Diversity and Inclusion in Law School and Higher Education

Title

Creating Wise Classrooms to Empower Diverse Law Students: Lessons in Pedagogy from Transformative Law Professors

Document Type

Law Review Article

Publication Date

1-2015

Keywords

law school diversity, stereotype theat, humanizing legal education, formative assessment, first-generation college students

Abstract

Many of today’s law students experience a triple-threat. They suffer from the solo status that accompanies being a member of an underrepresented group, the stereotype threat that accompanies being a member of a stereotyped group, and the challenges that attend lacking a background in the law before beginning law school. But today’s law schools often fail to create safe environments; teach foundational content and skills; or take basic steps towards providing instruction that ensures students from all backgrounds are empowered to thrive. While much has been written about improving legal education and about the failure of current pedagogies to provide a sound education to students experiencing this triple-threat, little has been written about approaches that ensure that these students succeed. This article is an attempt to identify an initial pathway forward. It builds off of research regarding legal pedagogy, inclusive pedagogy, and the results of eleven in-depth-interviews with “transformative professors” who were identified by UC Berkeley law students as being skilled at ensuring that students from all backgrounds feel safe and can succeed academically. This rich data can inform professors and institutions across the state and country in their efforts to provide a legal education that, instead of simply privileging the most privileged, provides a transformative education to all.

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