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 UHLC AND SMU DEDMAN SCHOOL OF LAW ADDRESS LAW’S DIVERSITY STRUGGLES AT FIRST-EVER BLACK LAWYERS MATTER CONFERENCE
  BLACK LAWYERS MATTER: Strategies to Enhance Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
#BLACKLAWYERSMATTER2020
    Judges, law professors and attorneys from a variety of practices determined that the legal profession must have a collective sense of urgency to remedy a historic lack of representation during a day-long virtual conference hosted by the University of Houston Law Center and SMU Dedman School of Law. “Black Lawyers Matter: Strategies to Enhance Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” was held in October. More than 1,000 people were in attendance.
Dean Leonard M. Baynes began the symposium by saying that while some progress has been made, significant underrepresentation persists in the legal profession.
“I’m delighted that the UH Law Center and SMU Dedman School of Law co-convened this conference,” Dean Baynes said in his welcoming remarks. “After the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many others, SMU’s Dean Collins and I observed that there are still too few Black lawyers.
“Only five percent of lawyers in our nation are African
American. Less than eight percent of first-year law students in 2019 were Black, whereas 13 percent of the U.S. population
is Black. There is still a lot of work to be done, and our goal
is that the audience is left with best practices to increase the pipeline of Black law students, lawyers, judges and other legal professionals.”
SMU Dedman School of Law Dean Jennifer Collins added that these issues have been discussed for decades, but with little meaningful progress to show for it.
“Law remains one of the least diverse professions in the nation. That is unacceptable; it is inexcusable and it’s time to do something about it,” Collins said. “I hope the conference left participants with some concrete ideas and strategies for how to create real, meaningful and sustained change in your workplace – whether that is a law school, law firm, a corporation or a public interest organization. Black lawyers matter and Black law students matter. Now and always. SMU Law and the University of Houston Law Center are absolutely determined
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