Equity, Inclusion & Belonging at William & Mary Law School

William & Mary Law School is a community that values equity, inclusivity, and the pursuit of justice. Our community embraces people of different backgrounds, identities, abilities, beliefs, and viewpoints. This breadth strengthens and enriches our Law School and the legal profession as a whole. We equally value every member of the Law School community; each must feel that they fully belong.

The Law School aims to train the next generation of lawyers — who will be far more diverse than prior generations — to become leaders in the profession and to serve locally, nationally, and globally. We strive to produce graduates who are equipped to pursue justice and combat inequality.

At this critical moment in our nation’s history, we acknowledge the uniquely pernicious effects of racial discrimination—past and present—on our society and our school. Redressing the resulting inequities will require much sustained effort. Our Law School community is committed to doing this important work.

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Under Dean Spencer’s leadership, the Law School is strengthening its existing efforts to foster an equitable and inclusive environment. Dean Spencer is also spearheading a range of new initiatives towards that goal.

To improve the breadth and quality of student support and to ensure that the Law School’s equity and inclusion efforts are both coordinated and institution-wide, the Law School is creating a new administrative position — an Assistant Dean who will join the Dean of Students in working to support students of all backgrounds. The Deans’ roles will also explicitly include working to address issues of equity and inclusion and the promotion of antiracism.

Our existing admission policy embraces the view that the educational process at the Law School is best served by an admission process that uses holistic review to select an inclusive and talented student body. Because William & Mary is dedicated to the principle that legal education should be accessible to anyone who has a talent and passion for the law, the Law School is also developing pipeline programs to recruit first-generation students and students from less-advantaged backgrounds and underrepresented groups. A new on-campus support group will help foster their academic and professional success. A new Director of Academic Success & Bar Preparation position has been created and filled; she will develop programs to help all students, regardless of background, succeed in law school and on the bar exam.

Our LL.M. program in the American Legal System recruits and admits LL.M. students from myriad backgrounds. Students have come from countries around the globe, including Algeria, China, India, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Poland, and Saudi Arabia.

Our J.D. and LL.M. students have founded an impressive number of active student organizations that organize educational programs and provide support to students from a variety of backgrounds and with diverse interests. They include the American Constitution Society, the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, the Black Law Students Association, the Christian Legal Society, Equality Alliance, the Federalist Society, the Jewish Law Students Association, the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, the Latinx Law Students Association, the Military and Veterans Law Society, and the Women’s Law Society.

The Law School has committed to increase financial support for a Student Fund for Inclusive Excellence, which will fund student-organization initiatives that address issues of equity, inclusion, and social justice from all perspectives.

As part of a new initiative, the Law School will also offer fellowships and scholarships to provide additional support to students who are dedicated to fighting for social justice.

Our Office of Career Services (OCS) is committed to assisting our students in navigating the job market so they can achieve professional success. OCS runs professional development programs throughout the year, covering a range of topics to help students learn the skills they need for success, such as developing culturally-competent relationship-building skills and cultivating a growth mindset. OCS’s individualized advising program pairs each student with a career services professional so that every student receives personalized advice and support. Our Office of Advancement also helps students with their career goals by pairing students with alumni mentors through the Law School’s Co-Counsel program. In addition, because not all students are comfortable approaching professors for mentoring, the Student Bar Association has established a program that connects first-year students with professors and upper-level students in small mentoring groups.

Our curriculum and special events reflect sustained engagement with issues relating to equity and inclusion. The curriculum includes courses such as First Amendment – The Religion Clauses; Human Rights Law; International and Comparative Women’s Rights; Islamic Law; Law of Domestic Violence; Law and Sexuality; Law and Social Justice; Race, Law, and Lawyering in Diverse Environments; and Selected Topics in Race and American Legal History.

Our students have many opportunities to work on issues of importance to underserved communities, including through the student-edited Bill of Rights Journal, Journal of Race, Gender and Social Justice, and programs such as Revive My Vote, Students for the Innocence Project, and the Center for Comparative Legal Studies and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding.

The Law School has also established a new university-wide Center for Racial & Social Justice that will engage faculty and students in research and other activities that advance equity and social justice. Our clinics, including our Domestic Violence Clinic, Elder and Disability Law Clinic, Family Law Clinic, Immigration Clinic, Puller Veterans Benefits Clinic, and Special Education Advocacy Clinic help students understand and serve a variety of client backgrounds and needs. A new Community Law Clinic will serve some of the most vulnerable members of our community, and like all our clinics, will prepare students to advocate for the advancement of social justice. Finally, a new Concentration in Public Interest & Social Justice Law will enable students to focus their studies on preparing for their calling as public interest advocates.

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Want to learn more about equity and inclusion?

Our Law Library has put together an annotated bibliography featuring relevant books, articles, and other resources that you can access online or through our library's print collections.

William & Mary Law School welcomes your input on fostering an inclusive climate for all community members. You may use this form to provide anonymous feedback or suggestions.