Chancellor & Dean David Faigman Welcomes UC Law SF Community Back to Campus

David Faigman is Chancellor & Dean of UC College of the Law San Francisco.

Dear UC Law SF Community,

Welcome, and welcome back, to UC Law San Francisco. I hope that you have had a safe, productive, and rewarding summer.

You come to, or return to, the College at an auspicious time in our school’s history. Foremost, perhaps, this is the first academic year with our new name: University of California College of the Law, San Francisco. UC Law SF! It is a name that celebrates our relationship to the University of California, as the first law school in that prestigious system of higher education, as well as the great city of reinvention and innovation that has been our home for 145 years.

In addition, our new 14-story academic and residential building at 198 McAllister opened at the beginning of August. It features state-of-the-art trial and appellate courtrooms, considerable space for our nine student-led scholarly journals, a prominent location for our law and technology center LexLab, new classrooms, an auditorium with a 400-seat capacity, a “social commons” with a wrap-around deck on the seventh floor, and 656-units of student housing. We will celebrate this spectacular building with a Ribbon Cutting ceremony on October 12, at 4:00pm (invite with further details to come soon); among other dignitaries celebrating the occasion with us will be California Attorney General Rob Bonta. With the completion of the Academe at 198, we will be hosting over 100 UCSF, UC Davis and UC Berkeley students and trainees, a figure that will more than double next year. These residents will enrich our campus life and provide new avenues for collaboration and partnership. We welcome them to our community. This is all part of a planned Academic Village that puts law in conversation with other fields through interdisciplinary study, programming, and engagement. The Academe at 198 McAllister joins the Cotchett Law Center and Mary Kay Kane Hall to provide our campus with perhaps the largest square footage of any law school in the country. And we are not done. This fall we begin the seismic upgrade and renovation of the Tower at 100 McAllister.

All of these buildings, of course, serve a purpose; in fact, many purposes. Our academic program is wide and deep, with a curriculum that encompasses the core subjects of what it means to be an educated lawyer and extends to specialty subjects intended to introduce you to every distinct corner of the practice of law. Your opportunity for experience-based education here at UC Law is unmatched, with nationally ranked clinics and externship opportunities in the immediate neighborhood that range from the California Supreme Court to Airbnb. And our centers engage in substantive work across a broad spectrum of subject areas, including technology, immigration, citizenship and equality, business, tax, health, innovation, negotiation and dispute resolution, civil litigation, East Asian legal studies, international development, Indigenous law, racial and economic justice, and social justice, to name but a few.

You have also come, and returned, to school at a time of considerable social upheaval, locally, nationally, and internationally. Locally, San Francisco confronts unprecedentedly large commercial vacancy rates and, along with other major cities, a fentanyl and opioid epidemic, entrenched homelessness, and a mental health crisis. Nationally, America’s vaunted constitutional democracy appears at a crossroads as people increasingly separate into ideological tribes, disinformation and anti-scientific views predominate, and civil discourse seems to be increasingly an endangered species. Internationally, climate change presents an existential danger to the planet, and violence within and between nations continues to be a default mode of conflict resolution.

Despite this litany of challenges, I remain steadfast in my optimism for the future. More so, I am optimistic in my commitment and belief that legal training will prepare the next generation of leaders to meet these, and many more, challenges.

A UC Law education is designed to prepare you for a world in profound need of good lawyers and other legally trained professionals. We are a nation of laws and the lawyers and other policymakers who create or apply them. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, 25 were lawyers, more than any other profession. And 28 out of 46 U.S. presidents studied and practiced law before ascending to that high office. Both the current president and vice president are lawyers, with the latter being a UC Law alumna. Legal professionals are architects whose works and words shape society.

It will be the legal professionals and policymakers who help reshape our urban downtown and structure the programs that will meet the challenges of homelessness, drug abuse, and mental illness. Those same professionals trained in law will manage the effects of climate change, from wildfires to mass migrations. And they will sustain our constitutional democracy, from protecting the integrity of elections to defining the limits of gerrymandering. It will also be the lawyers and others equipped to understand and use law who advance the promises of the Declaration of Independence and the guarantees of the Bill of Rights.

In short, you will define the world that future generations inherit. Our shared mission is to improve the world in which we find ourselves and to bend it toward justice. UC Law SF exists to help you do that.

We start the new academic year together in San Francisco, ready for the world.


Warmest regards,

David L. Faigman
Chancellor and Dean
John F. Digardi Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California College of Law, San Francisco