The Maurer School of Law has launched a wide range of efforts to improve the diversity of our entering classes and create meaningful experiences for them, both in the JD and graduate degree programs. Diversity and inclusion is core to the law school’s mission and values for faculty staff. Efforts include:
- The appointment of Kendra Abercrombie to a position focused on diversity recruiting, to provide special attention to recruiting students from underrepresented groups, including first-generation law students and students from underrepresented groups;
- Scholarship programs and other partnerships with a wide range of undergraduate schools and women’s colleges, including some of the most diverse institutions in the United States, as well as partnerships with institutions and law schools from around the world;
- Partnerships with iCLEO, which helps prepare underrepresented students for law school and SWEL, which offers summer work opportunities;
- Increased outreach to historically Black colleges and universities, including visits to pre-law programs at Morehouse and Spelman Colleges and Central State, Dillard, and Fisk Universities;
- Annual Diverse Student and Women in Law Days for high school and college students;
- Scholarship programs offered by the Law School in collaboration with Indiana University’s Office of the Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Multicultural Affairs, the Hudson & Holland Scholars, the 21st Century Scholars, and IU Groups;
- Scholarship programs with the US Army and the Asian Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund;
- The creation of a standing faculty committee focused on issues of diversity and inclusion.
- The establishment of a faculty diversity hiring plan that has successfully increased the hiring of highly credentialed tenure-track associate professors from underrepresented backgrounds; and
- The election of diverse new members to the school’s Law Alumni Board and Board of Visitors, as well as the creation of a Young Alumni Steering Committee and a Dean’s Global Advisory Board.
Indiana Law’s educational mission centers on equipping students with tools to make a difference and to advance a better, anti-racist, and more just future. Making a difference includes getting the very most out of coursework, being ethical leaders, and becoming involved in the community through pro bono and volunteer work. These activities are at the foundation of what it means to be a lawyer. Our nation needs ethical lawyers who are willing to tackle systemic racism and the biggest challenges we face, and new lawyers have often been at the forefront of important social change.
The Law School has designed several courses and programs to help students make a difference as they develop their professional lives. These include:
- The addition of a diversity and inclusion fellow in the Leonard D. Fromm Office for Student Affairs, and an increase in programming sponsored by the office;
- Offering each year a range of upper-division courses with significant content addressing issues of systemic racism or racial injustice;
- Summer internship programs for diverse students sponsored by a large number of law firms and organizations, including the establishment of the Julian Bond Law Scholars Program;
- Numerous speakers and conferences sponsored each year by the Law School, its students groups, and the university on issues of anti-racism, and on issues of justice and equality;
- Financial support for students who participate in trial and moot court competitions, including students participating in competitions dedicated to issues of equality (e.g., the Williams Institute competition at UCLA);
- Financial support for students who attend the Cook County Bar Association’s minority job fair, the Lavender Law job fair in Chicago, and several National Bar Association and ABA-sponsored programs;
- An annual minority alumni reception and orientation programs hosted by Prof. Brown, and a variety of other events hosted by faculty and alumni.
This year, in addition to these offerings, a school-wide book club is being co-hosted by the Jerome Hall Law Library and the Leonard D. Fromm Office for Student Affairs. Students and faculty will read and discuss The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, by Michelle Alexander.
The law school has also spearheaded a 12-week series with the other Big 10 law schools titled “Perspectives on Race, Law, and Equality.” This series features lectures from distinguished experts on a variety of topics in this field. In addition, we are working on a program related to police accountability with a number of other law schools and the American Bar Association and making available increased externship opportunities for students interested in working on cases relating to race and policing (e.g., an opportunity with the ACLU of Louisiana’s national project on policing).
The Law School is proud of its diverse alumni and has a long tradition of honoring and celebrating alumni achievements. Some recent examples designed to ensure that our current students are aware of the compelling stories of women, underrepresented minorities, and other individuals who have left a lasting impact on the law school include:
- The installation of banners that adorn the light stanchions outside Baier Hall highlighting trailblazing alumni;
- The honoring of Hon. Juanita Kidd Stout, the first Black woman to serve on a state supreme court, with a named professorship and a historical marker;
- The school’s signature social event, the Rapheal M. Prevot, Jr. Barristers’ Ball, honors a prominent late alumnus and raises funds for BLSA. The school’s BLSA chapter is consistently ranked among the top five in the country;
- The sponsoring by student organizations of a number of events to celebrate the community’s diversity, such as the Gong Show, Latin Night, Bollywood Night, the Lunar New Year, Movie Night, MLK Day celebrations, and gender marker training;
- The creation of a new annual award to a continuing law student, presented during new student orientation, recognizing the contributions and leadership to our inclusive and supportive community;
- The naming of the school’s moot court room after Kathleen and Ann DeLaney, two distinguished alumnae who have actively supported the inclusion of more women in trial and appellate work;
- The installation in the DeLaney Moot Court Room of portraits of four alumnae who comprise the first women to serve as trial and appellate court judges and chief justice in Indiana and the first Black woman to serve on a state supreme court in the United States.
- We honored a different distinguished Black alumnus on social media channels and spotlighted current Black Law Student Association members. As part of the university’s Bicentennial, incoming students interviewed distinguished alumnae, alumni from affinity boards, and alumni with global practices, and prepared a report on their accomplishments.
Students appreciate these efforts, even though we know there is much more to be done. In the 2019 Law School Survey of Student Engagement, our students reported that we emphasize inclusion at the law school more than our peer schools. For example, 67% of our 1L students reported that the Law School encourages students to engage with others from diverse backgrounds, compared to 44% of students at peer schools (and 54% of students when asked in both the 2018 and 2019 surveys). The number of men and women in the class are now roughly equal. We have increased the number of Latinx members of the entering JD class, and have stayed roughly consistent with the number of African-American students in the entering class, even as enrollments in other public Midwest schools have decreased.
Our goal is to continue working on the depth and breadth of these initiatives, so that our students feel energized and prepared to work for social and racial justice throughout their careers— and all members of our community feel that the school is a welcoming and inclusive environment.