Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Tiffany Atkins (Elon), #Fortheculture: Generation Z and the Future of Legal Education, 26 Mich. J. Race & L. ___ (2021):
Generation Z, with a birth year between 1995 and 2010, is the most diverse generational cohort in U.S. history and is the largest segment of our population. Gen Zers hold progressive views on social issues and expect diversity and minority representation where they live, work, and learn. American law schools, however, are not known for their diversity, or for being inclusive environments representative of the world around us. This culture of exclusion has led to an unequal legal profession and academy, where less than 10 percent of the population is non-white. As Gen Zers bring their demands for inclusion, and for a legal education that will prepare them to tackle social justice issues head on, they will encounter an entirely different culture—one that is completely at odds with their expectations. This paper adds depth and perspective to the existing literature on Generation Z in legal education by focusing on their social needs and expectations, recognizing them as critical drivers of legal education and reform. To provide Gen Z students with a legal education that will enable them to make a difference for others—a need deeply connected to their motivators and beliefs—law school culture must shift. Reimagining, reconstituting, and reconfiguring legal education to create a culture of inclusion and activism will be essential and necessary.
Engaging in this work “for the culture” means getting serious about diversifying our profession by abandoning exclusionary hiring metrics, embedding social justice throughout the law school curriculum, and adopting institutional accountability measures to ensure that these goals are met. Gen Zers are accustomed to opposing institutions that are rooted in inequality; law schools can neither afford, nor ignore the opposition any longer. We must begin reimagining legal education now—and do it, for the culture.