Summer 2006 Letter
Dear Alumni and Friends:
It has been a few weeks since my second Boalt graduation, and the feeling returned to my right hand more quickly this year after congratulating our 350 graduates; experience is its own reward. I have searched in vain for the right metaphor to convey the simultaneous sense of jubilant completion and cyclical renewal. The graduates undergoing their rite of passage shared with me an appreciation of that cliché: "We've come so far, but there is so much farther to go" (as with bar exams and capital campaigns).
Month by month, my affection and admiration for this place deepen, as the truth of its greatness seizes me ever more firmly. It comes in an almost archeological way, as I meet generational layer after layer of alumni. It comes blindingly as I read or listen to the dazzling intelligence of our faculty or the creativity and passion of our students. And I'm immensely gratified by the pace of the progress we are making executing our strategic plan to enhance and secure Boalt's leadership.
There is so much to report. Here are some highlights, organized around the four pillars of our strategic plan.
This is the fifth year in which the graduating class has conducted a fundraising campaign, and this year's class achieved an astounding participation rate of 97 percent—thereby making it virtually impossible to recruit a 3L class campaign committee for next year. These students, I remind you, have seen their tuition climb 50 percent since enrolling. As I wrote to them a few days ago:
It is impossible for me to overstate how powerful a message this will send to alumni, the Regents, prospective donors, faculty recruits, foundations, prospective students, the U.N. Security Council. … And you are teaching everyone throughout the entire University system the meaning of community and commitment. … I'm confident I speak for the entire faculty and staff—please know that your extraordinary confidence in Boalt will only add fuel to our determination to secure Boalt's future of leadership and service for the years ahead. I had not thought more determination possible, but you've stretched the bounds of what might reasonably have been thought possible. The rest of us can only follow suit.
The support of the members of the class of 2006 evidences their judgment that today's Boalt provides the rocket fuel they want—intellectual, ethical, professional and more. They've gained skills, friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. And while they have graduated, they are not leaving Boalt.
As promised, we completed the first, critical phase of renovating our financial aid programs by completely overhauling the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). This program supports graduating students who want to take low-paying public sector and public interest jobs by assuming a portion of their law school loan payments. Our changes will give Boalt the most generous loan forgiveness program of any leading law school, (1) with the possible exception of Yale (which we don't really count, because they have enough money to be admitted to the G-8). We can all boast that Boalt acts on the belief that its students deserve access and freedom of career choice. I received dozens of appreciative notes from students, many of them among the over 80 percent who head for traditional forms of private practice. All are proud to be part of a community that supports the full range of professional paths, notwithstanding mounting undergraduate and law school debt loads.
Finally, although the composition of the entering J.D. class of 2009 isn't set, the admitted students continue the pattern of looking ever better on paper than their immediate predecessors. Once again, we admitted only 1 in 10 applicants—a selectivity exceeded only by Yale and Stanford. The recent tuition increases have not had an adverse impact on academic preparation, diversity, breadth of experiences, variety of aspirations, geography or anything else we've observed. So far, so good.
We head into the summer invigorated by nearly a dozen exciting additions to our faculty over the past two hiring seasons, on target with the 40 percent expansion of our tenure track. We are in the midst of an unprecedented spurt of growth that will improve our student-faculty ratio, strengthen some key areas of the curriculum, and build deeper leadership for our new multidisciplinary think tanks. Eric Biber, a top-notch environmental law specialist, arrives at Boalt with considerable experience in the nonprofit environmental arena and as a clerk at both the 10th Circuit and D.C. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Gillian Lester, one of academia's most distinguished employment law experts, joins Boalt from UCLA School of Law, where she was a tenured professor and prize-winning teacher. Melissa Murray will begin teaching family and criminal law following her exemplary work as a clerk for the federal district court in Connecticut and the 2nd Circuit, and a fellowship at Columbia Law School. Paul Schwartz, a preeminent international authority in the emerging field of information privacy law, as well as a scholar of intellectual property, signs on from Brooklyn Law School , where he was a tenured professor. Eric Talley, a shining light in the field of corporations, as well as law and economics, joins us from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and the RAND Corporation, where he was a senior economist. Jeff Selbin, a 15-year veteran and currently executive director of the East Bay Community Law Center , moves from resident lecturer to clinical professor. These superstars join a remarkable group of five new colleagues who took up their professorships last summer.
Two things in particular strike me about this hiring season. First, of course, is how gratifying it is to have Boalt's excellence affirmed by the great teacher-scholars who want to be here. Second, through all of the discussion and voting, and as still something of a newcomer, I have been literally moved to tears in faculty appointments meetings by the intensity and rigor combined with respectful intellectual eclecticism. The great majority of votes over the past two years have been unanimous, and a powerful sense of comradeship in pursuit of excellence is palpable—and rare indeed for academia.
Multidisciplinary Research Centers
As I have often expressed, in some respects, the most uniquely defining element of our mission is the way in which we harness our excellence to make a difference by engaging the most challenging and important problems in the private and public sectors, for California and beyond. In the years ahead, a key mechanism for that will be the suite of multidisciplinary think tanks, some of which we are strengthening and others we are starting anew. The developments this year were nothing short of breathtaking, with a dramatic ramping up of initiatives on cutting-edge issues. Here's just a sample of what we've been up to.
Our new California Center for Environmental Law & Policy (CCELP), led by faculty director and Sho Sato Professor of Law Dan Farber, had an impressive first year. We named the first executive director, Richard Frank, who has been the chief deputy in the California Attorney General's Office. A renowned environmental lawyer who brings 30 years of experience in California government to this post, Rick will join us later this summer alongside the CCELP ("sea-kelp") associate director and international environmental expert Cymie Payne '97.
CCELP has already launched initiatives on catastrophic risks to build on what we did and did not learn from Hurricane Katrina, and on environmental governance to examine cooperative approaches to advancing effective environmental policy. The center has also brought environmental law into the digital age by figuring out how to transform and improve access to environmental data generated by regulatory filings. All this in addition to an ambitious new undertaking known as the Global Commons Project, in which CCELP will explore the influence of environmental law in the international system.
Not to be outdone, the Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy (BCLBE) also had an amazing first year. More than 200 people—including many of the state's key decision makers on the issues—attended California's Stem Cell Initiative: Confronting the Legal & Policy Challenge, a conference in March addressing topics ranging from intellectual property rights to economic recovery of the state's $3 billion investment in embryonic stem cell research over the next 10 years. Two weeks later, BCLBE convened leading scholars and practitioners for a close look at the Sarbanes-Oxley Act at Post-Enron Corporate Regulation: Has the Pendulum Swung Too Far (Or Not Far Enough)? And as if that were not enough, in May, BCLBE hosted Corporate Governance in East Asia: Culture, Psychology, Economics and Law, which offered rich perspectives on the development of legal standards in China and Korea amidst investment in these booming economies. In their spare time, BCLBE's faculty directors Jesse Fried and Eric Talley, with executive director Dana Welch '87, are developing a Web-based video library that will feature snapshot interviews with leading experts on cutting-edge business law topics.
The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity, which I direct, continues its work on multiple fronts. Just four of these are: reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 ; options for reforming the landmark No Child Left Behind federal education legislation; anticipating the legal and administrative challenges of implementing federal immigration reform legislation; and a research conference coming this fall to mark the 10th anniversary of California's Proposition 209. In April, the Warren Institute sponsored a major symposium in which over 100 leading researchers, policymakers and practitioners from around the nation debated whether and how to define and establish a legally meaningful right to quality K-12 education. The two-day, invitation-only Rethinking Rodriguez symposium, led by Assistant Professor Goodwin Liu, included discussions of two-dozen new research studies on topics ranging from school funding inequalities to the role of grassroots advocacy, to the possibilities for constitu-tional, legislative and policy changes to create enforceable efforts to enhance adequacy and equity in education.
There is much, much more I could describe—exciting work at the Berkeley Center for Law & Technology, the Institute for Legal Research, the new California Center for Criminal Justice, the Center for the Study of Law and Society, and elsewhere. I encourage you to visit our website to sample more.
Building and Renovations
As we prepare to build the new, we are renovating the old. The restoration of the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Reading Room is complete, and it is once again the glorious premier space it was built to be. Renovation continues this summer when workers will transform the Luke Kavanagh Moot Court room, in 115 Boalt, into three small seminar rooms accommodating 16 to 20 students each. At the same time, the old student mail room and current home to a battery of vending machines will also get new life as a seminar room come this fall. The new classrooms will meet the most up-to-date standards for ergonomics and instructional technology, and make an important contribution to "right-sizing" our classroom inventory to better match the evolution of law teaching toward smaller class sizes.
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In closing, a heartfelt thanks for your continued interest in Boalt, and your commitment as friends and alumni. To everyone who has contributed to the law school in this new era of sharply reduced state funding, your partnership with our campus community is vital support for our important public mission, and ensures that the excellence that defines Boalt will continue undiminished. Indeed, our light will shine more brightly still.
I hope to see you at the All-Alumni Reunion on September 30, and wish you a peaceful summer.
Christopher Edley, Jr.
Dean and Professor of Law
(1)Our new program covers 100 percent of law school annual debt payments for incomes under $58,000, and a declining portion thereafter until finally, at about $100,000, the borrower is fully responsible. For comparison, a typical starting salary for our graduates at a leading private firm in San Francisco is now $135,000, and more with a judicial clerkship.