Sections

SJU honors grad’s leadership

Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

The St. John’s University School of Law celebrated the 40th anniversary of the graduation of Ronald H. Brown, the first black U.S. secretary of commerce, with a two-day program last week designed to inspire a conversation about the role race plays in law and how to increase diversity in the legal field.

About 25 professors spoke about a variety of issues that touched on racial, social and economic justice at the two-day symposium Friday and Saturday that honored Brown, a 1970 graduate of St. John’s School of Law who held a variety of high-profile positions, including U.S. secretary of commerce and deputy executive director of the Urban League.

He was the first black partner in the international law firm Patton, Boggs LLP and the first black chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

“We want to showcase to the world that St. John’s has faculty interested in racial, social and economic issues,” said Leonard Baynes, a St. John’s law professor and the director of the school’s Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights and Economic Development.

The St. John’s School of Law, the Ronald H. Brown Center and the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development, a publication of the center, sponsored the event that concluded with a law school fair. A total of 16 schools participated in the fair for students in the St. John’s Law School prep program that helps minority students make the transition into prestigious law schools.

“We’re really excited about this event because the publications from this symposium will be in the first volume of the Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development,” said Emily Reilly, the editor in chief of the law journal.

The publication was previously known as the St. John’s Journal of Legal Commentary, but changed its name in June after becoming affiliated with the Ronald H. Brown Center.

Melinda Molina, a research professor of law and fellow of the Ronald H. Brown Center, detailed the under-representation of Latinas in law.

According to a study led by Molina, she found only 1.3 percent of the nation’s lawyers are Latina, but Latinas make up 7 percent of the country’s population. Within the legal field, Molina said Latinas typically do not have leadership roles and represent 0.4 percent of partners and 1.9 percent of associates. She added that 3.5 percent of law school professors are Latina and there are only two Latina law school deans.

“They encountered overt sexism, especially within the courtroom, where they said judges would rule more in their favor if they were more demure,” Molina said.

Victoria L. Brown-Douglas, a professor of clinical legal education, said in her presentation, “Is It Time to Redefine the Role of the Negro Attorney?” that the representation of blacks in law schools has increased more than six times, from 3,000 to 20,000, since the 1970s, but they are still underrepresented in the legal profession.

Saturday’s portion of the symposium focused on ways to increase diversity in the legal profession.

According to Baynes, only 6 percent of the students in New York law schools are black. Puerto Ricans, the largest Latino group in the state, make up about 1 percent of students in New York law schools, Baynes said.

Minorities could be better represented in law schools should institutions incorporate prep programs such as the one St. John’s runs out of the Ronald H. Brown Center, Baynes said. Last year 21 out of the 24 college students in the prep program were accepted into law school, including Yale, George Washington and St. John’s.

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at agustafson@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.

Posted 6:29 pm, October 10, 2011
Today’s news:
Share on TwitterTweet
Share on Facebook
Subscribe

Get our stories in your inbox, free.

Like TimesLedger on Facebook.

Reader feedback

Enter your comment below

By submitting this comment, you agree to the following terms:

You agree that you, and not TimesLedger.com or its affiliates, are fully responsible for the content that you post. You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening or sexually-oriented material or any material that may violate applicable law; doing so may lead to the removal of your post and to your being permanently banned from posting to the site. You grant to TimesLedger.com the royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual and fully sublicensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, perform and display such content in whole or in part world-wide and to incorporate it in other works in any form, media or technology now known or later developed.

@timesledgernews
Community News Group

Don’t miss out!

Stay in touch with the stories people are talking about in your neighborhood:

Optional: Help us tailor our newsletters to you!