copy of the spring issue of Transcript, the Berkley Law alumni magazine (although they call themselves "Boalt," presumably because it's all in the family?), made its way onto my desk a couple of weeks ago, and I've been slowly perusing it.
One of the more interesting features is a Q&A with Dean Christopher Edley, with a timeline assessing the successes of his aggressive plan to elevate the school.
Edley, who began his tenure in July of 2004, set out with "plans to restore Boalt's standing as a premier law school." While most of the notations along the five year timeline are universally-acknowledged positives (Koret Foundation gifts, law centeres launched, revisions of LRAP), I couldn't help but notice a universal theme throughout: the LL.M. program.
We've written a lot about LL.M. programs here at The Shark, and our suspicion of them as revenue-generator/rankings-booster is well-documented. But there it is in black ink in Transcript: in three of the last four years, Edley has announced a new addition of some kind to Berkeley's LL.M. program. Whether its a tuition increase (used to fund the Competitive Compensation Inititiative that sought to attract high-profile faculty to Berkeley to benefit its reputation) in 2007, or an aggressive 100%+ growth plan in 2006, or a fast-track Accelerated Summer program in 2009, it appears Edley loves to use the LL.M.
When asked about the challenges the economic downturn presents the school, Edley is not too shy to use the r-word.
"Our challenge is on the revenue side. Alumni and foundation support is doing a stutter-step, as nervousness and portfolio declines are forcing folks to hold back. But our needs are up at the same time that donors are feeling squeezed. There's no pretty way to describe it."
So could it be that we can look forward to further expansion of the LL.M. program? Is the LL.M. the new cash cow of the public law school?
Full scan of the Edley timeline below, click to view a larger copy of the image.