Fordham Law's Anti-Racism Action Plan
In June 2020, we made a sweeping commitment to understanding how racism infects our community and taking bold actions to address it. To that end, we developed an Anti-Racism Action Plan with the goal of making real change across three paths:
- Increasing Diversity
- Making Fordham Law More Inclusive
- Addressing Systemic Racism
Though there is still work to do, thanks to the hard work of our students, faculty, and administration, we are making significant progress toward making our community, our profession, and our society racially just, equitable, and inclusive.
Dean and Paul Fuller Professor of Law
Historically, Fordham Law has opened its doors to people not welcome at other law schools due to their religion, gender, race, or class. Today, we are building on this legacy by working to create a learning environment that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive to students of all backgrounds, religions, and orientations and to ensure that students from underrepresented groups have the support and services to thrive.
Bolster Diversity Leadership
- Named Zenande Booi and Dominique Bravo as executive director and associate director, respectively, of the Center on Race, Law and Justice.
- Appointed Mia Jackson-Rosenthal as a PIRC administrator.
- Created a new director of diversity, equity, and inclusion position to oversee diversity initiatives, strategy, and planning, filled by Kamille Dean in October 2020.
- Created the position of DEI program manager in the spring of 2020.
- Retained Madeline Maldonado, LCSW-R, an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Social Work, to provide support for law students’ well-being, stress, and mental health, with an emphasis on issues faced by first-generation students of color.
Launch New Scholarships
- Welcomed the second cohort of Deborah A. Batts Scholars in February 2022. 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.
- Reallocated funds to fuel the Lawrence W. Pierce ’51 scholarship program. Named in honor of the third Black judge to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, the scholarship is awarded to students committed to advancing the interests of minority students in the legal profession.
Offer Mentorship and Guidance
- Launched a new pre-orientation program—REAL (Realizing Excellence and Access in the Law) Scholars—in fall 2021 to prepare incoming students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to become leaders in both the Law School community and the legal profession. Read more about the implementation of the REAL Scholars program in Fordham Lawyer’s winter 2022 issue.
- Continued to create opportunities for mentorship for pre-law students with practicing attorneys and law school administrative advisors within the comprehensive IDEAL program.
Support Peer Mentorship
- Foster greater peer mentorship among our students of color by supporting the peer mentorship programs within affinity groups, in collaboration with the Office of Professionalism. Read more about Fordham Law’s peer mentorship programs in Fordham Lawyer’s winter 2022 issue.
- Support the efforts of Alumni Attorneys of Color to act as professional mentors for underrepresented and first generation 1Ls.
- Coordinate mentorship efforts with diverse 1L students through the Office of Student Affairs to provide peer support and expert guidance from alumni.
- Implemented the peer mentoring program as a vital component of the REAL Scholars program.
Support Student-Led Programming, Advocacy, and Engagement
- Continuing to provide support through the Office of Student Affairs for student affinity organizations to develop programs, host events, and foster advocacy around issues facing students from underrepresented backgrounds.
- Abdulai Turay, the former BLSA president, was named Law Student of the Year by National Jurist.
- Tatiana Hyman was appointed editor-in-chief of the Fordham Law Review for 2021-22, the first Black student to be elected to this position in the history of the law school.
- In February 2021, Fordham Law’s Black Law Student Association was recognized by the National Black Law Students Association as Northeast Chapter of the Year.
Expand the Pipeline
- Enhance and grow the Increasing Diversity in Education and the Law (IDEAL) program, which nurtures interest in legal careers among diverse college students and provides expedited consideration in the Law School’s admissions process. The IDEAL program recruits college students from diverse backgrounds. The program is supported by generous donations from Kirkland & Ellis and Jones Day. Read more about the IDEAL program in Fordham Lawyer’s winter 2022 issue.
- Continue to nurture partnerships that develop an interest in the legal profession for college, high school, and middle school students, such as the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO), the Justice Resource Center, The Scales of Justice Academy, Mentor Moot Court, Legal Outreach, the Leadership Academy for Women in Law, and the New York City Bar Association.
- Launched the Civics Education and Pipeline to Law School Pilot Project, which sends law students to perform outreach in underserved communities. The project, run through the Feerick Center for Social Justice, has sent law students to a Bronx middle school to deliver lessons on constitutional rights and talk about their experience applying to and attending law school.
- Hosted Youth Law Day spring 2021 to invite diverse high school students to learn more about careers in the law.
Reexamine Recruitment and Admissions
- Collaborate with Fordham Law’s chapter of the Black Law Students Association to launch a new program through which current Fordham Law students will reach out to prospective future law students at their undergraduate alma maters.
- Strengthen our ties to minority-serving institutions, including Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
- Actively participate in law school admissions events focused on recruiting diverse applicants, including the National Black Pre-Law Conference.
Broaden the Diversity of Our Faculty
- Welcomed Atinuke “Tinu” Adediran and Julie Chi-hye Suk to the doctrinal faculty in fall 2021.
- Welcomed Aysha Ames to the legal writing team in 2021.
- Continuing to deepen our recruitment efforts to expand the candidate pool and broaden the diversity of the faculty.
- Prioritizing recruiting faculty members who are well versed in areas that emphasize the intersectional nature of law.
Too many students of color do not feel embraced and supported by Fordham Law. We are renewing and deepening our commitment to ensuring that students of color are welcomed into our community and are fully supported. In addition to delivering on the promises outlined below, we will continue to explore and implement additional means of moving Fordham Law beyond the structural racism that has impacted the experiences of students of color as well as of staff and faculty.
Create Anti-Racism Book Groups
- Launched book groups for faculty and staff that meet regularly to explore themes around discrimination, structural racism, and implicit bias.
- Hosted a George A. Strait Minority Fellow, Christine Park. The fellowship provides students from underrepresented groups with a unique opportunity to obtain meaningful and practical law library experience.
Established the new Dean’s Student Advisory Council on Diversity
- Convened a Dean’s Student Advisory Council on Diversity for the second year in fall 2021. The council is composed of a cross-section of students who meet regularly with the dean to identify concerns around diversity-related issues and implement change.
Continue to hold Dialogue Days
- Launched an ongoing series of Fordham Dialogue Days—programs that challenge all members of Fordham Law to engage in open discussion together and in small groups on social justice issues.
Expand Diversity Training for Faculty and Staff
- Embraced a report prepared by the Faculty DEI Committee that recommended faculty incorporate racial context and implications in their teaching by creating faculty workshops focusing on issues of race and inclusion.
- Continuing to hold DEI Faculty Workshops, organized by the Teaching Committee, to help professors implement updates to their courses. Workshop topics include:
“Incorporating DEI in the Curriculum,” with Teri McMurtry-Chubb (March 23, 2022)
“Critical Race Theory in the Classroom” with Tanya Hernandez and Ethan Leib (Feb. 22, 2022)
“Race, Ethnicity and Gender in the Curriculum and Classroom,” with Susan Block-Lieb, Caroline Gentile and Thomas Lee (Nov. 16, 2021)
“Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Classroom: Sharing Faculty Experiences,” with Jennifer Gordon and Aaron Saiger (Oct. 25, 2021)
- Expanded training on diversity, equity, and inclusion for all full-time faculty, beginning in December 2020. Training is ongoing.
- Expanded mandatory annual training of adjunct faculty to include issues of anti-racism, unconscious-bias awareness, and cultural competence To date, over 140 adjunct faculty have undergone training sessions, which will continue.
- Continuing to offer mandatory staff training to provide diversity, equity, and inclusion education to ensure greater sensitivity to the needs and perspectives of students of color, as well as create opportunities for staff to participate in discussions surrounding anti-racism and issues relating to social justice.
Update Grading Practices
- Instituted blind grading in first-year legal writing courses after the initial assignment to eliminate the potential for implicit bias This conforms with the approach the Law School takes with other first-year courses.
Analyze Racial Climate Study Findings and Move Strategic Plan Process Forward
- Invited all students, faculty, staff, and alumni to participate in a climate study to assess the culture and racial climate at Fordham Law School. The study results were shared through virtual events and via LawNET and will inform the next phase of our action plan/help us prioritize our efforts.
- Formed a DEI Strategic Planning Committee, composed of faculty, administrators, and students, to create a strategic plan to make the Law School more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. They are focusing on four areas:
- Faculty recruitment, retention, and development;
- Student recruitment, retention, and development;
- Curriculum reform and accountability; and
- Opportunity structures for students (e.g., moot court, clerkships, etc.)
- Engaging in conversations with the Law School community, including faculty, students, and the Alumni Association Board, to obtain their feedback.
Strengthen Anti-Racism Programming
- Centered 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 programming was offered ahead of an ABA requirement established in February 2022 that all law schools provide similar anti-bias programming.
- Added a racial equity inclusion program to the fall 1L semester House experiences.
- Hosted DEI workshops for student organizations, including journals and competition teams
Weave Issues of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, and Identity into the Curriculum Design
- Partnered with a DEI expert to collaborate with the faculty in incorporating DEI material, especially those of race and gender, within the courses offered in the core curriculum.
The motto of Fordham Law is “In the Service of Others.” We are committed to addressing racial injustice while responding to the needs of directly impacted individuals. Through our Public Interest Resource Center, we have 22 student-led pro bono projects dedicated to advancing social justice. Our prominent centers and institutes, many of which focus on issues relating to racial justice, including the Center on Race, Law and Justice, already a national leader in the field. These initiatives provide faculty, students, and alumni with a wide range of growing opportunities to actively engage in the struggle for racial justice. While racism intersects with all of our ongoing public service work, there is an urgent need to expand our work to specifically address racism in policing and the criminal justice system.
Augment Race and Justice Programming
- Launched a webinar series in June 2020 through the Center on Race, Law and Justice and the Leitner Center that attracted hundreds of attendees. The series is continuing throughout the 2021-2022 academic year.
- During the 2021-2022 academic year, the Law School presented/will present the following discussions on race and the law:
The Color of Bankruptcy: Slavery, Bankruptcy, and Financial Freedom (March 30, 2021)
The Dichotomy of Colorism in Black, Latin and Asian Communities (Nov. 10, 2021)
Pursue Economic Justice and Educational Equity Work Through the Feerick Center for Social Justice
Organized, through the Feerick Center and in partnership with the Law School’s Legislative and Policy Advocacy Clinic, as well as with community partners at Mobilization for Justice and The Legal Aid Society, to move the New York State legislature to pass the Fair Consumer Judgment Interest Act (FCJIA). The bill, which was signed into law by Governor Kathy Hochul on Dec. 31, 2021, lowers the interest rate on consumer debt judgments from 9% to 2% for unpaid amounts, both prospectively and retrospectively. The new law will have a life-changing impact for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers with consumer judgments, including people living in low-income communities and communities of color, who are disproportionately affected by debt collection.
Serve New York City residents facing debt collection in the courts through one of the Feerick Center’s signature programs, the Civil Legal Advice and Resource Office (CLARO). The Center is rolling out an innovative Remote CLARO Program, which has the potential to transform limited-scope services in this area and greatly enhance access to legal services for unrepresented people with debt collection cases.
Engage in advocacy to address the structural causes of racial segregation in New York City’s public schools. The Center has issued three reports, most recently in November of 2021 in light of the impact of COVID on the application process:The Next Step: Prioritizing Equity and Recovery in NYC High School Admissions (Nov. 11, 2021)
Public Schools, Public Oversight: Principles and Policy Recommendations During COVID-19 and Beyond (May 12, 2020
Screened Out: The Lack of Access to NYC Screened Program Admissions Criteria (Oct. 2019)
Focus on Racial Justice Via Public Interest Resource Center (PIRC) Student Groups
Focusing on anti-racism work via our vibrant student-run student groups/pro bono projects. PIRC Student Leaders have committed to an added focus on, and commitment to, racial justice.
Organized a project focused on advocacy for Black women experiencing domestic violence via the Domestic Violence Action Center.
Continued providing Critical Race Theory programs on the 1L curriculum via the Fordham National Lawyers Guild.
Many groups are engaged in a student-run diversity, equity, and inclusion survey to inform actionable next steps.
Emphasizing the continual need to fight for racial justice in all of the pro bono work student groups perform.
Advocate for Economic Empowerment Through Fordham Law’s Clinics
Fostering collaboration between the Community Economic Development Clinic students and Law for Black Lives (L4BL), the legal arm of Movement for Black Lives, and other partner organizations, like National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA).
Promoting collaboration between Entrepreneurial Law Clinic students and Start Small Think Big, which helps under-resourced entrepreneurs build wealth by creating successful businesses in underserved communities. The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic helps many entrepreneurs of color to navigate challenging legal issues and get access to capital.
Support and Grow the Center on Race, Law and Justice
Hired Zenande Booi and Dominique Bravo to lead the Center as executive director and associate director, respectively.
Made a commitment to supporting and growing the Center on Race, Law and Justice. In October 2020, Microsoft announced its donation of $390,000 to support the center’s efforts around policing and technology.
Support the Enhanced Programming from the Alumni Attorneys of Color (AAC)
Support efforts to build and strengthen the organization and as it continues to make its work more expansive and focus on areas that impact both student and alumni engagement, help it better serve alumni of color..
Launched a new series of webinars, “A Series for AAC by AAC: How to Survive and Advance During Challenging Times” in June 2020, focused on how attorneys of color have succeeded in their careers and overcome professional challenges. This series is ongoing and, to date, over 250 attendees have engaged in it.
Support Career Development for Diverse Law Students Historically Underrepresented in the Legal Profession
Partner the Career Planning Center (CPC) with affinity groups to provide programming on career-related topics and to engage with historically underrepresented groups including Fordham First Generation students (F1GS).
Participated in the New York City Bar Association Diversity Fellowship Program, in which the Law School sent two cohorts of five finalists, one in February 2021 and another in February 2022, for consideration for placement at various law firms and in-house positions.
Continuing to keep students informed of diversity fellowships, scholarships, and professional-development opportunities sponsored by law firms via the CPC.
Made resources available through the Office of Student Affairs to BIPOC, LGBTQ, Caregiver, and First Generation students so that they can nourish their well-being and emotional health and feel free to explore their identities, personal experiences, and beliefs.
Held programming tailored to the interests of underrepresented students in the job search process.