The Ugly Truth about Legal Academia

72 Pages Posted: 15 Nov 2014 Last revised: 13 Aug 2015

See all articles by Meera E. Deo

Meera E. Deo

Thomas Jefferson School of Law; Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE)

Abstract

The Diversity in Legal Academia (DLA) project is the first formal, comprehensive, mixed-method empirical examination of the law faculty experience, utilizing an intersectional lens to investigate the personal and professional lives of legal academics. This Article reports on the first set of findings from that study, which I personally designed and implemented. DLA data reveal that ongoing privilege and institutional discrimination based on racism and sexism create distinct challenges for particular law faculty. Interactions between women of color law faculty and both their faculty colleagues and their students indicate persisting racial and gender privilege, resulting in ongoing bias. These findings cry out for law schools to intensify efforts at strengthening rather than de-emphasizing diversity, as many may be tempted to do during this period of great turmoil in legal education. In fact, law schools should provide greater institutional support to faculty, which will help not only those who are underrepresented, marginalized, and vulnerable, but all law faculty, law students, and the legal profession overall. This Article draws from both quantitative and qualitative data gathered from this national sample of law faculty to focus on the ways in which race, gender, and the combination of the two affect law faculty interactions with colleagues and students. It also proposes individual strategies and structural solutions that can be utilized in order for legal academia to live up to its full potential.

Keywords: legal education, legal profession, Law & Society, women in law, intersectionality, empirical methods in Critical Race Theory (eCRT)

Suggested Citation

Deo, Meera E., The Ugly Truth about Legal Academia. 80 Brooklyn Law Review 943 (2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2524097

Meera E. Deo (Contact Author)

Thomas Jefferson School of Law ( email )

701 B Street
Suite 110
San Diego, CA 92101
United States
619-961-4227 (Phone)

Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE) ( email )

1900 E. Tenth Street Eigenmann Hall
Suite 419
Bloomington, IN 47406-7512
United States

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