"Tulane's reputation as a school that encourages diversity of background, intellectual approach, and beliefs smoothed my path from undergraduate student at Howard University to graduate student at Tulane Law School. Upon my arrival, I found a student body that was welcoming and supportive with a very active BLSA chapter. Throughout my time at Tulane, the faculty demonstrated its faith in me. Beyond the student and faculty support for diversity, the faculty's willingness to invest in my academic success contributed to the accomplishments that I have achieved professionally. Tulane Law School put me directly on the road to my current position in the Foreign Service. My Tulane academic experience, especially its emphasis on critical thinking and logical problem solving, prepared me for the "non-traditional" career path that I have pursued since graduation. Tulane trains lawyers who are compassionate thinkers and achieve."
Kali Jones, Law School graduate, 1996
Consul, US Department of State, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
The path towards diversity at Tulane Law School began over 160 years ago and continues today. Diversity is an institutional value for the Law School, and one that ensures that the law school experience is enriching for all of our students. A few dates marking the journey of the Law School are below.
1847 - Tulane Law School is established
1898 - Ms. Bettie Runnels becomes the first female graduate of the Law School
1957 - John Minor Wisdom, Tulane Law School class of 1929, is appointed and confirmed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, becoming a leading jurist for the desegregation of the South
1968 - Mr. Michael Starks becomes the first African-American graduate of the Law School
1989 - Law & Sexuality, the first and only student-edited law review in the United States devoted to issues of concern to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, is founded
1990 - Graduation of the first Tulane Law School class to complete pro bono requirement by serving underrepresented individuals and communities; Tulane becomes the first law school in the United States to mandate pro bono work as a graduation requirement
Located in New Orleans, one of the most diverse cities in the United States, the Law School benefits from the rich cross-cultural influences, multiple ethnic and racial communities, and evolving migrations prevalent in the immediate environs. Neighborhoods throughout New Orleans, including those surrounding Tulane’s campus, reflect a historical tapestry of cultures. The authenticity of New Orleans as a unique American city is displayed within its architecture, cuisine, music– it is, after all, the birthplace of Jazz–, landscape, and inhabitants. The city’s heritage of African-Americans, American Indians, French, Spanish, Germans, Italians, Greeks, Caribbean people, Hondurans, and Filipinos, to name just some, contributes to the vibrancy of the urban multicultural pulse found in many of the distinct neighborhoods, including the Faubourg Tremé, the country’s oldest Black neighborhood. The customs and traditions of these multicultural populations serve as the platform for local events recognized worldwide, such as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Essence Festival, and other multicultural events.
The academic, research, and departmental infrastructure at Tulane University complements the diversity initiatives at the Law School. Tulane University is recognized as a leading research and academic institution, and several of its centers and library collections reflect the university’s strength in areas of interest to law students of color. For example, Tulane University is home to the Amistad Research Center, one of the preeminent research centers in the United States dedicated to the preservation of original documents and research resources related to America’s ethnic history, the African Diaspora, human relations, and civil rights. The Stone Center for Latin American Studies and the Latin American Library are renowned for the depth of their academic offerings and for the breadth of the collection in Latin American archaeology, anthropology, history, literature, literary criticism, cultural studies, linguistics, art, architecture, film, women's studies, and economics. The Newcomb College Center for Research on Women is the oldest university-based women's center in the Gulf South. The Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of Institutional Equity ensure the proliferation of inclusive environments throughout the university.
Student Body Profile
Students of color comprise approximately 20 percent of the school's JD enrollment of 750 students. Tulane's national reputation attracts JD students from over 200 undergraduate institutions, 47 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and a number of foreign countries. Approximately 85 percent of our students are from outside the state of Louisiana, and between 60 and 70 percent graduated from college more than a year prior to enrolling in law school.
Most importantly, Tulane Law School measures diversity through individuals and not through numbers. Every student receives the academic support, encouragement, and professional tools to succeed. Our faculty, deans, and staff demonstrate their support throughout our students’ law school years, a commitment that often develops into an individualized professional and personal lifetime relationship.
Law School Curriculum/Courses
Tulane Law School offers an extensive list of courses in a wide area of subjects and practice areas. During the three years of law school, students are able to select courses according to their intellectual, professional, and scholarly interests. In addition to the general and specialized courses that are unique to Tulane Law School, some of our students of color capitalize on the course offerings related to legal issues present in underrepresented communities and/or that resonate with their respective backgrounds. A sample of these courses is included below.
Law students maximize their learning experience and the exchange of ideas by becoming actively involved within the Law School community. Student participation and involvement inside and outside of the classroom discussions increase the vitality and diversity of the Law School. Students may become involved in any of the student organizations and journals and other activities available at Tulane. Many students become active members and leaders within organizations that highlight diversity and promote community-based projects that enhance the lives of underrepresented individuals. Such student organizations include:
- Asian-Pacific-American Law Students Association (APALSA)
- Black Law Student Association (BLSA)
- Disability & Health Law Society
- La Alianza del Derecho (La Alianza)
- Lambda Law Alliance (Lambda)
- Law Women's Association (LWA)
- Older and Wiser Law Students (OWLS)
The Diversity Executive Committee enhances the legal discussions and promotion of diversity within the Law School. Comprised of student leaders, faculty, and administration, the primary focus of the Committee is to champion diversity within the Law School through diversity speaker series, collaboration among student organizations, partnerships with employers and community leaders, and the establishment of forums for the continuous dialogue of inclusion.
The Career Development Office (CDO) at Tulane Law School provides career services to law students and alumni. Career counselors at the CDO possess specialized knowledge on recruiting practices by legal employers, including diversity initiatives within the profession. The staff at the CDO coordinates, promotes, and counsels students about career fairs, programs, fellowships, writing competitions, and professional organizations that increase the career opportunities for students and alumni.
The legal profession has redoubled its efforts to increase diversity and has implemented initiatives to recruit, retain, and promote attorneys of color. The CDO capitalizes on these opportunities by integrating them within interview programs, alumni receptions, and CDO programming. In addition, the CDO generates a Diversity Newsletter that alerts students to these opportunities. Recent examples include:
A complete list of diversity-related career events available to Tulane Law School students can be viewed here.
Tulane Law School promotes active student and faculty involvement in community and professional organizations in order to forge strategic alliances with local, regional, national, and global diversity partners. These alliances contribute to the diversity initiatives at the Law School, and also provide viable networking opportunities for our students to demonstrate leadership skills, professional responsibility and community involvement with alumni, practitioners, and potential employers.
Employers interested in recruiting Tulane Law School students, including students from diverse backgrounds, can contact the Career Development Office at 504.865.5942 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For other information about career-related diversity initiatives at Tulane Law School, please contact Patricia Guzmán-Weema, career counselor, at email@example.com or 504.865.5942.