University of California-Davis School of Law, Davis, CA
by Barbara Chalsma
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In addition to its mission of becoming a world leader in law studies, the goals of UC Davis' law school are to train students "to become socially responsible lawyers committed to professional excellence and high ethical standards" and to provide "significant public service through law reform and professional activities."
The law school's publications use such words to describe its attributes as "supportive," "genuine warmth and friendship," and "an atmosphere of cooperation unparalleled in any other law school." These are soft words for a strong school, whose ranking among U.S. law schools is well within the nation's top 50.
UC Davis School of Law is small, with a current J.D. enrollment of 583 and a total student-faculty ratio of approximately 8:1. It attracts graduates from schools including Yale and Harvard—more than 100 in all, not to mention the large numbers coming from the massive University of California and California State University systems. More than one third of the students, according to the law school, fall under the rather vague catch-all term "people of color," and more than half are women.
UC Davis School of Law focuses on the legal specialties of business law, criminal law and procedure, environmental and natural resources law, human rights and social justice law, intellectual property law, international law, and public interest law. The J.D. can only be attained via full-time, three-year study, and it may be combined with other M.A. or M.B.A. studies to earn a joint degree.
Additional degrees offered are the LL.M. and the Summer International Commercial Law LL.M., as well as a one-year LL.M. exclusively for international students. Certificates are awarded in public service law and environmental law. Furthermore, a large number of clinics are offered: Civil Rights, Immigration Law, Prison Law, Administration of Criminal Justice, Employment Relations, Environmental Law, Family Protection, Federal Taxation, Judicial Internships, Legislative Process, and Public Interest.
UC Davis has several programs for international students as well as study-abroad programs for all students, and its law school follows suit. The law school's programs in this area include the focus on commercial law mentioned above: a master's degree in international commercial law that requires attendance over three to five summers; two-week specialized courses in international commercial law offered over three sequential years; and a two-week summer seminar in Cologne, Germany, in collaboration with the University of Cologne.
Specifically for foreign students are the short-term English for Legal Professionals Program and Orientation in U.S.A. Program. Law students may also participate in exchange programs with law schools in Copenhagen, Denmark, or Dublin, Ireland, as well as at other ABA-approved law schools.
An exceptional number of law journals exist despite the fact that UC Davis School of Law is a relatively small school; students can earn academic credit for participation in the UC Davis Law Review, Environs-Environmental Law and Policy Journal, and Journal of International Law & Policy. The school's other publications are the Business Law Journal and the Journal of Juvenile Law and Policy.
The law school is completing the planning phase for a major capital improvement project that will renovate the current building, increase total space by nearly one third, and permit the creation of new research and instructional programs. The project is anticipated to be finished by the summer of 2009.
King Hall's law library holds nearly 300,000 volumes, and the campus has a wireless network. Miraculously, in King Hall, there is even a nursery for the young children of law students to stay in while their parents attend classes. The Perfect Tender Infant Care Co-op is run by UC Davis law students, both parents and non-parents, which hints at the caring attitude prevalent in the Davis community.
Davis, CA, a city of only 62,000 residents, half of whom are connected to the university, has the second-highest per-capita education level of any city in the U.S. and 95 miles of bicycle paths. What more does anyone need to know? How about the facts that it boasts all-year great weather, "controlled growth, environmental awareness, energy conservation, excellent schools, and exceptional parks and recreational programs"?
Nevertheless, the average house price is higher than $500,000, reflecting California's steep cost of living. Davis is a hop, skip, and a jump (translation: 15 minutes) from California's capitol city, Sacramento, whose major airport is on the Davis side. San Francisco and Berkeley are 75 miles to the southwest, Napa's wine country is 30 miles to the west, and Lake Tahoe and skiing are less than 100 miles to the east.
With all of these pleasures, quality-of-life perks, and conveniences, it's no wonder all those attorneys at UC Davis School of Law tend to be "warm" and "supportive."
UC Davis School of Law is approved by the American Bar Association.