Named New Batts Scholars
- Earlier this month, we named the second cohort of Deborah A. Batts Scholars. The program, initiated in 2020 to honor the first tenured Black member of the Fordham Law faculty and the first openly LGBT member of the federal judiciary, provides support for students dedicated to using their legal education to promote social justice, civil rights, and equality. This year’s recipients, Ferrell Littlejohn ’24 and Afrika Owes ’24, join the inaugural scholars Cameron Porter ’23 and Lamar Smith ’23 in honoring Judge Batts’ legacy with their work and scholarship.
Broadened the Diversity of Our Faculty
- In fall 2021, Atinuke “Tinu” Adediran and Julie Chi-hye Suk joined our doctrinal faculty, and Aysha Ames joined our academic leadership as director of legal writing. All are not only stellar scholars and teachers, but are also well versed in areas that emphasize the intersectional nature of law.
Welcomed New Leaders to the Center on Race, Law and Justice and PIRC
- This academic year, the Law School welcomed two new leaders at the Center on Race, Law and Justice, Executive Director Zenande Booi and Associate Director Dominique Bravo. Both have deep experience in research and advocacy around racial inequality and will help the Center expand its reach and platform.
- In addition, Mia Jackson-Rosenthal has joined the Public Interest Resource Center as our new Director of Public Interest Student Engagement and Counseling. A former staff attorney and pro bono coordinator at the Bronx Defenders, Mia’s passion for public service and her dedication to expanding opportunities for Black law students in public interest law will be of great value to students.
Continued to Expand the Pipeline Through the REAL Scholars and IDEAL Programs
- We have begun to see the impact on students of two of our key initiatives, the REAL Scholars and IDEAL programs. The aim of both is to expand the diversity of the legal community, but each works along different lines: the IDEAL program nurtures interest in legal careers among diverse undergraduate students in the greater New York City area, and the REAL Scholars program prepares incoming Fordham Law students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to become leaders in both the Law School community and the legal profession. In the latest issue of Fordham Lawyer, we highlight 1Ls Alexia Klein ’24 and Rian Morrissey ’24 and look at the impact these programs are already having on growing our community.
Secured a Significant Legislative Win for Thousands in Low-Income Communities Through the Feerick Center
- On New Year’s Eve, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Fair Consumer Judgment Interest Act (FCJIA) into law. The FCJIA substantially lowers the interest rate on consumer debt judgments, which promises to have a life-changing impact for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers, including people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and people living in low-income communities and communities of color, who are disproportionately affected by debt collection. The bill’s passage is the result of intensive advocacy work undertaken by the Feerick Center, in partnership with the Law School’s Legislative and Policy Advocacy Clinic and their community partners Mobilization for Justice and The Legal Aid Society.
Augmented Race and Justice Programming
- Professor Nikole Hannah-Jones’ visit to campus is but one in a series of dynamic events this month recognizing and celebrating Black history. Still to come is BLSA’s “Roads to Success: Blazing Trails for Future Black Lawyers” on Monday, where we will honor a number of our distinguished Black alumni.
- In addition, today at 12:30 pm the Feerick Center and Fordham APALSA will be hosting the Speaker Series talk “Combating Hate, Racism, and Xenophobia Against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders,” with AAPI Equity Alliance Executive Director Manjusha P. Kulkarni.
- The Law School’s journals and centers hosted many thoughtful academic discussions on various topics touching race and the law in the 2021-2022 academic year. Topics have included the use of admissions exams in urban public schools, colorism in Black, Latin, and Asian communities, and the need for diversity and inclusion within intellectual property law. Still to come is the Center on Race, Law and Justice’s discussion on “The Color of Bankruptcy: Slavery, Bankruptcy, and Financial Freedom” on March 30.
Launched Peer-to-Peer Diversity Workshops for Faculty
- In line with the findings from the racial climate study, the faculty’s Teaching Committee has arranged a series of workshops to encourage faculty members to collaborate on incorporating racial context and implications in their teaching. Topics include “Incorporating DEI in the Curriculum,” “Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Curriculum and Classroom,” and more. This is in addition to the expanded DEI training we have offered to all full-time and adjunct faculty over the past two years.
Strengthened Anti-Racism Programming
- We have centered our spring 1L orientation on anti-racism and DEI issues within law school and the legal profession. The new program was launched in January 2021 and continued in January 2022. This innovative programming was offered ahead of an ABA requirement established in February 2022 that all law schools provide similar anti-bias programming. In addition, 1L students were offered a robust DEI workshop through the House System in the fall of 2021.
Moved Our Strategic Plan Process Forward
- Our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee—led by Professors Bennett Capers and Elizabeth Cooper and composed of faculty, administrators, and students—has analyzed the findings from the community-wide racial climate study undertaken in spring 2021. They will use that analysis to inform the development of a DEI Strategic Plan for the Law School. The committee has focused on four action areas: Faculty Hiring, Admissions, Curriculum Reform, and Opportunity Structures (e.g., journals, moot court, clerkships, career development, and material needs). Committee members have been meeting and consulting with members of the Law School community to inform their work and shape further action.
While we can celebrate all we have achieved thus far, we know that our work to fulfill the promise of equal justice is not yet complete. We look forward to continuing our efforts to further develop Fordham Law School as a place of belonging that all students, staff, and faculty can truly think of as theirs, and maintain our optimism that we can do our part to build a society that is racially just, equitable, and inclusive.