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Fall 2011 Welcome Message

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Aug 19, 2011

Welcome to the UC Davis School of Law Class of 2014, transfer students in the Class of 2013, and LL.M. students from around the world!  And welcome back to our returning 2L and 3L students, faculty, and staff.

A Special Welcome to the Class of 2014 and Transfer Students in the Class of 2013

As you no doubt saw at the Welcome BBQ and during Intro Week, UC Davis law faculty, staff, alumni, and students -- the “King Hall community” -- are friendly, supportive, and committed to the highest intellectual and ethical standards.  You will soon discover that the study of law is rewarding and enjoyable, as well as challenging.  Students invariably find the community to be nurturing not just during law school, but throughout their entire professional careers.

The Class of 2014, the 46th to enroll at the law school, has 192 students.  While applications nationally were down by more than 10 percent, our applications were at about the same number as last year.  We had nearly 4000 applications for 192 seats in the class.  Congratulations on your success!

As always, the entering class is a highly accomplished group, with a median GPA of over 3.6 and LSAT score of 164.  Students come from more than half of the 50 states.  Women make up 48% of this class; students of color comprise about a third of the class.

On September 8, the Capitol Tour and Reception will introduce first year students to alumni, legislators, lawyers, and other leaders in Sacramento, the state capital.  See

25 transfer students from fine law schools across the country join the Class of 2013.  We also have 22 LL.M. students from around the world, including lawyers and judges from China, India, Japan, Mexico, Pakistan, Thailand, Turkey, and Venezuela.

As you probably are aware, 2010-11 was nothing less than an amazing year for King Hall.  Among other milestones, Tani Cantil-Sakauye ’84 was appointed Chief Justice of California and spoke at our 2011 commencement.  Last fall, the California Attorney General candidates clashed in a memorable debate in King Hall.  In the spring, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit held oral arguments in the new Kalmanovitz Appellate Courtroom.

The UC Davis School of Law faculty continues to be widely acclaimed.  In recent months, faculty members have been quoted in Time, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, and Washington Post.  Last year, Associate Dean Vik Amar and Professor Leticia Saucedo were elected to the American Law Institute, the most prestigious law reform organization in the United States.  Courtney Joslin received a 2011 Dukeminier Award from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law for her outstanding work in sexual orientation and gender identity law.  At a dinner next January, the late Keith Aoki will be honored with the Society of American Law Teachers 2012 Great Teacher Award.  Holly Cooper received the National Lawyers Guild Immigration Project’s Carol Weiss King Award honoring excellence in the pursuit of social justice.

Our research centers continue to create a wealth of opportunities for law students.  Professor Anupam Chander is the new director of the California International Law Center at King Hall.  Last year, we unveiled the California Environmental Law and Policy Center led by Director Richard M. Frank.  The Center for Science and Innovation Studies under the leadership of Director Mario Biagioli is at the forefront of intellectual property law.

King Hall also has award-winning clinical opportunities for students.  The Immigration Law Clinic, Family Protection and Legal Assistance Clinic, Civil Rights Clinic, and Prison Law Office and many externships, enable students to gain first-hand exposure to legal professionals and institutions, hone lawyering skills, and do some good.

Last but not least, UC Davis School of Law rose to No. 23 in the latest U.S. News & World Report rankings of American law schools, a jump from No. 28.  We rank comparably in other influential national law school rankings.  While all ranking systems have limitations, our rising stature reflects greater recognition of the excellence at UC Davis School of Law.

The California Budget and the Recent Fee Increase

As you probably are aware, the California Legislature surprised us this summer with a whopping $500 million cut in the University of California budget.  In July, the UC Board of Regents responded with an increase in law school fees of $1,068 for the 2011-12 academic year.  Understanding the financial burden on our students, we awarded Dean’s Access Scholarships to offset the tuition increase this year.  Our top priority is fundraising for student scholarships.

A New-and-Improved King Hall

We are proud of King Hall’s beautiful new east wing, which opened in August 2010.  Over the summer, construction crews worked around the clock on the renovation of the second floor classrooms in the “old” building.  Those classrooms will be ready in the next couple of weeks.  Until then, some courses will be held in alternative venues on campus.

We will keep students updated on the progress of the renovation of King Hall.  Coming attractions include major upgrades in the Mabie Law Library, expanded office space for student organizations, and an expanded and improved student lounge.   Thanks for your continued patience!

To the relief of virtually everyone who frequents King Hall (as well as the Chancellor), the coffee kiosk, which went into hiatus this summer, has reopened.  Later this month, we will open modular trailer units near the kiosk with restrooms, a lounge, and study space.

Career Services

Last spring, Craig Compton became the new Assistant Dean for Career Services.  Recognizing the challenging legal employment market, the Career Services Office has been working hard to recruit employers to interview our students.  The On-Campus Interviewing process has gone smoothly this week.  10 more law firms than last year are coming to King Hall this year, including Simpson Thacher & Bartlett (New York), Latham & Watkins, Greenberg Glusker (Century City), Fish & Richardson (Silicon Valley), and others.  We will continue to seek to further increase opportunities for our students.

Great New Faculty

We are delighted to welcome three new distinguished faculty members:  Angela Harris from UC Berkeley, Ashutosh Bhagwat from UC Hastings, and Gabriel “Jack” Chin from the University of Arizona.  It is no exaggeration to say that these three professors are rock stars of legal academia!  To have such outstanding new faculty reflects well on our rising status among the very best American law schools.

With the Chancellor and Provost’s support, we are pleased to announce our search for six new tenure track faculty members to join King Hall in 2012.

We also welcome Meehan Rasch, a UCLA law school alum, as a new Legal Research and Writing instructor.  She previously was an attorney in the Los Angeles office of Sidley & Austin.

New Courses

The Law School always seeks to enrich the curriculum for our students.  This year, we are pleased to offer some exciting new classes, including:


  • Advanced Negotiations Strategy and Client Counseling (Professor Shestowsky)
  • Free Trade and the Environment
  • Intellectual Property Agreement Drafting for Biotech & Pharmaceuticals
  • Brands and Trademarks Seminar (Professor Sunder)
  • Art Law (Professor Kurtz)


  • Environmental Justice (Professor Harris)
  • Regulated Industries (Professor Bhagwat)
  • Native American Law Seminar (Professor Florey)
  • Separation of Powers Seminar (Arizona Supreme Court Justice W. Scott Bales)

Endowed Lectures

As a national leader in legal education, UC Davis School of Law regularly hosts scholarly lectures and symposia.  Here are three upcoming lectures:

October 27      Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture, Chief Judge Alex Kozinski, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

November 8    Bodenheimer Lecture on Family Law, Professor Angela Onwuachi-Willig (Iowa)          

March 26         Barrett Lecture on Constitutional Law, Professor Drew S. Days, III (Yale), former Solicitor General of the United States                           

We also look forward to hosting a number of conferences, including the Fenwick & West Lecture Series in Technology, Entrepreneurship, Science, and Law and the Law Review Symposium in the spring.

New Staff

Nicole V. Lehtman is the new Director of the University of California Washington D.C. Law Program (UCDC), an externship program in the nation’s capital (with offices not far from the White House).  A licensed attorney, she previously supervised D.C. internships for Arizona State University law school.  This fall, seven UC Davis law students have externships in Washington at a variety of offices, including the American Gas Association; American Israel Public Affairs Committee; Center for Reproductive Rights; Environmental Protection Agency; Federal Trade Commission; Human Rights USA; and U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.  UCDC is a great way for students to gain valuable legal experience and explore legal employment opportunities in Washington, D.C.

Kristen Mercado, who earned a J.D. from the University of Chicago law school, is the new Associate Director of Admissions and Outreach.  Among her duties, Kristen will run the King Hall Outreach Program.  She comes to the Law School from Sidley Austin LLP in Chicago.

Rachael Smith, who holds J.D. and MLIS degrees, will soon join the Mabie Law Library staff as the Electronic Services Reference librarian.  Rachael previously was an international law reference librarian at Georgetown.

Expanding Outreach Around the World

The Law School continues to reach across the globe.  In June, we hosted a Wine Law Conference that drew experts from around the world.  In July, our joint program with China University of Political Science and Law brought nearly 70 law students and faculty from China to UC Davis. The Law School also has (1) expanded its relationship with Petrobras, the national energy company of Brazil; (2) created new relationships with the University of Chile School of Law and the National Law School of India.  For more information about our international programs, see

Private Support for UC Davis School of Law Continues to Grow

We had yet another great year in raising private support as alumni, faculty, friends, staff, and students gave more than $1.5 million to support King Hall.  Thanks to this generosity, we are almost halfway to our $20 million goal as part of the Campaign for UC Davis through 2014.  More than 80 percent of the Class of 2011 contributed to the class gift.  Can the Class of 2012 beat that?  And what about the Classes of 2013 and 2014?

In the past year, we held alumni events across California in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Sacramento, San Francisco, Palo Alto, Fresno, Walnut Creek, and many other cities, as well as around the country in New York City, Philadelphia, Portland, and elsewhere.  Just in the past few weeks, I have visited with alumni in Orange County, Seattle, Reno, Las Vegas, and Washington, D.C.  Time and again, I am most struck by how fondly King Hall alums look back on their days in law school.  Just so you know that we are looking out for you, we always explore with alums employment opportunities for our students.


I am sure that you are as proud as we all are of the greatness at UC Davis School of Law.  Stay tuned to law school news at, Deans’ blog (, Facebook fan page (, or Twitter (

As always, feel free to let me know your thoughts and comments (  Working with Law Student Association President Rabia Paracha, I plan to hold an open deans forum for the students in the coming weeks.

Here’s to a great new academic year!

Kevin R. Johnson