As my first academic year at Santa Clara Law rapidly comes to a close, I have been reflecting on the many wonderful qualities of our school. We have incredible assets and opportunities, building on our Jesuit tradition and our location in the heart of Silicon Valley. Our intellectual property and high tech law program is ranked fourth in the nation, and our new Entrepreneurs’ Law Clinic is working with the School of Business and the Global Social Benefit Institute to help start-ups in the Valley that will impact the world. Our prominent social justice and global law programs also align with the University’s mission. The Northern California Innocence Project has educated more than 700 students since 2001, attaining exoneration for 17 innocent people who had collectively served over 215 years in prison. Through our clinics and social justice summer grants, our students donated more than 20,000 hours to low-income individuals and communities last year alone. At even a modest legal rate of $150 per hour, that amounts to more than $3 million in free legal services, much of it assisting the University’s most vulnerable neighbors. The Law School is among the most diverse law schools in the country, and our alumni are highly placed in the Valley and around the globe. We want to build on these significant strengths as we define a distinctive future for Santa Clara Law.
We also share the challenges facing legal education: The national pool of applicants has declined by more than 50 percent in the last five years. At Santa Clara, we’ve assessed this national landscape and made some significant decisions aimed at maintaining our strong reputation. We are already streamlining the School, becoming smaller, more selective and more connected to the Valley. By next fall, our community will be about 30 percent smaller than our peak size. With a smaller student body, we will:
- Ensure that Santa Clara graduates can compete more effectively in a changing job market;
- Strengthen experiential learning to provide students more opportunities to prepare for practice and hone lawyering skills; and
- Foster stronger mentoring between students and faculty, and between students and our alumni and friends in the Valley.
I am pleased to report that the University is supporting this vision wholeheartedly. Indeed, a new Law School building is one of the top priorities in the University’s strategic plan as it seeks to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in service of humanity.
The articles in this issue highlight some of the other substantive ways we are responding to the changes taking place in legal education and in our profession. We are moving to a competency-based curriculum, providing more opportunities for experiential learning and developing practical lawyering skills. Santa Clara Law graduates will continue to enter the profession prepared to be lawyers of competence, conscience, and compassion—and be ready to make a difference in the world!
This is an exciting time to be a part of Santa Clara Law. Thank you for all your support.
Dean & Professor of Law
Santa Clara Law