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A Welcome Message from the Dean

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Aug 12, 2009

First and foremost, a warm welcome to the class of 2012, transfer students, and LL.M. students from the world over!  And, welcome back to the returning second- and third-year students, as well as to faculty coming back to the classroom after a summer of research.

A Message to the 1Ls

Your next three years will be rewarding and enjoyable, but also challenging.  Please keep in mind throughout the trials and tribulations of the first year of law school that the study of law remains a wonderful gateway to opportunity.  You no doubt will find the King Hall community of faculty, staff, and students to be friendly, caring, and committed to the highest ethical and intellectual standards in the study and practice of law.  Over the next three years, devoted alumni will provide support to our students as well as the entire School of Law.

Your law studies begin with Intro Week from August 17-21.  The Welcome Barbecue on Sunday, August 16 offers students the chance to meet the people who will be their teachers, classmates, colleagues, and supporters for the next three years.  This year, our special guest at the Barbecue will be Linda Katehi, the new chancellor of UC Davis (who formally begins her new job on August 17).


I wanted to let all of you know of some new and exciting developments at King Hall.

New Faculty and Faculty Moves

We are pleased to welcome Professor Miguel Méndez to the outstanding King Hall faculty.   Formerly a chaired professor at Stanford Law School, Professor Méndez is one of the nation's leading evidence law scholars.  Indeed, the U.S. Supreme Court in June cited the evidence scholarship of Professor Méndez (as well as that of Professor Ed Imwinkelried) in Melendez-Diaz v. Massachusetts, 129 S. Ct. 2527 (2009).

We also welcome Professor John Hunt, formerly the research director of the law and finance program at the Berkeley Center for Law, Business, and the Economy.  Professor Hunt specializes in securities and capital markets regulation, corporate and consumer bankruptcy, and contracts.  Last, but not least, Professor Dennis Ventry, Jr., formerly of American University in Washington, D.C., has joined our excellent group of tax and business scholars.

Beginning in January, Rick Frank (Class of 1974), the Executive Director of the Center for Law, Energy, and the Environment at UC Berkeley, will serve as a visiting professor at UC Davis.  Professor Frank has spent 30 years working in California government, including service as the Chief Deputy Attorney General for Legal Affairs in the California Department of Justice.  An expert in environmental law, land use, and related issues, Professor Frank will teach Environmental Practice and California Environmental Issues next spring and also will build externship and other relationships between the School of Law and the state and federal governments.

Professor John Oakley, who has been one of the pillars of the King Hall faculty since 1975, formally retired in June.  I am happy to report, however, that Professor Oakley will teach civil procedure, federal jurisdiction, and jurisprudence at UC Davis this year.

Professor Clay Tanaka, an experienced legal writing instructor who enjoyed a long career in the California Attorney General's office, is the new Director of Legal Writing.  Professor Tanaka will be working with two new legal writing instructors:  (1) Lawrence Green (Class of 1975), former counsel to the California Land Title Association; and (2) Rachana Shah, a graduate of Harvard Law School who recently served as a law clerk to Judge John Mendez of the Eastern District of California.

Last year, under the leadership of Professor Diane Marie Amann, the School of Law created the California International Law Center at King Hall (CILC).  CILC already has established formal partnerships with the American Society for International Law and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.  Through this new Center, our King Hall community continues to work for justice at home and abroad.  The UC Office of the President this month funded two human rights fellowships, which will be run by CILC next summer.  Kate Doty (Class of 2008) is the inaugural CILC fellow for the 2009-10 academic year and will help the center pursue its mission of fostering the work of faculty, students, and alumni in international, comparative, and transnational law through, among other things, speakers' series, curricular and career development, and promoting partnerships. 

Professor Dan Simmons has been appointed to be Vice Chair of the University Of California Academic Senate and as faculty representative to the UC Board of Regents for 2009-10; he will become chair of the Academic Senate in 2010-11.  We are extremely fortunate to have a King Hall professor in such an important UC leadership position.

Exciting News and Upcoming Events

On November 6, the School of Law will host the Fenwick & West Symposium on Technology Entrepreneurship and the Law on "CleanTech in the New Environmental Environment."  On February 26, the UC Davis Law Review will host a symposium on The Asian Century?, which will study the impact of the rise of Asia on the global political economy and legal landscape.  Both conferences will bring renowned law professors, lawyers, and industry experts to King Hall.

On February 11, Justice Carlos Moreno, the lone dissenter in the California Supreme Court's Proposition 8 case, will deliver the Brigitte M. Bodenheimer Lecture on Family Law.

This summer, the UC Davis negotiations team of Sarah McBride and Jeffrey Osofsky won the International Negotiations Competition in Chicago, Illinois.  Teams from around the world competed in the competition.  McBride and Osofsky faced teams from Singapore, Denmark, Ireland, India, and South Korea. 

In July, 2Ls Sarah Jebrock and Daniel Watt were interviewed on a KGO (San Francisco) talk radio show about their experiences as first year students at King Hall.  You can listen to the interviews at

Over the summer, faculty frequently were featured in the national news discussing the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, the California Supreme Court decision in the Proposition 8 case, the California budget, and much more.  Their latest scholarship can be found in the Legal Studies Research Paper Series, UC Davis School of Law, Social Science Research Network (, at

King Hall Building Expansion and Renovation Project:  Looking Forward to May 2010!

My apologies in advance for the noise and dustiness caused by the King Hall Building Expansion and Renovation Project.  Despite the inconvenience, we are excited that construction on the building project continues at full speed.  Over the next few months, you will see the building take shape as the contractor will lay brick, install windows, and pour concrete for the courtyard elevator.  For regular updates, see the King Hall Construction Chronicles by Senior Assistant Dean Adam Talley, who has worked diligently to keep the building project on track, at

The new wing of the building is scheduled to be completed by May 2010.  Completion by this date will allow the California Law Revision Commission, the research arm of the California Legislature, to move into King Hall by July 1.  (The Commission's presence at King Hall will provide valuable research opportunities to faculty and students.).

The new wing of King Hall features enhanced and consolidated student service areas and state-of-the-art classrooms and conference rooms, which will foster interactions among students, faculty, alums, and the bench and bar.  The additional facilities also will permit new initiatives, such as hosting oral arguments of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, California Supreme Court, and California Court of Appeal in King Hall.

After completion of the new wing of King Hall, the renovation of the existing building will begin.  Planning on the renovation continues, and a committee of student, faculty, and staff representatives is providing input to the architects.  The renovation will greatly improve student space throughout the building.  In addition, the library will be remodeled to include, among other improvements, two new reading rooms, a dozen group study rooms, and a reading lounge.

We welcome your suggestions about how we can minimize the inconvenience of the construction.  And we listen!  In response to a suggestion from last year's Law Student Association President Eric Toscano, we will be creating a temporary lounge near the Wilkins Moot Courtroom (where the Registrar's Office was located), complete with seating, refrigerator, microwaves, and cable television.  Complementing the picnic tables added around King Hall, the new lounge will provide room for informal gathering, recreation, and dining.

Commencement 2010 at the Mondavi Center!

For the first time, the School of Law will host its next Commencement ceremony at the Robert and Margrit Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts on Friday, May 14, 2010.  The Mondavi Center also will be the location of a reception for students, faculty, family, and friends following the commencement ceremony.  Since opening in 2002, the Mondavi Center has earned the reputation as one of Northern California's premiere performance venues with superb acoustics, plush seating, and an appealing interior.

New Course Offerings, Course Advising, and LRAP

I am pleased that the law school, in no small part due to the hard work of Associate Dean Vik Amar, is offering many new, or rarely offered, classes in the 2009-10 academic year, including but not limited to Environmental Practice, California Environmental Issues, Housing Law, Women, Islam & the Law, International Finance, Trademark & Unfair Competition, Policing, Legal Ethics & Corporate Practice, Law of Financial Markets, Law & Popular Culture, Corporate and White Collar Crime, International Taxation, Globalization and the Law, Advanced Evidence, and Accounting for Lawyers.  We have worked hard to ensure breadth in the King Hall curriculum-and classes that are intellectually challenging as well as that have relevance to the modern-day practice of law.

Over this coming year, always looking on ways of improving student services, Senior Assistant Dean Hollis Kulwin will embark on providing expanded course advising information on the internet.  She also will work closely this year with student groups and faculty to expand faculty advising opportunities before registration in spring.

Last year, the School of Law expanded its Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) to expand eligibility for law graduates who pursue careers in public interest law.   For details, see  Beginning in January 2010, the improved LRAP raises the salary cap for participants and lessens the time they must work before loans can be forgiven from five years to one.  Most notably, UC Davis is the only UC law school with a LRAP program that forgives undergraduate and professional school loans.  We are proud to report that the public interest spirit is alive and well at King Hall!

Another Year of Success in Admissions and Outreach

Finalizing and enrolling the Class of 2012 -- as well as the class of transfer students -- has made summer a busy time for the Admissions Office, which continues to thrive under the skilled leadership of Assistant Dean for Admissions and Enrollment Sharon Pinkney.  As soon as we compile the information, we will provide details about the entering class, which promises to be one of our best ever!

The Admissions Office continues its outreach efforts to underrepresented communities.  I am proud to report that King Hall's outreach efforts far outstrip those of almost any other law school in the United States.  This summer, 34 undergraduates participated in the ninth year of the King Hall Outreach Program (KHOP), ably and energetically directed by Cristina Gapasin and Amanda Wilder; 94 percent of the KHOP students will be the first in their family to earn a bachelor's degree.  During the summer, students sharpened their writing, logical reasoning, and LSAT preparation skills in order to ready them to compete successfully in the law school admission process.  As has become a great tradition, I enjoyed a rafting trip with the KHOP students on the American River on a hot day in July.  Through KHOP, King Hall works in earnest to diversify the pipeline of students to law schools.

With the assistance of the Information Technology office, the Admissions Office is pioneering its first admissions season next year using an entirely paperless process.  This new system will provide the Admissions Committee with online access to applications, thereby reducing printing costs and environmental waste.

Academic Success Program:  Another Example of the King Hall Difference

Unlike many law schools, King Hall prides itself in graduating nearly 100 percent of all students who enroll.  To that end, Emily Randon, a wonderful addition to the King Hall community, last year joined the School of Law as our Director of Academic Success.  From Intro Week to the bar exam, King Hall students can take advantage of the Academic Success Program.  Workshops will be offered during Intro Week and the fall semester relating to case briefing, outlining and note-taking skills, individual learning styles, time and stress management, and exam preparation.  Resources will also be available for students interested in forming study groups, developing professional relationships with professors and students, and academic counseling.  Students in their final year also benefit from the extensive year-long program to help in the preparation for the bar examination.

We are proud of our Academic Success Program, which exemplifies what many alums, students, and faculty have come to call the "King Hall Difference."

Career Services:  News and Developments

As Dean, I have vigorously sought to increase the employment opportunities for our students and regularly visit law firms and national, state, and local bar associations.  In these difficult economic times, we will continue our efforts to expand the number of employers interviewing at King Hall.

This summer, I contacted managing partners at law firms in Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego and offered to meet with them to discuss the great students and faculty we have at King Hall, exciting new developments at the School of Law, and the future of legal education.  I am proud to say that the UC Davis School of Law - and our alums - have a spectacular reputation in the legal community.

Career Services director Mindy Baggish continues to be hard at work at fine-tuning the services provided by the office to our students.  Kirsten Hill, a stellar new addition to the office, will continue to provide information about the public interest employment opportunities.  This year, we moved up our On-Campus Interviewing (OCI) program to maximize student chances of securing employment.  OCI will take place in two parts:  the first session of OCI is from August 17-21, with a second session from September 8-11.  We are pleased to host a large number of employers, although the difficult economy has resulted in a few cancellations.  The Career Services staff will work closely with employers to accommodate any changes in dates and times for interviewing.

We encourage students to take advantage of new Career Services programs on job searches in a difficult economy.  Details will soon be available.  Please periodically check the new Career Services blog for the latest announcements on programs, networking opportunities, job listings, and much more.

Great Fundraising Success in 2008-09

Despite one of the most challenging economic climates since the Great Depression, the King Hall community rallied to support the School of Law during the 2008-09 fiscal year, making it the second-most successful fundraising year in the Law School history.  Alumni, faculty, staff, students, and friends contributed more than $2 million to support the Law School during 2008-09.  Just weeks ago, we finalized a $250,000 pledge for the renovation project from the Hugh and Hazel Darling Foundation.  Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni Relations Jean Flournoy Korinke has reorganized and professionalized this fine office of development and alumni relations professionals.

We have raised sufficient funds to enable the King Hall Building and Expansion Project to break ground, and have moved close to our $8 million private fundraising goal.  This year, we also:

  • Achieved 100 percent support from the Law School faculty (for the fourth consecutive year) and the alumni association board;

  • Obtained 83 percent participation from students for the building project (and a record-setting gift from the Class of 2009), meeting another challenge that could result in a donation of as much as $500,000 from a major foundation;

  • Raised funds for the Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic, King Hall Outreach Program, and the King Hall Annual Fund (which helps fund student events);

  • Increased our available endowed scholarships available to law students, one of our very top priorities; and

  • Set a record number of more than 1,200 donors to King Hall for the year! We also received a record number of gifts. The number of individuals and organizations giving to King Hall increased by 10% over 2007-08.

Alumni Relations:  More Alumni and Student Events and Networking Opportunities

The Alumni Relations office, under the able direction of Ginger Welsh, was busy all year organizing student and alumni events across the United States.  Hundreds of students and alumni participated in these events.  Many alumni were recruited as volunteers for student and career service events and panels.  Alumni events were held in Washington D.C., Seattle, San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, Davis, Orange County, Riverside, and many other cities.  We also held a celebration of the King Hall Founding Faculty, a "Topping-Off" Celebration for the new wing of King Hall, a Public Interest reception in Davis, a Capitol Reception in the state capital, and summer associate events for students and alumni in Sacramento and San Francisco.  Among other things, these events help King Hall students network with alums.

As Dean, I regularly visit alumni and friends of the School of Law throughout the state and nation.  A few weeks ago, for example, I spent a day visiting with an alum along with Walt Disney's General Counsel, at company headquarters in Burbank and, the next business day, I was visiting King Hall alumni in Seattle, Washington.  Just days before, I gave a keynote talk at a Bar Association of San Francisco reception for summer associates.  Next year, I have trips planned to, among other places, Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington, D.C., South America, and China to pursue alumni, development, and international opportunities for the School of Law.

Additions to the Law Library

Under the steady hand of Interim Director Judy Janes, the Mabie Law Library recently added several new databases, electronic titles, and library services.  We acquired the database collection of the United States Supreme Court Records and Briefs, 1832-1978.  The Library also added the BNA Tax and Accounting online library and new electronic collections that include materials from the American Society of International Law and the Hague Permanent Court of International Justice.  Other new holdings also include the CCH Libraries, CEB online treatises, and Knowledge Mosaic, a corporate and securities resource.

Library reference services have been greatly strengthened with the addition of Electronic Services Librarian Marissa Andrea, who joins an extraordinary group of excellent law librarians.  The library also has expanded its outreach to faculty and students through its faculty liaison program and contact with student groups.  Reference librarians are always available to provide guidance and assistance with research needs.  This fall, law librarians will teach a course in Advanced Legal Research, which will strengthen legal research skills using practice exercises.

Information Technology Improvements

Under Information Technology (IT) Director Jamie Butler's effective leadership and the tireless creativity of his staff, we look forward to many enhancements and new systems of the School of Law's information technology capabilities in the coming year.

In August, we unveiled a revamped and renamed Internet directory to replace the Intranet "Facebook."  The completely redesigned King Hall directory, will offer more information about students, faculty, and staff.  Students will now have the ability to edit and display information about themselves to create a profile to share with the community.

IT completed a new system for online voting and polling in Spring 2009.  A newly designed administrative interface will allow members of the King Hall community to create online polls for delivery to our internal community or the broader public.

IT is busy developing state-of-the-art instructional technology for our new classrooms and later this year will deploy audiovisual enhancements in the Wilkins Moot Courtroom.  The enhancements will allow students to hone trial practice skills by digitally recording mock trials and allowing faculty to provide evaluation and feedback.  The new technology also will enable the Law School to stream live and on-demand video for special events.

Marketing and Web Site Achievements: Improved Website, New Blogs, and More National Media Exposure

Under our enthusiastic and energetic new Marketing Director Pamela Wu, we continue developing new content for the School of Law website (  We now have three active blogs at  The Dean's Blog, King Hall Construction Chronicles, and the King Hall Career News & Notes.  A blog authored by law school faculty also will launch soon.

In late August, we will launch an enhanced web photo gallery featuring many more photos, enhanced navigation, and frequent timely updates after events.  We also will unveil a sub-site showcasing the King Hall expansion and renovation.

More than ever, national and local media are turning to King Hall faculty for information and analysis.  Major media outlets such as the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, La Opinion, PBS, and National Public Radio quoted UC Davis law faculty in connection with reports on the California Supreme Court decision in the Proposition 8 case and the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the U.S. Supreme Court, just two examples.  C-SPAN broadcast nationally the 2009 Law Review Symposium, a celebration of the career and jurisprudence of U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.  With the help of our Marketing and Public Relations staff, we have no doubt that King Hall's media profile will continue to rise.

Budget Reductions:  Stability, Amid Change

You no doubt have heard about the budget realities of the state of California and University of California.  After the Regents of the University of California approved a furlough and wage reduction proposal in July, President Mark Yudof issued a letter ( to faculty and staff about the planned furloughs and salary reductions.  We have been told that this plan will help avoid mass layoffs.

The School of Law awaits word on specifically how the university and the campus will implement the furlough/salary reduction plan.  I will do my very best to ensure that the plan is implemented fairly and efficiently.  To achieve that goal, I plan to work closely with the entire King Hall community.

Unfortunately, the budget cuts, among other things, will require the Law School to revisit the travel funding policies of administrators, faculty, students, and staff.    More generally, we also will need to reduce costs in all areas of our operations.

As always, our highest priority will be to ensure that the School of Law provides core services to students.  We also will strive to ensure continuity of services to students, staff, and faculty, no small task given the pending faculty and staff furloughs.  The administration will continue to consult with Law Student Association President Victoria Hassid on budget-related matters.

Thanks to all of you for your understanding in these most difficult budgetary times.  Despite the challenges, we undoubtedly will move forward and prosper. 

A Theme for the 2009-10 Academic Year:  Professionalism and Ethics

This year, the School of Law wants to highlight the theme of "Professionalism and Ethics" for the law student body.  A primary function of law school is to introduce students into the legal profession, and the array of special duties, obligations, opportunities, and responsibilities that lawyers have in American society.  It is important that we all remember that law students are entering a profession and culture founded on ethics, trust, and respect.

As students enter the legal profession, please keep in mind that the relationships that you establish now with faculty, students, staff, and administrators will be with you throughout your legal careers.  Your classmates will go on to be distinguished judges, lawyers, and political leaders.  The faculty have contacts throughout the legal profession.  The impressions that you leave with faculty, fellow students, and staff are important ones professionally-something that should not be forgotten in your days at King Hall.  As an illustration, I regularly am contacted by potential government and private employers conducting background checks on my law school classmates as well as King Hall students and alumni. 

The importance of professionalism has come up often in my discussions this summer with the managing partners of major law firms.  With the current economic pressures on attorneys and business people to cut corners, it is an especially appropriate time to highlight professionalism and ethics in the practice of law.

This year, Associate Dean Vik Amar and Senior Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Hollis Kulwin will be offering a special session on professionalism during Intro Week, part of our effort to inculcate incoming students with the important values of the legal profession.  Over the course of the year, various programs will be held by the Career Services office and other student offices on issues of professionalism in the workplace, on the internet (including Facebook, e-mails, and text messages), and in law school.  As always, the law faculty regularly devote class time to discussion of ethics and professionalism in the law.  This year, a new class in Legal Ethics & Corporate Practice will add depth to this area of our curriculum.


This marks the beginning of my second year as Dean of UC Davis School of Law.  Every day, I am reminded of how proud I am of being part of such an outstanding law school and such an exceptional community.   I truly look forward to sharing the coming years with you!