Paul L. Caron

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Black Lawyers Matter

Leonard Baynes (Dean, Houston) & Jennifer Collins (SMU), Black Lawyers Matter: What the Texas Legal Community Can Do to Eradicate Racism:

Baynes CollinsWe all have been rocked by the tragic death of former Houston resident George Floyd while in police custody and witnessed street protests and calls to address persistent antiblack racism.

As deans of leading law schools in Dallas and Houston, we join together to provide background on these historic events, to condemn all forms of discrimination, and to issue a call to action to work with the legal community to eradicate the continuing scourge of racism and other forms of discrimination. ...

The law has many times been the answer to reversing this continued inequality. Historically, through advocacy and court decisions, lawyers and judges tore down the barriers of overt discrimination and made the United States a more just and equal society. But there is still much more that the legal profession can and must do. There is still an underrepresentation of African Americans in the legal profession, in law schools, in big law firms, in the judiciary and in government. For the state of Texas, this underrepresentation in the profession is even more dire given the increased percentage of minorities as a component of the overall Texas population. We need a legal profession that is more reflective of the population. ...

The pursuit of a high U.S. News ranking that is satisfactory to alumni, prospective students and legal employers has led many law schools to funnel the vast majority of their financial aid to merit scholarships, reducing the benefit to students with the greatest need. These law school rankings need to begin considering diversity and socioeconomic factors into their formulas. ...

Our two law schools plan to organize a joint workshop this fall among Texas legal leaders to work on addressing the underrepresentation of African American and other minorities in our legal profession. By working together to increase these numbers, we can ensure that, unlike 170 years ago, the progress of African Americans in the state is not further delayed. We can combat anti-black racism and take an important step to assure that the legal community is truly reflective of the diversity of the inhabitants of our great state.

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