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University of California, Irvine School of Law

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University of California, Irvine School of Law
Parent school University of California
Established 2009
School type Public
Dean Erwin Chemerinsky
Location Irvine, CA, US
Faculty 29 (See List)
Annual tuition
ABA profile link
Outlines 0 (See List)
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University of California, Irvine School of Law is located in Irvine, CA

The University of California, Irvine School of Law is the law school at the University of California, Irvine (UCI or UC Irvine). It is the fifth law school in the UC system and the first public law school to open in California in 40 years. In September 2007, Erwin Chemerinsky was announced as the law school's first dean.


Initially, it was announced that the school would be named for Donald Bren, chairman of the Irvine Company, in honor of his $20 million donation towards its founding. In 2008 an agreement was reached between Bren and UCI that the school would not bear his name. Chemerinsky said, "We are deeply grateful for the Bren gift, but it was decided between the chancellor and Mr. Bren that our name should be parallel to other UC schools."[1]

In the summer of 2011, the American Bar Association granted the school provisional accreditation. As law schools need to exist for two years before being granted provisional accreditation, this was the earliest point at which the school could become accredited. The school is eligible for full accreditation in 2014.[2] This also means students are not required to take the First year Law Student Examination for the California State Bar (colloquially known as the "Baby Bar"). This exemption is based on the ABA's policy regarding accreditation: "A school that is provisionally approved is entitled to all the rights of a fully approved law school."[3]

As of December 2011, the percentage of the Class of 2012 that had been placed with Federal District Court or Circuit Court judges for the year following graduation was near the highest in the country, placing only lower than Yale and Stanford Law, and placing ahead of Harvard Law.[2] While this is highly unusual for a brand new law school of any size, the Class of 2012 at UC Irvine is less than one-third the size of both Stanford and Yale's classes, and one-tenth the size of Harvard's.[4]


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In 2010, University of Chicago Law Professor Brian Leiter, in his "Leiter Law School Rankings", ranked the UC Irvine faculty 9th in the nation in terms of scholarly impact.[5]


Dean Chemerinsky set the goal of placing UCI Law in the top 20 from the first time the school was ranked. To help attract the highest quality students, the school offered full scholarships for all members of its inaugural class.[6] Over 2,700 applications were received to join the inaugural class yet only 4% were accepted.[7] Classes officially began for the first class of students on August 24, 2009. The School's inaugural class is composed of 34 females and 26 males with a median LSAT of 167 and median undergraduate GPA of 3.61.[8] UC Irvine's LSAT and GPA statistics rival Southern California's other top law schools, UCLA and USC, which are both ranked among the nation's top 20 by US News & World Report.[9]

Despite offering reduced scholarships to its next two classes (one-half for 2013, and one-third for 2014) and application pools dropping to less than one thousand per year, GPA and LSAT numbers for these classes remained largely the same.[10] The school announced that while need-based financial aid would be available to the Class of 2015, a universal scholarship for every student would not be offered. However, the school set aside funds for 20 full scholarships for this class including some scholarships specifically for students who wish to pursue public interest law.[2]

Chemerinsky hiring

UC Irvine Law School

In hiring an inaugural dean, the University approached constitutional law Professor[11] Erwin Chemerinsky. After signing a contract with Chemerinsky on September 4, 2007, the offer was rescinded by UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake because he felt the law professor's commentaries were "polarizing" and would not serve the interests of California's first new public law school in 40 years; Drake claimed the decision was his own and not the subject of any outside influence.[12] The action was criticized by liberal and conservative scholars who felt it hindered the academic mission of the law school, and disbelief over Chancellor Drake's claims that it was the subject of no outside influence.[12][13]

The issue was the subject of a New York Times editorial on Friday, September 14, 2007.[14] Details emerged revealing that UCI had received criticism on the hire from California Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who criticized Chemerinsky's grasp of death penalty appeals, as well as a group of prominent Orange County Republicans and Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who wanted to derail the appointment.[15] Drake traveled over a weekend to Durham, North Carolina, and the two reached an agreement late Sunday evening.[15] On September 17, Chemerinsky issued a joint press release with Drake indicating that Chemerinsky would head the UCI law school, stating "Our new law school will be founded on the bedrock principle of academic freedom. The chancellor reiterated his lifelong, unqualified commitment to academic freedom, which extends to every faculty member, including deans and other senior administrators."[16]


Tuition for 2011-12 cost approximately $40,000 for California residents and $52,000 for non-residents.[17] For the first, second and third entering classes, tuition was paid for by private scholarships from Mark P. Robinson, Jr., and others at 100%, 50% and 33% respectively.[18]


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