Southwestern Recognized by State Bar for Excellence in Promoting Diversity in the Legal Profession
Southwestern is the first law school to be selected for this honor
Southwestern has been selected to receive the 2013 State Bar of California Organizational Diversity Award. The State Bar Diversity Awards were established in 2001 by the State Bar Board of Governors to recognize outstanding efforts to promote diversity in the legal profession, in particular, to recognize efforts that ensure the full and equal opportunity of all persons for entry and advancement in California's legal profession. This is the first time a law school has been selected for this honor.
The award honors an organization located in California that has "demonstrated a sustained, long-term commitment to encouraging, increasing and/or retaining diversity in the legal profession." The award will be presented during the State Bar Annual Meeting in San Jose in October.
"The Council on Access and Fairness is pleased to recognize Southwestern Law School as the recipient of the 2013 State Bar of California Diversity Award for organizational excellence in its diversity pipeline efforts," said Audrea J. Golding, Chair of the Council. "Southwestern's efforts to prepare a diverse law student body for entry into the profession serve as a model for law schools who seek to do more than pay lip-service to the importance of diversity."
She further explained, "By offering four J.D. programs, Southwestern has made legal education accessible to students who require alternative schedules and seek a more varied approach to legal education. Their innovative instruction methods and diverse faculty have resulted in women representing more than half the student population and minorities representing over 37 percent of that population. At a time when only 20% of the State Bar of California are minorities, in contrast to the 60% of minorities that make up California's overall population, Southwestern is advancing diversity in ways that our profession should strive to replicate."
Associate Dean Nyree Gray, Dean of Students and Diversity Affairs at Southwestern, said, "This recognition by the State Bar is a beautiful tribute to the spirit of Southwestern as an institution. We have always been at the forefront of diversity in the legal profession. Our collective commitment to celebrate our unique contributions has been a tremendous strength of the legal education we provide. Accomplishments such as this are only made possible through the collaboration and hard work of faculty, staff, students and alumni."
The State Bar's award follows Southwestern’s recognition for diversity last year as one of only two law schools to be included in the first Higher Education Excellence in Diversity (HEED) awards by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine. Southwestern was also listed among the top 15 most diverse law schools in the nation by National Jurist. One of the first law schools in the U.S. to encourage the enrollment of women and minorities, Southwestern continues to have one of the largest contingents of African American and Hispanic law students in the country.
"We're honored by the State Bar's recognition of our long-standing commitment to inclusion and diversity," said Dean Austen Parrish upon learning of the award. "Diversity in all forms is an essential part of the school. Since its founding, the school has valued the need to promote a diverse and inclusive academic environment. The award speaks, however, not just to our historic commitment, but also to the continuing efforts of our Diversity Affairs Office and to the many others on our campus who understand that inclusion and access is critical to meeting the needs of today's legal profession."