Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Continuing our series of responses from various legal luminaries to the question: What is the single best idea for reforming legal education you would offer to Erwin Chemerinsky as he builds the law school at UC-Irvine?
Daniel B. Rodriguez (Minerva House Drysdale Regents Chair in Law, University of Texas School of Law; former Dean, University of San Diego School of Law):
UCI’s aspirations to become a leading law school in a short time face a mighty $$$ mountain. Confronted with the improbable objective of raising privately the hundreds of millions of dollars necessary to keep up with the true elite in legal education, the leaders of the UC’s law schools have, with the assent of the Regents and the (self-interested) California legislature, taken a trip down the inelastic demand curve of law school admissions and jacked up their tuition to astonishing levels. In two years, a legal education at UC’s flagship, Boalt Hall, will cost $40,000 a year. The negative impact on law graduate professional choices, diversity, and public interest lawyering will be great.
Dean Chemerinsky and UCI should work diligently to avoid this exercise in entrepreneurial collective action (I believe the Sherman Act uses a different phrase) and pursue financial resources the old-fashioned way, by fundraising aggressively. To do so effectively, the law school should draw together, in a way that deans seldom do effectively, the faculty in the common enterprise of raising resources for initiatives, programs, and infrastructure that will enable UCI to prosper without fleecing their new law students and their families. Faculty members should be encouraged by their visionary new dean to think of themselves as stakeholders, as investors in the preliminary and long-term financial well-being of this law school. Developing programs of value to the region, creating outreach opportunities to help the community better understand law and its imbedded role in modern society, promoting faculty work in the media, nurturing networks of mutual advantage with law firms, corporations, and other universities in the U.S. and abroad . . . all these ideas and others can only be incubated and implemented with the resolve, commitment, and energy of faculty members. The dean is the chief fundraiser to be sure, but the faculty role is critical. Erwin has role modeled this behavior in his own career; teaching the imperative of like behavior in the service of UCI’s financial progress will be time well spent for the new dean.
For all the posts in the series, see here.