general). From everything I've heard Professor Fisk is one of the best legal minds in the country and losing her as a professor and a scholar would be a huge loss for the University. I did have the glancing thought that maybe Professor Fisk would become the next Dean of UCI, which IMO would be amazing and a great choice, but it does seem a tad unrealistic just in the sense that proglonged stays away from a SO, at least from what I have experienced, are really tough.
5) Similar to 4, but it kind of seems that Chemerinsky leaving might reverbate through the faculty as a whole. Not saying every professor is going to jump ship/leave immeaditely, but I could definitely see some of the more known members of the faculty being more susceptible to moves than had Chermerinsky remained a member of the staff post stepping down from being dean. I have kind of gotten the sense that the faculty are really strongly connected to the school and each other, and him leaving is kind of similar to an integral member of a friend group moving to a different city as they grow older leading to an overall sense of disconnection within the group (kind of prosperous I know, but as someone who has recently gone through this, I vaguely see the parallels, but who knows!)
6) I never thought the clerkship placement was sustainable in the long term to begin with, and I do think that those 2-3 (maybe more, maybe less, I truly have no idea) students Chemerinsky might have been extremely influential in securing clerkships for will now be lost to Berkeley (who already have a pretty big leg up). IIRC it is something like 13-16 grads have gotten fed clerkships each year in past classes, so maybe a long term number for clerks/class might be closer to something like 10 a year. With the assumption that UCI gradually increases its class from ~140 to ~200 the overall percent seems to make sense in terms of UCI's peer schools.
Sorry for the very long winded post, but seeing this new info this afternoon, I really needed to work through some of these thoughts/feelings (in the bare amount, for my own sanity!) Who knows of any of this comes to fruition, and I definitely think interviewing/considering a job change is much different than actually committing to one. But as someone is very seriously considering attending UCI law next fall, it has deffinitely given me a lot to think about.
I don't agree with all you say but I think you have made some good points here. He wasn't gonna stick around much longer as dean anyway, but if he goes to Berkeley, I think I share your sense that it's way worse for the school than him retiring or going back to being a full time teacher or even going to some completely different kind of job. It's not so much that I think 'wow, he'll be super duper at Berkeley if he ends up there,' I really have no idea about that. He is really well known and at Irvine it seems like that was a big giant plus for the brand new school. Berkeley has a bunch of well known people and is well-established (though kinda in trouble now, at least in a T-14 kinda way) and having a famous-for-law-professor dean might be good for them but might not be so good, I really have no idea. But Irvine without him is likely to wobble, maybe a little, maybe a lot. And there's something kind of sad about building a school, getting it established, and then going off to a sister school that mostly has going for it that it's already higher ranked. Maybe the alums and community and students and potential donors will say 'hooray, look how great our dean is, even berkeley wanted him.' But I kinda think not. I think it will feel to some of those alums and community members and students and donors like a betrayal. Maybe that will make them band together and be even more loyal to the school. But I wouldn't bet on that. Anyway, your posting made me think about this stuff in more detail than I had before. so thanks for that.
(Not relevant for me personally, at least not this minute. I've pretty much 90 percent decided I'm gonna wait another year for law school anyway.)