From the Dean

A portrait photographic headshot of Dean Erwin Chemerinsky smiling
Photo by Jim Block
“It would be unthinkable for a medical school to not have its students see patients. Likewise, law schools must enable students to serve clients under faculty supervision.”

Doing Right By Our Students

I often am asked about my top priorities as dean of Berkeley Law. Two of them are reflected in this Transcript issue: hiring and retaining outstanding faculty, and enhancing our program of clinical education.

Ultimately, the quality of any educational institution is largely a reflection of its faculty. I am enormously proud of the fact that since 2017, we have hired over two dozen terrific professors. These faculty additions teach and write about every area of law. Each turned down other offers to join us. They bring energy, ideas, and expertise. They are great scholars and great teachers.

Our strategy emphasizes the importance of hiring faculty at all stages of experience. Some professors who joined us were tenured at other law schools and the leading stars in their fields. But we also stress hiring those starting their teaching careers. Berkeley Law has a history of hiring excellent new educators and of wonderful success in helping them become superb teachers and scholars.

I hope you enjoy reading about this large group of “junior” faculty. By every measure, they are outstanding and truly are the future of Berkeley Law.

Another feature in this Transcript issue focuses on our Death Penalty Clinic, which was founded in 2001 and recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. Under the terrific guidance of Professors Elisabeth Semel and Ty Alper and Supervising Attorney Mridula Raman, the Death Penalty Clinic helps students develop legal skills and serve clients facing capital punishment. Over the past two-plus decades, clinic faculty and students have advocated on behalf of death-sentenced clients in 10 states. Students gain a strong social justice orientation and the skills necessary to provide vigorous, professional, and high-level representation to their clients.

The Death Penalty Clinic is one of many clinical opportunities for our students. I have long believed in the importance of clinical education. It would be unthinkable for a medical school to not have its students see patients. Likewise, law schools must enable students to serve clients under faculty supervision.

As dean, I am pleased that we have moved our clinical faculty into tenured or tenure-track positions, provided a model for long-term financial stability for the clinics, and created endowed chairs for several of our clinical faculty. I want to expand our clinical program and, with a commitment from the main campus, we’re in the midst of hiring five additional clinical faculty members over the next five years. The Death Penalty Clinic is a model for outstanding clinical education.

I hope you enjoy these and other articles in this Transcript issue. It is a really good time for Berkeley Law and I feel tremendously fortunate to be part of it.


Erwin Chemerinsky Signature
Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean, Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law