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2009-2010 End of Year Message from the Dean

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Apr 27, 2010

As the academic year comes to a close, we congratulate the Class of 2010!  I also want to express my deep appreciation to the entire student body for your energy, community spirit, and devotion to UC Davis School of Law.

Before recapping the highlights of a truly amazing year, let me emphasize that we understand the difficulties that many second year and graduating students are facing in this tough job market.  For students looking for employment, please know that we support you.  The Career Services office will be open throughout the summer and the staff, as well as the larger King Hall community, is ready, willing, and able to provide you with assistance now and all summer long.  Please take us up on our offer.

The past year has been one of remarkable achievements, especially given the tough economic times.  Here are just a few highlights from 2009-10.

1.  Up, Up, and Away:  National Rankings

The Law School moved up to number 28 in the U.S. News & World Report's ranking of close to 200 ABA-approved law schools, up from 35 last year and an aberrational 44 the year before.  Law professor Brian Leiter's influential assessment ( of law faculty productivity and influence, ranked our faculty even higher (23).

We must be wary of placing undue emphasis on surveys and polls.  However, these rankings are a welcome recognition of the excellence that we see on a daily basis at King Hall. 

2.  Bar Passage Rate of 90 percent!

The class of 2009 had an outstanding 90 percent bar passage rate.  These new alums deserve great credit for this huge success.  We also must acknowledge the hard work of Director of Academic Success Emily Randon.  Let's see if the Class of 2010 can beat 90 percent!

3.  Applications Rise an Astronomical 22 percent!

Applications to UC Davis School of Law increased this year by nearly 22 percent, with the end result being the third highest number of applications in school history.  The increase was more than triple the national average - yet another indication of the School of Law's growing national reputation.

4.  King Hall's East Wing Nears Completion

King Hall's new east wing is nearly complete.  We move into the new wing in June!  Our ability to proceed with this vital improvement to our building during one of the most challenging economic environments in all of our lifetimes is nothing less than incredible.  Thank you for your patience and support.

Besides more (and beautiful) space, the building expansion will allow us to provide exciting new research opportunities for students and faculty.  The California Law Revision Commission, the research arm of the California Legislature, moves into our new wing this summer. 

5.  Student Successes Abound

Congratulations to our outstanding students, who once again made us proud with their remarkable successes in moot court, mock trial, negotiations, and other competitions around the world.  King Hall students turned in a series of excellent performances, indeed far too many to list.

We had another outstanding Neumiller competition on Picnic Day 2010.   With the new UCDC Internship program, a group of students excelled in internships in spring 2010 with government and nonprofit groups in Washington, D.C.  Our outstanding clinical students and faculty won cases week after week all year long.

6.  Our Outstanding Faculty Shines

Besides writing influential books and articles that gained national and international acclaim, the law faculty received many honors and accolades over the year.  Professor Cruz Reynoso was awarded the State Bar of California's Bernard E. Wilkin Medal for his "significant contributions to the quality of justice and legal scholarship."  His remarkable life was the subject of the documentary "Cruz Reynoso:  Sowing the Seeds of Justice," which was previewed in the historic Crest Theatre in Sacramento.

Professor Diane Marie Amann received the American Bar Association Section of International Law Mayre Rasmussen Award for the Advancement of Women in International Law.  Professor Andrea Bjorklund was elected to the American Law Institute, joining more than a dozen law faculty members in this prestigious organization.  Professor Donna Shestowsky was awarded a substantial grant to support her dispute resolution research.  Professor Amagda Pérez received the William and Sally Rutter Distinguished Teaching Award.  Forgive me for not listing all the other honors bestowed on the law faculty, which I frankly have a hard time keeping up with.

Our faculty regularly weigh in on the pressing legal issues of our times and, over the last few months, could be heard or quoted in many national and international venues, including the Washington Post, New York Times, International Herald Tribune, BBC, CNN, NPR, Los Angeles Times, and Wall Street Journal.

7.  New Faculty and New Courses

Next year, we have two great new additions to the Law School faculty.  Professor Mario Biagioli from Harvard University, an expert in intellectual property and the history of copyright law, is joining the faculty.  He will be splitting his time with the Sciences & Technology Studies Department on campus.  In addition, an established national immigration law scholar, Professor Leticia Saucedo is coming from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and will serve as Director of Clinical Legal Education and teach Immigration Law and other classes.

Rick Frank will teach two environmental courses, including a Climate Change course, in the fall.  We also have added, or plan to add, Energy Law, State and Local Taxation, Spanish for Lawyers, and other courses to the course schedule for next year.

More good news - the campus has authorized us to fill three new faculty positions next year, a most generous allocation in these budgetary times.

8.  Great Symposia, Conferences, Lectures, and Centers

This year's UC Davis Law Review Symposium -- "The Asian Century?" - filled the Moot Courtroom for a scintillating discussion of the increasing influence of Asia on economic development, human rights, and the law.  The Business Law Journal, Journal of International Law and Policy, Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy and the Journal of International Law, and Environmental Law Society also brought international and national legal leaders and scholars to UC Davis with wonderful symposia.  In addition, the Law School last fall hosted the Fenwick & West Symposium on Technology Entrepreneurship and the Law on "CleanTech in the New Environmental Environment," second in a series of events generously supported by our friends at Fenwick & West.

This year's endowed lectures were delivered by two nationally respected jurists: Judge Stephen R. Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Barrett Lecture) and Justice Carlos Moreno of the California Supreme Court (Bodenheimer Lecture).

The California International Law Center at King Hall (CILC) celebrates the close of its first full year.  Under the leadership of Professor Diane Marie Amann, CILC brought international legal issues to the fore at King Hall.  Among many other leading international lawyers and scholars, CILC hosted Fatou Bensouda, Deputy Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC).  CILC awarded two fellowships to students to do human rights work this summer.

9.  Loan Repayment and Assistance Program Expanded

The first loan repayment program at a UC law school, the King Hall Loan Repayment and Assistance Program (LRAP) has been expanded to allow more graduates to participate, and to expand eligibility.  LRAP "forgives" both undergraduate and law school loans for those alums who pursue public interest careers.

10.  Development and Alumni Relations Successes

In the nation's most severe economic downturn since the Great Depression, the greater King Hall community rallied to support the Law School once again in 2009-10, providing financial support for scholarships, student organizations, endowed chairs and professorships for faculty, the building project, and much more.  The last 12 months brought an additional $400,000 from the Mabie Family Foundation.  The Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation pledged $250,000 to support of the building renovation.  The Law School also received a major gift from the Central Valley Foundation, which established the Central Valley Foundation/McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment.

We have expanded our efforts to reach out to alumni across the country and held alumni events this year in, among other places, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Anchorage, San Diego, San Jose, Los Angeles, Irvine, Fresno, and Palo Alto.  We, of course, held numerous events in Sacramento, including (1) a special reception and evening with CNN legal correspondent, Jeffrey Toobin; and (2) a celebration of the tenth anniversary of the Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic, with a keynote address by California Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg '84.  Through these efforts, we have secured countless alums to volunteer to participate in faculty and student events.


These many achievements-and the many others too numerous to mention-confirm what we all know -- that UC Davis School of Law is one of the best law schools in the country.   We are grateful to all of you for all you have done to make this possible.  With your help, enthusiasm, and energy, we will build on these successes and reach even greater heights in the coming years.

Have an excellent summer!  Congratulations once again to the Class of 2010.