A Diverse Community
At Columbia Law, we cultivate and value a talented community that is broadly and multidimensionally representative. More than that, our students come from countries around the world, speak hundreds of languages, and have earned degrees in every subject, from comparative literature to particle physics. And they have educational backgrounds as diverse as they are, whether they have lawyers in their families or are the first in their family to attend college.
Support and Engagement
Events and programs addressing issues at the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion are a fixture of the Columbia Law experience, beginning before new student orientation and continuing well after graduation.
For incoming students:
- Connecting Columbia Law, our pre-orientation event focused on welcoming and empowering incoming 1Ls who are from communities that have been historically underrepresented in law schools
- Student workshops and trainings focusing on the Law School's commitment to equity and sharing tools for cultivating inclusion and resiliency (for example, our Creating an Inclusive Community workshop during 1L Orientation, Campus Conversations, and the Community Citizenship Initiative for all new students)
- Beginning in Fall 2021, the Law School will create and award five new need-based awards, the Columbia Law Diversity and Opportunity Scholarships, for incoming J.D. and LL.M. students who are socioeconomically disadvantaged, who have experience living or working in diverse environments, and/or who have demonstrated experience in or commitment to working with historically underserved or underprivileged populations.
For current students:
Monthly lunch meetings between affinity group leaders and directors from Student Services and Social Justice Initiatives in which administrators hear directly from student leaders; share resources and updates; and give leaders another opportunity to discuss their plans, concerns, and efforts with each other
- Frequent events—from weekly panels to annual conferences—sponsored by student affinity groups and journals
- Social Justice Initiatives' weekly lunchtime discussion series, SJI Mondays, featuring speakers and discussion topics on a range of pressing issues, including social activism, civil and human rights, racial justice, law and the arts, and mass incarceration.
- Academic support panels and lunches to help all students acclimate to Law School and navigate their 1L year
- Professional development programs and mentorship opportunities with Social Justice Initiatives and the Office of Career Services.
- The Fellowship in Support of Careers in Racial and Social Justice, provides a $25,000 grant in the fall of the 3L year to J.D. students who intend to pursue racial justice legal work after graduation and/or students of color who intend to pursue other social justice legal work after graduation.
- Opportunities for networking and connection, including the Alumni of Color initiative
Our Commitment to Anti-Racism
During the summer of 2020, Dean Lester announced the creation of an Anti-Racism Steering Committee composed of faculty, students, and senior administrators to evaluate, coordinate, and strengthen anti-racism efforts across the Law School. The creation of this Committee is part of Columbia Law's ongoing commitment to engaging in the hard work of self-examination—our past, our values, or responsibilities—and charting a course for a future built on a strong and indefatigable commitment to combating structural racism. Read the Committee's agenda and see below for its composition and areas of focus.
Learn more about the Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program.
David Pozen, Vice Dean for Intellectual Life and Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law
Richard Briffault, Joseph P. Chamberlain Professor of Legislation
Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law
Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law (ex officio)
Lynnise E. Pantin, Clinical Professor of Law
Colleen F. Shanahan, Clinical Professor of Law
Yadira Ramos-Herbert, Associate Dean for Student and Registration Services
Erica Smock, Assistant Dean and Dean for Social Justice Initiatives and Public Service Lawyering
Anu Chugh, Class of 2022
Dante Violette, Class of 2022
As part of its ongoing efforts to advance racial justice in the Columbia community and beyond, the Law School invites applications from second-year J.D. students for the inaugural Racial and Social Justice Fellowships for the 2021-2022 academic year. The Fellowships are offered in recognition of the unique role that lawyers can play in addressing structural racism and social inequality, and of the desire of many Columbia students to use their law degrees in furtherance of this work. The goal of this new Fellowship is to provide financial assistance during the third year of law school to facilitate students’ pursuit of careers in racial justice as well as to enhance opportunities for students of color in public interest careers.
Read more about the Racial and Social Justice Fellowship Program and contact Erica Smock, Dean for Social Justice Initiatives & Public Service Lawyering and member of the Anti-Racism Steering Committee with any questions. *Applications for the 2021-2022 academic year are now closed. Recipients have been announced.
2021 Racial and Social Justice Fellowships Selection Committee
Yaa A. Dwamena, Assistant Director of Financial Aid
Jamal Greene, Dwight Professor of Law
Conrad Johnson, Clinical Professor of Law
Kiran Singh, Senior Career Adviser, Social Justice Initiatives
Erica Smock, Assistant Dean and Dean for Social Justice Initiatives & Public Service Lawyering
Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law
Mary M. Zulack, Clinical Professor Emerita of Law