An un-needed law school finds its constituency

Thomas Lifson
The new law school planned at the University of California Irvine was officially declared unneeded because the state already has plenty of law schools. But that didn't stop the institutional ambitions of UCI, and there was apparently enough support among the Regents and elected politicians that the plan is moving ahead. Despite the embarrassment of hiring, firing, and re-hiring left wing legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky to be the founding dean of a school which promises to focus on training "public interest" (a euphemism for left wing) lawyers.

Already endowed by Orange County philanthropist Donald Bren, after whom the school is named, the UCI law school has just received a one million dollar gift from a revealing source: a member of the natural constituency of the new school. Walter Olson, writing at the Point of Law blog  describes the gift-giver as
"Mark P. Robinson Jr. of Newport Beach, Calif.'s Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson, known for lawsuits against automakers and tobacco companies...."
The money is the very best kind of gift: unrestricted. UCI describes it:
"This gift establishes the Mark P. Robinson, Jr. Endowed Fund for Excellence, which will support the school's highest-priority needs."
The "highest-priority needs" would be those which the dean and whoever he hires want. Another way of describing this might be slush fund.

The tort law bar has many, many extremely wealthy members, fattened by class action lawsuits with verdicts in the tens (think John Edwards) or hundreds of millions (think exploding Pintos) of dollars, or even billions (tobacco settlement). The lawyers get a thirds or even 40% of these settlements.

The class action tort bar has a need for ongoing research and development in creating new subjects for litigation, new theories of liability (to find those essential deep pocketed defendants), and new approaches. What could be better than to have a publicly-financed institution doing this R&D? In a beautiful setting, no less.

I will be watching for further news of large gifts from the tort bar to UCI Law School. I expect there to be many more.
The new law school planned at the University of California Irvine was officially declared unneeded because the state already has plenty of law schools. But that didn't stop the institutional ambitions of UCI, and there was apparently enough support among the Regents and elected politicians that the plan is moving ahead. Despite the embarrassment of hiring, firing, and re-hiring left wing legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky to be the founding dean of a school which promises to focus on training "public interest" (a euphemism for left wing) lawyers.

Already endowed by Orange County philanthropist Donald Bren, after whom the school is named, the UCI law school has just received a one million dollar gift from a revealing source: a member of the natural constituency of the new school. Walter Olson, writing at the Point of Law blog  describes the gift-giver as
"Mark P. Robinson Jr. of Newport Beach, Calif.'s Robinson, Calcagnie & Robinson, known for lawsuits against automakers and tobacco companies...."
The money is the very best kind of gift: unrestricted. UCI describes it:
"This gift establishes the Mark P. Robinson, Jr. Endowed Fund for Excellence, which will support the school's highest-priority needs."
The "highest-priority needs" would be those which the dean and whoever he hires want. Another way of describing this might be slush fund.

The tort law bar has many, many extremely wealthy members, fattened by class action lawsuits with verdicts in the tens (think John Edwards) or hundreds of millions (think exploding Pintos) of dollars, or even billions (tobacco settlement). The lawyers get a thirds or even 40% of these settlements.

The class action tort bar has a need for ongoing research and development in creating new subjects for litigation, new theories of liability (to find those essential deep pocketed defendants), and new approaches. What could be better than to have a publicly-financed institution doing this R&D? In a beautiful setting, no less.

I will be watching for further news of large gifts from the tort bar to UCI Law School. I expect there to be many more.