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On the anniversary of his first year as dean at the University of San Francisco School of Law, Jeffrey Brand sits on the weathered, tan couch in his office, hunched over layer upon layer of architectural plans. The layouts on his coffee table are for Kendrick Hall’s planned renovation. His smile widens as he articulates each update in the school’s main building. He points out the plans for the entrance rotunda, the classrooms and the old library — now designated to house the school’s criminal and civil clinics, faculty offices and a new moot courtroom. The school’s new $18.3 million Dorraine Zief Law Library opened only a month before, replacing a smaller facility that law school accreditors found wanting during visits seven years ago. And the building improvements are just one of the steps Brand and other school officials are taking to improve the Jesuit school’s academic reputation and attract more top-drawer students. “It’s been an incredibly exciting time,” Brand says. And by one measure, the push is paying off: More and more of the school’s grads are being scooped up by topflight firms that focus on technology law. But Brand is realistic. “I’d like to think it’s about the law school and being perceived well in the legal community,” he says. “But it’s also about the booming job market right now.” In a painful blow to the school’s academic aspirations, it failed to claim a spot in the second tier of this year’s U.S. News & World Report law school rankings after a brief foray into the second tier in 1998. And J. Thomas McCarthy, the professor who has led the school’s IP program, is beginning to step away from his faculty position. Even so, now may be one of the best times in recent memory to be a student at USF School of Law, as Brand and other school officials chart a course they hope will boost the school’s stature. “I’ve described my deanship from day one as a transition for the law school,” says Brand. ‘THEY WORK HARD’ In part, USF owes its higher profile among high-tech firms to the likes of Molly Lane. In 1989, after finishing her second year at USF, Lane started as a summer associate at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. Lane was one of five USF grads to join Brobeck the following year. By 1998, Lane and classmate David Weiss had made partner. Only one of the five had left the firm. “That tells you why we draw from USF,” says Lane, who now chairs the firmwide recruitment committee at Brobeck. “They work hard, they love practicing law, they’re committed and have longevity at the firm.” As Northern California lawyer-hungry tech firms dig deeper and deeper into the classes at traditional hunting grounds such as Stanford Law School, Boalt Hall School of Law and Hastings College of the Law, they’re also turning to those in the top of their classes at Northern California-based second- and third-tier law schools like USF. With USF alums like Lane moving into the upper echelons at top Bay Area firms, local recruiters say that the r�sum�s of USF law students are increasingly landing on the desks of partners more likely to put a high value on a J.D. from USF. According to Martindale-Hubbell’s listings, Brobeck has at least 25 USF alums; Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold has 20; Crosby, Heafey, Roach & May has 19. There are 18 USF grads at Hanson, Bridgett, Marcus, Vlahos & Rudy; 14 at Ropers, Majeski, Kohn & Bentley; and 13 at McCutchen, Doyle, Brown & Enersen. Coming in at least a dozen apiece are Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Cooley Godward; Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe; Gordon & Rees; Lillick & Charles; and Thelen Reid & Priest. In 1994, 43 firms came to the campus to recruit students. This year, 57 firms are expected to show up. While a few major firms, including Cooley Godward, Heller Ehrman White & McAuliffe, and Orrick, stopped recruiting at the campus during that period, other local heavyweights — like McCutchen and Wilson — discovered the campus. “Wilson has 100 new associates, Morrison & Foerster has 100; they’ve got to come from somewhere,” says Robert Major, of the recruiting firm Major, Hagen & Africa. USF students “are probably getting a hard look by law firms that had to expand.” ‘STRAIGHT DOWN FULTON STREET’ That’s creating new career paths from a school that has long supplied the public sector with deputy district attorneys, municipal lawyers, public defenders and the like. “Historically, they’d go straight down [San Francisco's] Fulton [Street] to City Hall,” says Becky Mitchell, director of alumni relations and development at USF Law. For example, USF grad William Fleishhacker began his career as a deputy city attorney with the San Francisco city attorney’s office. When Fleishhacker earned his J.D. from the school magna cum laude in 1995, the local economy was just recovering from the recession, and he says many of his classmates didn’t have the options USF graduates enjoy today. “There were a number of people who were hard-pressed to find jobs,” recalls Fleishhacker, now an associate at Morrison & Foerster. “Most of my friends found jobs within a few months of graduating, [but] only a minority of the class had jobs waiting for them.” But it’s the school’s long tradition of placing students in public service jobs that probably accounts for its stunning record of producing judges. Approximately 173 graduates from the relatively small school have become judges over the years, according to the school’s alumni relations and development office, and many started their legal careers in the public sector. Sitting judges from USF now include Justice Ming Chin on the California Supreme Court, Judges Martin Jenkins and Saundra Brown Armstrong on the U.S. District Court for the Northern District, and First District Court of Appeal Justice Joanne Parrilli and Presiding Justice Daniel “Mike” Hanlon, to name just a few. All but Hanlon started off as prosecutors in Alameda County. There are a few theories as to why the school has produced so many judges. Hanlon and Jenkins say one factor may be the public service emphasis inherent in USF’s Jesuit philosophy. It could also be a self-sustaining phenomenon: Jenkins says he was encouraged to become a judge by sitting judges. He credits Parrilli and Armstrong, along with University of California, Hastings grad Carol Corrigan, of the First District, with nudging him toward a judicial career. Now Jenkins is on the other side of the equation. USF student Cupcake Brown is externing for Jenkins. Jenkins says he doesn’t give USF students any special treatment, but, he notes, “Obviously, since I went there, I feel good about those students.” And while current USF students may have reason to feel good about their career prospects, the school still faces a number of challenges. ‘AN OPPORTUNITY TO GROW’ According to associate admissions director Josie Martin, USF has struggled to attract a larger pool of applicants in the face of a national downturn in the number of people applying to law school. Declining applications forced the school to accept 50 percent of students who applied for the 1999-2000 academic year. In response, the school stepped up outreach efforts aimed at getting the most promising admittees to actually enroll. This year’s acceptance rate moved down slightly to 46 percent. Brand would like to see an acceptance rate of between 35 percent and 40 percent. In part, Brand is pinning his hopes on high tech — just as many local firms have done. So professor McCarthy’s decision to “gradually disengage” from the IP program after 34 years at the school is a bit of a setback. With McCarthy at the helm, USF’s IP program ranked 27th in the latest U.S. News & World Report survey. University of California, Berkeley’s Boalt Hall, across the bay, is ranked first. McCarthy, who in 1997 was recognized by the American Intellectual Property Lawyers Association as the most influential trademark expert of the 20th century, says he plans to spend less time teaching but will continue updating his six volume series, “Trademarks and Unfair Competition.” He says he’ll be helping IP and cyberlaw professor Susan Freiwald and newly recruited IP professor David Franklyn establish an IP center and develop a certificate program on the subject. “You can’t really have a serious law school in the Bay Area without a strong IP program,” says McCarthy, adding that the addition of Franklyn is “reassuring to me.” And the construction of new facilities and Brand’s focus on boosting the school’s reputation is encouraging to faculty members. Virginia Kelsh, a law librarian and professor at USF since 1983 — when the old library was already packed to the gills — loves her new digs. She’s been pushing to expand the library since at least 1986. Brand says the plan was given a boost in 1993 by the American Bar Association, which, as part of its accreditation review, recommended the school improve its library. The school’s accreditation status is up for review again this year. Although more than half of Zief Library’s 41,000 linear feet of shelf space remains empty, Kelsh looks forward to filling out the new facility. “When I first came here, they were shelving books on the floor,” she remembers. “We do have an opportunity to grow, which is a nice luxury to have.”

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