Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Despite 'Horrific' 51% Bar Passage Rate, New UC-Hastings Dean Says School Is Poised To 'Catapult Into National Preeminence' Using NYU As A Model

UC Hastings LogoFollowing up on my recent posts:

The Recorder, UC-Hastings Law Dean to Focus on Bar Passage, Real Estate Development:

Now that he has been given the role full time, UC-Hastings College of the Law Chancellor and Dean David Faigman has big plans to bolster the school's stature, including improving what he called a "horrific" bar passage rate. Hastings' board of directors unanimously voted to keep Faigman on after a search committee evaluated nearly 100 candidates. ...

"I am absolutely incredibly optimistic about where we're going as a school, because I think we have the pieces in place to really catapult into national preeminence," Faigman said. "I have every intention of making UC-Hastings a national powerhouse." ...

At the top of Faigman's priority list is boosting the school's bar exam passage rate, he said. Just 51 percent of Hastings' first-time exam takers passed this summer, a number Faigman called "horrific" in an email to campus officials and students. He wants Hastings professors to adjust their testing techniques so students can have more practice with the bar exam's timed, closed-book format, and he suggested that additional midterm exams could provide students with valuable feedback. ...

[Frank] Wu, Faigman's predecessor as dean, faced scrutiny over Hasting's slipping U.S. News & World Report ranking, which slid from No. 42 in 2010 to No. 59 in 2015.  ...

Faigman said he's looking to New York University as a model for what Hastings might accomplish. Since the 1980s, NYU has been able to expand its academic programs by developing its real estate in Greenwich Village. Hastings, with its campus in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, is in the same position now that NYU was in 30 years ago, Faigman said.

"Legal education has a lot of challenges, but I really am absolutely honest in saying that Hastings is in as good a position as any school in the country, if not better, to advance," he said.

Legal Education | Permalink


As I get on in life and start having to contend with age discrimination in my chosen field of practice, it really sucks having to explain that Hastings was a top 25 law school when I was admitted. If I even get a chance to.

Posted by: Hastings Alum | Jan 19, 2017 5:57:59 PM

As someone who went to Hastings back when they were producing lawyers, I find Faigman's promise of NYU-caliber “preeminence" insulting. The bar passage rate at Hastings reflects the sub-par state of its graduates: most can't write, some can barely read, and all are naive enough to believe Hastings’ propaganda that having a San Francisco zip code will somehow (as if by osmosis?) give them an edge on anything other than defaulting on their student loans. Now the Dean is promising NYU-caliber preeminence, under the rationale that like Hastings, NYU is (to paraphrase) "in a cool city, too.” What a joke! San Francisco did not keep Hastings from losing most of their once-prestigious faculty to UC Davis (over 10 laterals) or retirement, while NYU was poaching professors from T5 law schools. Nor does the SF connection somehow convert into employment as implied by clinical ‘externships’ where the students pay tuition to sit around all semester waiting for assignments (and praying that somehow proximity to a potential employer will land them a job, once again, as if by osmosis). The only positive aspect of this sinking ship is their moot court team, which is well funded and attractive to students, but takes valuable time that students should instead spend on classwork, or bar prep! Bottom line: when a school is 12th or 13th in the state on bar passage, falls below the state average for years in a row, and is bested by schools like cal-western (?), perhaps it is time for more self reflection and less finger-pointing. Perhaps the reality is Hastings is as much a fraudulent bureaucracy masquerading as a law school, as Faigman claims the bar association to be a trade association masquerading as a state agency. Either way, it is certainly no NYU.

Posted by: UC Hastings Alum | Dec 27, 2016 7:20:12 AM


Given his facility for straws, sometimes I do wonder if my friend Rob is secretly a reaper.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Dec 22, 2016 8:37:05 AM

@Rob T.

who said that?

Posted by: terry malloy | Dec 22, 2016 4:59:01 AM

"Magical thinking is magical."

Tell me about it. For instance, rubbing the bottle and whispering to the imaginary genie inside, "Half of all law schools will close, half of all law schools will close....".

Posted by: Rob T. | Dec 21, 2016 1:43:41 PM

Magical thinking is magical.

Posted by: terry malloy | Dec 21, 2016 8:49:18 AM

"I am absolutely incredibly optimistic about where we're going as a school, because I think we have the pieces in place to really catapult into national preeminence"

You sure you didn't find this post on The Onion?

Posted by: lawprof | Dec 21, 2016 8:20:41 AM

Well, Hastings gets very little money from the state of California. But the rise of NYU Law was fueled by the gift of the C.F. Mueller Noodle Company--worth close to half a billion in 2016 dollars.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 21, 2016 8:19:11 AM

The only way to become an "NYU" is to buy better students. UCLA may be poised to be the next NYU. Their class profile is really close to a top 10 school already. It would just take a few years of heavy investment. No reason the West Coast should not have 3 premier national schools.

Posted by: JM | Dec 21, 2016 8:04:13 AM

So the California taxpayers should subsidize an NYU clone?

Posted by: mike livingston | Dec 21, 2016 4:28:12 AM