Excerpted from: CLEA Committee for Faculty Equity and Inclusion, The Diversity Imperative Revisited: Racial and Gender Inclusion in Clinical Law Faculty, 26 Clinical Law Review 127 (Fall, 2019) (72 Footnotes) (Full Document)
The demographics of clinical law faculties matter. As Professor Jon Dubin persuasively argued nearly twenty years ago in his article Faculty Diversity as a Clinical Legal Education Imperative, clinical faculty of color entering the legal academy in the 1980s and 1990s expanded the communities served by law school clinics and the lawyering methods used to serve clients in significant ways that enriched legal education and the profession. They also broadened clinical scholarship to include deconstructions and reconstructions of clinical teaching, offered crucial role modeling and mentorship to students of color, and helped to elevate cross-cultural communication and multiracial collaboration as core lawyering skills.
Professor Dubin catalogued these contributions while pointing to data that showed that clinical faculties remained overwhelmingly White, and he urged law schools to recognize the urgency of diversifying clinical faculty. While there has been some research and scholarship devoted to the gender composition of clinical faculties, to our knowledge, there has been no substantive reexamination of the importance of racial composition since Professor Dubin's article in 2000, nor any examination of clinical faculty diversity beyond race, ethnicity, and binary gender.
The Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) created the Committee for Faculty Equity and Inclusion to draw attention to the crisis of diversity among clinical faculties, and to urge law schools to take proactive steps to remedy this longstanding failure. This Essay assesses what progress has been made since Professor Dubin's intervention and interrogates historical trends in the racial and gender composition of clinical faculty from 1980 to 2017, using existing data. We had hoped to analyze data on diversity beyond race and binary gender and at the intersection of various identities, but existing data only allow us to draw conclusions about limited racial categories and binary gender representation. And although Professor Dubin focused on race, we include data on gender as a point of comparison for historical trends in another important area of equity and inclusion.
As demonstrated in the tables and discussion below, we found that there has been limited progress on racial and ethnic inclusion in clinical law faculties in the last 20 years. While the total percentage of people of color grew from 10% to 21% in this 30-year time period, the inclusion of Black, Latinx, and Indigenous faculty has been largely stagnant. Black clinical faculty members reached 7% of all clinical faculty in 1999 and have never exceeded that percentage. Latinx clinical faculty representation, at 5%, is the same as it was in 1981. Indigenous faculty have never constituted even 1%. Overall, White faculty continue to hold nearly 8 out of 10 clinical faculty positions.
With regard to gender, whereas women were underrepresented among clinical faculty in the 1980s, women now outnumber men in clinical faculty positions by nearly 2 to 1. Given that women remain underrepresented in law faculties as a whole, this seemingly positive development in the gender composition of clinical instructors nonetheless raises concerns about internal status inequities and the clustering of women faculty members in non-tenured positions with lower salaries and less job protection, including on clinical, legal research and writing (LRW), and library faculties. Therefore, this trend may be a cautionary tale for the inclusion of other underrepresented groups moving forward.
Our findings give us both a degree of understanding of the challenge and a basis for further work in this area. Acknowledging the limitations of existing data, we offer recommendations for future data collection that would recognize more inclusive identities and backgrounds. The data collected and distributed through the Center for the Study of Applied Legal Education (CSALE) is an invaluable resource, and we hope that clinicians will build on CSALE's important work by expanding the information gathered and the methods used for future data collection. We suggest that future research assess job satisfaction and sustainability of faculty positions for people from historically disadvantaged groups to ensure that we are not just providing access to clinical law faculties, but also offering equitable and supportive working environments. New research will be crucial to developing a more meaningful understanding of inequities among clinical faculty, and to assessing equity and inclusion beyond descriptive representation. We then conclude with a discussion of best practices for inclusive clinical faculty hiring and suggestions for future initiatives that may make the profession more accessible.
Looking back on Professor Dubin's arguments, we are disheartened by the lack of subsequent scholarship on clinical faculty diversity, particularly with regard to racial and ethnic representation. We are concerned that it reflects a degree of complacency with structural racism at our own institutions and a failure to recognize the dissonance between the values we promote in our lawyering and our participation in maintaining barriers to the profession. We can only guess as to the causes for this silence, which may be rooted in institutional dynamics, status inequities, and hierarchical hiring processes. It is nonetheless troubling. As clinical law faculty members, we must take responsibility for expanding access to the profession and address the barriers to inclusion in our own field. We hope this Essay will disrupt that complacency and revive Professor Dubin's arguments for a diversity imperative, which are even more resonant in the current moment.
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There are many reasons, most of which were extant at the time of Professor Dubin's article, that the goal of inclusive and equitable faculties remains an imperative for clinical legal education. An inclusive faculty is vital to the teaching and service mission of clinical education, plays a key role in student recruitment, retention, academic achievement and professional development, and enhances the viewpoints that will influence clinic dockets, scholarship, and pedagogy. We have identified a need for more data to better understand the present demographics and experiences of diverse clinical faculty, building off the strong foundation of data collection that CSALE has built, and a need for explicit recruitment initiatives and more intentional hiring and retention practices to further diversify clinical faculties.
Many of these suggestions were raised by Professor Dubin twenty years ago, but little progress has been made in achieving the goals he articulated. We reflect on those goals in the current political climate, when many marginalized groups are the targets of escalated racialized violence and intentionally divisive and traumatizing public rhetoric. Political attacks upon communities of color are not new, but they are at a renewed level of intensity in American life and in our legal system. Attacks upon the rule of law itself, as well as the intellectual goals of the university, are at an unprecedented pitch. The responsibility of our institutions to recruit, support, promote, and take leadership from members of marginalized groups has never been more acute. Professor Dubin cautioned us that "denial is often a major obstacle to recovery." As clinical law faculty, it remains our moral obligation to face the depth and complexity of systemic injustice within our own profession and to take it upon ourselves to shift our institutional cultures toward a more equitable future.
The Clinical Legal Education Association (CLEA) Committee for Faculty Equity and Inclusion members are Deborah Archer, Caitlin Barry, G.S. Hans, Derrick Howard, Alexis Karteron, Shobha Mahadev, and Jeff Selbin.
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