Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Ever-Changing Name of the Law School at Berkeley

Sherman Oaks, California

My old law school at U.C. Berkeley was founded in 1894, and it still does not have a permanent name.

In previous years, it has been the Department of Jurisprudence, the School of Jurisprudence and the School of Law, and the building was named Boalt Hall after an early benefactor.

I received a letter dated April 22, 2008, from Dean Christopher Edley informing alumni -- in language only a law professor could write -- that the name has changed again.

"Our official name has been -- and will continue to be -- the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law. We will use this name and especially its short form, Berkeley Law, in most communication with external audiences. The name Berkeley is known worldwide as the gold standard in higher education. And Berkeley Law mirrors the names of our peer schools, all of which exploit the equity in their university names: Harvard Law, Stanford Law, Michigan Law, etc.

"We will continue to use the name Boalt Hall among ourselves, especially within the alumni community. The Boalt name is enormously meaningful to countless people who've been associated with the school over the years, including newcomers like me. To them I say: We understand. We, too, take pride in the Boalt name and all it embodies. As I said to newly admitted students visiting campus recently, within the family, we will always be Boalt."

Three points:

1. When I attended in the mid-1990s, the administration stressed that the formal name of the school was the "University of California at Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall)." That's what it says on my resume, and I'm not changing it.

2. No one refers to the school as "Berkeley Law." The phrase sounds wrong, and there's no reason to use it. If you're talking in a law school context -- which is usually the case -- you say "Berkeley." Otherwise, you say "the law school at Berkeley."

3. The new Berkeley Law logo (pictured) is an example of why lawyers should not select logos. It looks like something that would have been created ten years ago by a stodgy tech company trying to look hip. (The worst legal logo has to be that of the firm Paul Hastings, which appears to have been designed on WordPerfect for DOS.)



Blogger Tom Salemi said...

He forgot to mention the equally prestigious LA Law.

1:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just came across this in trying to figure out the name of the school, where I teach part-time. Funny, informative post!

12:31 AM  

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