Legal education stands at a crossroads. Our many critics, among them members of the bench and the bar, have important arguments we must heed. It is imperative we not gloss over the realities of our era. The pipeline into the profession needs repair, especially as the profession itself changes.
Accordingly, I write today to provide you with much good news about your law school, UC Hastings College of the Law. Here for your review are five reasons to be proud of UC Hastings, rebooting legal education:
1. We have a plan.
Your alma mater is actively adapting to the changed circumstances of legal education and the marketplace with a bold strategic plan for the future. While much was made in the media of our strategic class size reduction -- proven prescient by this year’s dramatic reduction in law school applications (down by double digits for the third year in a row) -- the school continues to make news for innovations in academic excellence. Two new programs, the Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors clinic and Lawyers for America, have both recently been featured by national media as examples of ways legal education is moving forward.
2. Our faculty are internationally recognized experts in their fields.
UC Hastings faculty are researching and producing works of engaged scholarship cited everywhere from the Supreme Court of the United States to the Patently-O blog to the front page of The New York Times Business section. They are sought out on a daily basis for their ability to provide legal perspective, on today’s most pressing issues. Recent highlights include:
3. We have brought high-quality legal education online.
Eighty UC Hastings students learned through 100% online Health Law courses – Bioethics and Basic Medical Malpractice and Informed Consent – this past semester (Spring ’13). Not only does online learning provide flexibility to students, it augments the student experience and helps to leverage the college’s capacity, opening new doors to the ways in which we can improve on the delivery of traditional J.D. education. Online offerings will extend to core courses in Spring ’14. These efforts are being led by UC Hastings new (and first) Chief Information Officer, Dr. Jake Hornsby, formerly Head of Networks at the University of Cambridge in England.
4. We’re making more of the city that knows how.
The fusion of our innovative curriculum, exceptional experiential learning opportunities, and location in the civic heart of San Francisco has always differentiated UC Hastings. We’re expanding the scope of this unique advantage, as exemplified by the recently signed agreement with UCSF that formalizes our affiliation and recognizes our joint effort to advance interdisciplinary collaboration. Professor Jaime King said it best when she noted: "When you bring people from different disciplines together and ask them to solve a problem, that's when you get innovation. That's where you find the solution."
5. Our students and alumni are simply amazing.
UC Hastings alumni continue to be appointed as judges, top lists of “SuperLawyers” and “Lawyers on the Fast Track,” and assume leadership roles worldwide. Students are being honored for pro-bono service, serving judicial externships, and so much more. I recently learned of one student, the Founder and President of the new UC Hastings Fashion Law Society, who is spending her summer working in the legal department at Louis Vuitton in New York, right off Madison Avenue, where she helps with global enforcement of intellectual property rights. Much of this is presented in the UC Hastings Magazine, always available online.
These are but a handful of a great many reasons for you to be proud of your school. There are also several ways in which you can help. If you are in a position to give, I invite you to learn more about ways in which your support can help. If you are looking to hire, connect directly with the excellent staff in our Career Office and hire Hastings.
Finally, I encourage you to stay in touch. One way of doing that is to visit our new “Status Updates” page at www.uchastings.edu/social. There you can review many more pride-worthy updates of this nature, sign up for alerts if you like, and also learn how to share with us your own.
By leveraging our distinctive assets, including our location in San Francisco, a gifted and dedicated faculty and staff, and with your help, UC Hastings provides a cutting-edge legal education for 21st century professionals.
Frank H. Wu
UC Hastings Chancellor & Dean