Law Review Articles

Carolyn Copps Hartley, Ph.D. & Carrie J. Petrucci, Ph.D., Practicing Culturally Competent Therapeutic Jurisprudence: A Collaboration Between Social Work and Law, 14 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 133, (2004).

In this article, the author discusses how there should be increased attention to race, ethnicity, and culturally competent practice in the lawyer-client relationship. The author discusses how multiculturalism can encompass a broad range of unique characteristics among groups of people, including race, gender, age, sexual orientation, social class, ethnicity, and religion. The author focuses her article on race and how white law students face challenges in becoming more culturally competent. This is because they enjoy most of the privileges in our society and these privileges tend to be unconscious privileges. Moreover, the author discusses how white students are more resistant to examining issues of racism and privilege.

Most importantly, the author correctly points out that racial disparities are rampant in our legal system and the majority of legal professionals are members of the white dominant culture. Racial minorities are unfortunately disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system. The author argues that studying issues of race are relevant to help law students become more culturally competent. Thus, the author advocates for a focus on race in classroom dialogue because race is one of the largest hurdles to clear when assistant lawyers in becoming more culturally competent. WC=194

Cruz Reynoso, Cory Amron, Diversity in Legal Education: A Broader View, A Deeper Commitment, 52 Journal of Legal Education 491, (2002).

The authors of this article set out to examine the goals of law schools to achieve diversity in enrollment. This article included several arguments for why law schools should implement different teaching pedagogies and address the barriers minorities face. The authors argue that most law schools have not met their goals for a diverse student population that is reflective of the demographic makeup of the community. Furthermore, the authors state that law schools have failed in creating an environment in which diversity thrives, and law school environments continue to be hostile and hinder the intellectual development of women and minorities. The authors correctly point out that peers, teachers, and administrators who adhere to racist stereotypes and sexist behavior create hostile law school environments.

The authors assert that diversity has a positive impact on the educational experiences of students and that a student’s exposures to diverse classmates that come from unique backgrounds develop his/her cultural competence. These skills are crucial for the practice of a law in a diverse society. The authors suggest that law school should take a more comprehensive approach to meet their goals of diversity by not solely focusing on enrollment of a diverse student body. Rather, law schools should focus on the barriers women and minorities face once in law school by changing teaching pedagogies; methods such as problem-based learning and working in teams could be more beneficial than the traditional adversarial Socratic method. The authors argue that infusing the law school curriculum with more practical skills can be more conducive to a diverse student body that may learn in different ways. WC=265

David Aaron DeSoto, Ending the Conquest Won Through Institutionalized Racism in Our Schools: Multicultural Curricula and the Right to an Equal Education, 1 Hispanic Law Journal 77, (1994).

The author of this article sets out to examine multiculturalism, multicultural curriculum, and the right to an equal education. This article did a good job of comparing our schools with schools abroad and arguing for a model of education that combats institutional racism. The author discusses the effects of European-based curriculum on minorities. The author argues that education may be the root of racial stereotypes, racial perceptions, and negative self-images. The authors discuss the inequities and everyday challenges that minority students face in school and how educators are often the source of racism. As a society, the author argues that we need to recognize that our institutions are often racist and not as neutral as they may seem.

The author articulates that our society has assumed that racism ended with Brown v. Board of Education. However, the author states that “equality” is a white man’s illusion. The author argues for a multicultural model of education that emphasizes multiculturalism and states that this model of education is the only solution to combat institutional racism under our laws today. The author uses Britain as an example of a country that has embraced cultural diversity and tolerance in the classroom and does not encourage immigrants to conform to British culture. The author stresses that our country, like Britain, should take an approach that emphasizes multiculturalism because it is essential to the psychological sense of identity of minorities in the classroom.

Gwendolyn Zoharah Simmons, Racism in Higher Education, 14 University of Florida Law Journal & Public Policy 29, (2002).

The author of this article sets out to examine the history of racism in higher education and the present day problem of racism in higher education. This article did an excellent job of examining the history of the exclusion of minorities from higher education and the implementation of school curriculum that reflects the real history of the United States. The author begins by articulating how universities used to be reserved to upper-white class American males only and every other minority group has had to fight for entry into universities since then. The author argues that this practice of exclusion and discrimination in America’s educational system is an example of racism that is deeply embedded in our society. Throughout our history, minorities have been excluded from full participation in education. The author argues that this white dominance is perpetuated by the acquiescence of the majority of the population and this creates and defends institutional racism.

The author uses the attack on the implementation of affirmative action programs in higher education as an example of the majority’s hostility towards minorities and their civil rights. The author also correctly points out that racially motivated incidents on college campuses demonstrates that racism is not confined to groups such as the Ku Klux Klan but can also be attributed to the highest ranked universities in the nation. The author concludes by saying that our main problem concerns the curriculum in higher education. The author, a professor herself, teaches a course entitled “Race, Religion, & Rebellion.” She states that the students constantly as her why they never before heard or learned the information taught in her course. She states that her students, for the most part, have no knowledge of the real history of the United States and its treatment of Native Americans, African Americans, and other minority groups. The author advocates for the implementation of courses similar to the one she teaches in institutions of higher education to teach students the true history of the United States and the struggle for justice among minority groups. WC=341

Joe R. Feagin & Bernice McNair Barnett, Success and Failure: How Systemic Racism Trumped the Brown v. Board of Education Decision, 2004 University of Illinois Law Review. (2004). 

Professors Feagin and Barnett set out to examine how systemic racism has trumped the Brown v. Board of Education decision. This article gives a very detailed analysis for reasons why we need to advocate for a change in curriculum that reflects multicultural education. The authors argue that Brown has not been successful in ridding American education of institutional racism. Although schools are officially desegregated, they remain segregated today due largely to racial bias in school curriculum. The authors explain how systemic racism involves the subordination of minorities by white Americans and the presence of racial stereotyping, prejudices, and discriminatory practices at institutions of learning. The authors argue that racial hostility and discrimination remain in desegregated schools, and the only thing desegregation accomplished was to change the demographic mix of students.

The authors present a study that found that racial bias in teachers’ expectations significantly affects student performance; white teachers expect more from their white students than from their black students. Moreover, the authors present another study that found that teachers are less supportive of black students than white students; white students got more feedback and were encouraged to participate in class. The authors suggest that this discriminatory behavior on behalf of teachers is directly linked to student achievement. Further, the authors argue that those students who feel stereotyped will not perform as well as they would if they were not being stereotyped. Finally, the authors conclude by saying that schools have not successfully integrated minorities and their history and experiences into curriculum. Thus, the authors conclude that there needs to be a significant change in curriculum that reflects multicultural education.

Juan F. Perea, Richard Delgado, Angela P. Harris, and Stephanie M. Wildman. Thinking About Race and Races: Reflections and Responses Race and Races: Cases and Resources for A Diverse America., 89 California Law Review, (2001).

In this article, the authors argue how when students are not exposed to the racial dynamics in law courses, issues of race and racism that should be raised are ignored. The authors urge us to understand the relevance of race to legal education by considering the vast amount of law that emerges when race and racism are used as organizing principles. For example, law school curricula could include a separate course on Indian Law, Civil Rights, Equal Protection, etc. The author also argues that the complexity of race supports the fact that we need to give a voice to all of the omissions of race from our law school curriculum. We need to provide history and resources to students that will enable them to talk about issues of race and the law and to be better equipped to practice law for historically under represented persons in the future.

Morrison Torrey, Actually Begin to Satisfy ABA Standards 211(a) and 212(a): Eliminate Race and Sex Bias in Legal Education, 43 Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review 615, (2008).

The author of this article sets out to explain how we need to eliminate race and sex bias in legal education by actually satisfying ABA standards that mandate non-discrimination and equality of opportunity by requiring law schools to demonstrate a commitment to providing opportunities for the study of law by members of underrepresented groups. The author of this article, at times, seems to have quite a cynical tone and argues that law schools should actually make classrooms welcoming. She explains how law schools are filled with portraits of old, white men and how this could potentially convey the message that success is for old white men only. She argues that law schools should create an environment that is inspirational to all people. She argues, for example, to create an “Abolitionist Room” that has portraits of Fredrick Douglas, Harriet Tubman, and others. Changes like these are a way to welcome minorities who have achieved great things for our country through legal avenues.

Most importantly, the author argues for a change in first year curriculum that includes a required first year course centered on issues of subordination and privilege. Rather than providing this course as an elective for second and third year law students, she argues that these kinds of courses should be required and all students should be exposed to the role the law plays in perpetuating discrimination. She also argues that courses such as “Race, Racism, and U.S. Law” and “Sexuality and the Law” should be a part of mandatory curriculum because these classes will provide the necessary tools students need to have to be good lawyers. The author also advocates that all professors should be encouraged to talk about race and gender issues in all of their classes as it is extremely relevant to the practice of law. Finally, the author argues for a pedagogy that does not result in bias against minorities and women. She argues that the Socratic method has never been shown to be an effective pedagogy but rather has shown to have a negative impact on minorities and women. She argues that this pedagogy does not stimulate learning and often results in a loss of confidence and lower performance. She concludes by advocating for a teaching pedagogy that will benefit all different types of learners and will encourage confidence in students. WC=387

Morrison Torrey, You Call That Education?, 19 Wisconsin Women's Law Journal 93, (2004).

The author of this article takes a very critical approach to legal education today. She argues that rampant gender bias exists in our legal institutions and that mainstream legal pedagogy is full of flaws and bad teaching. In response to gender bias studies, she asserts that nothing has changed and probably nothing will change in legal education. The author harshly criticizes that the Socratic method ignores the students in the class that are not following along the questions in their head or participating. In reality, these students are busy being relieved for not being the victim of the Socratic method and desperately hoping they will not be the next student to be called upon.

The author also discusses how women constitute almost half of all law students today. In addition, the minority population is substantial. Given these two facts, she argues that study after study shows that the Socratic method does not work well for what is now the majority of students. Moreover, both women and minority men, in particular, report a loss of confidence in classes that utilize the Socratic method. This loss of confidence translates into poorer performance. Thus, the author advocates that we need a change in our pedagogy because it is inexcusable for law professors to not re-evaluate how they are teaching and changing their methods so that they do not just benefit one group and detrimentally affect other groups. WC=234

Robert A. Williams, Jr., Do You Believe in the Rule of Law?, 89 California Law Review, (2001).

The author of this article is a law professor who teaches federal Indian Law. He discusses how there are a few casebooks that offer a race perspective on American law. The author defines this race perspective as employing the concept of race and racism in our society as a tool to examine and understand how the dominant white society applies the rule of law to minority racial groups in America. Frustratingly, the author discusses how it is difficult to find many law school casebooks that adopt a race perspective on American law and this has had a direct effect on law professors being able to teach and design courses that talk about racism and the law. The author of this article describes his own experiences teaching rom a race perspective in American law and argues that this perspective requires you to tell the story of racial minority groups as a critical chapter in the legal history of racism in America.

Most importantly, the author describes how teaching his students from a race perspective on Indian law has allowed him to teach his students to question their beliefs about the meaning of the rule of law in America. This way, his students learn about how the legal tradition in our history was to justify the conquest of “savage” people and his students learn to examine critically how this legal tradition justified the Europeans’ superior rights of sovereignty in the New World. Finally, the author argues how a race perspective has helped his students develop an awareness of the complex relationship between law, power, dispossession, and violence in the legal history of our country. As my thesis argues, the author of this article also argues how exposing students to race perspectives in the law school curriculum leads to many valuable benefits such as being able to better appreciate the complexities of achieving racial justice for any racial minority group in the United States. The author ends by advocating for a course that employs multiple race perspectives on American law, which will close the gaps to most law students’ legal education.

26 Chicana/o-Latina/o Law Review 183. Total pages read: 19

The authors of this article set out to examine the concept of internalized racism. They define internalized racism as the conscious and unconscious acceptance of a racial hierarchy where whites are consistently ranked above “people of color.” The authors argue that the role of schools in perpetuating internalized racism within “students of color” has rarely been researched. The authors set out to examine the racialized experiences within classroom pedagogy, curriculum, and unequal school resources. The authors argue that curriculum is the foundational tool in the transfer of knowledge in the classroom and directly shapes pedagogy. The authors argue that it is crucial that curriculum is evaluated to make sure that it is not perpetuating racism in our society. The authors assert that a majority of schools in the United States implement curriculum that reinforces the hierarchical status-quo of white supremacy. Thus, the race and cultures of non-whites are taught to be inferior.  This article supports my position that we need to implement curriculum in our law schools that focuses on race and gender issues. The authors state that the constant bombardment of messages that are embedded in our curriculum about whites being superior and non-whites being inferior can directly affect minority students and contribute to internalized racism. I agree with the author’s assertion that although schools claim to reflect multiculturalism, this has consistently not been true practice.