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Standing Committee on Professionalism

2024 E. Smythe Gambrell Professionalism Award Recipient

Institute for Inclusion in the Legal Profession- Diversity and Inclusion: A Social and Professional Responsibility

Diversity and Inclusion: A Social and Professional Responsibility is a semester-long law school course that is designed to educate students about diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) efforts and challenges within the legal profession and prepare them to be effective and knowledgeable DEI proponents during law school and even before Day 1 of their legal careers.  This course is unique, innovative, and well-suited to continue to encourage DEI efforts and activities in a post-SFFA profession. It is NOT Constitutional Law or Employment Law or Race and the Law. Rather, it focuses on DEI in the legal profession through a lens of social and professional responsibilities.

This course asks students to consider varying degrees of marginalization for some groups and the impact that might have on DEI goals and outcomes. It examines the various types of roles lawyers are playing to advance DEI from diversity professionals and those with DEI lived experiences to law firm and corporate law department leaders to bar association leaders and DEI committees in different kinds of organizations across the nation. It explores the successes and shortcomings in assorted DEI strategies from pipeline programs to allyship efforts to the business case for diversity to social justice campaigns. It considers institutional and systemic barriers to DEI and pragmatic DEI efforts that can empower law students and new lawyers. There is no final exam for this course. Instead, students are asked to develop a project (with a written memorandum explaining it) to advance DEI that, along with a randomly paired partner from the class, they present to the rest of the class and an audience comprised of faculty and administrators from the law school and local lawyers and judges.