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As a law school dean I am acutely aware of the many challenges facing legal education today, including the issues that will confront the recently appointed UC-Irvine law school Dean Erwin Chemerinsky [" The Challenges of Building a Law School from the Ground Up," Oct. 9]. Your paper already has reported how the fledgling Southern California law school was approved by the Board of Regents in spite of a negative recommendation from the California Postsecondary Education Commission. Further, Chemerinsky’s on-again, off-again and then on-again employment status has been the stuff of regional and national news in the legal community. As one of its branding initiatives UC-Irvine Law already has begun to cast itself as a “public interest” law school. Golden Gate Law applauds this goal. We already have a long and proud history of training lawyers for public interest and public service without regard to their individual political views. Accordingly, I fully agree with Chemerinsky’s opinion that public service is not limited to those with a liberal point of view. What was disturbing, however, about the most recent article concerning UC-Irvine’s progress was a quote from UCLA law professor Stephen Bainbridge, declaring that “I would be very worried about going to that law school speaking as a conservative. Erwin has his work cut out for him to make it a place that is a hospitable working environment across the spectrum.” The quote is related to Bainbridge’s reported view that “Chemerinsky could have difficulty recruiting legal scholars with conservative viewpoints to a school focused on public interest law (emphasis added).” In my view, Bainbridge’s characterization of public interest casts too narrow a net. The so-called public interest affects persons of all political stripes. Thus, it is deplorable to learn that even a respected educator would depict us as a society where almost everything gets characterized as black or white, left or right, liberal or conservative. Accordingly, Bainbridge is clearly off the mark if he believes that our political views necessarily mean that we all are either for protecting the environment or not; stabilizing our health care system or not; monitoring our criminal justice system or not; protecting our electoral system or not; or upgrading our education system or not. As a self-styled “liberal” with conservative friends and associates, I am certain that a number of them would be surprised to learn that Bainbridge would consider them solely wedded to “private interests” to the detriment of the public good. Surely the public interest is not served by such a pedestrian characterization.

Frederic White San Francisco

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