Diversity, Equity & Inclusion In Action at SLS

Legal education must prepare students to work effectively in a highly diverse society still grappling with racism and other forms of inequality. Students, staff, and faculty have collaborated over the last five years in mutual recognition that past reform efforts at Stanford have not been equal to this charge and that change in the profession as a whole must begin with legal education. Some of the school’s recent work on hiring, promotion, admissions, curriculum, climate, cultural competence, cultural humility, anti-racism, and other areas are listed below. The Dean’s Initiative on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, announced in the summer of 2020, indicates that much more of course remains to be done. As we move forward, it is important to honor the collective effort involved – particularly the time, energy, and creativity of traditionally underrepresented students, staff, and faculty whose work has been essential to advancing this enterprise.

Prior to 2018 DEI Working Group

  • (2009) First woman of color appointed Associate Dean for Public Service and Public Interest Law:  Diane Chin
  • (2016) Fourth woman of color appointed Associate Dean of Students: Jory Steele
  • (2016) Fourth woman of color appointed as a current faculty member (as an assistant professor in the tenure line): Rabia Belt
  • (2016-17) Quarterly meetings with members of affinity groups hosted by Associate Dean of Students and Associate Dean for Public Service and Public Interest Law
  • (2017) Cultural competence adopted as a learning outcome for the Law School under ABA Standard 302(d) identifying it as a “skill needed for competent and ethical participation as a member of the legal profession.”

DEI Working Group Recommendations Accepted in 2018

Faculty-Student-Staff Working Group formed in response to Racism Lives Here Too to address concerns about DE&I at the Law School. Policy labs created to structure research on DE&I.  Working Group’s Recommendations were adopted by the Dean. Reforms include:

  • Racial Justice Center approved
  • Minority admit weekend redesigned to increase law school funding and logistics support to pan-affinity groups
  • 1L required 4-unit doctrinal class moved out of the fall to reduce doctrinal workload and increase time for student pro bono, public interest, and other extra-curricular work
  • 1L Fall Discussion Seminars created to foster discussions across difference and interdisciplinary perspectives on law in small group settings with topics connected to the reasons students have chosen law as a profession. For course descriptions of seminars offered this fall see: https://law.stanford.edu/discussion-seminars/
  • SLS continues to co-host Culp Colloquium designed for emerging scholars to “further the racial diversity of the legal academy”
  • Procedure for reporting classroom concerns revised
  • Annual Cultural Humility Training for Clinical Faculty redesigned and expanded
  • 1L Pro bono training in Cultural Humility expanded
  • Pipeline Project for Diversity in Admissions initiated: Stanford Law Scholars Institute (n.b. live sessions suspended summer 2020 and 2021 due to Covid-19)
  • Leon Cain Community Leadership Award created to recognize outstanding student contributions to the law school community, including advancing and improving diversity and inclusion
  • Expansion of Orientation including DE&I session for all 1Ls
  • Speaker series on the Social Science of Identity and Prejudice featuring Claude Steele, pioneering scholar on stereotype threat, Mazarin Banaji, leading scholar on implicit bias, and other prominent scholars
  • Regular 3-Unit Critical Race Theory course taught by core faculty (Prof. Richard Thompson Ford)
  • Create an ad hoc committee on Financial Access to improve material support for low income students.


  • (2018) New appointment of person of color in the tenure line: Diego A. Zambrano
  • (2018) Prof. Ron Tyler, Director of Stanford Criminal Defense Clinic promoted to Professor of Law (Teaching)
  • (2018-19) Quarterly meetings with members of affinity groups hosted by Associate Dean of Students and Associate Dean for Public Service and Public Interest Law
  • (2019) Third woman of color promoted to full professor since 2009 (with tenure): Shirin Sinnar
  • (2019)  First woman of color appointed Dean of the Law School: Jenny Martinez
  • (2019)  First woman of color appointed Associate Dean for Clinical Education and Director of the Mills Legal Clinic: Jayashri Srikantiah
  • Ad Hoc Committee on Financial Access formed and made recommendations to the Dean:  members are Faye Deal, Diane Chin, Amalia Kessler, and Alison Morantz.


  • (2020-21) Financial Aid increased in response to pandemic and ad hoc committee on Financial Access
    • COVID Emergency Fund to provide material support for some of the exceptional financial costs incurred as a result of the pandemic
    • Financial aid awards increased by $2500 per student and student contribution held flat rather than annual inflationary increase.
    • Funding provided for summer jobs for students who lost other employment.
    • More than $2 million total in additional spending on student financial needs as a result of crisis
      Summer public interest stipends increased.
  • (2020) Woman of color named Acting Director of the Stanford Center for Racial Justice: Diane Chin
  • (2020) New appointment of person of color in the tenure line: Julian Nyarko
  • (2020) University cluster hire on the study of race in America approved by Provost & President (read SLS faculty position description)
  • (2020) New Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion position approved
  • (2020) Professor Shirin Sinnar appointed as Law School Rep to the University Race in America Cluster Hire committee
  • (2020) Faculty Director Prof. Rick Banks & Acting Director Diane T. Chin launch Stanford Center for Racial Justice
  • (2020) Stanford Law School launches beta version of the first national Clearinghouse on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion indexing research on these topics
  • (2020) Stanford Law School creates policy lab to support student contributions to the Clearinghouse on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion
  • (2020) Other specialized courses on race and the law offered, including:
  • (2020) Sallyanne Payton Fellowship created for aspiring law teachers who would diversify the professoriate. The application process is open to all current SLS students.
  • (2020) Barbara Allen Babcock Award for Excellence in Teaching (Professor Diego Zambrano, first winner) established to recognize instructors teaching in the 1L required curriculum who promote inclusive learning, intellectual rigor, and commitment to the highest standards of professional integrity, mentorship, and service.
  • (2020) Short-term recommendations by the Ad Hoc Committee on Financial Access to improve material support for low income students are being implemented as the committee continues to examine longer-term goals and fundraising needs to support increased aid.
  • (2020) Unanimous faculty vote approving mandatory training on classroom management, including diversity and inclusion, for all SLS Instructors
    • Committee on Teaching and Classroom Climate established to develop trainings, with members Anne Joseph O’Connell (co-chair), Norman Spaulding (co-chair), and Lisa Ouellette.
    • Research-based resources and feedback from students to be shared with all 1L faculty
    • Trainings begin 2020-21 academic year and to continue thereafter
  • (2020) Dean Martinez holds small group meetings with entire faculty on classroom climate
  • (2020) Prof. Richard Ford appointed to university committee of the Planning and Policy Board to develop university-wide guidance on classroom speech, including the use of racial epithets, in view of the “Leonard Law” and past litigation holding Stanford University’s speech code an unconstitutional infringement on free speech.
  • (2020) Prof. Ron Tyler and Prof. Larry Marshall co-lead new orientation program of “common read,” featuring discussion of Bryan Stevenson’s book Just Mercy, joined by two dozen other faculty for small group conversations with incoming students.
  • (2020) Prof. Norman W. Spaulding serves as Special Advisor to the Dean on DE&I Initiatives
  • (2021) New staff position, Director of Diverse Communities, created in External Relations to develop alumni programming and help launch and support alumni affinity groups.
  • (2021) ePluribus Project piloted–aimed at developing student skills based on the idea that we become better lawyers and leaders in and through engagement with difference.