As you'll see from the links after the jump, we've written since the UC Irvine School of Law's opening in 2009 about critics who felt California did not need another law school and the world certainly did not need more lawyers. But the law school has soldiered on, becoming among the most respected in the nation. The latest feather in the graduation cap: being granted full accreditation by the American Bar Association, effective immediately.
UCI Law School Wins Provisional ABA Accreditation
UCI Law School Professor and Students Fight for Nigerian Activists in U.S. Supreme Court
UCI's First Law School Class Has a Better Cali Bar Exam Passage Rate Than All But Stanford
Dan Walters, Dean of State Political Reporters, v. Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of UCI Law School
It's all the more amazing when you consider that, a couple years before the UCI law school welcomed its first class, my colleague R. Scott Moxley dished on the hiring and firing of founding dean Erwin Chemerinsky, who was ultimately hired-fired-rehired after word got out about the behind-the-scenes machinations.
Even after soon departing UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake claimed he and he alone sacked Chemerinsky–a nationally regarded constitutional scholar and (spoiler alert!) prominent liberal–because the university's chief had underestimated conservative outrage of the hiring, conspiracy theories abounded. Was Irvine Co. Chairman Donald Bren, a conservative Republican billionaire who'd lavished UCI with tens of millions, really the mastermind of the firing?
Making things worse was Chemerinsky's disclosure that Drake had told him to lie about the mucked-up hiring process and to say they'd decided mutually to part ways. But when forces like the LA Times, lefty lawyers and conservative attorneys all locked arms to call UCI out for the huge mistake, the chancellor's office essentially responded, "Oopsie," and Chemerinsky was back in, and he has remained there ever since.
The dean makes no mention of the rocky start when he says in a university statement, "The ABA's decision puts the official seal of approval on the hard work of scores of faculty, administrators, students, 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."
A recent study ranked the UCI law school faculty seventh in the country for scholarly impact, behind Yale, Harvard, Chicago, Stanford, Columbia, and NYU. The school ranked third behind Yale and Stanford in a recent study of student placement in prestigious federal judicial clerkships. Another source ranked the school No. 13 in a national review of "Elite Employment Outcomes" based on federal clerkships and employment in large law firms.
Meanwhile, more than 90 percent of UCI law students provide pro bono legal services to the underserved in the community.
"From the outset, our goal has been to build a top law school that emphasizes preparing students for the practice of law at the highest levels of the profession," Chemerinsky says in the statement. "I am very proud that the decision by the ABA is at the earliest possible time under the ABA rules."