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Dean's Welcome Message to the King Hall Community for 2015-16

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Aug 24, 2015

A warm welcome to our incoming Class of 2018, transfer students, and LL.M. students from around the world!  And welcome back to our returning students, faculty, and staff.

Our new students have discovered that the study of law is challenging, but also can be enjoyable as well as rewarding.  Rest assured that you have joined a truly supportive community of faculty, students, staff, and alumni who will help in every way that we can.

50th Anniversary of the School of Law

UC Davis School of Law is celebrating its 50th anniversary!  Established in 1965, King Hall fulfilled an urgent need for a new public law school in Northern California.  We continue to be a public law school that serves the public good.

Please join us as we kick off our anniversary with a cake-cutting tomorrow at noon in the King Hall courtyard.  For more about our 50th anniversary events, along with historical stories, photos, and videos, see our special anniversary web page at

The Class of 2018 – Our 50th Class

While law school applications again declined nationally, UC Davis School of Law once again bucked the trend, receiving approximately 3,000 applications (about the same as last year) and enrolling a class of 180 new J.D. students (an increase from last year).  The Class of 2018 is an incredibly talented group; about half identify as students of color and just under half are women.

The School of Law also welcomes 65 LL.M. students from around the world, including lawyers and judges from Argentina, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and the United Kingdom.

As we all know, today’s law students face significant financial challenges.  The School of Law has worked to increase financial support for our students, including expanding our Loan Repayment and Assistance Program (LRAP).  Up to 40 percent of the funds received in professional fees are set aside for student support.  U.S. News & World Report this year ranked UC Davis first in the generosity of financial aid among all public law schools.  

With state funding now providing a little more than 10 percent of the Law School budget, private support is more important than ever.  King Hall enjoyed another outstanding fundraising year in fiscal 2014-15; supporters contributed $1.8 million to support scholarships, student organizations, competitions, clinics, externships, and other priorities.

Upward Trajectory of the Law School’s Reputation

The School of Law’s reputation for excellence and diversity was reaffirmed in the most recent U.S. News & World Report rankings, with UC Davis School of Law at No. 31, a rise of five slots over the previous year.  The Law School ranked even higher in the assessments by lawyers and judges (24) and by deans and law professors (25).  King Hall also placed 23 among U.S. News “Most Diverse Law Schools,” once again one of the very few schools ranking in the top 40 for both excellence and diversity.

New Faculty, New Senior Associate Dean, and New Endowed Chair

This year, we have two outstanding additions to the law faculty.  An influential international law scholar, Professor William S. Dodge joins us from UC Hastings College of the Law, where he was the Honorable Roger J. Traynor Professor of Law.  In addition, Professor Jasmine Harris, a graduate of Yale Law School, joins the faculty and will teach Disability Law and Evidence.  We plan to seek to fill two faculty vacancies this year.

Professor Angela Harris, one of the nation’s foremost critical race theory, feminist legal theory, and civil rights scholars, has been named the Boochever and Bird Endowed Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality.  Professor Madhavi Sunder, an influential scholar of law and culture, is the new Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.  She fills the position previously held by Vikram D. Amar, now the Dean at the University of Illinois College of Law.

Bar Success

The Class of 2014 posted an impressive 86 bar percent first-time passage rate, one of the best rates among law schools in California.  Our improved Academic Success program, led by Chris Ide-Don, includes bar skills courses, workshops, writing programs, and opportunities for tutoring, as well as presentations by bar experts.

Career Services

King Hall students and graduates are succeeding in the improving legal job market, thanks in part to the revitalized Career Services Office.  More employers interviewed during the On Campus Interviews program in 2015 than last year, which continues the upward trend in employer participation.  More than 82% of the Class of 2014 secured full-time legal employment within ten months of graduation.

New Student Portal

We have unveiled MyUCDavis, a one-stop online portal ( to help law students track the websites they visit regularly.  The personalized experience includes course schedules, financial aid accounts, and links to SmartSite, the Intranet, and many commonly accessed websites. 

New Courses

We have added exciting new courses to the curriculum, including Sexual Assault and the Law, Terrorism and International Law, Emerging Technologies and the Environment, California Constitutional Law, Education Policy and the Law, Patentable Subject Matter:  Genes, Methods and Software, Ancient Athenian Law, and two interdisciplinary courses on privacy and government surveillance.  New skills courses include The Business of Lawyering and Issues in Setting Up and Maintaining a Solo Practice.

Named Lectures

On October 29, Nathaniel Persily, James B. McClatchy Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, will deliver the Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment.  Heather Gerken, J. Skelly Wright Professor of Law at Yale Law School, will give the Edward L. Barrett, Jr. Lecture on Constitutional Law on February 4, 2016.  UC Berkeley Professor Melissa Murray delivers the Brigitte M. Bodenheimer Lecture on Family Law on March 31, 2016.

New Staff

New members of the Law School community include María Blanco, Executive Director of the UC Center for Undocumented Legal Services; Kristina Do-Vu, Director of Financial Services; Katy Facciotti, Development and Alumni Relations Coordinator; Timothy Griffiths, Associate Director of Career Services for Public Interest and Government; Brian Hoang, Business Technical Support, IT; Jin Kim, Associate Director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving; Shari King, Director of Financial Aid; Sophie Mills, Project Analyst; Andrew Morrison, Acquisitions/Circulation Assistant; Allison Pedrazzi, Assistant Director of Admissions; Rachel Ray ‘11, Attorney, Unaccompanied Minors Program; Karina Rocha, Paralegal Office Manager, UC Center for Undocumented Legal Services; and Elica Vafaie ‘11, Attorney, UC Center for Undocumented Legal Services.

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Be sure to periodically check the School of Law website ( and the Deans' blog for breaking news, event announcements, etc.  Follow us on our Facebook page (, Twitter (, and Instagram (

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

Kevin R. Johnson