Erwin Chemerinsky named to lead Berkeley Law

Law Schools

Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky

Erwin Chemerinsky has been selected as dean for the University of California Berkeley School of Law.

Chemerinsky, the founding dean of University of California Irvine School of Law, is scheduled to start the new position July 1, according to a press release. The constitutional law scholar previously served as a professor at Duke University School of Law and the University of Southern California Gould School of Law. He is also a regular contributor to ABAJournal.com.

“I care deeply about the public mission of the law school and the public service it provides through its clinical and pro bono programs,” Chemerinsky told Berkeley Law. “My goal as dean is to maintain the school’s excellence—be it in intellectual property, social justice or business law—and look for every opportunity I can to enhance it.”

L. Song Richardson, UCI Law’s senior associate dean for academic affairs, has been selected to serve as its interim dean, according to a press release. A former law professor at DePaul University, American University and the University of Iowa, Richardson’s academic work focuses on using theories from cognitive and social psychology to study criminal procedure, criminal law and policing.

When the law school was founded in 2009, Chemerinsky announced a goal of it debuting in the top 20 of U.S. News & World Report’s annual law school rankings. In 2015, its first year of eligibility, the law school debuted at No. 30 on the list. The law school was in the No. 28 spot for the 2017 U.S. News & World Report law school rankings.

Chemerinsky replaces Sujit Choudhry, who resigned as Berkeley Law’s dean in March 2016 after accusations of repeatedly hugging Tyann Sorrell, his executive assistant.. Sorrell sued the university and Choudhry, alleging unwanted touching and a lack of appropriate action by the school.

The university in April reached a settlement with Sorrell and Choudhry. Sorrell reportedly received $1.7 million, and Choudhry agreed to pay $50,000 in attorney fees and a $50,000 to a charity of Sorrell’s choice.

Choudhry has maintained that his touches were not sexual. According to the settlement, university regents and officers may not state that he acted with sexual intent or that he committed sexual assault, and may not state that he poses a risk to faculty, students or staffers. Choudhry remains a tenured professor at Berkeley Law, and is currently performing administrative duties in that capacity. At the end of this school year he will go on unpaid sabbatical as a tenured professor, and resign May 31, 2018. Also, Choudhry dropped a race discrimination lawsuit against the school, which alleged that he was treated more harshly than other Berkeley professors accused of sexual harassment.

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