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University of California - Irvine School of Law
NOTE: UC Irvine's profile is under construction. In the meantime, please check out an updated informational video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mccdkS81SFw&feature=youtu.be.
Special thanks go to Dean Erwin Chemerinksy and Dean Victoria Ortiz, and to some helpful TLS students for providing much-needed insight into life at this new law school. Published December 2009, last updated by TLS June 2011.
NOTE: UC Irvine's profile is under construction. In the meantime, please check out an updated informational video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mccdkS81SFw&feature=youtu.be.
When UCI Law opened in 2009, there was plenty of excitement. Students had the rare opportunity to be the inaugural class of a much-hyped law school. Best of all, they all came in with full scholarships. Faculty members, under the tutelage of Dean Erwin Chemerinsky, were ready to start making the school a competitor with the likes of University of Texas – Austin, Vanderbilt University, and the University of Southern California. However, before UCI Law can truly establish itself among the aforementioned top-20 law schools, it must gain full accreditation. Things are on the right track in this respect as, on June 14th, 2011, UCI Law was granted provisional accreditation by the American Bar Association.
It is difficult to explain the excitement around this new law school to those not immersed in the legal world. Outsiders see the legal market as a bloated enterprise that has taken several hits over the past couple of years. Tuition is on the rise, average student debt grows, and a question mark hangs over many students’ employment prospects. Some wondered why anyone would want to found a law school in a state that already has twenty ABA-accredited law schools.
A few answers arise when you look at the details. The University of California system is nationally renowned and nationally connected. It has in its repertoire the most reputable public law school in the country, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall. Every law school in the UC system is ranked in the first tier, so another – by virtue of its name – will bring imminent publicity and claims of potential greatness. In Irvine’s case, Dean Victoria Ortiz touted, “we will be a top 20 school, by any measure, any time we are ranked.”
The opening of a law school is rare. The audacity of Deans Chemerinsky and Ortiz is rarer. Their assured claims of top law school status drew enough attention to attract a highly qualified, diverse student body. It is, of course, impossible to predict exactly what ranking the law school will reach once it receives full accreditation (UCI Law will be eligible for full accreditation in 2014). Incoming students realize this, and everyone at UCI Law, professors included, are aware of the gamble they took when they moved to Orange County.
The full-tuition, waived application fee, a rock star faculty and a list of employers willing to hire students were Irvine’s primary gambits. Except for the guaranteed full-tuition, everything remains in place for this cycle. Many students won’t apply because of the risks, uncertainties and weirdness involved in being at a school without upperclassmen or alumni to look to for help. Still, 2,700 applicants threw their name in the ring between 2008 and 2009. From this competitive group, 110 students were accepted and 60 enrolled. Today, they are doing what they can to fulfill Dean Ortiz’s prophecy.
Because it is still nascent, nobody has a grasp on the particular quirks of UCI Law’s admissions process. We have little to go on. The law school’s medians suggest it favors competitive applicants. In addition, the law school chose not to share 25th and 75th percentile information with TLS, claiming the insignificance of these statistics. This is reasonable, since the class size is extremely small, the law school has only had one cycle, and numbers without context can easily mislead potential applicants.
So, any insights we have into the admissions process come from Dean Ortiz. In an exclusive TLS interview, she says that the broad goal of the law school is “to bring together a community of bright, engaged, academically talented, risk-taking students.” Administrators recognize each student is taking a chance being in the inaugural class, which means, naturally, they will seek students who seem up to the challenge.
Dean Ortiz continues, “Even in our second, third, fourth years of operation, we will still be a new law school” and, because of this, UCI Law will need students who can remain excited not only about attending a top law school, but also about building a top law school from the inside out. As Dean Morgan of University of Nevada – Las Vegas put it, UCI Law’s mission is much like “trying to fly the plane while you’re still building it.”
Whatever knowledge we have about the admissions process will likely become outdated, as a current first year tells us, “[admissions] will likely keep the second year class small (60 to 80) and then grow it slowly until they reach about 200 students per class.” In December 2009, an admissions counselor told TLS that the second year class size could be “80 to 100” if there are enough qualified students.
Because of its extremely small class size, UCI Law had the best acceptance rate of the 2009 cycle. Out of 2,742 applicants, the law school accepted 110. A 4% acceptance rate easily trumps that of Yale or Stanford, but it is difficult to maintain. As long as applications remain free and the hype keeps up, students will likely apply by the thousands.
The first thing file readers do is read the many statements that UC Irvine asks students to write. These statements are paramount to an applicant’s success. Dean Ortiz stresses this point: “The non-numerical factors are tremendously important in our assessment or evaluation of a candidate’s file. I cannot overstate that point. People, applicants, are not simply a combination of two numbers, with a little bit added on.”
Some things will help your chances, though they by no means guarantee admission. Remember that the school will only accept a tiny fraction of applicants; they have the luxury of being choosy. They will pick who they consider to be the best fit, though not by any predictable metric. Dean Ortiz says that “evidence of consistent and committed public interest or volunteer work” can make her lean towards a candidate. However, she also cites the following as other positive factors: raising a family while earning your Bachelor’s, having a career as a scientist and returning to school, strong academic credentials. There is no rule about what turns heads at UCI Law, but any of the above should definitely work in your favor.
The law school aims for diversity, so it behooves you to showcase what makes you unique. Moreover, since the class size is small, it helps to apply early. Decisions go out as early as November, and if you wait until the deadline to apply, then, says Ortiz, “it is really too late.”
Transcripts and LSAT Scores
As an applicant, you have limited wiggle room once your numbers are locked in. Fortunately, Ortiz says, “We do not feel it is our place to weight the applicants’ undergraduate institutions or to somehow value some of these more than others.” That is, prestige is of limited interest to UC Irvine. What matters are upward or downward grade trends. If a trend is noticeable either way, applicants are encouraged to submit an addendum explaining the earlier or later weaker performance.
Also, the school accepts additional statements with strong numbers only “if they were earned under incredibly adverse circumstances and the applicant wants to point out how remarkable” this success is under duress.
A candidate with more than one LSAT score won’t have to fret too much. Dean Ortiz informs us, “We take the higher score in cases where an applicant has taken the LSAT more than once.” She also warns prospective students not to take the LSAT more than once, since the chances of increasing one’s score significantly are low. She also adds:
When it comes to personal statements, Dean Ortiz gives a long list of don’ts. She says never to start an essay with the following: “Ever since I was five years old I have wanted to be a lawyer.” Also:
One word should guide your writing process: authenticity. UCI Law wants to know who you are, because you will be part of a batch of students who understand risk, who are motivated, who they can imagine will make an outstanding first set of alumni. This is a tall order, and they are clearly looking for statements that take the time to address these issues, either directly or indirectly.
If you are not really interested in helping to start a new law school, then this will come across in your writing. First, you have to convince yourself, come up with a good argument, weigh the risks involved, and after going through this process, give them what they need to decipher who you are. The law school requires “a second statement that addresses the applicant’s reasons for wishing specifically to attend this brand-new school.” This means that you have time to directly address this issue, and you shouldn’t commit your personal statement (unless you feel compelled to) answering the question.
Your personal statement, if tailored to UCI Law (and not, says Ortiz, “by simply putting in the name of the school”), will reveal the seriousness of your application. This is time consuming. It will take several drafts. There will be rewrites, complete scraps of versions, possible self-torment and maybe even gnashing of the teeth; the point is, not many students will take the time to put this effort in. Since the law school is accepting so few people, they will set aside those who are serious from those who are not, and the essays are how they do this efficiently.
This supports Dean Ortiz’s assertion that they look beyond the two numbers when choosing their class. Since the school is aspiring to be in the top 20, it is going to make some effort to keep its LSAT and GPA medians competitive. Use the above numbers as one metric; what is really important, if you want to attend UCI Law, is that you express your seriousness in an authentic manner.
That said, much of Dean Ortiz’s comments make sense. It is easy to see why she says, “Diversity is not a monolithic category.” The law school considers each applicant as different from every other applicant. “Some diversity,” she tells us, “can be described as ethnic, racial, national, or religious – in other words, identity diversity. There is also geographic diversity, political diversity, age diversity, gender identity diversity, and sexual orientation diversity, among others.”
The diversity statement is your chance to tell the law school more about what separates you from the pack. Remember that whatever rhetoric you put forth in the diversity statement should be an accompaniment to, not a rehashing of, your rhetoric in the personal statement.
Letters of Recommendation
Dean Ortiz suggests getting your letters from professors who have taught you. They are, according to her, “by far the best letters to provide.” Ortiz continues:
Do not submit a letter from friends or relatives and stay away from public figures who may have known you since you were a child. Usually, these people cannot give any information about how you will perform academically.
For the Class of 2012, students were given full-tuition scholarships. The law school wants to continue to attract top students, so substantial scholarship offers will likely be made, especially while the class size remains small.
On June 14th, 2011, the school’s application for provisional accreditation was granted by the American Bar Association. As a result, graduates can now take the bar exam without taking a "baby bar" qualifying exam. UCI Law is on track to receive full accreditation in 2014 (at which point it will be ranked by U.S. News and World Report).
Students should not worry too much about the law school gaining accreditation. This is part of the risk of attending, but it is very likely that UCI Law will easily meet all of the provisional accreditation requirements by the time their first students graduate.
For every school, the waitlist plays a particular role. Students may be pleased to hear that even with so few acceptances, UCI Law did, in fact, use the waitlist for its first cycle. On the other hand, Dean Ortiz says, once you are on the list, “there is really nothing a waitlisted student need do beyond letting us know she wishes to remain on the waitlist.”
The law school cannot give out specific numbers as to how many waitlist acceptances it made, in order to protect the confidentiality of students. Since the class size is exceedingly small, this makes sense.
Further, there are no set dates for when the waitlist is closed; the law school plans to close it – as a general principle – once an optimal class size is reached. This, combined with the fact that anywhere from 60 to 100 students could make up the new class, only adds to the uncertainty of how this cycle will pan out.
As of December 2009, the law school does not yet know if it will accept transfer applicants.
Law School Culture
The culture at UC Irvine is another big unknown. It is unlike other law schools in that there are no upperclassmen who can give you the rundown on professors’ teaching and exam habits. The grading curve, for the time being, is “recommended” as follows:
The median is generously set at a B+ (3.3), which, along with the recommended (as opposed to mandatory) nature of the curve, means students probably won’t be worrying extensively about grades. For the first several years, incoming classes will have the privilege and the burden of forming the law school’s culture. Students must be willing to contribute to the school in any number of ways, since there are no student organizations, no law journals, no moot courts, and no alumni to rely on for help.
So, it is very likely that the culture will be cooperative, exciting, stressful, and full of the notion that you are creating something of value with your fellow students. This, along with the regular pressure of law school, may be too much for some. For others, though, this is rightly seen as a rare chance to shape how people will commit themselves to the law. Currently, however, the culture of the law school is amorphous; it will probably change with each incoming class.
For the time being, public service is mentioned by administrators and students quite often. Granted, many first years will enter law school wanting to commit themselves to the public and many will end up working at large law firms to pay off debt. The students at UCI Law will not be worrying too much about debt, which allows them to realistically remain focused on this goal.
One of the inaugural students gives us additional insight:
Very clearly, then, most students understand their role at UCI Law is to be more than a student. This may be a foreign notion to many applicants. It may also be extremely exciting to others. Because of the stakes involved in choosing this law school over another, most students are at the very least resigned and happy to be attending. Some may have qualms with the city of Irvine, but there are hardly any complaints regarding the quality of education that students are getting. The inaugural student says:
The above highlights quite possibly the greatest benefit of choosing UCI Law over another law school. You will get more personal attention than you know what to do with. The law school is heavily investing its time and energy to create a competitive institution, and Dean Chemerinsky recognizes that students matter.
If accepted, you will find that your opinions, your educational desires, and your job prospects are all important to the faculty at UCI Law. Though there are no alumni to help you out, faculty and administrators will fill in the gap. Professors are well-connected and, in some cases, well-renowned. They will do what they can to help you get the experience you want.
Dean Chemerinsky shares the following about Orange County’s conservative-leaning atmosphere and the political atmosphere of the law school:
As we mentioned above, the professors are top-notch. They are one of the main draws for applicants. Currently, 22 professors teach at UCI Law, which makes the student to faculty ratio an unbeatable 3 to 1. This number will continue to be impressive for a few years, as more hires are planned even as more students enroll.
Dean Chemerinsky gives the following information about the founding faculty members and what law schools they hailed from:
The dean at University of Virginia called the faculty “first-rate,” saying Dean Chemerinsky has done “what most thought impossible.” This list, with the addition of some other faculty, has been touted as a “dream team,” “a great start,” and “outstanding” by deans of top law schools. One of the highlights is Catherine Fisk, who is an expert in labor and employment law and civil rights law.
Dean Ortiz says, “Aside from the personal reasons each individual faculty member may have had, I think that all of them share in the strong desire to be an integral part of building a new, vibrant institution.” Indeed, students can expect that these faculty members are more than professors. They will be involved in the creation of brand new curricula, in student organizations, in fundraising and mentoring. Their teaching roles will be supplemented by the roles of an inaugural staff. Apart from grading exams and teaching the law, they will be advocates for the law school in every field.
Many current faculty and staff members, according to Dean Ortiz, “were drawn here because we wanted to work with Dean Erwin Chemerinsky.” Much can be said about Chemerinsky as a professor and a scholar; the Leiter rankings have him as the “number 3 most-cited constitutional law professor.” In fact, Catherine Fisk ranks number 6 on the same metric for labor law.
A first-year reports back to TLS about the professor situation at the law school. He states, “Office doors are always open.” In fact, he continues:
The mention of a “faculty appointment committee” on which students can sit underscores how involved students will be in shaping the law school. Students are able to openly voice their concerns and state their hopes about what professors they want and the law school will listen. In turn, professors watch out for students, and, when the time comes, will play a role in helping them find work.
As for what it’s like inside the building, a student shares the following about the use of Socratic Method, cold-calling and other teaching techniques:
This variation in teaching methods seems to be standard at law schools. What stands out, though, is how well professors seem to be applying standard teaching methods. Naturally, first-years don’t have much to compare it to, but there is something to be said about the fact that faculty members are not only established scholars, but also, that they reportedly know how to teach.
Curriculum for first-year students is rather traditional. While the names of classes are different, the subject matter remains the same: torts, contracts, criminal law, lawyering skills, legal analysis and legal writing are all part of the curriculum. You can view the curriculum here.
The difference at UCI, according to Dean Ortiz, is that the “approach to legal education blends practice into theory, providing experiential approaches to the teaching and learning of legal theory and concepts.” This means that first-year students get exposed to “fact investigation, negotiation, interviewing,” along with other lawyering skills that first-year students at other law schools do not traditionally get. This may give students a leg up when they are seeking employment, though that is yet to be determined.
Interestingly, all students are required to perform “intake interviews of real clients,” says Dean Chemerinsky. The law school has partnerships in place with Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Orange County Public Defender’s office, and Public Law Center. These partnerships give students in their second semester direct access to real people who need legal services.
Also, students have to take a year-long course called Legal Profession. Dean Chemerinsky tells us, “This will teach students about the economics of the profession, the psychology of the profession, and the sociology of the profession.” To help you parse out what the classes cover, Dean Chemerinsky provides a handy list:
The law school does not have a computer requirement, and exams and notes can be taken either by hand or on a laptop. There have been no reports to TLS about whether or not laptops are banned in certain classes, but with how small the class is and how close students will be to their professors, there will probably be minimal issues regarding tweeting, facebooking, or instant messaging while students are in class.
Curricular opportunities, for the time being, are limited. There is no established study abroad program and there are no joint degree program offerings. Students will be focused on two things: obtaining their J.D. and building up the law school’s organizations.
That said, all students have an additional requirement to fulfill in their third year. They must have clinical experience before graduation. Dean Ortiz says, “The required clinical units will be earned by participation in either one of the in-house clinics we are developing or in one of a number of externships with organizations that will partner with us.”
While this has yet to pan out, a first-year talks to TLS about the requirement:
Nobody can say for sure what the law school will offer in later years. The UC system will very likely back the school, and much of what UCI Law will offer depends on the manpower and resources it can devote. Students cannot independently improve curricular offerings, but they can tell administrators where they want funding to be concentrated.
That said, you will likely have a chance to shape what curricular opportunities exist at UCI Law. If they do not materialize for you, however, then you might have to resign yourself to the fact that some classes will only be available to those who come after you. As was revealed above, any class that has more than 5 students wishing to enroll will likely be offered to those students.
This makes it seem like program tracks, class offerings, and other curricular opportunities will form slowly as the class size increases and the law school gets more grounded. For now, incoming students have a choice. They can resign themselves to what is available, or they can clamor for more. Because of the culture that UCI Law is building for itself, it seems like student input will, for the most part, yield something that current and future students will find useful.
We have no statistics for job placement because nobody has graduated yet. Similarly, information regarding indebtedness is limited (though we have a quick analysis in the Quality of Life section below).
Everything, at this point, is speculation. The predictions range from confident to hopeless. Naturally, those who predict the legal market’s demise will have little hope for a burgeoning law school, regardless of what anyone says. Current students and deans, of course, look at the future with great expectations.
Dean Ortiz gives us some reasons for cautious optimism:
In addition, Dean Chemerinsky says, “Many [of these employers] have said that they will hire our students. Many federal judges have told me that they are interested in our students for clerkships.” Within Orange County, there seems to be a demand for UCI Law graduates (who don’t even exist yet) among law firms, government offices, and other agencies.
While the law school has national aspirations, most of the excitement seems to be regional. Dean Ortiz explains why:
There is some risk that the law school will be more of a regional powerhouse than a national one. Students, once the law school has provisional accreditation, will be able to take the bar exam in whatever state they want. This will help things, but any new law school will have trouble building a national base, especially when one considers the troubled legal market.
Still, Dean Chemerinsky says, “We are a national law school and will work aggressively to place our students wherever they want to settle.” A first-year shares this anecdote regarding Chemerinsky’s (and the law school’s) helpfulness, though the example is one of local placement:
Granted, this student self-describes his job search as "non-traditional…limited to the immediate area,” and there may be other examples that highlight the national aspirations of the school. For now, though, we will have to keep a lookout on the TLS forums for more information regarding summer employment prospects at UCI Law.
Quality of Life
Businesses in Irvine are excited about the new law school. Law firms, government agencies, and legal aid societies want in on the action. Irvine is the major business and financial hub of Orange County, which has a reputation (thanks to The O.C. and Laguna Beach) for producing rich, spoiled white kids. The people of Irvine are more than this, though, and such a minimalist depiction of the nation’s most populous county cannot hold.
There are immigrants from around the world who decided to settle there, deciding that the great weather, nearby large cities (Los Angeles and San Diego are about an hour’s drive), and relaxed, suburban sprawl were part of the American Dream. The city has a large Asian community, which makes up about 30 percent of the population. It is somewhat pricey to live in Irvine, and, accordingly, poverty levels are below the national average.
Irvine seems to value education. The two major employers in this city of 212,000 are UC Irvine and Irvine Unified School District, which manages public schools. Everyone knows the value of these institutions, as, together, they provide jobs for about 18,000 residents. A first-year mentions, “The community – legal, corporate, and otherwise – sees UCI Law as a huge score.” This is not because they expect the law school to provide more jobs. Rather, “it's like landing a major league sports franchise, and is a tremendous boon to the community and its image on a number of levels.”
The university is out to create a veritable giant for Southern California. The excitement is palpable, community support and pride are there to help the law school meet its mission however possible. The first-year continues:
That said, a streak of optimism seems to surround this whole venture. In fact, current students have described themselves as full of enthusiasm, which can be infectious for future students. More words from a 1L:
This attitude at UCI Law is a powerful one, as it is not only the students who possess it, but various employers as well. Thus, as a student at the new law school, you will likely be seen as a rare breed (there will only be a handful of you) and, in some cases, people will be surprised to hear that there is a law school in Irvine at all.
This means your role as a student might be ambassadorial even when you don’t intend it to be. Sometimes, in unexpected places, an explanation, however brief, will be required of you. In those moments, you will be more than a student. You will be a representative of an institution. This will probably be rare, as current students report being so entrenched in the law school’s community that they will rarely meet people outside the sphere of their classmates. But it is still something for prospective students to consider.
Finally, the political and social climate may be of interest to current applicants. A first-year tells us:
Orange County is actually one of the more conservative parts of California, which is a largely liberal state. This makes Irvine atypical of cities in the region but typical of larger cities in the state.
The law school currently does not have its own building, which may be a bone of contention for some applicants. However, Dean Ortiz says:
A helpful 1L tells TLS, “The gym/recreation center is the most impressive I’ve ever seen.” The law library is brand new as well, and many students expect the law building, once it is built, to be a fine addition.
A first year says, “In general, the school's facilities are really nice, and the on-campus housing is fantastic – especially for families/domestic partners. Our apartment is reasonable, nice and spacious, and generally a huge step up from where we had been.”
For those who wish to live off-campus, there are several residents of Irvine on TLS who offer some very useful information:
The median cost of housing in Irvine is higher than most places in the country, which partially explains why the living estimate UCI Law gives is so high. For future classes, this will likely affect how much in loans students will have to take out, which will probably increase the average amount of indebtedness for students at UCI Law. That said, it is hard to find a reputable law school in a city with such great beach access, and if UCI Law’s top 20 dream comes to fruition, location may be a major draw for future applicants.
Dean Ortiz says, “Southern California is a wonderful area of the country. The climate is fabulous. There are beaches, desert, and mountains all within close proximity.” Nobody can argue with that. Southern California has drawn people from around the world to bask in its beauty. It should come as no wonder that Orange County is the most populated county in the country. Ortiz continues:
A resident backs this up, “When it comes to clubbing, Irvine doesn't have much, actually Orange County doesn't have much but L.A. really isn't that far away.” There is also plenty to do around the city. Residents share the following:
The style of life in Irvine is different from large cities; it is where beach culture meets suburbia, and a first year “definitely appreciates the clean, calm, and quiet.” He goes on to say:
Also, he reports, living in suburban Irvine was part of the gamble for some incoming students. Generally, though, students are pleased and their qualms are minor. In addition, bike lovers are in for a treat. “All of Irvine is one big bike lane,” a 1L says. “Cycling here is huge. There are bike paths everywhere, and you can ride to the beach in 20 minutes.” Indeed, with 282 miles of bike lanes throughout the city, students can enjoy the Orange County Coast with the wind against their helmet, pushing hornbooks and bluebooking out of their minds for a few hours at a time.
The bus system may be a minus for the city. A current resident says, “Anyone who tells you OCTA (Orange County Transportation Authority) is a reliable and sufficient method of transportation in Irvine has not lived there for a credited period of time.”
Students of the inaugural class do not have to pay tuition. The estimated cost of living in Irvine (factoring in educational costs as well) runs about $17,000 each year. That said, if current students take out loans to cover all of this, then average student debt can run as high as $54,000 for the inaugural class. Considering the cost of other law schools, this is not very high at all.
For future students, though, this number is sure to increase unless UCI Law finds enough funding to waive tuition for all its students in later years, which is highly unlikely. Note that since it is a public school, there are two tuition rates – one for residents and one for nonresidents. Without any reliable information on scholarships provided to incoming students, we cannot make any solid predictions about how indebted future classes will be.
Put this on the list of things to come. Dean Ortiz says, “We certainly will have a law review and a moot court program (both internal and one that competes nationally). But we will work with our students on developing these.”
Over the years, students will be shaping what the law school has to offer. This is a concrete example of why the law school seeks to enroll those who exhibit an ability to measure and take risks, those who are committed to starting something new, and those who can remain excited about this opportunity for three whole years.
Dean Ortiz warns future students, “No one should choose to go to a particular law school solely based on that school’s ranking. There are many factors that go into having a positive law school experience and most of these are actually not reflected in the ranking.”
This advice bodes well for a school like UCI Law, which is, as we know, unranked. But the point stands. Ranking is a small piece of a law school’s profile. Students will likely get accepted into various law schools in similar tiers; the question becomes one of fit. You have to weigh your options against such impossible-to-predict metrics as quality of life, potential happiness, and the prospect of finding a job that you will enjoy doing.
On top of these unknowns, which apply to all law schools, UCI Law adds a few more. This, students report, is what makes up the risk. However, it is also part of the fun. Here is your opportunity to be a part of something new, something important to a state with a huge economy, population and a long, storied history. As a student at UCI Law, you will have administrators, professors, and upperclassmen telling you how significant your role is.
This will likely add to the stress of attending classes, but for many, it will be worth it to put together what is slated to become a top law school. The great risk, of course, is that the law school never reaches top 20 status and the claims of students and staff alike become bunk. But here we have Dean Ortiz’s advice. Rankings are only part of a law school’s profile.
The law school, even before it opened its doors, meant much to the community. While it does not plan to be a strictly regional powerhouse, it looks like the law school will provide a highly valued service to the region regardless of its future. Already, students are asked to serve – they will be conducting interviews with clients in their second semester and are required to gain clinical experience before graduation. The law school wants its students to be good lawyers by practicing good lawyering.
Students can be excited about that. They can be excited about the scholarship opportunities available while class sizes are small. They can think about living in a gorgeous city in Southern California close to the beach. And students can have some faith that even if the law school doesn’t have national sway by the time they graduate, then something will likely be available to them in Orange County, which after three years, might even seem like home.
While there are many risks involved in attending a brand new law school, there are certainly some things to get enthused about. UCI Law does have a few obvious things going for it. The faculty is top-notch. The experiential curriculum is a novelty among law schools. The Irvine community is excited about the new institution and its students for many reasons.
Ultimately, it is up to the student to decide. If you require more information about UCI Law before sending in that application, contact the admissions office. If you want some frontline impressions of the law school told with honesty and candor, ask any of the current students who frequent TLS. We are here to help, because everyone benefits from an informed decision, but only you can know whether UCI Law is the right fit for you.
Interview: Dean Chemerinsky of UC Irvine School of Law
Interview: Dean Ortiz of UC Irvine School of Law
U.S. News & World Report Ranking: Unranked
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