As befits the youngest top law school in the nation, UCLA School of Law has always been—and remains—at the forefront of educational innovation. At the heart of our approach to the teaching of law is the recognition that we are first and foremost training legal professionals. Students today need to master the skills required of superlative practitioners, while also learning about substantive practice areas and the professional standards to which they should aspire. We remain cognizant that ongoing curriculum enhancements must help prepare students to be effective lawyers.
At UCLA Law, our students have the opportunity to participate in the law school’s myriad centers, programs, institutes and specializations as well as to receive critical hands-on training. With this training and through the opportunities they are afforded, students leave UCLA Law well prepared to enter the profession, whether they choose to become litigators, public defenders, academics or corporate leaders. UCLA School of Law’s Clinical Program serves as one notable training ground.
UCLA Law pioneered a model of clinical legal education more than four decades ago. In fact, many of the esteemed members of our faculty developed the fundamental educational concepts that set the standard for clinical programs nationwide. Today, clinical innovation remains an important part of our curriculum. Students can select from an array of unique interdisciplinary and experiential learning opportunities, including courses like Negotiation Theory and Practice, the Asylum Clinic, Mergers and Acquisitions Transaction Planning, and Youth and Justice, to name a few. The program continues to expand and evolve as we move into a new generation of clinical excellence.
As we enhance our law school and our offerings, the ongoing philanthropic investment of our alumni and friends heightens our ability to innovate and grow. I am delighted to announce that UCLA School of Law has received several leadership gifts, which will impact our students, our community and the nation. Philanthropist Charles R. “Chuck” Williams has made a $5.5 million gift to support the Williams Institute’s highly influential research on sexual orientation law and policy. His inaugural $2.5 million gift established the institute in 2001, and since then it has gained national renown. A $4 million gift from the Resnick Family Foundation established the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy. This program, which is the first of its kind at a top-tier law school, will tackle questions of food safety, distribution and access and will provide an interdisciplinary approach to developing effective, consumer-oriented food law and policy. In addition, Justice Joan Dempsey Klein ’54 and her husband Conrad Lee Klein made a gift of $1.025 million to fund student scholarships. Their generous gift will help ensure that our students have the opportunity to follow in Justice Klein’s footsteps.
In the spirit of innovation, we continue to find novel ways to enable our students to build their skills. I am pleased that we are launching two exciting new initiatives, which will not only benefit our students but also will help to provide critical resources to those in need. UCLA School of Law has received a grant from the W.M. Keck Foundation to establish the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinical Program. The program—a partnership with St. Francis and St. Vincent Medical Centers, which are members of the Daughters of Charity Health System, and Bet Tzedek Legal Services—will augment legal services in health care settings for low-income community members in downtown and southeast Los Angeles. UCLA School of Law also has received a grant from the Ford Foundation to launch the Los Angeles HIV Law and Policy Project (LA HLPP). LA HLPP—a partnership with the Disability Rights Legal Center, the AIDS Legal Services Project of the Los Angeles County Bar Association, Inner City Law Center and the law school’s Williams Institute and Health and Human Rights Law Project—will provide access to legal services for people living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles.
While we look toward the future, we also had the opportunity during the 2012-2013 academic year to pay tribute to the people and programs that helped contribute to our success. We honored our clinical pioneers with a celebration of their contributions to legal education. We marked 40 years of service to the community through El Centro Legal Clinics. We celebrated the growth of the Critical Race Studies (CRS) Program and the accomplishments of 10 years of CRS graduates, as well as the 15th anniversary of the David J. Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. The law school also hosted events commemorating the distinguished careers of former dean Jonathan Varat and former interim dean Stephen Yeazell.
Our faculty members continue to shape legal discourse and to be recognized for their contributions. Six faculty members were recently appointed to endowed chairs, two faculty members were honored with lifetime achievements awards, and one faculty member was named one of the “most influential lawyers in the United States.” Their example serves to inspire our students, who are also the recipients of prestigious fellowships, scholarships and awards. Our students continue to contribute to their communities, and their work is having an impact both locally and globally. Our graduates go on to achieve success in every sector of the profession, and we are always thrilled to celebrate their achievements. We had the pleasure of welcoming Senator Kirsten Gillibrand ’91 to the law school in May, and in February we hosted a special event for the Honorable Jacqueline Nguyen ’91 and Paul Watford ’94, the most recent UCLA Law alumni selected to join the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Thank you for taking a moment to catch up on all the good work the UCLA Law community is doing. I hope that you are inspired by our distinguished faculty members, talented students and accomplished alumni.
Rachel F. Moran
Dean and Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law