Why Not, UCI Law?

by ursavoice

Myles Couch
J.D. Candidate 2013, UCI Law

    The last issue of the Voice was full of reasonable, well-thought-out articles. I found this highly disappointing, and decided to write something haphazard and controversial for the next issue. However, I quickly realized that limiting myself to one topic was difficult, so instead I compiled a list of thoughts that deserve further kicking around as we send our first graduating class off into the sunset. I hope that people with more intelligence and patience than I will discuss, think about, and maybe even solve some of these issues. Why not?
In order of importance:

  • The lack of edible food within a half-mile of school frustrates me on a daily basis.
  • Legal writing is the most important first-year course, and I worry that it is possible to finish 1L year without understanding the basics. Start students off with small, simple assignments (2-3 pages?) that help them develop active voice and IRAC skills. Give them prompt feedback every week or two on these small assignments so they really know what they need to work on, and save the big research memos for second term. Make it pass/no pass to avoid the inherent unfairness that results from a six-credit class and 4 wildly different grading styles.
  • In fact, why not make the entire first year pass/no pass?
  • I wonder whether we are placing a high enough priority on the quality of teaching here. Is UCI becoming a place where professors who lack a passion for training young lawyers come to produce law review articles and enjoy the sun, leaving the real teaching to adjuncts who are not as closely involved in the school? These concerns do not apply to any professors I may ask for letters of recommendation. You are all exceptional.
  • Is UCI still aiming to be a public interest-focused school? Maybe trying to start a super public interest school along the lines of Northeastern, CUNY, or Lewis & Clark in Orange County at UC tuition rates is unrealistic, but it seems like those of us who still aren’t interested in firm jobs or business law are becoming an endangered species. How about some classes in the fall for those who have a hard time seeing business law as public interest law? And what is the plan with loan forgiveness?
  • Tying this in with the professor issue above, I wonder to what extent the school’s failure to live up to its promise of being truly different/public interesty has led to some of the grooviest professors and administrators leaving. Is our turnover ratio normal for a new school?
  • The fact that some rising 3Ls may not have the opportunity to take Property before graduating is concerning. Bar passage rates are important.
  • Allow full-time school-year judicial externships. It would really allow students to hone their writing chops, and probably boost clerkship numbers along the way. Even with the new 20 hour externships, its hard to feel like you’re getting much done at an externship. And I second Akhil’s thoughts from the last issue on why judicial externships should qualify for public interest funding. Working with judges is great for everyone and should be encouraged as much as possible.
  • Is spending $15-$20k on a law school prom (without an open bar!) a good use of event money? I’d like to see more mid-size/low-cost events that don’t require formal wear. How about more bowling nights, picnics, days at the beach, etc Specifically, we should organize watching and group discussion of “The Wire” on Saturdays!
  • I am getting hungry, but I don’t want to walk a mile to get an edible sandwich…
  • I haven’t heard anyone in my class say they were glad they participated in law review. Is that normal?
  • Public professor reviews are good. We should also review professors after taking their final, especially in classes where the entire grade is based on the final. Have students fill them out before releasing their grades.
  • Evidence should be taught as an integrated trial advocacy course. It seems silly to delve into the nuances of the hearsay exceptions without first understanding what it feels or looks like to cross-examine a witness or introduce a piece of evidence.
  • Some students have finals scheduled on the Thursday of review week. On a related note, students should be able to see the final schedule prior to enrolling in classes.
  • It’s cool that we have CNN playing in the student lounge. It would be even cooler if we had a subscription to the Daily Journal and the New York Times in there.
  • We should really get free printing and parking for our $25,000+/year.
  • All the free candy is chocolate. How about some tart candy for a change?