In fall 2009, new students will enter UC Irvine’s School of Law for the first time – all with free three-year tuition.
Set to open in August, the school will let in roughly 60 students and has plans to accept up to 200 students in years to come, said Rex Bossert, communications and public affairs director for UCI’s School of Law.
Victoria Ortiz, dean of students and director of admissions for UCI School of Law, said that she expects roughly over 1,000 prospective students to apply by the Mar. 1 deadline.
The full tuition scholarship will only be offered for the inaugural class of August 2009, Ortiz said. However, loan and repayment assistance programs will be offered for future students that may need financial assistance.
Funds for the full tuition scholarships come from donations primarily received from law firms in Orange County and private individuals. Current tuition for UC law schools are roughly $30,000 per year, a price that leads many students to struggle with loans many years after graduation – something that the new law school wants to avoid.
“Students will be able to choose what they want to do instead of having to repay their student loans,” Bossert said.
This financial plan for the new law school is part of a strategy by UCI School of Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky to not only attract prospective students and aid them financially, but to also make it a top 20 school.
“I believe that we will be a top 20 school from the beginning,” Chemerinsky said in an e-mail interview. “Even more importantly, I believe we will provide an outstanding education and a wonderful experience for our students.“
Kevin Johnson, dean of the UC Davis School of Law, believes that as a UC school, Irvine will strive for excellence and succeed.
“UC Irvine has all the ingredients for an excellent law school,” Johnson said in an e-mail interview. “These are tough times for expansion, but it should be a successful addition to the UC system.”
Angelina Frazey, a senior political science major who is in the process of applying to law schools, agrees that Irvine’s new school will live up to UC standards.
“I think the UC system is the best,” Frazey said. “They don’t play around with their reputation and don’t attach their name to things that don’t matter.“
For Frazey, the free tuition also acts as an incentive toward her application decision.
“The scholarship plays a big part in it for me; I won’t have to worry about loans,” she said. “It’s like free knowledge.”
The incoming fall 2009 class, though small, has its advantages. New students will have the opportunity to receive hands-on experiences with surrounding law firms in the Orange County area, with the list of prospective employers more than the total incoming class size.
“One of the advantages of UCI is that we’re starting from scratch and will be a completely innovative law school,” Bossert said.
Bossert also said that as many as 20 faculty members will be teaching in the fall when the school is done hiring, making the student-faculty ratio three-to-one.
Chemerinsky said that they are looking for students interested in forming new building blocks for the new school.
“We’re looking for terrific students who are interested in being part of building a new law school,” he said.
For more information about the UC Irvine School of Law, visit law.uci.edu.
ANGELA RUGGIERO can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.