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Excerpted From: Artika Tyner and Tisidra Jones, Inspiring and Equipping the Next Generation of Lawyer-Leaders: Center on Race, Leadership, and Social Justice, 17 University of Saint Thomas Law Journal 1079 ( Spring, 2022) (142 Footnotes) (Full Document)

TynerandJonesLawyers are in a prime position to serve as lead problem solvers. Legal education and training provide the vital tools needed to address complex and multifaceted challenges. A combination of writing, oral advocacy and analytical skills, research, critical thinking, and creative problem solving serve as the indispensable tools in a lawyer's toolbox. These skills coupled with leadership training can equip lawyers to advance the pursuit of social justice.

The social justice challenges of the twenty-first century are pervasive in nature and often appear to be insurmountable. The list is endless from eradicating mass incarceration, which has led to the United States being characterized as the Incarceration Capital of the World, to addressing mounting healthcare disparities, which have become more evident with the onset of the global COVID-19 pandemic. However, leaders assume the challenge of “when we see a problem, we create a solution.” This is the teaching mantra of the founder of the Center on Race, Leadership, and Social Justice. It informs the instructional design, programming, and strategies implemented by the Center. The culmination is a focus on training leaders who will aid in building a more just and inclusive world.

The Center on Race, Leadership, and Social Justice (“CRLSJ”) was founded in 2019 with the goal in mind of inspiring and equipping the next generation of lawyer-leaders. Rooted in the University of St. Thomas School of Law's mission, the CRLSJ fosters a robust exchange of ideas and practical strategies for advancing the common good. This starts in the classroom through experiential learning and service-learning. Law students use their legal training to address social justice challenges. In addition, the CRLSJ supports the leadership development of the community through its programming and educational offerings.

Part II of this article explores how to integrate leadership education into the law school curriculum. Part III examines the role of the lawyer-leader. Part IV outlines the current initiatives of the CRLSJ used to address current civil rights and human rights injustices. Part V concludes by summarizing the findings of this article. This article provides legal educators with the necessary tools needed to reimagine legal education by transforming the classroom into a learning laboratory where students develop core leadership strategies in order to take intentional action for justice and equity.

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With an eye toward the future, CRLSJ is training the next generation of lawyer-leaders. These leaders utilize a multifaceted and cross-functional toolbox. These tools include critical thinking, strategic planning, and social justice advocacy. Collectively, these are essential for addressing the persistent and pervasive social justice challenges of our time. Through experiential and service-learning, students develop these tools. They learn how “[ ... ] to use the law to create and foster opportunities for people and communities who lack access to even the most basic means of survival.” This is the process of operationalizing the social justice mission of the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

The University of St. Thomas School of Law, as a Catholic law school, is dedicated to integrating faith and reason in the search for truth through a focus on morality and social justice.

Dr. Artika Tyner serves as the founding director of the Center for Race, Leadership and Social Justice and law professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law.

Tisidra Jones is passionate about creating systems that allow for more people to thrive.

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