Breaking News: Song Richardson Chosen as New Dean of UCI Law

I’m delighted to share the news that my friend and colleague, L. Song Richardson, has been chosen as the new dean of UCI Law.  (Song has been serving as interim dean.) (Update: Press release begins: “Distinguished legal scholar and teacher L. Song Richardson is the next dean of the University of California, Irvine School of Law, effective Jan. 1, 2018, becoming the only woman of color to serve in this role among U.S. News & World Report’s top 30 law schools.”)

Song has the smarts, people skills, good judgment, exuberance, and enthusiasm for this job, and I am so glad that she will be at the helm for the next part of this school’s journey.

The main question when our founding dean Erwin Chemerinsky left precipitously at the end of last year to become dean at UC Berkeley was, “Who can follow Erwin?”  I think what we’ve learned from the dean search process (I served on the dean search committee) is that we need someone with a vision of collaborative leadership and excellence, who can inspire everyone at the school to be their best.  Song is the ideal person to do so. She embodies so much of the spirit of the law school—its history of innovation, entrepreneurship, commitment to social justice, and marriage of deep scholarship and real world skills training.

Here is the official announcement from provost Enrique Lavernia:

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of Chancellor Gillman, I am pleased to announce that L. Song Richardson, one of the nation’s leading legal scholars and educators, has been appointed dean of the UCI School of Law, effective Jan. 1, 2018. A member of the UCI faculty since 2014, Dean Richardson has served as interim dean since July. She also served as the school’s senior associate dean for academic affairs and chair of the Faculty Appointments Committee.

In her career as a legal scholar, Dean Richardson uses lessons from cognitive and social psychology to study criminal procedure, criminal law and policing. A legal expert on stereotype threat and racial anxiety, she examines how unconscious biases may influence courtroom decisions.

Dean Richardson’s work is renowned within the legal community. Her article “Police Efficiency and the Fourth Amendment” was selected as a “must read” by the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She co-edited The Constitution and the Future of Criminal Justice in America, a book published by Cambridge University Press in 2013, and is currently writing a book exploring the legal and moral implications of mind sciences research on policing and criminal procedures.

A successful litigator with diverse practice experience, Dean Richardson was a state and federal public defender in Seattle and served as an assistant counsel at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. She was also a Skadden Public Interest Fellow with the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles and the Legal Aid Society’s Immigration Law Unit in New York.

Before joining UCI, Dean Richardson held law professorships at DePaul University, American University and the University of Iowa. She earned her law degree at Yale University.

I am grateful to the search committee and its chair, Professor Bryant Garth, for their thoughtful work in helping us select such an exemplary new dean. The law school is lucky to be able to draw on the energy, brilliance and leadership of Dean Richardson, especially during this time of change in the nation and in legal education.

Please join me in extending heartfelt congratulations to Dean Richardson.


Enrique Lavernia
Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor
Distinguished Professor of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science


Comments are closed.