Last night, US News & World Report magazine released its annual rankings of institutions of higher education. UC Hastings remains among the top fifty law schools, tied with several others at #48. UC Hastings programs also rank in the top tier of “Law Specialties” this year, including Dispute Resolution at #9, Tax Law at #17, and Clinical Training at #27.
As you know, UC Hastings has attracted acclaim nationwide for our strategic plan to reinvent legal education. The recognition has been welcome and affirming. The changes we have implemented, which include much more than the much-noted class size reduction, will have positive effects in every respect including rankings over time.
Our work in implementing the strategic plan is ongoing, and I am more dedicated than I have ever been to our initiatives. This school year marked the formal debut of our new Innovation Law Clinics, designed to give UC Hastings students direct transactional and intellectual property experience in a real-world context. Our UC Hastings-UCSF Consortium also now includes a new Medical-Legal Partnership for Seniors (MLPS), a clinic with an emphasis on elder law. We have added another section of the popular class Financial Basics for Lawyers, which gives students the basics of business; and introduced a seminar on Law Practice Management, which prepares them for the realities of the marketplace.
As for the rankings, I have always been candid. I recognize that everyone, whether prospective students or employers, our dedicated alumni and talented faculty, looks to the rankings as an approximate indicator. UC Hastings will be as aggressive as possible about improving the reality of legal education and the perception of our great school. Yet the consensus within academe regards these rankings as not only inaccurate but also highly detrimental to the actual quality of teaching and learning. Our efforts to improve rankings are based on measures that actually benefit students and meet ethical norms.
People ask me constantly what they can do to help. Financial support for the institution is the most important factor; it supports directly our academic excellence. Beyond that, however, our network of alumni and other friends can hire UC Hastings; employers of every type know that we have a tradition of producing lawyers who are practice ready. And, finally, your continued goodwill is invaluable. In an era of cynicism, your positive feelings about the first law school of the American West are crucial to our good standing.
We can continue our progress only with your direct engagement. I hope you will join me in sharing this resolve.
Frank H. Wu
Chancellor & Dean