The American Association of Law Schools (AALS) Creates Section for Law School Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Professionals

July 27, 2022

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The Section on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging Professionals promotes the communication of ideas, interests, and activities among members of the Section; with a primary focus on race, equity, and commitment to the inclusion of all historically excluded law school populations. When appropriate, the Section will also make recommendations to the Association on matters concerning race, equity, and inclusion.

“Nationally, there has been a growth in the number of law school faculty and administrators focused on diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging over the last few years,” said Jim Greif, AALS Director of Communications. “AALS is appreciative of the section’s founders for creating this new space for law school professionals to connect, share ideas, and develop resources. These efforts and support will help improve the experiences of law students across the country.”

Chair, Carmia N. Caesar, the George Washington University Law School, Secretary, Laura Shepherd, William & Mary Law School, Executive Committee: Patricia K. Kinney, Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law, Monica E. Monroe, Harvard Law School, Michael J. States, University of Wisconsin Law School, Ms. Tirien Steinbach, Stanford Law School, Lisa Sonia Taylor, American University, Washington College of Law 

“It is exciting to be the first chair of the section, and to take part in building a section for the benefit of the inclusion of individuals and perspectives that have been excluded historically from not only legal institutions, but also legal discourse and pedagogy,” said Dean Caesar. 

Dean Carmia Caesar shares more about this new section in a Q and A: 

1. Why did you want to create this new section?

AALS was a critical resource for me when I worked in experiential learning. Like most of my counterparts at other institutions, I was a department of one. It was through the AALS Externship  community that I learned about best practices, built connections, workshopped ideas, and ultimately served as a resource for individuals who were new to the discipline. I also jumped in feet first into AALS as a co-director of the Clinicians of Color sub-committee of the Clinical Section of the organization. 

So one of the first things I did when I came to GW in my current role was to reach out to look for existing resources for law school diversity professionals. I was very surprised to learn that there was no such a section within AALS. The obvious solution was to propose one to the organization.

2. What do you hope the section accomplishes?

Front of mind for everyone in this field is the effective implementation of the new ABA Standard 303 which requires that law schools provide training and education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism. GW has been focused on Professional Identity Formation for years, but for many schools this is unchartered territory. The section has the capacity to be a resource that identifies best practices and produces scholarship.  Having trusted colleagues across institutions is incredibly valuable.

3. What kinds of programming do you intend to schedule at your first annual meeting in 2023?

Stay tuned, I’m working on that now!

4. What kinds of programming will you conduct this year? How can folks who wish to do so, get involved or attend?

Folks should join the section, and plan to attend the section meeting in San Diego, CA, in January. I am working with leaders at other schools to construct the inaugural convening.