Fall 2005 Letter

September 2005

Dear Alumni and Friends,

The new semester has begun for us, so it is time to take stock. In part, I am writing you to share the excitement we feel about progress toward the goals I laid out in my last letter. In part, it's to highlight important new developments here at Boalt.

Our New Students
The entering 1Ls, the class of 2008(!), continue the pattern of making all who came before appear merely mortal. I've included an assortment of interesting facts about these students at the end of this letter. In brief, we had more than 7,500 applicants, of whom we admitted 10 percent. With a yield of just over one-third, which is typical, we have a class of 264. They are rich in every dimension of diversity — age, variety of experience, race and ethnicity, career aspirations, and more. For example, the age range is 20 to 43, some 19 percent have a graduate M.A. or Ph.D. degree, and they attended 94 undergraduate institutions. Their measures of academic preparation are dazzling, with a median grade point average (GPA) and LSAT of 3.81 and 166 (94th percentile). From a hula instructor to a Navy SEAL, from journalists to engineers, from business owners to fashion models, and from congressional staffers to a performance artist — one could not imagine a richer mix.

We've also admitted a slightly larger class of 2L transfer students than in years past, because our experience is that these star performers from other law schools are disproportionately represented at the top of Boalt's graduating classes, disproportionately leading student organizations, and perhaps especially happy to join our community.

Finally, we have more than 50 LL.M. students from 23 countries, and 12 new doctoral students for our world-leading Ph.D. program in Jurisprudence and Social Policy. Boalt continues to be a powerful magnet for young lawyers around the world, and a prestigious gateway to academic careers in both law and the social sciences.

Faculty Developments
We have set out to increase the size of our tenure and tenure-track faculty by 40 percent over the next few years — growth unseen since the earliest days of Boalt Hall. As a first installment this summer, we welcomed a remarkable set of five new core faculty members. Joining us as tenured faculty are Professor David Sklansky from UCLA and Professor Leti Volpp from American University. These distinguished scholars and accomplished teachers will make invaluable contributions to the curriculum and to our intellectual portfolio. Among other endeavors, Professor Sklansky will play a central role in defining and launching a new multidisciplinary center on criminal justice law and policy. Professor Volpp will bring new energy and expertise to Boalt's expanding engagement on immigration issues, and also strengthen the team of folks who are tackling issues of identity, ethnicity and race.

On the tenure track we have three additions. First, Assistant Professor Molly Shaffer Van Houweling, who was a visitor last year, has accepted our offer to stay rather than return to the faculty in snowy Ann Arbor. Professor Van Houweling is a not-so-secret weapon in Boalt's strategy for maintaining and enhancing our leadership in the intellectual property field. Second, Assistant Professor Ken Bamberger joins us from private practice in Washington, D.C. He has an exciting research and teaching agenda in both administrative law and corporations, including attention to overlapping concerns with organizational behavior. His multidisciplinary sensibilities will not only fit well at Boalt, but will assure him a place on the frontier of basic and applied legal research. Third, Assistant Professor Erin Murphy joins us from the prestigious Public Defender Service in Washington , D.C. , and will no doubt draw on that extensive experience in her teaching and research on criminal procedure and criminal law. With the addition of Professors Sklansky and Murphy, in one giant leap we have gone from “thin-but-excellent” in the criminal justice field, to “world-beating.” For more on our new faculty, please see the Boalt website.

Also on the faculty front, we celebrated the promotions to Clinical Professor of Law of both Laurel Fletcher, director of the International Human Rights Law Clinic, and Lis Semel, director of the Death Penalty Clinic. This is a milestone in the development of Boalt's portfolio of cutting-edge work in clinical education, but the institutional success pales in comparison to the successes of our students and their supervisors in these clinics. From a landmark report on the “hidden slavery” of thousands throughout the United States who are forced to work in brothels, sweatships, private homes, and agriculture to new Supreme Court law on discriminatory jury selection in capital cases—the students of Professors Fletcher and Semel learn the theory, doctrine and craft of lawyering in varied contexts, and in ways that are often inspiring and even transformative.

Research Centers
This past year saw marked progress in advancing major research centers at Boalt. These enterprises will help drive innovation in the curriculum while bringing world-class research to bear on crucial issues facing the private and public sectors. The Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy is launched and is already shaping its agenda. One early project involves answering some key questions about California 's new $3 billion stem cell research initiative. For example, who will own the intellectual property that results from state-funded research conducted in the private sector? What bioethical rules will govern such research, and how will they be enforced? Mobilizing multiple disciplines and professions to answer such difficult questions is exactly what problem solving by lawyers and problem-solving research at a great university are all about. The Chief Justice Earl Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity has just started, and is actively pursuing projects concerning voting rights, K-12 education improvement, and the effects of California 's Prop. 209. Planning is well under way for a resurgence of Boalt's leadership in environmental law and policy, and for the aforementioned new center on criminal justice issues.

I am struck in these developments by the enthusiasm the campus has shown for Boalt's expanding multidisciplinary leadership. There is every reason for confidence that in the years ahead, we will succeed in further leveraging our excellence, complementing the excellence drawn from around the campus, to make a difference on many of the problems that matter most.

Building and Renovation
Returning students were delighted to see the progress of a major renovation of the Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati Reading Room, a former showpiece barely touched in 50 years and in dire need of a face-lift—home to a museum of 15 styles of cast-off chairs, with only a handful of plugs in the Age of Laptops, and a stained carpet only Jackson Pollock could love. Arguably the most important room in the school, it has perhaps been our least attractive feature. That is changing now.

Less visible, but even more exciting, are the tremendous strides we've made with plans to construct a new building in the parking lot behind Boalt. Months of intensive meetings with architects and engineers have given us a dazzling design concept and initial drawings that will be the foundation for raising the money for a shared building with the Haas School of Business. The imaginative structure has two wings connected by a three-story “forum” that will be the premier “destination venue” on campus for major events. The building will be a stunning physical and intellectual bridge between two great professional schools. There is nothing like it on any campus in the nation. There is certainly a long way to go—especially in raising the money—but we have made tremendous progress in record time, working through (or vaulting over) cables of red tape, and building campus consensus in support of our vision. Every nook and cranny of our current building is full. We've rented space in downtown Berkeley for staff we can't accommodate. The new building is absolutely essential to our plans for faculty expansion, for new research centers, for executive training for mid-career attorneys, and more.

Financial Challenges
On the financial front, the news is mixed. You know that several years of substantial cuts in state funding for the University of California have targeted the business and law schools in particular. Some of those cuts translated into retrenchment in valued program areas, but the bulk of the reductions were offset by sharp increases in student tuition—this year in-state students are paying over $24,000. In effect, tuition increases have gone to help balance the University and state budgets, not to strengthen Boalt in the face of stiff national competition and a fast-changing profession. This year, we have begun to turn the corner and the University's “compact” with the Governor contemplates stable state funding for several years. This creates vital opportunities to husband current and new resources and use alumni donations and student tuition to make investments for future progress. Students, and the rest of us, are concerned about high tuition, which is now two-thirds of the national market (defined as the average of Stanford and Harvard Law Schools ), up from one-third a decade ago. The bargain at Boalt is fast fading, but quality remains extraordinary. Nevertheless, the fundamental challenge for us is to persuade the Chancellor, the UC system and the Board of Regents that we must adopt a new financial model to continue to have a world-class law school, fully competitive with the very best law schools on the planet. Our excellence and our public mission cannot be sustained with the old model, one that relied on growing state support that—given the harsh political and economic realities—simply will not come. Boalt's mission and excellence can only be sustained with greater burden-bearing by current and future students and alumni.

Strengthening Alumni Ties
Over the past year, the Boalt Hall Alumni Association established eight chapters in cities across the country, with two more set to launch this fall. We've strengthened our international ties as well. The initial round of events has exceeded our expectations, not only with respect to the levels of participation, but also the sense of enthusiasm. All of that will accelerate this year, and we are buying bus tickets to send faculty and students out to meet alumni and bring a bit of the campus to you, so you can see direct evidence of the school's continuing strength and brilliant future.

I have begun a series of visits to meet with groups of alumni in law firms around the country. This gives me an opportunity to talk in more detail about our great plans for Boalt, answer questions and hear your comments. It is also an opportunity to thank those of you in law firms who have joined our Partners in Leadership program—the 22 firms who have achieved 100% participation in alumni giving to Boalt.

We are hungry for additional ideas about how to engage alumni—to increase the proportion of alumni who are engaged, and to improve the quality of that engagement with Boalt. If you have thoughts about how we might do this better, I hope you will send me a letter, or contact us through the Alumni Center section of the Boalt website (www.law.berkeley.edu/alumni).

Next Steps: Strategic Investments, and the Campaign for Boalt Hall
What will it take to ensure Boalt's future position among the small handful of the very best law schools? Well, in terms of reputation among scholars and judges, we remain in that lofty company. In more pedestrian terms, specifically the U.S. News rankings, we have slipped because our resources have not kept pace. Unaddressed, the resource problems will have an impact on the “soft” perceptions that fuel reputational standing. But we will address them. We have a strategic plan with four pillars:    

  • Financial aid investments to ensure access , with loan forgiveness at the back end for students who take low-paying public service jobs, so that they have reasonable freedom of career choice notwithstanding today's high levels of undergraduate and law school debt;
  • Faculty expansion by 40 percent , enabling us to strengthen teaching by reducing student-faculty ratios. This growth will spur curricular innovations, broaden the curriculum, and expand our intellectual portfolio in basic and applied research;
  • Multidisciplinary research centers , either new or strengthened, in which groups of Boalt faculty collaborate in harnessing our excellence to focus on some of the most difficult and important problems in the public and private sectors—developing both cutting-edge insights and research-based prescriptions for private practice and public policy;
  • A new building, plus renovations. To house all these ambitions, we are planning a large new building to be shared with the Haas School of Business. The plans also include repairs and modernization of our 50-year-old building, creating state-of-the-art classrooms and providing direly needed space and technology to our great library.

This summary of our investment priorities, about which you'll learn more soon, carries a hefty price tag. Over several years, the capitalized value of it all amounts to over $500 million. That is, in combination with new resources and the present value of future streams of income, like tuition, we are talking about investments equivalent to what a $500 million increase in endowment would support. Those resources, together with a continuation of current levels of state support, would go far to give us the financial base to compete in the most important respects—not just intellectually, which we do now, but materially as well—with all but the wealthiest private schools.

The reality is that this bill for Boalt's competitiveness is imposing, to say the least. But, we know what we need to do , and if we share the burden, our goals are achievable.

The help we need from alumni and friends starts with the Boalt Hall Fund, which is the foundation of flexible resources to which I must turn for our most pressing needs, month by month, year by year. The chair of the Annual Fund, Jim McManis '67, will be writing you about that. Very soon, we will also formally announce the Campaign for Boalt Hall, a concerted, all-hands-to-battle-stations effort which, together with the Annual Fund, will provide a good share of the total strategic investment needed to build Boalt's future.

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If you've managed to read this far, I owe you a special thanks. In a way, you've demonstrated an interest in being connected to Boalt, and simultaneously established your membership in that special community upon which our mission and excellence depend. I urge you to stay connected. I hope you will be able to join us at this fall's All-Alumni Reunion on September 24. It's a great chance to see old comrades, engage in lively discussions of key issues, and learn more about Boalt today and the Boalt of tomorrow.

Sincerely yours,

Christopher Edley, Jr.
Dean and Professor of Law