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End of Year Message: Celebrating 2014-2015

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Apr 21, 2015

As the academic year draws to a close, I want to congratulate the Class of 2015 on its upcoming commencement and thank you all for your many contributions to another remarkable year at UC Davis School of Law.

Rise in the Rankings

UC Davis School of Law moved up five slots in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings, placing 31 overall.  King Hall ranked in the top 25 in the reputational assessments of law professors, attorneys, and judges.  We also placed 23 in the U.S. News rankings of Most Diverse Law Schools, one of the few schools in the top 40 for both overall quality and diversity.  In the U.S. News financial aid rankings, we ranked number 1 of all public law schools in the country in the median grant to students.  Although careful not to place undue emphasis on rankings, we should take pride in the growing recognition of our excellence.

Student Success:  Bar Passage, Job Placement, and More

Members of the J.D. Class of 2014 achieved an outstanding 86 percent pass rate on the California Bar exam.  Moreover, as of March 15, more than 80 percent of the Class of 2014 had secured full-time legal employment, nearly a 10 percent gain over last year.  The success of our graduates was a team effort, the culmination of much hard work by our students, faculty, staff (especially the Career Services and Academic Success offices), and alumni, as well as investments by the UC Davis campus and the School of Law. 

Students made us proud once again in 2014-15.  A few highlights:  Anita Bamshad and Niall Roberts won the 2015 Irving L. Neumiller Competition with outstanding performances before Judges Alex Kozinski and Kim McLane Wardlaw of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and Justice Leondra Kruger of the Supreme Court of California; Naveen Dixit  and John Hollis accepted clerkships with Justice Kristina Pickering of the Nevada Supreme Court and Justice Craig Stowers of the Alaska Supreme Court, respectively; Brad Masters won the California Supreme Court Historical Society 2014 Student Writing Competition; Victoria Wong won the California State Bar Real Property Law Section Student Writing Competition; the Bar Association of San Francisco honored John Paul Wallis and Matthew McGuffin for their work on a task force for improving the military justice system; students from the Humanitarian Aid Legal Organization (HALO) spent spring break in San Antonio, Texas providing legal aid to immigrant families detained at the Karnes County Residential Center; and Daniel Arkof, working under the direction of Professor Carter White, argued before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit on behalf of a Civil Rights Clinic client.

Faculty Excellence

The King Hall faculty once again demonstrated why they rank among the very best.  A few highlights:

  • Professor Karima Bennoune was awarded the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for her book, Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight against Muslim Fundamentalism, and her TED Talk received more than 1.2 million views online.
  • Professors Anupam Chander and Madhavi Sunder’s article, “The Romance of the Public Domain,” was listed among the 20 most-cited intellectual property articles of the past decade.
  • Professor Gabriel “Jack” Chin and the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association successfully petitioned the California Supreme Court to grant posthumous admission to the bar for Hong Yen Chang, who was denied a license to practice law more than a century ago because he was a Chinese immigrant.  The case is featured on the State Bar of California website at
  • Professor Richard Frank was selected by California Lawyer magazine as a California Lawyer of the Year (CLAY) for his successful water law advocacy.
  • Professor David Horton won both the School of Law’s Distinguished Teaching Award and the Association of American Law Schools’ Scholarly Paper Competition.
  • Professor Donna Shestowsky accepted the ADR Education Award for King Hall from the Judicial Council of the Ninth Circuit.
  • Director of the Mabie Law Library Judy Janes was honored with the American Association of Law Libraries Robert L. Oakley Advocacy Award. 

Due to the hard work of our Faculty Appointments Committee, the Law School recruited two outstanding new professors: William S. Dodge, most recently the Honorable Roger J. Traynor Professor of Law at UC Hastings, and Jasmine Harris, an entry level professor and graduate of Yale Law School.  

Amazing Alums

King Hall alumni continue to do amazing things.  A few examples:  Chief Justice of California Tani Cantil-Sakauye continued her outstanding leadership of California’s judiciary; Jamie Gallagher and Luis Alejo (re-elected) won seats in the California State Assembly; Vicky L. Barker and Lowell Chow were selected by California Lawyer magazine for “California Lawyer of the Year” (CLAY) awards; and Charles Bird was named 2015 President for the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers.  American Lawyer named Marc Levinson one of its “Dealmakers of the Year” for leading the legal team that represented the City of Stockton in its bankruptcy case.

New Social Justice Programs

In 2014-15, the Immigration Law Clinic, in partnership with the UC Davis Division of Student Affairs, provides legal assistance to undocumented students in the AB 540 and Undocumented Student Center.  In addition, 2015 saw the debut of the University of California Undocumented Student Legal Services Center, a UC Office of the President program housed at King Hall.  The first of its kind at any law school in the country, the Center serves students at the six UC campuses without law schools.  

Special Events

  • Linda Greenhouse, the Knight Distinguished Journalist in Residence and Joseph Goldstein Lecturer in Law at Yale Law School and New York Times columnist, delivered the Brigitte M. Bodenheimer Lecture in Family Law.
  • Jack Balkin, the Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment at Yale Law School, gave the Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment.
  • Dr. Jamison Green, a leader in the transgender rights movement, gave the annual Bill Smith Memorial Lecture.
  • In January, the UC Davis Law Review hosted a symposium on “Corruption and Compliance: Promoting Integrity in a Global Economy, featuring a keynote by Jay Jorgenson, Senior Vice President and Global Chief Compliance Officer for Walmart.
  • UC Davis School of Law welcomed 25 law deans and representatives to the 2014 Association of Pacific Rim Universities Law Deans' Meeting in October.  In March, the School of Law co-hosted a major immigration conference in Mexico City at the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM).
  • Last October, the 2014 Milestone Reunions brought about 250 alumni from eight classes and their families to King Hall, making it the Law School’s largest reunion ever.
  • Classes end this Friday and the law school will host the Public Service Graduation and Class of 2015 BBQ to celebrate our graduating students.
  • The Class of 2015 Commencement on May 15 will feature an address from California Supreme Court Justice Mariano-Florentino “Tino” Cuéllar.


Congratulations on a terrific year!

Kevin R. Johnson