The University of California, Irvine School of Law is back to its old ways — luring high-profile professors from other schools.
The 2-year-old law school with big educational ambitions is bringing on Robert Solomon, director of clinical studies at Yale Law School; and Katherine Porter, a faculty member at the University of Iowa College of Law who is teaching at Harvard Law School. She is an expert in bankruptcy and consumer credit.
Solomon’s addition is a particular coup. He has taught at Yale since 1985 and oversees its large and successful network of legal clinics.
“Yale is a great institution because it gives people the flexibility to try to achieve great things,” Solomon said. “But the notion that Yale is the only institution that can do that doesn’t hold much water.”
Solomon said he became excited about the prospect of starting a community and economic development clinic at Irvine after meeting with the school’s faculty and administration.
“I was totally overwhelmed by the notion that all these talented people have banded together to take a leap of faith to try to change the future of legal education,” he said.
The genesis for the move dates to fall 2009, he said, when Solomon spent a semester at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, and enjoyed the experience.
Irvine plans to start three clinics next year when its inaugural class enters its third year. The law school plans immigration and environmental clinics along with the community economic clinic that Solomon will lead.
“I think experiential learning is a way for a lot of people to understand concepts they could not otherwise understand,” he said. “It’s very different when you’re dealing with problems in the real world.”
Porter has gained attention for her research on families in financial distress. She testified before the congressional oversight committee for the Troubled Asset Relief Panel on foreclosure mitigation in October, and has conducted extensive research on mortgage servicers. She teaches a bankruptcy class and a consumer protection class at Harvard.
“A lot of it, for me, was the faculty,” Porter said. “I’m a young woman, and on the faculty at Irvine I won’t be one of only a few young women. The diversity of that faculty is remarkable, and I find that appealing.”
While Irvine has a strong public interest focus, Porter looks forward to helping build a business law curriculum at the school. Those two areas are not mutually exclusive, and much of her work has a public interest element, she said.
Both Porter and Solomon’s appointments are awaiting final approval by Irvine’s faculty senate, which is expected in the coming weeks. Irvine’s law school isn’t done with hiring yet, however. The school plans to hire 10 new faculty members in 2011, said spokesman Rex Bossert.
Karen Sloan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.