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.
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 has created Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program (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.
*Applications for the 2020-21 academic year are now closed. Recipients have been announced.
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.
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.
2021 Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program (ARGP) Selection Committee
Rosemary Dodemaide, Financial Analyst, Columbia Law School
Robert Ford, Director of Student Services, Columbia Law School
Peter Harvey, Partner, Patterson Belknap
Andrea McChristian, Law & Policy Director, New Jersey Institute for Social Justice (NJISJ)
Nadine F. Mompremier, Assistant Director of Pro Bono and Summer Programs, Columbia Law School
Lynnise E. Pantin, Clinical Professor of Law, Founding Director of the Entrepreneurship and Community Development Clinic, Columbia Law School
Dennis D. Parker, Executive Director, National Center for Law and Economic Justice (NCLEJ)
David Pozen, Chair of the Columbia Law School Anti-Racist Steering Committee, Vice Dean for Intellectual Life, Charles Keller Beekman Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
Erica Smock, Assistant Dean and Dean for Social Justice Initiatives & Public Service Lawyering, Columbia Law School
Liliana Zaragoza, Assistant Counsel, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF).
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 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