The University of California-Irvine School of Law has launched a Civil Justice Research Institute to explore how to make the U.S. civil justice system more accessible.

UCI Law Dean Erwin Chemerinsky is the founding chair of the institute, which will be governed by a national board of advisers made up of attorneys and chaired by Roman Silberfeld, executive board member of Minneapolis, Minn.-based Robins Kaplan LLP.

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UCI Law has received approximately $1 million for the institute from donors across the country, led by a $250,000 gift from Richard Bridgford, founding partner of Newport Beach-based Bridgford, Gleason & Artinian.

The institute will conduct its work through interdisciplinary, academically-based and independent research. In a 2015 study by the University of St. Thomas School of Law, the UCI Law faculty ranked No. 6 in the country in scholarly impact.

Topics for research will include issues that influence what the institute describes as growing limits on access to the court system, including inadequate funding of state and federal courts; increased use of compulsory arbitration clauses; restrictions on class-action lawsuits; and limits on punitive damages.