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Dean’s Welcome Message: Fall 2016

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Aug 19, 2016

Welcome to the Class of 2019, our new transfer students, international exchange students, visiting scholars and professors, and LL.M. students from around the world. And welcome back to all of our returning second- and third-year students and faculty.

The Class of 2019: Excellent, Diverse, International

The Class of 2019 includes 157 new J.D. students, who were selected from 2,850 applicants. Besides having impressive credentials and a vast array of life experiences, the entering class is one of our most diverse classes: 58 percent are female; almost 52 percent are students of color; roughly one-quarter are first-generation college students. Five of our new J.D. students are alums of our King Hall Outreach Program. UC graduates comprise about half the class. Nearly 10 percent of the students in the Class of 2019 have earned a graduate degree. We also will enroll nine transfer students from other law schools; six transfers come from the LL.M. program.

Eighty-three LL.M. students will join the King Hall community. They hail from 17 nations, including, China, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Brazil, Colombia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Philippines, Russia, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam.

Excellence and Diversity at King Hall

For the third straight year, King Hall’s U.S. News & World Report ranking improved. We are now ranked number 30, a rise of six slots over the past two years. Our high quality students, stellar faculty reputation, and excellent career placement have contributed to our move up the rankings. Approximately 80 percent of our 2014 and 2015 graduates attained full-time legal employment within 10 months of graduation, a gain over the previous two years.

Our faculty again ranked in the top 25 in scholarly influence in one prominent recent assessment. Besides being recognized for its scholarly excellence, the King Hall faculty is also one of the most diverse. Indeed, it is the only “majority minority” faculty of any top American law school.

Student Wellness Initiative

The Student Wellness Initiative aims to help students succeed in law school and life. We regularly hold panel discussions on a range of topics, from how to manage stress to mental health and substance abuse. Therapy dog petting is a regular (and fun) stress-reducing event. As part of the Student Wellness Initiative, the School of Law will soon have a full-time psychologist available on-site for King Hall students.

A Student Wellness Committee advocates for increasing access to mental health resources and destigmatizing mental health issues. A staff group offers an array of healthy activities, such as runs, as part of the UC Davis WorkLife and Wellness program. Last year, several professors led weekly meditation sessions for the entire King Hall community.

Public Service Fellowships

The new UC President’s Public Service Law Fellowships program provides funding for post-graduate work and summer positions, making those jobs more accessible for students who want to pursue public-interest careers but out of financial need might seek private sector jobs. This past summer, the Law School funded 54 Summer Public Service Fellowships. We soon will allocate 12 post-graduate public service fellowships.

More Scholarships

The School of Law raised over $1.7 million in fiscal year 2015/16. This included over $700,000 for student scholarships.

More Courses

We added exciting new courses to the 2016/17 course schedule, including Mental Disability Law; Food and Agricultural Law; Death Penalty Seminar; Wrongful Convictions; Refugee and Asylum Law; Race, National Identity, and Intellectual Properties; Censorship in the Global Age; Information Privacy; Intellectual Property, Human Rights & Social Issues; and International Business Negotiations.

More Academic Success Programming

The Academic Support Program continues to develop programs to help ensure student success in law school and on the bar exam. A writing program supplements graduates’ bar studies. Last summer, graduates attended essay workshops focusing on bar subjects, took practice exam sessions, and had individual counseling sessions to review essays. King Hall graduates also were provided with past bar exam questions, outlines, and bar exam websites.

New Faculty and Endowed Chair

We welcome two excellent new additions to the law faculty.

Irene Oritseweyinmi Joe, most recently a visiting professor and teaching fellow at UCLA School of Law, earned a B.A. from the University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from Stanford Law School. An accomplished criminal defense lawyer, she has scholarly interests in, among other areas, reshaping under-resourced criminal justice institutions. Professor Joe will be teaching Criminal Law, Professional Responsibility, and other classes.

Aaron Tang has joined the UC Davis law faculty this year. A graduate of Yale and Stanford Law School, he most recently was an associate at Jones Day in Washington, D.C. Before that, Professor Tang served as a law clerk to Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Supreme Court. His teaching and research focus is on constitutional law and education law (Professor Tang previously worked as a high school teacher in St. Louis).

Congratulations to Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin, the new Edward L. Barrett Endowed Chair of Law. He was listed as among the "Twenty Most-Cited Criminal Law & Procedure Faculty in the United States, 2010-2014.” One of Professor Chin’s articles recently was cited by Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor in her dissent in Utah v. Strieff (2016).

Lectures and Events

Mark your calendars! All members of the King Hall community are invited to these exciting upcoming events

On September 20 at 10 a.m. at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, King Hall alum and the Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil Sakauye '84 will deliver the keynote address on constructive dialogues in challenging times as part of the UC Davis Convocation for the 2016/17 academic year.

Martha Nussbaum, Ernst Freund Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Ethics at the University of Chicago, will be a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar in Residence at the Law School from September19-21. She will deliver a keynote lecture on “Anger and Revolutionary Justice” as part of the Chancellor Colloquium on September 21. A special reception will be held in Professor Nussbaum’s honor on September 19 at 5:00 p.m. in the King Hall Courtyard.

Professor Michael C. Dorf, Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell Law School, will deliver the Edward L. Barrett, Jr. Lecture on Constitutional Law on November 3.

The Brigitte M. Bodenheimer Lecture on Family Law on January 19, 2017 features Camille Gear Rich, Associate Provost for Faculty and Student Initiatives in the Social Sciences, and Professor of Law and Sociology at USC.

The Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment will be delivered by Noah Feldman, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, on January 26.

Jack Balkin, Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School, will be a Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholar in Residence on March 13-17. He will deliver the Law in the Information Age Lecture on March 15.

New Staff

New King Hall community members include our Director of Admissions and Outreach Joe Schneider, Faculty Support Assistant Liliana Moore, and Career Services Assistant Denise Martin.

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For news and announcements, be sure to regularly check the School of Law website (, the Deans' Blog (, and the Faculty Blog (

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Thank you all for being part of the King Hall community. Here’s to another great year!

Kevin R. Johnson

August 19, 2016