There’s some big news this week in top law school land: Boalt Hall’s Dean Christopher Edley Jr. will be stepping down from his position at the end of 2013, and as of yesterday, has taken a medical leave from his duties due to some serious health problems. Edley leaves behind one of the best law schools in the nation — one which he helped guide into the top 10 in the U.S. News law school rankings.
Edley has served as dean for nearly a decade, and he’s navigated Berkeley Law through the legal profession’s boom and bust years. Dean Daniel Rodriguez of Northwestern had this to say of Boalt’s outgoing dean: “In a period of real challenge for that great public law school — with declining state support, a creaky physical plant, some key faculty loses, and, later, myriad problems stemming from the tough job market in California and nationally — Edley provided steady, creative leadership.”
Despite its overall success, Chris Edley’s tenure as dean was not without controversy. We’ll review some of the highlights of his career at the school in a bit. But first, why is he leaving so suddenly?
Earlier this week, we took a look at faculty salaries at UVA Law School. They’re freely available online because UVA is a public law school. The UVA student newspaper obtained the records through FOIA and then posted them on the web. (If you have a problem with such information being made public, sorry. The best I can do is channel Justice Scalia and tell you: “Amend the statute.” )
We don’t want to pick on UVA, so we’re going to take a look at law professor compensation at a few state law schools. Going down the latest U.S. News rankings, we find ourselves at the ninth-best law school in the nation, Berkeley Law aka Boalt Hall.
The word “Berkeley” conjures up images of long-haired hippies smoking copious amounts of marijuana. But in light of their lush salaries, Berkeley law professors could roll joints using hundred-dollar bills….
Given the intense public interest, we will continue to cover this flap. Keep reading for Berkeley Law’s reaction to the charges, tidbits about Teixeira and Cuellar from people who know them, and details from the arrest report — including mention of a mysterious third man….
Let’s start with the bad news. The bad news is that the Regents, who run the show for the University of California (UC) system, approved an increase in system-wide student fees for the coming year. It’s for a shade over $1,000 — $1,068, to be precise.
The good news: Berkeley Law, at the behest of Dean Christopher Edley Jr., is effectively reversing the fee hike for its students. Boalt Hall is issuing an immediate “scholarship” to each student, in the exact amount of the fee increase.
Let’s take a look at Dean Edley’s email — which explains the situation, and has a cute and clever closing — and explore what might be motivating the administration….
Televise this chief justice and this president on stage at the Kennedy Center for three hours talking about the role of government and the future of our polity. This historic clash of intellectual titans would be the most powerful civics lesson since the Federalist Papers, and we could sure use it.
New lawyers to lead the nation are sending in their résumés. Already, UC Berkeley School of Law Dean Christopher Edley has received a choice position as part of Obama’s transition advisory board. (I wonder if he’s accepting resumes from his students?)
Here’s an interesting choice for Edley and the rest of the transition team that will be picking the next Solicitor General. According to the Legal Times:
No woman has ever served as solicitor general, but a number have been mentioned as candidates for the job in an Obama administration. Stanford Law School professors Kathleen Sullivan and Pamela Karlan and Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan are possibilities, as well as Morrison & Foerster partner Beth Brinkmann and MetLife litigation counsel Teresa Wynn Roseborough.
They could also be considered to lead of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, which produces legal opinions on complex matters for the attorney general and the president. Lawyers who have held both positions have gone on to become Supreme Court justices. Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes and Justices Stanley Reed and Thurgood Marshall were solicitors general. The late Chief Justice William Rehnquist and current Justice Antonin Scalia once headed the Office of Legal Counsel. That experience could come in handy should one or more Supreme Court justices step down in the next four years.
Speculation has also centered on prominent African-American attorneys who may be ready to step forward:
Valerie Jarrett (Stanford, Michigan Law): Jarrett is a longtime Obama adviser, who’s now one of three people heading his transition team. She told the WSJ that blacks won’t be pigeonholed into “historically conventional” roles, such as secretary of housing and urban development or assistant attorney general for civil rights.
It has been a week since the distressing events involving a Boalt student’s threat —a hoax — against the community at Hastings College of the Law. I am writing to let you know that all our actions following the incident have been taken with the intention of securing the safety and well-being of our community and that at Hastings, while respecting the procedural rights of the student.
On Wednesday, April 25, 2007, the Law School filed a complaint with the U.C. Berkeley Judicial Affairs Office against the law student who claimed responsibility for posting the threat on a website. We, the administrative leadership of Boalt, believe that the student’s action is clearly in violation of a number of regulations detailed in the Student Code of Conduct. The case will be adjudicated by Judicial Affairs according to campus regulations. Those regulations prohibit us from disclosing the name of the student against whom we are proceeding.
Based on the facts as we understand them today, we have recommended expulsion. This is based not only on the intrinsic wrongfulness of the act itself, but also the disruption, turmoil and emotional toll on the Hastings community and, to a more limited extent, the Boalt community as well. I have received ample evidence of this through a great many emails, some of them painful to read.
This incident has once again confirmed for me the strength and qualities of the Boalt community. Even in this challenging circumstance, you have engaged in thoughtful and productive discussions. We should all take some pride in this, imperfect though we are.
Christopher Edley, Jr.
Professor of Law and Dean
Does the punishment fit the crime here? Judging by some of the comments to this thread, some readers think expulsion would be an overreaction. Pre-Virginia Tech, what kind of behavior would get you expelled from law school?
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