Ahead of the Curve: Law Schools Walk the Walk on Antiracism

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Law.com highlighted Fordham Law School in its analysis of how three law schools are taking steps to combat systemic racism and build anti-racist communities.

Eight months ago, law schools across the country pledged to step up their efforts to combat racism and better embrace diversity and inclusion on their campuses. Today, I’m highlighting a few new initiatives that were born out of renewed focus on systemic injustice and inequality. I’m checking in on what’s happening at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law; Fordham University School of Law; and Boston University School of Law. I’m hoping to see many more unveiled in the coming months.

Fordham University School of Law
 
Fordham retooled its spring 1L orientation—held last month—to focus on anti-racism, equity, and diversity and inclusion matters. The school brought in diversity and inclusion experts to speak with students. Fletcher Consulting developed anti-racist workshops for eight sections of students that focused on the first-year law school experience. The spring orientation also included various elective sessions centered on diversity and inclusion in various legal practice settings such as Big Law, In-House, social justice and civil rights among them. Here’s what Law Dean Matthew Diller had to say about the new focus of spring orientation:
 
“To succeed in the legal profession–both in terms of building a career and in terms of fulfilling the responsibilities of the profession–you need much more than the ability to analyze a judicial decision or to parse a statute,” Diller said to students during his opening remarks. “You need to be able to understand the human problems people bring to you and what is important to them; to understand the outlook, values and goals of the other players. Only this kind of broader outlook can enable you to craft effective strategies and keep long term objectives, as well as short term goals, in mind.”
 
The reimagined spring 1L orientation is an outgrowth of a pledge the law school made in June 2020 to combat racism in society and also address structural racism within the school itself. Administrators held a series of meetings with students to gather their input on what issues should be addressed during the orientation sessions.
 
“The goal of the orientation program was to provide our students with the knowledge and skills to navigate today’s legal landscape and to improve diversity and inclusion at Fordham Law and in the legal profession,” said Assistant Dean of Student Affairs and Diversity Kimathi Gordon-Somers. “It is more evident that, in our profession, diversity and inclusion responsibilities must be a shared responsibility, and as a result, we will continue to strive to do more to prepare our students, as future lawyers, to think about and engage in ways to improve diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.”

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