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UCI Law School Proposal on Hold

Times Staff Writer

In the latest setback to UC Irvine’s long-standing wish to build a law school, the university has withdrawn its proposal after a state commission staff report recommended that the idea be rejected.

UCI had been scheduled to make a law school presentation to the UC Board of Regents this week.

For the record:

12:00 a.m. Oct. 5, 2006 For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday October 05, 2006 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 72 words Type of Material: Correction
UCI law school: An article in some editions of the Sept. 19 California section about the idea of UC Irvine building a law school said the university had withdrawn its proposal and had chosen not to make a presentation to the Board of Regents. In fact, the proposal is being reworked; Chancellor Michael V. Drake gave a presentation the following day to the regents, but they did not vote on the proposal.

The California Postsecondary Education Commission was scheduled to consider the plan Sept. 26. Its staff report questioned the need for another law school in the state, citing a Rand Corp. study saying there are enough to fill the need for nearly the next decade.

UCI spokeswoman Susan Menning said university officials, needing to state their best case for a law school, would meet with commission staffers “on an ongoing basis” to “get the proposal in a form that will be acceptable” between now and the commission’s subsequent meeting, Dec. 12.

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UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake was not available for comment, Menning said.

The withdrawal of the proposal is the latest in a string of setbacks that UCI’s law school prospects have suffered since 1990. The original proposal fell by the wayside, the victim of a recession. After reviving the idea six years ago, then-Chancellor Ralph Cicerone vowed to raise the project’s $40-million cost himself if that would hurry it along.

But the Postsecondary Education Commission pooh-poohed the idea in a 2001 letter, saying the university could find better ways to spend its money. In addition, the letter said, the commission considered a competing plan to build a law school 44 miles away at UC Riverside “far superior” to UCI’s.

The 2003 Rand study indicated that the number of attorneys in the state was likely to meet or exceed the growth in demand through 2015. “UC Irvine’s case for a new public law school might have been stronger,” the latest report concluded, “if it had developed evidence of an inability of existing law schools to meet regional needs.”

UCLA is only public law school south of San Francisco. The last state law school to open was at UC Davis, in 1965.

UCI officials see a law school as a key to moving the university into the top ranks.

“It’s our absolute top priority for development,” Executive Vice Chancellor Michael Gottfredson said during an interview in June.

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david.haldane@latimes.com

Times staff writer Roy Rivenburg contributed to this report.


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