The Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation has made a $1 million gift to the new School of Law at the University of California, Irvine. This, the law school’s first leadership gift, will support the establishment of the law library’s core collection. Smith, like her late mother, Athalie R. Clarke, has been a longtime advocate of establishing a law school at UCI.

“I am very pleased to announce this generous gift for the UCI School of Law from the Joan Irvine Smith and Athalie R. Clarke Foundation,” said Chancellor Michael Drake, M.D. “We are extraordinarily grateful for the foundation’s seminal support.”

A staunch supporter of UCI even before its first students arrived in 1965, Smith is the great-granddaughter of James Irvine, an immigrant who assembled about 120,000 acres of what is now Orange County to form the Irvine Ranch. Largely as a result of her efforts, The Irvine Company donated to the University of California Board of Regents 1,000 acres of land that became the UC Irvine campus. Smith has remained an important ally over the decades, donating her time and financial support to help advance the campus.

“From the very beginning, my mother and I always believed that UCI had to have a law school in addition to medical, business and engineering schools in order for the campus to advance as a major university, so I am gratified to see it come to fruition” Smith said. “The new law school will greatly benefit the university and the community, because in addition to taking the core curriculum, its students will have an opportunity to focus on intellectual property law, environmental law and public service law.”

Much of the enthusiasm for the School of Law stems from its founding principles, which include a focus on interdisciplinary study that builds UCI’s strengths as a multifaceted, research-based university. By establishing what will be only the second public law school in Southern California, UCI will help increase accessibility for students from underrepresented groups in a region that has one of the fastest-growing and most diverse populations in the country.

Since the regents of the University of California approved the law school in November, UCI has initiated a national search for a founding dean, which is being led by Andrew Policano, dean of UCI’s Paul Merage School of Business. The School of Law is scheduled to open its doors to the first class of law students in September 2009.

The school will focus on the Juris Doctor degree, which prepares students to practice law, and also will offer the Master of Laws (LL.M.) and Doctor of the Science of Law (J.S.D.) degrees. In addition, the school will leverage the campus’s strengths in areas such as emerging technology, social policy, international business and health care to develop interprofessional programs such as an accelerated J.D./M.B.A. – one of the most popular joint degrees – and a J.D./M.P.H.

The school will produce future leaders in law, government and business, and UCI law graduates will be particularly encouraged to pursue careers in public service, including non-governmental organizations and philanthropic agencies. As part of their training, UCI law students will provide legal services to people who are unable to afford counsel. They also will be encouraged to pursue public interest law through programs focusing on underserved communities.
About the University of California, Irvine: The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UC Irvine is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,800 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UC Irvine contributes an annual economic impact of $3.7 billion. For more UC Irvine news, visit

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