Students socialize in the Wien courtyard and eat ice cream.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Columbia Law School’s inclusive and engaging community encourages students to learn from viewpoints and experiences different from their own in a supportive and welcoming environment. 

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.

For alumni: 

  • 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. 

Chair: 

  • David Pozen, Vice Dean for Intellectual Life and Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law

Faculty:

Senior Administrators:

  • Yadira Ramos-Herbert, Associate Dean for Student and Registration Services

  • Erica Smock, Assistant Dean and Dean for Social Justice Initiatives and Public Service Lawyering

Students: 

  • 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 has created Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program (ARGP) and invites applications for the 2020-21 academic year. 

The Law School’s Anti-Racism Steering Committee, which Dean Lester created in the summer of 2020, is establishing the ARGP in recognition of the continuing need to combat structural racism in our society and of the unique role that law and legal institutions can play in accelerating this change. The goal of the ARGP is to provide both financial and non-financial assistance to members of the Law School community for projects that will help dismantle racially subordinating policies, structures, or systems or otherwise help promote racial equity and inclusion.

Terms of the grants. Up to five grants will be awarded for the 2020-21 academic year. Total project budgets may range in size from a few thousand dollars up to $15,000. Grantees may use their awards to pay for student stipends, project expenses, or both. Grantees will also be given opportunities to engage with the Law School community about their work and its impact.

  • Eligibility. Grants are available to support projects conducted by current Columbia Law School students, faculty, and staff. Applications may be submitted by individuals, groups of individuals, or CLS organizations. Strong preference will be given to applications that include student participation and provide mentorship to, or capacity-building opportunities for, students.

  • Proposal requirements. Applicants must demonstrate a commitment to combating racial injustice and present a proposal that clearly states the goal(s), projected milestones, intended deliverable(s), and budget for the project. Applicants must also demonstrate that grants will support new racial justice work, although this work may be developed as part of a preexisting program. Absent good cause, grants may not be used for general operating expenses for pre-existing programs.

  • Student stipends. Applicants may apply for funding to cover stipends for students, in addition to other costs of implementing their projects. Stipends may be up to $3,000 per student and total stipend payments may not exceed $9,000 within a single project. (Project expenses will be funded separately.) A student may not receive both course credit or research assistant credit and stipend support simultaneously for the same project work.

  • Support. In addition to (a) student stipends and (b) reasonable expenses and costs, other available ARGP support includes: (c) opportunities to be connected to scholars, advocates, administrators, or racial justice experts to help advise on the project; (d) periodic check-ins for guidance and assistance from the grant administrator; (e) community building opportunities with other grantees; and (f) opportunities to educate the Columbia community about the project.

For this pilot year of the ARGP, applications will be due by March 1, 2021. Successful applications will be announced by the end of March 2021 and will be funded for 4- to 12-month terms. Grantees will be required to submit a progress report at the midpoint of their grant and a final report at the conclusion of the project. 

Application process and selection. An informational session was held over Zoom on December 1, 2020 to provide more information about the application process and grant terms. A recording of this informational session is available here.

Download the 2020-2021 Program Application

A committee consisting of Law School faculty, administrators, and others will select the ARGP grantees. Selection committee members are not eligible to apply and must recuse themselves in cases involving projects with which they are personally associated. Successful applicants should be prepared to start their projects upon announcement of awards in March 2021; funds will be disbursed no later than four weeks following the announcement.

For questions, please contact the Anti-Racism Steering Committee at [email protected].

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 Fall 2021 awards are due on February 15, 2021. 

Download the 2021-2022 Program Application

Anti Racism Steering Committee Goals and Plans

1.

Increasing recruitment and hiring of faculty from underrepresented minority groups

2.

Promoting inclusive pedagogy and enhancing the cultural competency of classroom instructors

3.

Enhancing attention to issues of racial justice and related topics in the classroom and curriculum

4.

Ensuring appropriate anti-bias training and oversight of on-campus security

5.

Promoting racial justice work in Harlem and strengthening the Law School’s relationships with the Harlem community and surrounding neighborhoods

6.

Expanding professional pathways for students from underrepresented minority groups

7.

Enhancing financial support for students pursuing racial justice work and for students of color pursuing social justice work

8.

Supporting ongoing anti-racist initiatives at the Law School

9.

Supporting future anti-racist initiatives at the Law School

For more information

Read the Committee's Agenda

Download here

Acanthus architectural motifs inside Low Library

Columbia's Commitment to Diversity

 Columbia University values educational diversity has established a variety of initiatives designed to recruit and support a community of students, faculty, and staff that is diverse in every way.

Learn More
Ionic columns and trees in front of Butler Library

Columbia Diversity Offices and Initiatives

Columbia’s commitment to diversity is supported by a variety of offices and initiatives across the University.

Learn More
Alma Mater looking to the right

Inclusion and Belonging at Columbia

Columbia's Office of University Life is a hub for campus-wide programming, initiatives, and resources to promote inclusion and belonging.

Learn More

Events & Programs

Student Affinity Groups at Columbia Law

Asian Pacific American Law Student Association (APALSA)

Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) facilitates academic and professional development and hosts numerous social events throughout the school year. Members build incredibly strong friendships that carry us through law school and last well beyond graduation. It also works with APALSA chapters at other New York area law schools to build a network within our wider community.

Contact: [email protected]

Black Law Students Association (BLSA)

Black Law Students Association (BLSA) is an inclusive organization where students can learn and develop the tools necessary to achieve academic and professional success. It provides academic support, alumni resources, and career opportunities to its membership, and raises awareness within the Law School community about issues that disproportionately impact poor and minority communities. BLSA is a chapter of the National Black Law Students Association, the largest law student-run organization in the United States.

Contact: [email protected]

California Society

The California Society of Columbia Law School (CalSoc) is dedicated to representing and developing the ties of the many Law School students and alumni with an interest in California. With more than 300 members and more than a dozen events a year, it is committed to developing a social, intellectual, and professional environment for students and alumni through events, extensive job resources, panels, speakers, and mentoring programs.

Contact: [email protected]

Columbia Law Couples and Families Association (CL-CFA)

At Columbia Law School, we recognize that many students come here in a committed relationship, a partnership, a marriage, with children, or with hopes of starting a family during law school. The Columbia Law Couples & Families Association (CL-CFA) welcomes student families and significant-others into the CLS community by encouraging and hosting events open to families and plus-ones. We also seek to help students and their significant-others make lifelong friends, and take advantage of the many family-friendly activities that NYC has to offer. Lastly, CL-CFA serves as an advocate and resource on behalf of all students who are balancing the rigors of law school with significant family obligations.

Contact: [email protected]

Columbia Law Feminist Society (CLFS)

The Columbia Law Feminist Society (CLFS) aims to promote feminist voices on campus and inspire Columbia Law School students to incorporate feminist viewpoints into their approach to the study of law and the legal profession, through social justice activities and engagement with contemporary issues.

Contact: [email protected]

First Generation Professionals (FGP)

Columbia Law First Generation Professionals (FGP) is an inclusive community that works to provide support to working-class, low-income, and first-generation college or graduate students at Columbia Law School. The FGP community is a conscientious network organized around principles of economic justice rather than identity. We seek to welcome and empower students from all walks of life who are at CLS chasing their own dreams, and who often represent the hopes and dreams of their families. FGP is open to anyone who wants to cultivate a community based on the common values of class-consciousness and mobility for all, regardless of whether they fit perfectly into any “first generation” category.

Contact: [email protected]

Columbia Law Students for Disability Rights (CLSDR)

Columbia Law Students for Disability Rights is an inclusive organization where students with disabilities and allies can receive academic and personal mentorship while advocating for positive change. It provides support to students and faculty and encourages a more inclusive environment by raising Columbia’s awareness about issues that disproportionately impact people with disabilities. Our members include those interested in disability law as well as those with a general interest in advocacy work. Members leave with friendships and a support system that continues after graduation.

Contact: [email protected]

Columbia Law School Women’s Association (CLWA)

CLWA is the law school’s leading organization for the equality and empowerment of all women in law. CLWA actively works to foster an inclusive community for all women at Columbia Law School (CLS) and to advance the position of women in CLS, the legal profession, and society at large. CLWA provides academic and career resources to both its members and the larger law school community starting with its expansive alumnae base and strong mentorship program.

Contact: [email protected]

Columbia Texas Society (TexSoc)

Howdy! The Texas Society (TexSoc) is committed to building a vibrant and close-knit community of students from the great state of Texas and of those who are interested in pursuing a career in Texas. The booming Texas legal market offers unparalleled professional opportunities paired with a strong respect for work-life balance, low cost of living, and pioneering and proud culture. Join TexSoc for Texas-themed social events, firsthand information on Texas law offices and practice areas, intimate networking opportunities with Texas’s leading legal employers, and to become a member of our energetic and growing community!

Contact:  [email protected]

District of Columbia Law Students

District of Columbia Law Students is an organization for all law students interested in the practice of law in the nation’s capital–whether they are from the DC region, plan on returning, or are otherwise interested. We serve as a resource for all students who are seeking to work or volunteer in the area, or to meet other Columbia Law students interested in the region. The group also sponsors social events both in DC and on campus during the school year and over the summer.

Contact: [email protected]

Empowering Women of Color

Empowering Women of Color (EWOC) exists to champion diverse women at Columbia Law School in light of the unique challenges they face in the legal profession. The group provides a safe space for collaboration and dialogue about issues relevant to women of color, supports members in their development as full participants in academic, professional, and personal communities, and strives to ensure that the greater Columbia Law School community is an environment where all members feel valued, respected, and empowered.

Contact: [email protected]

Law in Africa Students Society (LASS)

The Law in Africa Student Society is a dynamic and diverse community of students, alumni, and faculty that seeks to educate, encourage, and inspire interests in African jurisprudence, society, and institutions. Our goal is to provide avenues for discussion and a robust exchange of ideas on issues concerning Africa and how they inter-relate with the United States and the rest of the world.

Contact: [email protected]

Latinx Law Students Association (LaLSA)

The Latinx Law Students Association (LaLSA) sponsors academic, professional, social, and community service activities to promote understanding of the Latino community, and serves as a liaison between its members and the administration, alumni, and other professionals in the legal field. The association also works to increase the number of Latinx students and faculty at Columbia Law School and to ensure that students receive the necessary support to achieve academic and professional success.

Contact: [email protected] 

Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA)

Middle Eastern Law Students Association (MELSA) is an affinity group for students of Middle Eastern descent and all students who have an interest in Middle Eastern cultures, languages, and issues. It seeks to raise awareness and promote dialogue on a range of topics, including human rights, democratic transitions, gender issues, and the conflicts in the region. MELSA encourages students from all backgrounds and with all viewpoints to join.

Contact: [email protected]

Midwest Society

The Midwest Society of Columbia Law School is committed to creating a cozy community of unabashed lovers of the Midwest. United by friendliness, we are dedicated to fostering the social, intellectual, and professional development of the many Columbia Law School students and alumni with an interest in the Midwest.

Contact: [email protected]

Native American Law Students Association (NALSA)

The Native American Law Students Association (NALSA) fosters academic support for Native American students and others interested in American Indian legal issues and provides a social and academic network for students interested in indigenous legal and cultural issues by increasing awareness of viewpoints, cultures, and governments across the world.

Contact: [email protected]

New England Law Students Association (NELSA)

The New England Law Students Association is an organization for students who hail from New England, plan to practice there after law school, or are otherwise interested in the region’s unique legal community. We sponsor a variety of professional and social events. Membership is open to everyone in the Columbia Law School community, regardless of your home state or Major League Baseball team allegiance.

Contact: [email protected]

Muslim Law Students Association (MLSA)

The Muslim Law Students Association connects Muslim students and allies, advocates for the particular needs of our community at the Law School, and provides relevant programming on justice-related issues affecting Muslims locally, nationally, and globally. We are a diverse group of law students from all walks of life and with varied professional interests. We hope to connect with you throughout your time at CLS and help make your law school experience one of mutual support, growth, and enjoyment.  

Contact: [email protected]

NHK: Japanese Legal Studies Association

Nihon Houritsu Kenkyuukai, or the Japanese Legal Studies Association, serves the legal community by organizing social, cultural, and educational events related to Japan, as well as providing information on the many opportunities available at Columbia and in New York for people with Japanese interests. In addition, it strives to facilitate interaction between Japanese members of the Law School community and those interested in Japan or Japanese law.

Contact: [email protected]

South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA)

The South Asian Law Students Association (SALSA) promotes discussion and awareness of issues affecting South Asians, particularly with respect to the law. We also strive to create a sense of community among students of South Asian heritage as well as those interested in South Asia by organizing numerous social, cultural, educational, and professional events throughout the year.

Contact: [email protected]

Society for Chinese Law (SCL)

The Society for Chinese Law is for students interested in any and all things related to China, law, and politics. Society events provide a great way for students to network and to meet scholars and practitioners in the field of Chinese law. They are also a great way to get to know members and friends who hail from China, the U.S., and beyond, and have a great diversity of experiences working in or with China.

Contact: [email protected]

Society for Korean Legal Studies (SKLS)

The Society for Korean Legal Studies (SKLS) is an organization for those in the community interested in Korea, organizing career, social, and academic events related to Korea and Korean interests. SKLS also aims to promote the study of Korean law and legal institutions.

Contact: [email protected]

Taiwanese Law and Culture Club (TLCC)

Taiwanese Law and Culture Club (TLCC) is a community of students interested in Taiwanese legal and cultural issues. We host panels, social events, and networking opportunities every semester. Students of all backgrounds are welcome to join!

Contact[email protected]

Empowering Women of Color: Strengthening a Growing Intersectional Community

Women of color make up nearly 20 percent of Columbia Law School’s student body. Now in its 10th year, student organization Empowering Women of Color (EWOC) supports this community and helps individuals face challenges through mentorship and professional development opportunities as well as academic and social events. Watch Kori Cooper ’21, Seojin Park ’21, and Lorena Rodriguez ’21 share what the student organization means to them.