The UCLA School of Law announced last week that it has formed a "strategic alliance" with Rand Corp., a Santa Monica-based think thank.

The goal of the alliance is "to improve public policy through the marriage of rigorous policy analysis and outstanding legal scholarship."

The initiative was kicked off with a conference at the law school entitled "Transparency in the Civil Justice System," which explored the potential costs and benefits of increased secrecy in the nation's civil justice system.

Michael Schill, dean of the UCLA School of Law, was pleased by the alliance.

"We are thrilled to be joining with Rand, whose extensive policy analysis and expertise is unparalleled," Schill said in a statement. "Together we will build on our capabilities and leverage UCLA School of Law's tradition of deep legal and empirical research."

Rand's involvement in the alliance is spearheaded by members of its Institute for Civil Justice, which conducts research on many aspects of civil justice, from trends in litigation and jury verdicts to compensation systems and alternative dispute resolution.

"We are delighted to bring the empirical work of Rand's Institute for Civil Justice together with the academic resources of UCLA School of Law," Michael Rich, executive vice president of Rand Corp. said in a statement.

Bleak View

Two recently released surveys offer somewhat pessimistic outlooks of the legal industry.

A survey conducted by Citi Private Bank reveals that 30 percent of law firm managing partners expect business to decline at least slightly over the next six months. In total, 80 percent of these law firm leaders expect the business conditions in the legal profession to show no improvement or get worse, according to the survey, which collected opinions from 100 managing partners at the nation's largest law firms.

Some law firms, particularly those involved in bundling loans, have already seen a decrease in business as a result of the economic downturn, highlighted by a weakening dollar, falling home prices and a tightening in the credit market.

And corporate transactions are not the only legal matters that appear to be decreasing.

According to an annual survey of in-house attorneys, released last month by the law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP, major corporations' exposure to lawsuits has declined versus last year.

According to the staff attorneys at 250 "major U.S. corporations," 17 percent of respondents said their companies were not targeted in a new lawsuit over the past year, which is up 6 percent versus last year's survey.


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