End of Year Message
Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Apr 29, 2009
As the academic year draws to a close and we prepare to celebrate the commencement of the Class of 2009, I want extend a hearty "thanks" to you and the entire King Hall student body for your energy, community spirit, and devotion to the School of Law.
The past year has been one of incredible achievements. We should celebrate some of our exciting recent successes at King Hall.
- A big rise in our U.S. News & World Report ranking
The Law School placed 35th in U.S. News & World Report's ranking of 184 ABA-approved law schools in the United States released this week. The placement at number 35 represents a jump of nine spots -- the second-biggest increase among schools in the top 50 -- from last year's aberrational ranking of 44th. The U.S. News ranking, probably the most well-known (if sometimes criticized) rating of American law schools, placed King Hall 25th in the "peer assessment ranking" category that is based on surveys of law deans and professors nationwide. The Law School has for many years scored at or around 25th on this peer assessment component. That peer evaluation of 25th coincides almost perfectly with the rating of 24 given to UC Davis School of Law by the most recent comprehensive faculty quality ranking undertaken by Brian Leiter, a law professor at the University of Chicago whose on-line assessment of law faculty productivity and influence is often regarded as the most systematic quantitative evaluation of law schools, and the best-known law ranking system other than the annual U.S. News survey. The 2010 U.S. News rankings also listed King Hall as having the 20th most racially diverse student body. In addition, UC Davis School of Law recently was ranked 10th in the nation for faculty diversity by the Princeton Review, and figured prominently in a story on "Most Diverse Faculty" in National Jurist magazine, which noted the Princeton Review ranking and reported that UC Davis has the highest number of Asian American faculty of any American law school. While we should be wary of placing great weight on particular polls, these rankings are a welcome recognition of the excellence and diversity we see on a daily basis at King Hall.
- An outstanding turnout of employers visiting King Hall for OCI
Our Fall 2008 On Campus Interviews (OCI) Program had 129 employers participate, which is quite a feat in this shaky economic climate. One-third of the entire 2L class successfully garnered summer positions through the Fall OCI Program, a number that was on par with, if not better than, years past. Our Spring 2009 OCI Program had 19 employers participate, an increase from the previous year.
We know the job market is tough. One of my priorities - as well as of the entire Career Services office -- has been to visit law firms and other employers in an effort to convince them to interview at King Hall. We have had some success but will continue our efforts. And, as we did last year, we will have a post-graduate research program for this year's graduates to help ease the financial burden and to keep their skills sharp while they look for more permanent legal work. Details will be made available in the coming days.
- Great student success at Moot Court competitions
Congratulations to our superstar student advocates, who once again scored remarkable successes in moot court and mock trial competitions around the state and country, winning Best Oral Argument in the California Appellate Moot Court Competition and Best Brief in the National Religious Freedom Moot Court Competition, and finishing among the top four in the Moot Court National Championship, the First Amendment Moot Court Competition, and the Moot Court Competition on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law. You make us proud!
- The resumption of the King Hall Expansion and Renovation Project
Recent weeks have seen the new east wing of the building literally take shape. Steel is going up! Thanks to careful financial planning by the Law School and the generous support of Campus Executive Vice Chancellor Enrique Lavernia, we are moving toward completion of much-needed improvements to our physical plant. The Law School will soon occupy an expanded, state-of-the-art, visually stunning educational facility designed to accommodate the latest technology. The completion date is not yet certain but we tentatively hope to move into the new wing in spring 2010. We can look forward to the addition of two reading rooms, two seminar rooms, 12 group study spaces, and the Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom.
- Generous donations that will enable us to continue to excel and improve
A $1 million dollar gift from the Kalmanovitz Foundation, which was announced last fall, has made the new Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom a reality. We are already talking with the California Supreme Court, California Court of Appeal, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit about holding oral arguments in the beautiful new facility.
And many of you have risen to the fundraising challenge posed by the generous Mabie Family Foundation. This week, our student body hit the student participation benchmark (80 percent of the student body) of the Mabie Challenge. The participation of each and every student made a real difference! I am humbled by your giving, and thank you for your involvement. This success fulfills the second of four elements of the pledge that will ensure the Mabie Family Foundation will contribute an additional $500,000 to support the renovation of King Hall.
- California State Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg as commencement speaker for the Class of 2009
One of the state's most prominent, respected, and successful lawmakers, Senator Darrell Steinberg '84, is returning to UC Davis to address the graduating class. His enduring reputation for honesty, collegiality, and intelligence, and his clear focus on the public interest remain a proud reflection of his King Hall roots. We are honored and privileged to count Senator Steinberg among our alumni and look forward to his graduation speech.
- The UC Davis Law Review Symposium on the Honorable John Paul Stevens airs on C-SPAN
This year's UC Davis Law Review Symposium exploring the work of the most senior U.S. Supreme Court Justice was a smashing success. The event brought legal experts throughout the nation - many of whom had clerked for Justice Stevens - from academia, journalism, and the practicing bar to King Hall for a series of stimulating panel discussions about the contributions of a jurist who has served on the country's highest Court for over 30 years. The event was broadcast nationally on the C-SPAN network, with the Wilkins Moot Courtroom being seen in the homes of millions of viewers across the country.
- The hiring of top legal scholars to join our already-outstanding faculty
Miguel Méndez, currently the Adelbert H. Sweet Professor of Law at Stanford Law School and one of the nation's foremost authorities on evidence, joins the School of Law faculty this fall. Professor Méndez has written extensively on the California and federal evidence codes, publishing four widely-used books and scores of influential law review articles. His exceptional scholarship, commitment to teaching, and devotion to professional service make him an outstanding addition to our faculty. We also welcome Professor John Hunt, currently the research director of the law and finance program at the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy. He specializes in securities and capital markets regulation with emphasis on derivatives and securitization; corporate and consumer bankruptcy; and contracts - all areas of crucial importance in the era of the global financial crisis and economic slowdown. In addition, Dennis Ventry, Jr. will arrive in Davis this fall and bolster our renowned group of tax and business scholars.
- The addition of great new staff for student services and marketing
This year we were joined by a number of superb new staff members. To mention but a few, Kirsten Hill '04 became Associate Director of Career Services and Public Interest Career Planning in September. With experience as an AmeriCorps advocate for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii and coordinator of the Citizenship and Immigration Project at the California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation, she was recruited to help guide Law School students to careers in public interest law. Emily Randon, previously with McGeorge, joined King Hall as Director of Academic Success. She is in charge of our academic support programs and is invigorating our bar examination preparation program known as "Demystifying the Bar."
Effective marketing and public relations is essential to spreading the good word about UC Davis School of Law. To that end, in February Pamela Wu joined King Hall from KCRA-TV 3, where she covered some of the area's most high-profile news stories as a news anchor and reporter. Thanks to her hard work, King Hall's many achievements are being featured more prominently in the media, regionally, nationally, and internationally. Pamela was instrumental in facilitating C-SPAN's coverage of the Law Review Symposium. She is assisted by another new member of the Marketing and Communications Group, Joe Martin, formerly of the Mondavi Center, whose effective and fluid writing has already improved many of the law school's public faces, including the news items on the King Hall website.
- The Creation of the California International Law center at King Hall
After careful planning over the fall, the School of Law launched the new California International Law Center at King Hall (CILC) with an Inaugural Event in February featuring a presentation by Dr. Clayborne Carson, Professor of History and founding Director of the Martin Luther King, Jr., Research and Education Institute at Stanford University. Professor Carson spoke on "The Global Vision and Legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr." Professor Diane Marie Amann is the new director of CILC, which will build on a tradition of international law scholarship at UC Davis by fostering work by faculty, students, and alumni in international, comparative, and transnational law through guest speakers and special events, curricular innovation, and career development. CILC already has formed partnerships with organizations such as the century-old American Society of International Law and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.
We currently are exploring the creation of an environmental law center as well, which would build on another historic strength of the School of Law.
As you know, King Hall has been celebrating its 40th anniversary. As the many achievements of the 2008-09 academic year confirm, our rapid ascendance to a secure place among the nation's very best law schools is impressive and heartening. With your help, enthusiasm, and energy, I am confident of our ability to build on these successes and reach even greater heights in the coming years. In this season of commemoration, it is important to celebrate our accomplishments and the contributions we make - to the legal profession, to the University, and to the King Hall community - and to reaffirm our commitment to keep doing the things that matter.
Have an excellent summer! Congratulations to the Class of 2009. We look forward to the ways in which you will make us proud. And, we look forward to seeing the classes of 2010 and 2011, with the new class of 2012, in August.