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Chemerinsky’s folly

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Erwin Chemerinsky has a theory, which is his.

His theory is that it’s impossible to provide a good legal education at any less than the astronomical prices currently being charged by American law schools, including his personal vanity project, the University of California-Irvine, of which he is the first dean. To wit:

There is no solution to the high cost of legal education.

Chemerinsky’s goal when he started UCI wasn’t to solve that particular problem. Far from it: instead he intended to create a “top 20” law school. To that end he has spent a fortune hiring high-priced faculty talent, including most notably himself and his wife — a dynamic academic duo that was pulling down $600,000 in direct comp alone from the school in 2013. (Several other UCI law faculty are making close to or more than $300,000 per year).

In pursuing this precious ranking, Chemerinsky apparently convinced the school’s central administration to, for the moment at least, keep the school’s entering classes very small, in order to bolster its matriculants’ average entrance credentials: Indeed, after admitting classes of 119 and 126 in 2012 and 2013, the school ratcheted back to a class of just 89 this past fall, meaning that in its sixth year of operation UCI’s total enrollment is still just 326 students (when he started the school Chemerinsky indicated the plan was to have a school of about 600 students).

Meanwhile, Chemerinsky’s hiring binge has continued unabated: the school is now up to 43 full-time faculty — a 50% increase from just two years ago.

All this means the law school must be currently losing a whole lot of money. How much? Well those 43 faculty are costing the school close to ten million per year in salary and benefits, which means the school’s total operating costs are probably well more than double that, since you’ve still got to pay for non-faculty personnel, physical plant costs, library costs (the school was spending nearly two million per year on the latter item alone a couple of years ago), and the school’s share of the university’s indirect operating costs (that is, university-wide costs not incurred directly by individual academic units).

Meanwhile, how much tuition revenue is the school pulling in this year? UCI is playing the new favorite game of many a financially troubled law school, which is to charge crazy high sticker tuition, but then offer deep discounts off that number to the vast majority of students. Indeed almost 90% of students last year were getting discounts that averaged nearly $25,000 each, and that number is unlikely to have gone down, given how desperate Chemerinsky was to buy another entering class with high LSAT and GPA numbers (critical to the rigorous scientific method of the USN rankings system).

So those 326 students are probably paying an average effective tuition rate this year in the mid to high 20s. Let’s say $27K per capita. That’s $8.8 million dollars. UCI was given $20 million by real estate mogul Donald Bren to found the law school, but that money has probably already been burnt through in large part to buy the school’s first few classes (the original class paid no tuition, and subsequent classes paid, and continue to pay, drastically less than list price). Of course the school has no endowment to speak of beyond that original nest egg, nor is it getting anything in annual giving from its as yet almost completely hypothetical alumni base. So that pretty much exhausts the sources of law school revenues (grants and contracts, so critical to the funding of academic departments which do work that the outside world is actually willing to pay for, remain rare in legal academia).

UCI made its debut in the rankings today, tying with several other schools for the #30 spot, i.e., a very long way from the elite zip codes of “top” law schools, and still a good ways down the road from its sub-elite local competitors UCLA and USC, which are perpetually in the 15-20 range.

Always the advocate, Chemerinsky pasted a smiley face on this outcome:

“I am very proud of UCI Law’s accomplishments in building a top law school in only six years,” said Dean Erwin Chemerinsky. “We have so much to be proud of thanks to the hard work of faculty, administrators, students, alumni and supporters, both on campus and in the legal community. We are so grateful for the generosity and support we have received in building the University of California, Irvine School of Law.”

Dean Erwin Chemerinsky continued: “I expect that we will rise significantly in U.S. News rankings in the years ahead.

As a friend notes, the problem with this kind of thing is that the battle for rankings is unrelenting. Chemerinsky must have convinced the UCI administration to let him run the school at huge loss to this point, on the basis of the promise that he would get it into UCLA/USC territory, at which point they could expand to 600 students and charge $40K per year in effective tuition, rather than offering most of the class massive discounts.

Well he didn’t make it, and now he’s got a big problem, which consists of those 43 very highly-paid faculty, none of which are ready to get pushed out via buyouts (the preferred cost-cutting strategy of schools losing a lot less money than UCI is losing right now). If the class is expanded by cutting matric entrance numbers, that will also hurt the school in the rankings, so it’s all a Catch-22.

UCI’s central administrators are probably experiencing severe buyer’s remorse right now, but they are getting no more than they deserve for buying into the idea that what the utterly saturated California legal hiring market needed was yet another “prestigious” law school.

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  • rea

    Why does the world need another top 20 law school? Don’t we have 20 of them already?

    • Hogan

      Yes, but none of them were in the OC.

      • Crusty

        Yes, but nobody cares about 15-20.

      • rea

        Yeah, some hapless kids might have to travel all the way to UCLA, in the next county over.

        • Andrew

          Hey come on; that’s a long trip. Even if you don’t die of dysentery or your wagon train isn’t decimated by the Apaches, how are you going to practice law in such a foreign culture so far removed from where you received your law degree?

  • Morse Code for J

    Since he and his wife made $600,000 in 2013, and there’s no reason to suspect that they made significantly less than this during the other five years that UC-Irvine Law has been open, I’m not sure I would assign the folly to Chemerinsky.

    • bobbyhurley

      Agreed. What’s failure when it’s enjoyed with a cocktail on the beach?

  • Snarki, child of Loki

    Do they have a concentration in “Moops Studies”?

    I hear that it’s a rapidly growing field…

    • altofront

      The one positive thing I would say about Chemerinsky is that his politics, and the dominant politics of his law school, are decidedly anti-Moops.

  • Atrios

    I was at UCI when this was being “discussed” and every professor who could find a way to stick a finger into the piggy bank knew it would mean “ca ching ca ching ca ching.” Of course they also thought it would be ca ching ca ching for UCI generally, which isn’t turning out to be the case…

    • altofront

      Speaking as one who will likely bear the financial burden of this law school for the rest of his career, this is the thing that I find most infuriating. Of course “every professor” thought that law schools were cash cows: that was the conventional wisdom. But this shouldn’t have included the people who would be footing the bill: they should have been able to do a clear-eyed assessment of the costs and risks, which by the time this was getting to the actual planning stage must have been looking pretty dicey.

  • Unemployed_Northeastern

    “[Chemerinsky’s] theory is that it’s impossible to provide a good legal education at any less than the astronomical prices currently being charged by American law schools”

    Can you imagine how crap Columbia must have been in 2006, when tuition was just $38k/year? Good thing it’s now up to $60k this year. And in accord with S&M, salaries have gone up to reflection tuition. No, wait, Biglaw salaries haven’t budged since 2006, which means that in real terms, new associates are making a good deal less than their senior associate peers were making when they graduated (2006’s $160k salaries are about $190k in 2015 dollars).

    Also, I’m pretty sure it is UC-Erwin Law School and Irvine Chemerinsky. And a faculty to student ratio of 7.5:1 is ridiculous.

    • Hogan

      If that’s the faculty:student ratio, then it’s beyond ridiculous.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        326 students, 43 full-time faculty, as per Paul’s accounting.

        • Hogan

          Then it’s the student:faculty ratio, no?

          • West of the Cascades

            Lawyerz don’t do maths!!

          • Crusty

            I don’t understand what’s going on in this discussion. Everyone understands what a ratio is, right?

            • Srsly Dad Y

              faculty:student =/= student:faculty is all.

          • Unemployed_Northeastern

            Noun descriptive order misplaced did I…

            • Hogan

              It’s been happened to know.

    • rea

      I’m pretty sure it is UC-Erwin Law School

      No–it’s UC Irvine, where George Michael Bluth goes.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        C’mon, I’m trying to get the UC-Erwin School of Law to be a blawg meme.

    • kateislate

      Imagine how terribly trained Canadian lawyers are, paying less than $20,000 each year (in Canadian dollars!!! Which didn’t make much of a difference until about eight weeks ago, but still …).

  • Crusty

    Barbri gives a decent legal education for whatever that’s going for these days? $2000?

    • Fighting Words

      A few things:

      1. Actually, Chemerinsky actually taught the Constitutional Law portion of the BarBri class that I was in (5 years ago). I actually got to meet him. He was a pretty nice guy.

      2. Having said that, I don’t think anyone would consider Barbri “decent legal education.”

      3. When I took Barbri, it was, if I recall correctly, $3500.00. And this was 5 years ago, so I know that the price has gone up. One thing is for sure, a lot of people are making a lot of money off of law students.

      • Crusty

        Well, maybe Barbri doesn’t constitute “decent legal education” but the model is instructive- its professors giving lectures to students sitting in classrooms, plus books. What does that cost barbri?

        • dr. fancypants

          …its professors giving lectures to students sitting in classrooms…

          Many of my cohort just watched the online videos from the privacy of their own home (preferably sped up to about 1.5x normal speed to reduce the duration of the pain), so the cose is ridiculously low. Barbri is basically one of the most financially successful MOOCs on the market right now.

  • Manju

    Ok…he’s running a start-up that’s at the blade-end of the proverbial silicon valley hockey stick, so to speak.

    This is the developmental stage. The final product will be a top-20 law school. Once he has that, he figures he’ll hit the inflection point. Profits ensue.

    But he’s come up short. However, he’s at 30…not too far away…though I suspect its harder to go from 30-20 than it is from 40-30.

    So the million dollar question is how long did investors give him to exit developmental stage?

    • justrmor

      This is indeed the question. How much longer is the law school permitted to lose money in pursuit of the almighty #20 ranking? My guess: Not that much.

      • altofront

        But you’re imagining a model in which investors can pull their money if they don’t get the results they wanted. In this case, the gold-plated faculty can’t realistically be fired, and the university will never admit that it has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in impossible pursuit of this worthless goal. The law school will be the vampire squid on the face of UCI for the foreseeable future.

        • NonyNony

          In this case, the gold-plated faculty can’t realistically be fired, and the university will never admit that it has wasted hundreds of millions of dollars in impossible pursuit of this worthless goal.

          Um, this is not quite true (no matter what those gold-plated faculty think). The truth is that they won’t be fired because the university won’t admit to its folly.

          If the university leadership gets replaced by people who are willing to throw it all under the bus, the law school could be closed and all of the faculty laid off because of financing issues. It’s something that I’m pretty sure is standard in faculty contracts everywhere.

          • altofront

            The truth is that they won’t be fired because the university won’t admit to its folly.

            Right, that’s why I said they can’t realistically be fired. Among infinite possible worlds, there may be one in which an administration would be prepared to suffer the embarassment and the incredible shit-storm that would ensue, but it’s not the one we live in. (I would bet, in fact, that the number of law school faculty will increase.)

    • BoredJD

      The problem is that the school has literally done all it can to create a top 25 ranking and it still wasn’t enough- small class size, huge investment into faculty, buying LSAT/GPA scores with full-rides for the entire first class, etc. etc.

      There is nowhere for them to go but down. If I was an investor in a similar enterprise I’d switch from the high-end to the middle market.

    • CSI

      I was thinking, USN rankings are a tournament. To go from #30-#20 you’d have to push 1-10 other school off their place. This wouldn’t be easy at all – probably it would be borderline impossible.

      But then I remembered the rankings aren’t a strict tournament, thanks to all the tied places Bob Morse likes to leave in place. Irving could skip straight to #20 by getting tied with the existing school(s) at that position. There would be no need to push any schools off their places.

      But still it wouldn’t be easy getting to #20 or less, and I can’t see Irving doing it.

      • CSI

        Ah wait, lets say you have 5 schools ranked #20, then the next school after those is ranked #25. So to go to #20 would mean having to push several schools down, no way around it.

        Having all these ties in the rankings is somewhat confusing. Can’t Bob roll a dice or something?

  • PaulB

    I appreciate all the work that’s been done by Prof. Campos, LST, and others who have contributed greatly to reducing the number of young adults who have had lives ruined by the law school scam. In the end, however, the one and only solution to the high cost of legal education (take note, Dean Chemerinsky) is the end of government guaranteed loans for law school.

    • bobbyhurley

      Agree with the appreciation. However I would say it is the unlimited government guaranteed loans that are the issue.

      • JCougar

        The problem with simply putting a cap on FedLoans is that the private loan sharks will take over above that cap, and things may get even worse.

        FedGov simply has to state that it will not provide loans at all for any school that charges beyond $XXX.XX tuition–because at that point the “school” is no longer providing a public good–it is instead a private, rent-seeking operation.

        In fact, non-profit status could easily be revoked as well if tuition were at a high enough level. And if tuition were above a certain level, a tax could then be implemented on the school’s endowment income–to help finance student loan defaults, PSLF forgiveness, etc.

        • Municipal D1

          This is a great point that doesn’t get made enough. Older lawyers remember this, before Sallie Mae became the biggest game in town. I never understood why IBR was such a big deal, because most loan packages during my day were 50/50 private-fed. I understand that’s changed.

          Private loans are not dischargeable in bankruptcy, nor is there any discussion of moving towards that. Absent this reform, simply putting a cap on .gov debt (or lowering the amount dischargeable under IBR) doesn’t do much.

          IBR/PAYE is simply another version of HAMP– meaning it’s just window dressing to keep the barbarians at the gate (although I understand that IBR has helped a lot of recent grads survive).

        • PaulB

          JCougar, I agree with you in principle that federal loans (direct or guaranteed, no difference) would make sense if they are severely capped but ONLY if the cap is on the total tuition and fees charged. If we limited the loans to $15K/yr but allowed schools to charge whatever they wanted to, the benefits would be limited. I don’t think private sector lenders will be lining up to provide loans above the federal limit to students of mediocre schools. The default rate, with or without bankruptcy discharge, would be unacceptable. However, without a bright line, law schools will manage to lobby the feds into a system that wouldn’t be much better than the current unlimited loans.

      • Unemployed_Northeastern

        Talk to any indebted attorney from before 2008 or so. Before everyone started taking out GradPLUS loans, in other words. They’ll owe at least 2x in private loans as federal. Sallie, Nelnet, AccessGroup (which is freaking owned by the accredited law schools as a non-profit membership corporation) are all itching to be able to extend $100k to $150k in private student loans to law, biz, veterinary, etc students, and then turn around and bundle those private student loans into SLABS (Student Loan Asset-Backed Securities) and sell them on Wall Street to pension funds and the like.

        Take a look at any old thread about debt on JDunderground. They all owe oceans in private loans.

  • Incredibly OT, but this is the right post for me to rant: I spent most of today in my second day of deposition as a non-party witness. I had a minor role in repairing a building adjacent to a construction site, and there is currently a five-way suit between the developer, construction manager, and three adjacent neighbors (one is my client). The reason I’m so pissed off is that the stuff that I actually worked on, and which I remember because I worked on it, is not the subject of any of the suits. The trawling subpoena picked up some emails that I was cc’ed on and I spent literally two days saying “I don’t know” to question after question that would never have been asked had the lawyers read the fucking emails rather than treating my time as theirs. The best part was that roughly half of the questions had literally nothing to do with any documents they had or anything I said but were, instead, them using me as an expert witness in everything but name to analyze documents that I knew nothing about but have the training to read.

    There’s nothing that gives me a better opinion of the legal profession then being forced, under subpoena, to work for free explaining concepts that were not part of my work in the matter at hand.

    • Manju

      There’s nothing that gives me a better opinion of the legal profession then being forced, under subpoena, to work for free explaining concepts

      Hey…stop giving Chemerinsky solutions to his problem.

    • Colette

      There’s nothing that gives me a better opinion of the legal profession then being forced, under subpoena, to work for free explaining concepts that were not part of my work in the matter at hand.

      Ugh. That happened to me once. It took me a little while to catch on about why the attorney kept asking me to read and comment on documents I didn’t write. I must have said “I don’t know” 30 times. After a break, I “forgot” my glasses and asked to have all of the documents read aloud to me. The deposition ended abruptly, ahead of schedule.

      • In this case, five different lawyers were playing that game.

        • rea

          Seriously, as I say below, I don’t think this is allowed. To the extent they’ve compelled you to testify as an expert rather than a fact witness, they owe you a fee.

          And also: 5 attorneys @ $250 per hr. x 16 hrs. = $20,000. No wonder they didn’t cut the dep short.

          • Marek

            Pretty sure $250/hour is lowballing it. Isn’t N_B in New York?

            • Yeah. My hourly fee as an engineer is $250, I haven’t heard of a lawyer under $400 in a long time.

    • rea

      There’s nothing that gives me a better opinion of the legal profession then being forced, under subpoena, to work for free explaining concepts that were not part of my work in the matter at hand.

      I think the parties owe you some money, although you’d probably have to hire a lawyer to get it. But, unless this took place in Michigan, you’re outside the scope of my license.

    • MacK

      A partner at Quinn Emanuel got away with not answering questions about his work using the “calls for a legal opinion” objection, in a few instances incredibly (I can’t say more.)

      But maybe that should have been you answer – as a fact witness you might have been within your rights

    • Richard Hershberger

      If they expect you to be there tomorrow tell them you’re not available, because you are scheduled to wash your hair or something. If they really care, they can seek a court order compelling you to testify further. Betcha they don’t.

      Here’s a pro tip: getting served a subpoena to testify as a non-party witness doesn’t really mean that a deputy sheriff is going to show up at your door to drag you in chains to testify. In theory it can, but in practice it takes quite a bit to make this happen.

      The next time this happens, pick up the phone and call the attorney who issued the subpoena and have a heart to heart about scheduling availability.

    • Lee Rudolph

      Non-party hardy!!!

    • StellaB

      I did a Pap smear on a three pack per day smoker once. Four years later I got sued for malpractice along with six others when she developed lung cancer. A) no one walks around for four years with untreated lung cancer. B) a Pap smear goes nowhere near a lung — it’s done at the other end entirely. C) three packs per day — c’mon. To add insult, once she was diagnosed she opted for Gerson therapy which consists of coffee enemas, a raw food diet and vitamins.

      • I wish I’d heard this story earlier. I could have spent the day fantasizing about giving the lawyers coffee enemas rather than playing with a rubber band.

        ETA: It’s almost more maddening that we’re not a party and they’re doing this to me. We’ve only been sued twice in twenty years – one case dismissed on summary judgment and one heading in that direction very slowly – and while it’s annoying at least I can feel righteous about protecting my firm and (what I believe to be) the truth.

  • Crusty

    Ranking around number 30 is quite interesting. the low 30’s and high 20’s is where lots of what Campos might call trap schools are ranked. Such a school has enough alumni (from previous generations, when times were different) employed in good jobs, and enough recent grads from the top tier of the class in prestigious positions to make prospective students think that attendance is a good investment. Given the cash, it seems easy to become a trap school, and impossible to rise above that level.

  • JDM

    “There is no solution to the high cost of legal education.” strikes me as a clumsy attempt to keep one from looking. Ala:

    MAESTRO: Oh yeah, I’ve been at my house in Tuscany.

    KRAMER: Oh Tuscany huh? Hear that Jerry? That’s in Italy.

    JERRY: I hear it’s beautiful there.

    MAESTRO: Well if you’re thinking of getting a place there don’t bother. There’s really nothing available.

  • MAJeff

    There are actually people who value the USNews rankings? Other than Chemerinsky, who are these fools?

    • Crusty

      I’m not sure what you’re getting at, and I realize they it isn’t necessarily a cause and effect relationship, but students at schools outside the t-14 have difficult times finding employment sufficient to pay off the loans they take out to attend school.

      • MAJeff

        If hiring directors are using USNews rankings of law schools to rank candidates, then they are intensely stupid people.

        • Crusty

          The legal profession focuses intensely on school (and grades and accomplishments at said school). There are 14 schools that employers hire from on a national basis. Beyond that, hiring and school reputations are largely regional. Hiring directors aren’t necessary looking at US News rankings to rank candidates, i.e., they already know the schools.

          I don’t know how you think legal employers should rank candidates, but they do it by school reputation, and U.S. News reflects those reputations.

          • Ahuitzotl

            On the other hand, they are intensely stupid people as a rule

            • MAJeff

              intensely stupid and stupidly status-obsessed.

    • BoredJD

      0Ls, who think that they are a proxy for employment. To what extent this common wisdom has changed over the last few years is a matter for debate.

      I also suspect USNWR rankings are used as proxies by hiring committees evaluating the careers of candidates for high-paying jobs, even though I’m sure they care more about whether the students are actually getting a decent education.

  • Does this theory, which is his, involve the brontosaurus?

    • The number of lawyers graduating in the U.S., over time, is big in the middle and little at both ends.

      • West of the Cascades

        The number of full-time faculty at UCI Law School, over time, is small at one end, big in the middle, and small at the other end.

  • StuckinOz

    UCI’s central administrators are probably experiencing severe buyer’s remorse right now, but they are getting no more than they deserve for buying into the idea that what the utterly saturated California legal hiring market needed was yet another “prestigious” law school.

    I’m not surprised the administration would fall for something like this. I was a grad student at UCI in the 90s, and I remember the school had serious UCLA-envy. Once a couple of science profs were *nominated* for Nobel prizes and the university put these fancy banners up all over campus celebrating their Nobel-nominated status. It was freaking embarrassing.

    • Warren Terra

      nce a couple of science profs were *nominated* for Nobel prizes and the university put these fancy banners up all over campus celebrating their Nobel-nominated status.

      Um, wha? I know the Nobel process for Physiology and Medicine pretty well, and I’ve read about others, and I don’t think any information about who’s on the short list is made public (or, for that matter, the long list). There are rumors, and campaigns, and there are people presumed to be in the running, and then there are prizes the winning of which often precede the Nobel (most famously the Lasker, but there’s a bunch) – but I don’t think any of the science or literature prizes have announcements of nominated status.

      The Peace prize is a bit different, because an enormous number of people are invited to nominate recipients (iirc, any elected member of a national legislature, plus other categories including past recipients). So we always hear about some of those nominations, even when they’re trolling (Slobodan Milosevic, for example). But even there I don’t think the short list is made public.

      • altofront

        I think StuckinOz’s memory has added some embroidery: two UCI professors did win Nobel Prizes (in Chemistry and Physics) in the same year, 1995. This was the first time a double win had happened at a public university, and UCI quite understandably made a big deal about it. (The stuff about UCLA seems right on the money, though.)

        • Warren Terra

          This was the first time a double win had happened at a public university

          Eddie Fischer and Ed Krebs shared the Nobel in Physiology or Medicine in 1992, and both were at the Univ. of Washington.

          • altofront

            I think the point is that it was two different prizes in the same year–shared awards are always in the same year.

  • Joshua

    Even from the perspective of idiotic free market zealotry, why would the University of California spend gazillions of dollars so a brand new law school in the UC system could one day hope to be as good as… a law school in the UC system? It’d be like Wal-Mart spending billions of dollars in the hope that a new store would be as good at selling cheap Chinese stuff as Wal-Mart. It doesn’t make any sense!

    I can see why UCI administrators would want to do it, but this seems like something that should have been overruled at the top.

    • MacK

      Cheap chinese stuff in competition with the Walmart next door

    • Honoré De Ballsack

      I can see why UCI administrators would want to do it, but this seems like something that should have been overruled at the top.

      FYI: Politically, the relationship between the various UC schools is akin to that of the city-states in classical Greece or Renaissance Italy. As far as I (a UC system alumnus) know, no centralized authority exists.

      • OhioDocReviewer

        Politically, the relationship between the various UC schools is akin to the city-states of classical Greece…

        “Opening this school…in this market…this is madness!”

        “Madness?!”

        “This is Irvine!!”

        • Brian Schmidt

          That’s fantastic. Someone needs to do a video.

          Too bad about Chemerinsky. His legal/political views are great, but he’s doing a lot of damage.

          • PaulB

            Is it just possible that his role in creating the law school at UCI is a direct outgrowth of his legal/political views?

      • And yet, somehow, it’s USC with the Trojans.

        • Warren Terra

          Where’s the contrast? If the state’s public university system(1) is the Greeks, it makes sense that a rival private university would be the Trojans. Though Stanford might have been more appropriate.

          (1) Well, one of them – in addition to the U of C schools, there’s the CSU school.

      • Hogan

        I think it was Robert Maynard Hutchins who described his school (U. of Chicago) as “a number of discrete entities bound together by a common heating system.”

      • Jackov

        The UC system has a governing board, a president and a centralized bureaucracy.

        Geographical rivalry/balance is part of the reason UCI has a law school. Before its creation there was only UCLA in the south and Berkeley, Davis and Hastings in the north. UC med schools are reversed with three in the south – Irvine, LA and San Diego – with Davis and San Francisco in the north.

        • azzizello

          UC Merced will be the next med school/UC healthcare system in the north

          • altofront

            UC Riverside also has a brand new medical school. (Personally, I can’t believe that the economics of medical schools are much better than those of law schools, but at least society needs more doctors.)

  • Francis

    Plans to open a law school at UCI were kicking around even in the early 90s, when Erwin was still at USC (before he went to Duke). A lot of the blame has to go to the Regents who wanted a trophy graduate program so that they wouldn’t have as much of an inferiority complex as they do toward UCLA.

    Sure Erwin has been the face of the program and he has been very well paid to be founding dean. But there was plenty of resistance to having him be the founding dean due to some differences (shall we say) between his politics and those of the major donors. He overcame that resistance by making a commitment to creating a top-notch law school, largely by using his stellar reputation in the legal community to attract top scholars. (I have no idea whether he’s succeeded in that regard.)

    yes, he’s not doing his reputation any good (at least in this community) by continuing to spout nonsense. but then again, that’s his job. Moving up another 10 spaces necessarily requires kicking down the schools in those spaces and they really don’t want to move.

    • altofront

      A lot of the blame has to go to the Regents who wanted a trophy graduate program so that they wouldn’t have as much of an inferiority complex as they do toward UCLA.

      UCI doesn’t have its own regents. I think the blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the UCI admins, across multiple chancellorships.

      One likely factor in their thinking, beyond inferiority complexes, is that UCI has generally done a poor job of tapping into the extraordinary wealth of Orange County (excepting the Bren family, of course). They probably thought that a law school that could compete with UCLA would be a good draw.

  • justrmor

    Off Topic: Oregon jumped 18 spots in the rankings. And according to UOMatters, it is because the school got 1.5 million dollar’s to buy high LSAT scores.

    http://uomatters.com/2015/03/uo-law-rises-from-100-to-82-in-us-news-after-1-5m-bailout.html

    • BoredJD

      And here I thought they’d use that money to hire away future seven-figure NYC biglaw M+A partners. Times they are a changin’

  • “That’s some catch, that Catch-22.”

    “It’s the best there is.”

  • azzizello

    Has UCI even received ABA accreditation yet?

    • altofront

      Yes, since last June.

      • CSI

        You need ABA accreditation for US News to rate you I think.

  • LawDdaw

    IMO, federal loans to subsidize the professor class and its musings.

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