As part of Yale Law School’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, the administration places an emphasis on mentoring; career development; community building and wellness; building a more diverse faculty; and the ongoing monitoring of progress in these areas. Read more about each initiative below.

 

Mentoring & Networking

In partnership with the Asian Pacific American, Black, Latino/a, Native American, South Asian Law Student Associations, Yale Law Women, and Outlaws (our LGBTQ student organization), the Law School connects students and alumni throughout the year by holding summer networking events in various cities, as well as by hosting Alumni Weekend and Admitted Students Program events on campus. These informal events provide newly admitted students, current students, and alumni with opportunities to meet, network, and build relationships.

In addition, Career Connections, managed by our Career Development Office, provides opportunities for students to connect with alumni to discuss issues relevant to navigating their legal career including discussions of race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and expression, religion, socioeconomic status, and disability status.

 

Career Development

The Career Development Office (CDO) partners with students and alumni to evaluate their goals, explore possibilities, and navigate their job searches. CDO offers one-on-one counseling, resources and programs on career paths, and access to employers through its recruiting events. CDO routinely partners with affinity groups on programming throughout the year. Recent examples include: What Type of Law Practice Best Suits You, and How Can You Get There? (co-sponsored with APALSA and BLSA); How to Craft a Career (co-sponsored with YLW, BLSA); Tribal Nations and the Obama Administration (co-sponsored with NALSA and Women of Color Collective); Prosecuting Hate Crimes and Rethinking Policing Tactics (co-sponsored with APALSA); and A Newspaper Lawyer and Editor (co-sponsored with ACS and the Federalist Society).

CDO welcomes the opportunity to work with students, either individually or collectively, on efforts both large and small to support diverse students in the job search process.

CDO promotes policies that support legal and inclusive hiring practices. All employers using CDO services must affirmatively indicate their compliance with Yale Law School’s nondiscrimination policy. CDO also provides advice to employers on appropriate interviewer conduct and to students on their rights during the interview process.

 

Community Building & Wellness

The Office of Student Affairs hosts Dinner & Dialogues events to help meet the varied needs of the student body as students grapple with issues of diversity and inclusion within the Law School, university, and society at large. The dinners are based on the Jane Addams Hull House Association Center for Civil Society's Chicago Dinners Project focusing on the power of meaningful conversations and interactions to create true understanding of diversity and build a stronger sense of community.

During JD Orientation 2016, the Law School invited Marguerite Fletcher, Esq., a diversity and inclusion consultant, to lead a session entitled: “Increasing Cultural Competency through Conversations.”  During her interactive presentation, Fletcher tackled topics such as: unconscious bias, enhancing the cultural environment, and working across differences. Following her session, first-year students continued the discussion about diversity and inclusion over Lunch & Dialogues facilitated by their Dean’s Advisors. The Office of Student Affairs is committed to integrating conversation about these important issues at the outset of the YLS experience. The Student Affairs team also hopes to help foster an environment that will encourage continued dialogue and engagement around these issues by all members of the community.

At times, it can be very difficult to have conversations about diversity and inclusion, whether it is an incident within the Yale community or in society at large. To assist students as they grapple with these issues, the Office of Student Affairs staff can help students access resources or advocate for students on an individual and collective basis. In addition to providing a listening ear and support system, the Office of Student Affairs also hosts weekly meditation sessions throughout the academic year. If students would rather speak with a peer, Peer Advocates can help brainstorm solutions to problems or assist in getting help from Yale resources, such as the Mental Health & Counseling Department at Yale Health.

 

Creating a More Diverse Student Body & Enhancing Faculty Diversity

The Office of Admissions is committed to bringing in a vibrant and talented incoming class each year. The Yale Law School seeks diversity along a number of dimensions, including (but not limited to) race and ethnicity, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation and gender expression, political ideology, undergraduate schools and majors, geography, and professional background and career interests.

YLS’s recruiting efforts focus on casting a wide net. The Admissions Office conducts in-person informational visits and online webinars with more than 60 undergraduate institutions across the country each year. Each year the Office identifies highly qualified students from underrepresented backgrounds through the LSAC Candidate Referral Service and sends invitations to apply to Yale Law School. The Admissions Office hires Diversity Representatives, students who represent Yale Law School at diversity recruitment events such as LatinoJustice, America Needs You, and the HBCU Pre-Law Summit, and who assist in developing admitted student programming that showcases Yale’s diversity. The Diversity Representatives also work closely with the Admissions Office to examine best practices in increasing the pipeline of diverse candidates to Yale Law School and creating new outreach strategies at the college level. As part of Admitted Students Weekend, the Law School hosts a special day focused on diversity and inclusion called Yale Forward. On this day, students have the opportunity to interact with faculty, current students, and alumni to discuss issues relating to identity and the law school experience.

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Part of building a diverse class is ensuring that talented students, regardless of socioeconomic status, have the ability to attend Yale Law School. The Financial Aid Office’s policies and programs are designed to make it possible for students to pursue their legal education at YLS regardless of their financial circumstances. Awarding aid based on an assessment of need alone allows us to direct institutional resources to students who truly require and will benefit most from them, while also assisting in maintaining the socio-economic diversity at YLS. The Law School offers a comprehensive financial aid program to support students both during and beyond the traditional academic year, including the Summer Public Interest Fellowships (SPIF) and the generous loan repayment assistance program, COAP.  Yale Law School recognizes its obligation to ensure that its students, while enrolled and after graduation, make the best financial decisions and, as such, provide intensive individual counseling and educational programs to assist students in planning for loan repayment and their overall financial management.

The Yale Law School Financial Aid website includes a list of Diversity Scholarships as well as contact information.

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As noted in the Law School’s Diversity and Inclusion Report, “Yale Law School has always understood its mission to include training the next generation of leaders in the profession. That next generation of leaders will themselves be far more diverse than prior generations and will need to negotiate a far more diverse world. Moreover, evidence suggests that diversity spurs innovation and improves problem-solving. We believe that if Yale wants to continue to lead the profession, it must lead on this issue as well."

We recognize that diversity in the faculty expands the range of ideas, voices, and approaches.  It provides modeling and mentoring to our students as well as expressive values related to inclusion and respect. As part of building a more diverse community, Yale Law School has listened to student concerns about hiring faculty to represent ethnic, racial, gender and gender identity diversity, methodological, and political diversity.

In furtherance of that goal, members of the Faculty Appointments Committee meet with student members of the Appointments Advisory Committee.  Student members participate in a review of scholarship for entry level faculty, meet with entry level candidates during their visits, and provide input to the Appointments Chair.  In addition, members of the Appointments Committee  meet with student leaders of the affinity groups to update students on progress and to solicit student feedback.

A sampling of some of the research and writing by our faculty on topics related to diversity and inclusion can be found on our Publications page.

 

Ongoing Monitoring of Progress

Following the release of the Report of the Committee on Diversity and Inclusion in March 2016, Dean Robert Post established a Diversity and Inclusion Administrative Working Group to coordinate the ongoing administrative efforts to implement recommendations from the report and to update the Yale Law School Community. The working group comprises key administrators who are responsible for operationalizing initiatives that relate to their respective portfolios. The group includes: Sara Lulo (Assistant Dean and Working Group Coordinator); Ellen Cosgrove (Associate Dean, Student Affairs); Joe Crosby (Associate Dean, Finance and Administration); Toni Davis (Associate Dean, Alumni Affairs and Public Affairs); and Mike Thompson (Associate Dean, Building Services). Sharon Brooks, the Consultant for Diversity and Inclusion, also serves as a member of the working group.  

Working Group members collaborate closely with Dean Robert Post, the Deputy Deans, faculty committees, student leaders, and various administrative departments to review and implement the report’s recommendations. The resulting Diversity & Inclusion programs and initiatives are described under the relevant sections of this site.

Contacting the Working Group:  The Diversity and Inclusion Working Group meets bi-weekly throughout the academic year. The Group consults students on a regular basis and updates them on progress made with respect to the Committee’s recommendations, as well as other diversity and inclusion-related matters that departments may undertake. Working group members invite student representatives to meet several times during the academic year, and will meet with other students upon request.  Members of the YLS community are welcome to contact the working group at ylsdi@yale.edu.

Diversity matters. It matters for how we learn. It matters for how we serve. And it matters for how we lead. A great law school must offer a rich, challenging, and inclusive learning environment both inside and outside the classroom.”


Heather Gerken

Dean and Sol & Lillian Goldman Professor of Law