by ursavoice

Katie Rohner
Public Interest Coordinator, UCI Law

As many of you know, an Agora is a gathering place – a main square for athletic, artistic, spiritual, political, and social expression. In my mind, it can be any area where people meet and commune. A battered and dirty orange couch in the hallway of a legal aid office where I once worked served as our agora, where beer and conversation flowed freely (in that order!) after five o’clock on Fridays.

Free-flowing brew may not be an option, but lively conversation certainly is in UCI Law’s own agora – the courtyard just beyond the law school walls. It serves as a commercial marketplace thanks to Espress Yourself Coffee Kiosk. For the price of a cup of coffee or bagel, one can enjoy the semblance of an outdoor café. It may not be Paris — not even close — but it’s ours.

When the weather is nice (meaning pretty much every day), it is common to run into friends or colleagues sitting outside at steel tables and typing on laptops or just hanging out between classes, exchanging thoughts about con law, MSJs, or summer jobs. If you’re lucky you might hear an analysis of “Pretty Little Liars” from Professor Leslie or catch the play-by-play of the lightning-fast fielding at short-stop by Bob Solomon’s son (and if you have one of his classes, you’ll hear it twice more!).

The courtyard is a forum for social and political expression, which can take shape in a variety of forms, including chocolate vaginas on a stick sold by wonderful members of the Women’s Law Society – a number of whom belong on Broadway as much as in a courtroom. It is the site of the re-emergence of the human billboard thanks to PILF fundraiser extraordinaire Meg Tanaka, who single-handedly established the power of the sandwich board as a vehicle for social justice. Our little plaza was recently transformed into a stage for the admirable artistic talents of David Pierucci, who sang and played keyboards to a delighted crowd of students, staff, and faculty. With enough encouragement, he might be willing to come back for an encore.  

Birthday celebrations, conference buffets, pro bono kick-offs, Global Justice Summit constitution drafting, Saturday Academy of Law debriefings … these have all contributed to the spiritual vibrancy of the courtyard in recent days and to the enhancement of a strong sense of community among the diverse members of the UC Irvine School of Law. So be sure to step out into the square and stick around for a while.