Spring 2010 Letter

May 28, 2010


Dear Alumni and Friends:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times … it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair … some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
—Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

Indeed, it’s been an extraordinary year by any standard. The budget pressures are greater than at any time in my six-year tenure, but we forge ahead with a balance of fiscal restraint and focused investments. As I write this, students are recovering from exams, the faculty are attacking the footnote deficit that afflicts Western Civilization, and our construction teams are happily engaged in unrestrained and deafening building and reconstruction. And just this week, we concluded that we really do have enough offices for all the great faculty we’ve managed to hire.

Managing the Storm. Let me begin with Boalt’s response to the recession and the consequent downturn in state funding for the University, alumni contributions, and the job market for students.

Five years ago, we anticipated the continued erosion in legislative support for higher education and the simultaneous imperative for new resources to improve our competitiveness with “top-ten” schools. The three-legged strategy we adopted is by now familiar to most of you: (1) relentless efforts to claw back disproportionate cuts to the professional schools and prevent recurrences; (2) steady tuition increases to a benchmark, two years hence, of “top-ten market-minus 10 percent”; and (3) a $125-million fundraising drive, The Campaign for Boalt Hall. This strategy put us in far better shape to weather the budgetary crisis than virtually every other academic unit at Berkeley. We made difficult choices, and even more difficult ones are immediately ahead. We have, however, thus far avoided threats to our core strengths and key advances.

In the early stages of the downturn, Boalt’s administrative leaders took several actions: Because we expected a tough job market in both the private- and public-interest sectors, we expanded career counseling services for students and alumni, beefed up funding for summer fellowships, and upgraded loan-forgiveness terms for graduates in public-interest careers. Simultaneously, a record number of alumni and friends volunteered to mentor students and to coach job seekers. We absolutely must expand this networking effort.

In 2009, hundreds of you chose to make your first gifts to the school, resulting in our second best fundraising year ever. The current year is going less well, frankly, which I dearly hope is less a reflection of alumni support for our work and aspirations at Boalt than it is a reflection of short-term anxieties about the economy and the increased neediness of all charities. We’ll be doing everything we can to make up any lost ground in the months ahead.

But the Best of Times. My generally bullish attitude stems from Boalt’s steady progress despite historically challenging circumstances. In this message, I can share only some of the recent highlights.

Faculty and Students

The stars of our operation, of course, are the faculty and the students. And in both cases, I have terrific news to report.

This year’s faculty-recruiting season, still underway, has produced nine plum hires, bringing to 41 the number of core faculty we’ve added since 2004—and getting us to my goal of 40-percent faculty growth by summer’s end. I don’t have nearly enough space to do them justice, but here’s a sampling of their research interests: private-equity financial transactions; health law and bioethics; political methodology and competition in multiparty democracies; international business transactions; social conflict and urban change; trends in the judicial interpretation of statutes; international public law enforcement in the face of climate change; human rights and terrorism; and the tension between intellectual property law and rapidly changing technology.

We also promoted two lecturers to be professors in our Death Penalty and International Human Rights Law clinics. These new colleagues will give us unparalleled teaching strength in business law, international law, and our 1L program, making our curriculum stronger than at any time since Blackstone. Or maybe Hammurabi.

We’ve been equally successful attracting students. This year’s 1Ls were selected from the largest applicant pool in the school’s history. Scores were up, diversity was up and—as usual—every new face is someone you’d want to invite home for dinner. Among them: two U.S. foreign service officers; a TV news producer for CNN and ABC; four Fulbright Fellows; 15 Ph.D.s; 24 scientists and engineers; a professional poker player; nine patent holders; and a Bollywood hip-hop trouper. The current year’s admissions cycle had applications up yet another five percent, and we accepted just one-in-ten.

Financial Aid and Career Services

The relative generosity of our financial aid package is what makes it possible to recruit the students we want and to maintain our commitment to access in the face of higher tuition. Our revamped aid program improves the focus on needier students; and our grants, scholarships, fellowships, and loan repayment assistance programs altogether total almost twice what they did five years ago. For this academic year, not surprisingly, a record number of students sought help. Applications jumped by 28 percent and the school responded by boosting funding by 22 percent to an unprecedented $8.4 million. But we’re not stopping there. To offset the rising cost of tuition, we hope to increase all forms of aid to $13 million over the next three years. It will be a centerpiece of our fundraising efforts.

Incoming students aren’t the only members of the Boalt community needing extra help. Many of our current students and alumni are also struggling to cope with new financial realities. And we’re stepping up to assist them. Since last summer, we have implemented a series of initiatives. For example, we are:

  • earmarking extra funding—up to $300,000—for the Summer Public Interest Fellowship Program to meet the increase in demand from 1Ls and 2Ls who would ordinarily spend their second summers in paying jobs;
  • doubling the number of Bridge Fellowships—from 12 to 24—that provide up to four months of financial assistance to students pursuing public-interest careers who have not found jobs by graduation day;
  • issuing short-term emergency loans to graduates experiencing exceptional financial hardship because of the current economic climate; and
  • extending health insurance coverage for new graduates who are unemployed or whose private-sector start dates have been deferred without health benefits.

Beyond these short-term measures, we have made significant long-term investments in our career services and loan-repayment programs.

In response to growing demand—and despite a campus hiring freeze—we approved two new career counselor positions: one to serve students and our first ever to serve alumni. We’ve extended our outreach to small- and medium-sized firms. And we’re making aggressive efforts to strengthen our ties to alumni practicing in private enterprise, government, and public-interest organizations to facilitate networking among students and alumni. We are determined to secure 100 percent employment for our graduating students, despite the difficult market. And we are committed to help alumni, especially recent graduates, with any difficult transitions they may face.

For the second time in three years, we upgraded our Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP). For new alumni earning less than $65,000 per year in public-service or public-interest jobs, we now provide financial help repaying their total law school student loan debt1. This program is one important vehicle for fulfilling our mission as a public law school. And these latest improvements give our public-minded graduates even greater freedom to pursue their career passions.

Academic Programs

While strengthening our safety net and career supports, we also pressed forward on the academic front. I’m particularly excited about four initiatives:

In spring 2009, we launched UCDC Law, an externship program in the nation’s capital, which combines a weekly seminar with full-time field placement to offer law students the opportunity to learn first-hand how federal statutes, regulations, and policies are made. Boalt has been the driving force, but UC’s other schools have joined in. During the program’s first three semesters, we placed 24 students in offices at—among others—the departments of State, Justice, Treasury, Interior, and Homeland Security; both chambers of Congress; the White House Counsel’s Office and Domestic Policy Council; the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Food and Drug Administration; Human Rights Watch; the Washington Legal Foundation; and the Native American Rights Fund. It’s a perfect fit for students who want to apply their legal skills to influence public policy.

We are ratcheting up our commitment to building professional skills. In the past 20 years we’ve prepared thousands of students for real-world lawyering through our award-winning clinical and field placement programs. This year—in a move rare among U.S. law schools—we hired a full-time faculty skills director, David Oppenheimer, to develop a coherent program of professional instruction. David began his teaching career in our legal writing program, and after a stellar career as a litigator, and professor and associate dean at Golden Gate Law, has brought energy and vision aplenty. He is working with faculty, alumni, and others to expand and integrate skills training across the curriculum and to propel our program to the forefront of legal education. On a different front, Wayne Brazil retired from his distinguished service as a federal magistrate judge in the Northern District of California. With a number of major contributions to academic and professional literature on procedure and dispute resolution, Judge Brazil is the perfect pick to be our first Professor from Practice, focusing primarily on alternative dispute resolution.

Last year we welcomed the first class of students into our new Summer LL.M. Program. Aimed at busy legal professionals from outside the U.S., it condenses our standard nine-month LL.M. curriculum into two ten-week programs spanning consecutive summers. Nineteen students from 13 countries participated in our initial offering, and we’ve already doubled our enrollment for the new class that starts this summer.

We are following our LL.M. success with the launch of a set of summer programs for legal practitioners, judges, and officials from abroad. The International and Executive Legal Education curriculum in this inaugural year includes nine one-week courses in evolving areas of legal specialization such as intellectual property law and securities regulation, a month-long introductory pre-J.D. course, and several custom programs. So far, we’ve enrolled 60 lawyers, general counsels, corporate executives, and government officials from four countries. Eventually, we plan to offer mini-programs abroad by employing our state-of-the-art teleconference technologies.

Research and Policy

Some of the most exciting work at the law school is taking place in our research centers—and for the first time, I can say “all nine of them.” A few highlights:

  • The Berkeley Center for Law, Business and the Economy developed a Business Law Certificate Program to provide students with a strong foundation for professional practice. The center also organized major events at Boalt, including Oracle President Safra Catz’s insider look at the Oracle-PeopleSoft merger. Two of the center’s star faculty, Robert Bartlett and Eric Talley, won national recognition for writing two of the ten best corporate and securities articles of 2009.
  • The Berkeley Center for Law & Technology (BCLT) organized timely conferences on the legal and policy concerns of social networking, cloud computing, copyright protection, and more. The events included a public roundtable with the FTC that tackled online privacy risks posed by the ubiquitous collection of consumer data. Just recently, BCLT’s head of information privacy, Chris Hoofnagle, was tapped to serve on the board of the new Digital Trust Foundation, created as part of a class action legal settlement with Facebook.
  • The Center for Law, Energy & the Environment held a series of workshops as part of a Bank of America initiative to address climate change. The first four workshops—on renewable energy, building retrofits, agriculture, and real estate—resulted in a set of state and federal policy recommendations to help California businesses prosper in an era of climate change regulation. This is a uniquely collaborative project with UCLA and the California Attorney General’s office.
  • The Warren Institute on Race, Ethnicity and Diversity issued several original policy briefs on the impact of federal immigration laws, sparking national media interest. Its report, “Assembly-Line Justice,” offered a scathing critique of a U.S. immigration enforcement program that targets migrant workers; “In the Child’s Best Interest,” prepared in conjunction with our International Human Rights Law Clinic and UC Davis Law, focused on the deportation of legal immigrant parents of children who are U.S. citizens. Boalt students were integrally involved in the research, writing, and analysis of these reports.
  • Two leaders of the Berkeley Center for Health, Economic & Family Security (CHEFS) made major contributions to “The Shriver Report: A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” a landmark study released last fall by California First Lady Maria Shriver and the Center for American Progress. Berkeley CHEFS Executive Director Ann O’Leary and Faculty Co-Director Mary Ann Mason each wrote a chapter of the report, and O’Leary served as one of two co-editors of the study.

Facilities

Our construction and renovation projects remain on the fast track. If you haven’t visited since this time last year, here’s what you’ll find: The Koret Interactive Learning Center, once a room of book lockers, now bristles with state-of-the-art educational technology; a brand-new West Terrace, complete with tiled patio, umbrella tables, and planters; a spiffy student lounge and suite of offices for student journals and organizations; two 32-person rooms in space previously occupied by the library’s East Reading Room. And a bustling construction project in the south courtyard.

If you’re interested in watching the South Addition rise from the pit, type “webcam” in our home-page search box and monitor our progress in real time. Occupancy is scheduled for August 2011, but the building itself should be finished by January. For information about all our building projects, see our website under New Building and Renovation Project.

In one final bit of brick-and-mortar news: The law school has moved some of its administrative offices and all research centers to a newly renovated six-story building on Telegraph Avenue. Reasons for the move included alleviating overcrowding at Boalt, consolidating staff from two off-site locations, and saving a lot of money in rent and technical support. Occupants include the Alumni Center, along with Robert White, our new alumni career counselor; plus the offices of Admissions, Financial Aid, Communications, and Business Services. Connected by technology and a shuttle, we call it the “Telegraph Campus.”

Conclusion. All this news just scratches the surface. (If you have read everything thus far, you have my thanks and congratulations. My enthusiasm defeated by my hope for brevity.)

We were able to meet this past year’s fiscal challenges and make huge strides in other areas, while supporting our students through tough times. In this and other ways, we’ve always looked to our alumni and friends as partners. Now more than ever, we need you to engage with philanthropy, but also with gifts of time and expertise. Together, we will remain focused on our most fundamental priority: providing the best education and the most exciting learning environment of any law school in the solar system. Period.

Sincerely,


Christopher Edley, Jr.
The Honorable William H. Orrick, Jr. Distinguished Chair and Dean

 

 

1 Previously, we capped debt support at $100,000 for alumni earning less than $58,000. Now, we also cover some pre-law school debt.