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UCR Announces Major Step Toward Forming Law School


UCR Announces Major Step Toward Forming Law School

(May 19, 1999)

A multi-million dollar gift enabling the University of California, Riverside to pursue creation of a law school was announced Wednesday in the historic Riverside County Courthouse.

"We stand today in this magnificent courtroom so steeped in Riverside's past, and because of a wonderful gift, we are able to look to Riverside's future as a center of legal education," said Chancellor Raymond L. Orbach.

Henry W. Coil, Jr., president of Tilden-Coil Constructors, Inc., pledged more than $5 million to UCR for the creation of a law school that would address the needs of the 21st century. Acceptance of the gift and authorization of the school both require app roval of the UCR Academic Senate and the UC Board of Regents.

Proposed to be named "The Coil School of the Law," it would honor the donor's family and most particularly his father, Henry W. Coil, Sr.; and brother, Horace W. Coil, both of whom were distinguished attorneys.

"These were men of high principle and ethical behavior. We are honored by the opportunity to propose the association of the name of a school of law with such individuals and such a family of distinction," Chancellor Orbach said.

"How do you express gratitude to someone who makes a dream come true," said James D. Ward, associate justice of the Fourth District Court of Appeals who for a dozen years was the leader of the UCR Law campaign by the regional legal community.

Superior Court Judge Victor Miceli, in whose courtroom the announcement was made, welcomed regional legal, civic and business leaders to the court. In addition to Chancellor Orbach, speakers included Henry Coil, Jr., the donor, Assemblyman Rod Pacheco (R -Riverside), Justice Ward, Riverside County Supervisor John Tavaglione, and Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge.

The UCR Academic Senate will receive a report of the task force on the establishment of a legal education center, which is to include a school of law, at its meeting of May 27.

Subsequently, Academic Senate review of the report will take place through normal channels. After review, a proposal for the establishment of a legal education center will be submitted to the UCR Division of the Academic Senate, and thence to the Regents of the University of California for approval.

The task force report identifies three areas in which a law school and the campus would have strong natural affinities. They are law and the environment, law and ethics, and law and family studies. Additionally, the task force proposes that an accelerated undergraduate and law degree program be developed, and that in addition to the standard "clinical" element of the law degree, there be creation of a "law for the public good" program.

Henry W. Coil, Jr., is a long-time friend of UCR, serving on the UCR Foundation Board of Trustees and as an advisor to the Sweeney Art Gallery and the UCR/California Museum of Photography. He has also given his time and talent to a large number of Riversi de's most important organizations, including the Bank of America, the Riverside Arts Foundation, the American Red Cross, the Cancer Society, the Mission Inn Foundation, the March Field Museum, the Salvation Army, Riverside Community Hospital, the Boy Scou ts (Eagle Scout and Distinguished Citizen Award), Riverside Community College and the Riverside Unified School District. He also served on the Riverside City Council between 1963 and 1967.

Coil's academic affiliations are just as numerous. He is a member of the Chapman College School of Business and Management Advisory Board; the University of California Lambda Chi Alpha and Phi Phi fraternities; UC Berkeley Alumni Association; and the Univ ersity of Redlands Board of Trustees.

The last University of California law school, at UC Davis, opened in 1965. Southern California, the home of 60 percent of the state's 33 million people, has only one University of California-affiliated law school, the one at UCLA.

Northern California is served by three UC-affiliated law schools: Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco and the law schools located at the University of California's Davis and Berkeley campuses.

Only the top five percent of the applicant pool is admitted each year at these highly-ranked schools, leaving many qualified applicants with no other choice but to try a more expensive private school. Others just give up their dream.

A report commissioned the Regents of the University of California in 1991 calls for efforts to increase the number of law school seats available, not because the state needs more lawyers, but because it needs more lawyers who reflect the state's increasing ethnic diversity.

"All individuals must have equal access to legal services, and all qualified individuals who wish to become lawyers must have the chance to realize that goal if we are to retain respect for law in our society," wrote Edward Imwinklelried, the law professor from UC Davis who chaired the 14-member committee.

The three million people who live in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are drastically under served when it comes to attorneys:

  • Los Angeles County has one lawyer for every 233 people;
  • Orange County has one lawyer per 275 people.
  • San Diego has one lawyer per 285 people.
  • Santa Barbara has one lawyer per 380.
  • Riverside/San Bernardino counties have one lawyer for every 898 people.

The dream of a UCR Legal Education Center has been around almost as long as the campus itself. In 1959, when UCR changed from its small liberal arts format to a general campus of the university, graduate schools became one of the community's top priorities.

Since then a School of Education; a Graduate School of Management; an innovative partnership with UCLA that leads to an accelerated medical degree; and a School of Engineering have become highly successful ventures.

James D. Ward, now a Justice in San Bernardino's 4th District Court of Appeals, saw the need for a full-fledged law school. A decade ago he founded a private support group known as "UCR Law." Over the years he has gathered endorsements from community leaders, legal experts and sitting legislators.

While very preliminary, thinking on the legal center places it downtown Riverside, the growing legal center for inland Southern California. The Victor Miceli Law Library and a

The UCR Legal Education Center would be an intellectual anchor of a downtown Justice Center that already includes a 17,000 square foot law library, a new bankruptcy court, a new family court, criminal and civil courts and a plan for a federal court within the next two years. The historic Riverside County Court House, which just reopened after a $23.9 million renovation, combines modern earthquake safety and technological access with classical columns, marble floors and a stained glass dome that hearken ba ck to the turn of the century.

The goal is to create the area's first American Bar Association (ABA) accredited law school. UCR would hire a dean, full-time faculty members, a law librarian and several adjunct faculty members. Class sizes would remain small to allow for the intense individual mentoring necessary to shape incisive legal minds.

The existing law library downtown, Riverside County's largest, would be augmented by the university's collection of legal tomes and significant electronic resources, along with a major investment in new print materials.

Faculty members would teach a broad range of legal disciplines. Especially appropriate for this new Legal Education Center would be research into emerging fields, such as international trade, cyberspace, environmental law, bio-medical law and agriculture.


The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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