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End of Year (2013-2014) Message from the Dean

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Apr 25, 2014


As another academic year comes to an end, I want to congratulate the Class of 2014 on its upcoming commencement. Let me also express appreciation to the entire King Hall community for making UC Davis School of Law such a special place. Your hard work, ambition, and commitment to excellence helped to make 2013-14 a time of remarkable achievements.

Recognized Excellence and Diversity

While important not to place undue emphasis on rankings, it is gratifying to know that UC Davis School of Law is consistently rated among the best law schools in the country. King Hall rose two places in the latest U.S. News & World Report law school rankings to number 36. Even more impressive, we received our highest-ever U.S. News ratings from legal educators and leaders in the profession; King Hall was ranked 22nd in the nation by law school deans and faculty, and placed 24th among participating lawyers and judges.

The School of Law continues to be among the most diverse – racially, socioeconomically, and otherwise – of any top-tier law school. We were ranked 26th in the U.S. News “Most Diverse Law Schools” category, one of the only law schools to be ranked in both the top 40 overall and in the diversity rankings.

At the heart of every great law school is a great faculty. Our faculty continued to publish prolifically in leading legal journals, and appeared frequently in national and international media. Faculty members also drew national attention for groundbreaking new books, including Karima Bennoune, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism (W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.), Anupam Chander, The Electronic Silk Road: How the Web Binds the World Together in Commerce (Yale University Press), Al Lin, Prometheus Reimagined: Technology, Environment, and Law in the Twenty-first Century (University Michigan Press), and Madhavi Sunder, From Goods to a Good Life: Intellectual Property and Global Justice (Yale University Press).

Our faculty continue to serve in leadership roles with the Association of American Law Schools and the American Law Institute, and worked in other capacities that serve the greater community. Governor Jerry Brown appointed Professor Richard Frank to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors, and reappointed Professor Ash Bhagwat to the California Independent System Operator Board of Governors, which oversees operation of the state’s power grid.

Our California International Law Center, California Environmental Law and Policy Center, and Center for Science and Innovation Studies continued to expand their activities. This year, with the leadership of Professor Angela Harris, the Law School launched the Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies, honoring the memory of the late Professor Keith Aoki with a center that focuses on the areas of race, nation, identity, and belonging.

Student and Alumni Achievements

Every day, our students and alums make us proud, from their stellar 85 percent passage rate on the July California State Bar Exam, to their excellence in interschool competitions, to their selfless dedication to serving the greater good.

Minal Khan ‘15 and Kelli Johnson ‘15 won the 45th Annual Irving L. Neumiller Moot Court Competition before an illustrious panel of judges featuring Frank Easterbrook (Seventh Circuit), Consuelo Callahan (Ninth Circuit), and Steven Colloton (Eighth Circuit).

Our students served the Northern California community through their dedication to our clinical programs and public service organizations. Immigration Law Clinic students won a series of impressive victories, preventing deportations, reinstating legal status, and securing the release from custody for clients. Clinic students collaborated with former U.S. Solicitor General Paul Clement in a successful appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals from the Ninth Circuit. Our new California Supreme Court Clinic is seeking posthumous admission to the California State Bar of Hong Yen Chang who, more than a century ago, was denied the opportunity to practice law because he was an immigrant from China. See In re Hong Yen Chang, 84 Cal. 163 (1890).

Sixteen students from the Humanitarian Aid Legal Organization (HALO) spent spring break volunteering in New York with the Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A, a legal services organization that helps low-income people. In addition, Erin Levenick ‘14 and Karen Kontz ‘14 organized the King Hall Education Advocacy Project, which enabled law students to serve the educational needs of local foster children.

It would be impossible to list all of the outstanding alumni accomplishments and milestones this past year, but a few examples may give a sense of their impact. Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye ‘84 continues to draw praise for her outstanding leadership of our state’s judiciary. Her classmate, Senate pro Tem President Darrell Steinberg ‘84, led the Senate during challenging times. George Miller ‘72, an influential member of the U.S. Congress for nearly four decades, announced his retirement. Justice Rebecca Wiseman ‘80 was honored by the California Women Lawyers with the 2014 Rose Bird Memorial Award. Robert Hulse ‘00, outside counsel for, was named one of the Silicon Valley Business Journal’s “Silicon Valley 40 under 40.” Keith Flaum ‘89 was named among the top 100 Lawyers in California in The Daily Journal 2013, as well as the “Best Lawyer” for Mergers and Acquisitions Law in The Best Lawyers in America 2014. President Obama appointed Jennifer Rodriguez ‘04 to the Presidential Commission to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities. Dan Torres ‘02 was named by the National LGBT Bar Association to its annual list of the top 40 LGBT legal professionals under the age of 40.

Special Events

The past year brought extraordinary speakers and events to the School of Law, including former Arizona Governor and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt, former U.S. Solicitor General, D.C. Circuit Judge, and Baylor University President Ken Starr, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas, Sister Simone Campbell ‘77, executive director of NETWORK, and U.S. Ambassador to Chile Alejandro D. Wolff. Akhil Amar, the Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School, delivered a memorable Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment. Our own Professor Alan Brownstein presented the Edward L. Barrett Jr. Lecture on Constitutional Law.

We also enjoyed outstanding conferences and symposia, including the 2013 Fenwick & West Lecture in Technology, Entrepreneurship, Science, and Law symposium “On the Frontier of the Future: Innovation and the Evolution of Patentable Subject Matter,” “The Endangered Species Act at 40,” sponsored by the California Environmental Law and Policy Center, and the UC Davis Law Review symposium on the Defense of Marriage Act.

Rising Applications

As most of you know, many law schools have suffered dramatic declines in student applications over the last few years. Contrary to the national trend, this year the School of Law saw an increase of close to 22.5 percent in our applications. We are on track to enroll another outstanding class of dedicated, passionate, and extremely gifted students. Thanks to the Admissions office, faculty, students, and staff for their diligence in our recruiting efforts.

Alumni Relations and Fundraising Success

The end of this academic year will coincide with the conclusion of the Campaign for UC Davis, the university’s first comprehensive campaign. Supporters of the School of Law contributed more than $17 million dollars during the campaign, exceeding our original goal by nearly 250 percent. This generosity helped us create 24 named scholarships and complete the King Hall Expansion and Renovation project. This year, the new Young Alumni Association, with great fanfare and enthusiasm, has held young alumni events in cities across the state.

Accolades and Farewells

Nicole Waterman, Registrar and Glenda McGlashan, Faculty Support Assistant, two pillars of the King Hall staff, will be retiring in June. Thanks Nicole and Glenda for all you have done for generations of law students and faculty. Professors Edward Imwinkelried and Miguel Méndez also will be retiring but will always remain integral parts of the King Hall community. We will miss you all.

Arden Gabor, student assistant for the Deans’ office, was selected as the UC Davis Student Employee of the Year award. Arden provides excellent support for the Deans’ office.

Thanks to the faculty and all of the staff for their role in making 2013-14 a huge success!

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Congratulations to the Class of 2014. We look forward to your successes. And, we look forward to seeing the classes of 2015, 2016, and the new class of 2017, in August.

Kevin R. Johnson