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Welcome Message to the King Hall Community 2013

Posted By Kevin R. Johnson, Aug 23, 2013

I sent my annual Fall Welcome Message to the King Hall community this morning. Here's to a great new academic year!


August 23, 2013

A warm welcome to the Class of 2016, transfer students, and LL.M. students from the world over! And, welcome back to the returning second-and third-year students, as well as to faculty coming back to the classroom after a summer of research.

The Class of 2016 should be proud. The Law School received 2420 applications for the entering class and enrolled 143 students. The class includes students from 63 different undergraduate institutions, with stellar credentials. Women comprise 58% of this class; students of color comprise 38% of the class.

In addition to our first-year students, 11 transfer students from outstanding law schools across the country join the Class of 2015. We also expect to enroll 55 LL.M. students from around the world, including lawyers from China, Dubai, India, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.

New Facilities

Our King Hall Expansion and Renovation Project is virtually complete. It has been a decade-long effort to build a facility befitting our status as one of the nation's leading law schools. Over of the summer, the renovations on the Mabie Law Library Reading Room and Darling Lounge were completed and the new-and-improved space is now open to students. The new North Commons student area should be completed by the end of September, with sun shading, a seminar garden, bicycle racks, and a coffee kiosk. Bike racks have been installed and we expect to have a coffee cart vendor soon. Work soon will be completed on the stairwell on the south side of King Hall.

Faculty Excellence

Our faculty continue to achieve great things. In June, when the U.S. Supreme Court issued several historic rulings, our faculty provided expert commentary for national and international media. Other faculty members drew attention for their groundbreaking new books: Professor Anupam Chander's The Electronic Silk Road: How the Web Binds the World Together in Commerce, Professor Madhavi Sunder's From Goods to a Good Life: Intellectual Property and Global Justice, and Professor Karima Bennoune'sYour Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism. King Hall professors also continue to serve the greater community. Just days ago, for example, Rick Frank was appointed to the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors.

These are just a few examples of why our faculty's reputation continues to soar. In the most recent U.S. News & World Review survey, our peers ranked King Hall 23rd in the nation. We were also ranked at 23 by University of Chicago Law Professor Brian Leiter, whose rating system is often regarded as the most systematic evaluation of American law school quality. Leiter blogged that King Hall "has improved significantly in the last generation" and is "now solidly top 25."

I am pleased to announce four outstanding additions to our exceptional faculty.

ProfessorLesley K. McAllister joins us from the University of San Diego School of Law where she was the Stanley Legro Professor in Environmental Law. She teaches and writes on, among other areas, environmental, natural resources, energy law, and property law.

Professor Darien Shanske joins us from UC Hastings College of the Law, where he had been on the faculty since 2008. His academic interests include taxation, local government law, and public finance.

Professor Andrea Cann Chandrasekher earned a J.D. from Stanford Law School and a Ph.D. in Economics from UC Berkeley. She has taught at Northwestern School of Law and Stanford Law School. Her research interests include criminal law and law and economics.

Professor Brian Soucek holds a J.D. from Yale Law School and a Ph.D. from Columbia University. He most recently clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Among his research interests are civil procedure and constitutional law.

The Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies

King Hall's existing academic centers have consolidated our strength in environmental law, international law, and intellectual property. In October, we will officially launch the Aoki Center for Critical Race and Nation Studies. The Center honors the late UC Davis law professor Keith Aoki, a respected civil rights, critical race theory, intellectual property, and local government law scholar. The Center is a unique collaboration of faculty and students to study race, nation, identity, and belonging.

New Courses

We added exciting new courses to the curriculum for 2013-14, including Terrorism and International Law, Law of War, Secured Transactions, Writing Requirement Workshop, Trade Secrets, Environmental Law Seminar: Emerging Technologies and the Environment, Law and Economics, Law and Statistics, Wine Law, Entertainment Law, and Pension and Benefit Law.

Endowed Lectures and Special Events

This year, the Central Valley Foundation/James B. McClatchy Lecture on the First Amendment will feature Akhil Amar, the Sterling Professor of Law at Yale Law School, on October 16; Alan Brownstein, Boochever and Bird Chair for the Study and Teaching of Freedom and Equality, will deliver the Edward L. Barrett, Jr. Lecture on Constitutional Law on November 19.

There are many other events on the horizon, from this year's Fenwick & West Symposium "On the Frontier of the Future: Innovation and the Evolution of Patentable Subject Matter" (September 27) to the lecture by King Hall alumna Sister Simone Campbell '77, Executive Director of NETWORK (October 29).

Academic Success

We continue to revamp and improve our academic success and bar passage program. This summer, the school of law provided an enhanced bar writing program in which a professional bar exam tutor and former bar grader offered special instruction on essay writing. Good luck to the Class of 2013!

Career Services Office

The Career Services Office continues to assist law students and recent graduates in succeeding in a challenging – but improving – job market. It is stepping up its efforts to support internships and job placement programs and increasing outreach to employers. The office will soon hire a new career counselor to primarily serve third-year students.

For the third straight year, the number of employers participating in the Fall On-Campus Interview (OCI) program increased. Close to 80 employers, including private law firms, government agencies, and non-profit organizations, interviewed our students for jobs. Our students and graduates also have been successful in recent weeks in securing judicial clerkships at the federal and state level – including four U.S. Court of Appeal clerkships, and several U.S. District Court and state Supreme Court clerkships.

Law Students Association Budget Committee

This year, in collaboration with the Law Students Association, I supported the creation of the law student budget advisory committee. The new committee provides a formal mechanism for students to obtain law school financial and budgetary information and to provide advice to the administration on finances. UC Davis School of Law is the first law school in the UC system to create such a committee.

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 close to $3.5 million to support King Hall during the 2012-13 fiscal year. In just the last two years, the School of Law raised more than $7 million. Much of these new funds are earmarked for student scholarships.

A New Dean of Admissions

After a national search, the Law School's Associate Director of Admission and Outreach Kristen Mercado, a lawyer by training, has been named our new Assistant Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. She is ideally suited to lead our admissions to new heights. Mercado succeeds Sharon Pinkney, who will retire after 36 illustrious years at the School of Law. Among her many achievements (including admitting the Class of 2016), Dean Pinkney developed the King Hall Outreach Program, which helps high potential college students prepare for the competitive law school admissions process.


Stay tuned for law school news at our website ( and the Deans' blog ( Follow us on our Facebook page ( and Twitter (

We at the School of Law know well that these are challenging times for law students. Faculty, deans, and staff are working hard to make the student experience at King Hall the best that it can be. The employment prospects for our students seem to be improving, and the Career Services office is doing its best to ensure that our students see the benefit of that improvement. Thank you all for your patience and for being part of the King Hall community.

Kevin R. Johnson