Diversity and Inclusion in Law School and Higher Education

Amplifying Diverse Voices: Strategies for Promoting Inclusion in the Law School Classroom

Tiffany D. Atkins, Wake Forest University School of Law


The lack of diversity among lawyers is well documented. An American Bar Association survey in 2017 revealed that 85% of American lawyers are white, and 65% are male; only 5% are African-American. Among law professors, the numbers are no better. A 2009 survey conducted by the Association of American Law Schools (AALS), the last such report produced by the organization, estimated that nearly 75% of all law professors in the United States were white, and approximately 62% of them were male. Women of color accounted for only 7% of this population.

This article focuses on one strategy that law schools (especially those that lack diversity in their administration and faculty) can implement to elevate diverse voices and thus provide a more inclusive environment for students of color and minority students: the strategy of amplification

The term amplification was made popular by Washington Post writer Juliet Eilperin in a September 2016 article describing how women in the Obama administration struggled to gain a voice among their male counterparts. According to Eilperin, women staffers reported being overshadowed by male aides who often spoke over them in meetings, took credit for their ideas, or ignored them completely. To combat this, the women adopted a “strategy of amplification.” Whenever one woman made a suggestion or offered an idea, another woman amplified it, repeating the idea to the room and giving credit to the woman who had voiced it.