Paul L. Caron

Sunday, November 15, 2020

5 Steps Law School Deans Can Take To Improve Diversity And Inclusion

ABA Journal op-ed:  5 Steps Law School Deans Can Take to Improve Diversity and Inclusion, by Leonard M. Baynes (Dean, Houston):

Baynes (2020)The tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor have highlighted to the world that systemic racism exists. It has caused many law schools, law firms and other legal employers to grapple with how to foster more diversity and inclusion as well as what it means to be antiracist. ...

As law school deans, we have an obligation to do more than to say there is no talent. We have an obligation to treat the racism that members of our community face with the same degree of seriousness as we have the pandemic and the economic downturn.

Faculty and staff have bent over backward to do the right thing—to make the right choices; to do the least harm in preparing for the pandemic and coping with the economic downturn. We need to have the same degree of commitment and attention to the racial threats and ill treatment that diverse members of our community face each day. Leadership starts at the top. As dean, you establish the vision that others will follow.

Here are practical steps that you can follow:

  1. Share your vision of diversity and inclusion, and others will follow without you having to take any specific action. ...
  2. Celebrate racial and ethnic holidays. ...
  3. With pipeline programs, you can create your own diverse pool of talent of students. ...
  4. With visiting professor programs, you can create your own diverse pool of faculty. ...
  5. Faculty and students need to know how to discuss these complex issues of diversity in a comprehensive and complex way.

I would like us to imagine a world in which there is no racism, but that will require effort every day on all our parts. We should create a world in which the ABA standards require each law school to establish its own pipeline programs for students and faculty. Imagine what a difference that would make, so that a law school would have ready access to a talented pool.

We need to treat racial injustice like we care. We need to treat it like it matters. And it is important that our law schools, like all ranks of society, reflect and celebrate the rich diversity of our communities.

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