Dear Berkeley Law Alumni,

I promised that I would write you quarterly to update you on what is happening in the law school.  Amazingly, it is almost three months since I wrote you at the beginning of January and it is less than two months until our commencement on May 11.

I want to begin by thanking all in our community – alumni, students, staff, and faculty – who contributed as part of Big Give on March 8. It was tremendously successful, raising almost $500,000 for the law school.  As I mentioned earlier, we are having a record setting year for Berkeley Law in development in the amount of money raised and the number of donors.  The result is that we have raised more than $1 million in additional funds for scholarships beyond what we had hoped.  This will mean an additional $1 million in scholarships for the Class of 2021, which will enter this August, helping enormously in assisting those with financial need and in attracting top students to Berkeley Law.

I also am very pleased with our new US News rankings , which became public on March 20. Berkeley Law is ranked ninth in the country. Many of our programs are highly ranked. Our intellectual property program is again ranked number one in the country. Our environmental law program moved up to third in the nation, while our clinical program and our international law program remain in the top 10. Of course, these rankings are just one measure of our overall success, but they are a nice national reflection of our excellence.

I believe that we are poised to move up further in the rankings in the years ahead.  Our job placement for the Class of 2017 – which will be part of next year’s rankings – was superb, with over 98% percent employed ten months after graduation.  Also, the J.D. Class of 2017 did great on the bar exam, with over 89% passage in California, again a significant improvement that will be reflected in next year’s rankings. (It is not reflected in the rankings, but we also had 50 J.D. graduates take the New York bar and all 50 passed.) We are taking other steps as well to maximize our ranking, always consistent with our educational mission.

I am very excited about our new programs.  Thanks to a very generous $3.5 million gift from Elizabeth Cabraser (Class of 1978), we are launching a consumer law center .  This will allow Berkeley Law to be a leader in this important area.  We also are creating the Berkeley Judicial Institute which will focus on improving court administration and issues of judicial independence and integrity. Supported by a grant from the Hewlett Foundation and gifts from other donors this program will be led by federal district court Judge Jeremy Fogel, who for the last seven years has been the Director of the Federal Judicial Center in Washington, D.C. I am delighted that Judge Fogel has decided to leave the bench to head this initiative.  Earlier this month, the faculty approved a new certificate program in Race and the Law, which will help attract top students interested in this important area of law and further their concentration during law school.  We also this spring have begun our hybrid LL.M. program where some of our Professional-track LL.M. students can take a portion of their classes on-line, making the program more practical and more accessible.

It has been an exciting and intense first eight months for me at Berkeley Law. I am more impressed every day by the law school and our community of alumni, faculty, staff, and students.

As I do in each letter, I want to conclude by asking you our alumni to be involved with the Law School. Please come to our programs when you can. Please let me know if you have questions or if I can be of assistance in any way ( echemerinsky@law.berkeley.edu ; 510-642-6483). And please support us financially. The success of the law school depends tremendously on the financial support of our alumni.

Warm regards,

Erwin