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LOS ANGELES – Officials at the University of California, Irvine’s Donald Bren School of Law have narrowed their search for a new dean to a handful of choices, including one leading candidate, constitutional law scholar and Duke Law School Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, according to sources familiar with the dean search. The dean search committee also includes two prominent Orange County, Calif., lawyers: Mark Robinson, a partner at Newport Beach-based Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson, and Gary Singer, a partner in the Newport Beach office of O’Melveny & Myers and co-chairman of the firm’s transactions department. First in 40 years The Donald Bren School of Law, which was approved by the University of California Board of Regents last year, is the first public law school in California to open in 40 years. School officials expect to make an official announcement about the dean selection in four to five weeks. “The founding dean has to be someone who is a nationally respected legal scholar and be effective in recruiting the founding faculty and getting the law school off to a great start,” said C. Ronald Huff, dean of UC Irvine’s School of Social Ecology and a professor of criminology, law and society who is a member of the dean search committee. He declined to comment on specific candidates. “It’s an outstanding candidate pool, and we expect to fully name an outstanding founding law dean,” he said. Fewer than five people remain on UC Irvine’s candidate list, according to sources who are familiar with the dean search. Chemerinsky declined to comment. In 2004, Chemerinsky joined Duke after 21 years at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. Last year, he turned down an offer to become dean of the University of North Carolina School of Law. Chemerinsky has argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in several cases. He also testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee during last year’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. Another candidate for the UC Irvine spot is Barton H. “Buzz” Thompson Jr., director of the Woods Institute for the Environment at Stanford Law School and a professor of natural resources law, according to sources who are familiar with the dean search. Thompson, reached last week, said he is “not a candidate for any dean search at the moment.” He declined to comment on whether he had been a candidate in recent weeks. The chairman of the dean search committee, Andy Policano, dean of the Paul Merage School of Business at UC Irvine, did not return calls. “We’re hoping to appoint a dean sometime in the next four or five weeks,” said Michael P. Clark, UC Irvine vice provost for academic planning. “Then, over the next few months, we will work with the dean to put together the senior staff.” Earlier this month, school officials announced that UC Irvine received $20 million from local billionaire Donald Bren. Much of those funds will be used toward recruiting 11 professors.

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