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. 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: 

  • 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.
  • The Beyond the Casebook Series, faculty led lunchtime discussions around timely, relevant issues outside of the classroom setting. This year's discussions center on the theme of “lawyers and the challenges of inclusive democracy.”
  • Professional development programs and mentorship opportunities with Social Justice Initiatives, the Office of Career Services, and the Office of Judicial Clerkships.
  • The Academic Scholars Program, which identifies and provides academic and financial support for J.D. candidates who want to pursue a career in legal academia.
  • Faculty guidance and support from the Committee on Teaching on best practices for inclusive teaching, as well as for innovating and collaborating on ways to address race and inequality through course materials and coverage.
  •  Frequent events—from weekly panels to annual conferences—sponsored by student affinity groups and journals.
  • 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.
  • The Anti-Racism Grantmaking Program.
  • Lawyers, Community, and Impact Series, with Columbia Law experts, community advocates, and practicing lawyers to discuss the most pressing issues of our time, such as criminal justice reform.
  • The Paralegal Pathways Initiative, which seeks to amplify the talents of formerly incarcerated individuals by providing skills-based legal training and professional mentorship, advance racial equity in the legal field, build knowledge of the impacts of the criminal legal system among current and future legal professionals, and expose the legal profession to an untapped wealth of legal experience and talent.
  • The Loan Repayment Assistance Program for J.D. students interested in becoming public interest lawyers. It is among the most generous in the country to ensure that law school debt does not prevent graduates from entering the public interest sector.
  • The Artist-in-Residence Program to highlight the vibrancy and diversity of the Law School community and broaden representation among artists, media, and subject matter within the art collection.
  • Academic advising resources, panels, and lunches to help all students acclimate to and navigate the Law School.
  • The development of new pro bono projects and experiential learning opportunities in Harlem, such as the Neighborhood Defender Service of Harlem Community Defense Externship.
  • Regular 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.

For alumni: 

  • Opportunities for networking and connection, including the Alumni of Color initiative.

Our Commitment to Anti-Racism

In May 2021, Dean Lester announced the convening of the Anti-Racism Coordinating Committee for the 2021­-2022 academic year. This Committee will track and support the work the Law School began in the summer of 2020 through the Anti-Racism Steering Committee agenda, as well as help to establish new initiatives. The Anti-Racism Coordinating Committee is part of Columbia Law's ongoing commitment to engage in the hard work of self-examination—our past, our values, our responsibilities—and charting a course for a future built on a strong and indefatigable commitment to combating structural racism. 

On November 10, 2021, the ARCC hosted a forum to update the Law School community about its work during the Fall 2021 semester. A recording of that forum is available here.



  • Robert Ford, Executive Director of Student Services, Community Engagement, and Equity
  • 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
  • Julianna Simms, Class of 2023
  • Dante Violette, Class of 2022
  • Matthew Ybarra, Class of 2023

Anti-Racism Coordinating Committee Goals and Plans


Increasing recruitment and hiring of faculty from underrepresented minority groups


Promoting inclusive pedagogy and enhancing the cultural competency of classroom instructors


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


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


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


Expanding professional pathways for students from underrepresented minority groups


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


Supporting ongoing anti-racist initiatives at the Law School


Supporting future anti-racist initiatives at the Law School

For more information

Read the Committee's Agenda

Download here

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Events & Programs

Student Affinity Groups at Columbia Law

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.

Related Student Organizations

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]

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] 

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]