It turns out the new model looks pretty much exactly like the old one: as dean, Chemerinsky has dedicated himself to chasing rankings by all the usual means, which of course all require an enormous operating budget, which will be funded in large part by tuition that for this year is set at $47K for California residents and $53K for non-residents.
Tamanaha points out that these price points undercut the ability of students to pursue public service careers:
Students with debt that large are compelled by financial necessity to pursue corporate law jobs. Although public service jobs are eligible for a federal program that reduces monthly loan payments and forgives the remaining debt after 10 years, heavily indebted law students would take a huge risk to pass up a corporate law job, which is obtained though interviews in the fall of the second year, in the hope that they might later land a public service job, which is obtained near or after graduation.Chemerinksy's response is that the only way for students to get jobs is for a school to be highly ranked, and the only way for a school to be highly ranked is to spend a boatload of money on chasing rankings (demurely recharacterized for rhetorical purposes as "providing a first-rate legal education."). And by the way UC-I students do a lot of pro bono work before they graduate and we have bridge loans and scholarships for people going into public service so there.
Irvine law professors can saturate the atmosphere and curriculum with public service—it doesn’t matter. Irvine students will be forced to work in corporate law—and the many students who don’t land these positions will struggle under a huge debt. That is the reality of it. The “public service” goal was doomed, I argue in the book, by Dean Chemerinsky’s determination to create a "top 20" law school right out of the box.
This whole debate is strangely anachronistic, as it's framed as a struggle for the souls of law students, who must choose between high paying big firm jobs or low-paying public service work. Tamamaha does mention that "the many students who don't land these positions will struggle under huge debt," and of course Failing Law Schools is dedicated largely to driving home this crucial point, but in this context it sounds like a debate between a couple of professors at Michigan when I was a student there 25 years ago, and public service jobs were what, except for a few zealots, people who didn't get big firms jobs "settled" for.
The reality is that under a best-case scenario (defined as UC-I being as successful in placing its graduates in the long run as UCLA and USC, which seems extremely optimistic) the solid majority of UC-I grads aren't going to get either big law firm jobs or public service law jobs. In 2011 23.5% of UCLA grads got big firm jobs and 4.4% got federal clerkships. LST estimates the school's public service score at 10.5%, which I believe counts every long-term job in "government" and "public interest" as a real public service lawyer job, which is almost certainly quite over-inclusive. USC placed more people in big firms (34.3%, plus 4.3% in fed clerkships); however it placed only 11 people (5% of the class) in long-term "government" and "public interest" positions of every kind.
So realistically 40% at best of the collective classes at UCLA and USC even had a choice between a high-paying corporate job and a real public service law job.
Again, there's something perverse about arguments regarding law students having to choose between big firm lucre and virtuous public service. That's still a live issue at Stanford, I guess. It's not the issue at UC-Irvine (or at 95% of the other law schools in the country). The issue everywhere else is that somewhere between a solid to an overwhelming majority of grads are either not going to get real legal jobs at all, or won't get legal jobs that will allow them to service the debt incurred by attending law school in a timely manner, nor will those jobs make them eligible for PSLF. These people aren't choosing between Davis Polk and DANY -- they're choosing between IBR and literally leaving the country.
That's the problem. Everything else is a distraction.