- Just last week it appeared that UC Irvine had scored the amazing coup of landing Erwin Chemerinsky as the founding dean of its law school. For a brand new school to land such a well-known scholar (who had turned down a first-tier deanship only a year ago) seemed almost too good to be believed.
- Now Brian Leiter is reporting on his blog that Chemerinsky has already been hired and fired from that post. This would be devastating for UC Irvine. As Leiter quite rightly points out: If this is true, who in their right mind would take the job?
- UPDATE: The WSJ online has picked up the story now, confirming the facts with Chemerinsky himself. The WSJ quotes Chemerinsky as saying that he was told that he was fired because his political views would make him "a target for conservatives, a lightning rod." That's really, really bad for UCI. First, Erwin's views, while on the left, are pretty solidly within the mainstream. Second, did they not know his politics before they hired him? No one thought to Google him? Third, if you open your law school by making it clear that you will allow your donors to dictate the political views of your dean, good luck finding qualified candidates of any political stripe willing to take the job.
- The school will produce future leaders in law, government and business, and UCI law graduates will be particularly encouraged to pursue careers in public service, including non-governmental organizations and philanthropic agencies.
- As part of their training, UCI law students will provide legal services to people who are unable to afford counsel. They also will be encouraged to pursue public interest law through programs focusing on underserved communities.
This failure to adequately think through exactly what the law school was supposed to be about led to the embarrassment of this morning, one that is likely to hang over UCI for some time.