The University of Cincinnati College of Law’s Latino Law Student Association (LLSA) and UC Law Women (UCLW) student organizations had the pleasure of hosting an immigration panel with guests Professor Yolanda Vazquez, from the University of Cincinnati College of Law, Attorney Julie LeMaster from the Immigrant and Refugee Law Center, and Attorney Deifilia Diaz from the Law Offices of Valencia and Diaz. The different focal areas of immigration law that each of these panelists work with every day provided for a lively and diverse discussion of current immigration issues.
The Honorable Judge Shira Scheindlin
Nikita Srivastava (’19)
Advocate. Lawyer. Engaged citizen.
These are only a few words Professor Janet Moore used to describe the Honorable Shira Scheindlin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (ret.), this year’s Judge-in Residence at the University of Cincinnati College of Law.
I had the pleasure to attend her lecture on Race and Policing, and have lunch with her the following day. As a law student, I’ve always told myself that I will be the change I want to see to paraphrase Mathama Gandhi. But, like many other law school students, I get bogged down by the environment at the law school. I stress out most of the time. I don’t get enough sleep. I find myself comparing me to other people making me insecure. I constantly fight the urges to lash out because of insecurities. In just two years, I forgot why I wanted to be a lawyer. However, Judge Shira Scheindlin reminded me why I made that choice.
Nikita Srivastava (’19)
We’re excited to host Judge Shira Scheindlin, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York (ret.) as our Jugdse-in residence the week of February 26, 2018. While in law school, only 10% of Judge Schiendlin’s class were women. Judge Schiendlin was nominated for the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Recently, she wrote an article about women in the legal professions. In this article, she not only shares her personal experience as a federal judge but also other women’s experiences. Continue reading “Judge Shira Scheindlin”
Balancing a Skewed Scale
Nikita Srivastava (’19)
In the 1980s, a young female lawyer and her lawyer husband attended a party hosted by a club only allowing male lawyers. The room was filled with young men celebrating their legal careers. One of the guests at this party handed the woman a name tag. Instead of writing her name, she wrote “discrimantee” and proudly placed it on her chest. “Well, it is true,” she said after getting several questions about it. (I should write “discrimantee” on all my name tags because nothing much has really changed)
Sharon Rowen’s Balancing the Scales, addresses discrimination using women’s narratives to guide the audience. Due to Ohio’s CLE requirements, Ms. Rowen had to pause the film and explain why she directed it this way. Rowen said the film is divided into 3 parts: 1) the oral history of female role models, 2) what keeps women from achieving higher positions, 3) women not making choices from a level playing field.
Nikita Srivastava (’19)
The University of Cincinnati was one of the first law schools to develop a joint degree in Women’s Studies and Law. In addition, the number of women applicants and law students has steadily increased over the years; women now comprise about half of every entering class. Despite these rising numbers, women in the law continue to face issues that merit special attention – issues such as pay equity, networking, promotions, etc. Fortunately, the College of Law has several centers and student groups that address issues faced by women in the law. These include the Center for Race, Gender, and Social Justice, Out and Allies, and If/When/How. However, over the past several years, a student group devoted solely to women in the law was non-existent.
UC Law Women, a student group formed in the 1980s, was founded to raise awareness of the unique issues faced by women in the legal community but, for a variety of reasons, faded away in the mid-2000s. Then, in the fall of 2016, Maria Catrina Castro, a current 2L, saw Law Women listed on UC’s organization page; she asked how to join and discovered the organization did not exist anymore. Disappointed, Maria made a mental note to reboot the organization. She knew it would not be possible in her first semester to create a student organization, so Maria waited until Spring 2017 to start the process. She approached students who took active roles in social and gender issues – and sought out a variety of perspectives to ensure that the club would be an inclusive group.
I’ve been away from the Blog for too long. But for good reason.
The University’s Provost appointed me Interim Dean of the College of Law, which, as you can imagine, meant a raft of new responsibilities for me. The most gratifying thus far was presiding over commencement. Cincinnati Law graduated 84 students in May, and we were inspired by speeches from alums Rob Richardson (’05) of Branstetter, Stranch & Jennings and the Hon. Marilyn Zayas (’97) of Ohio’s First Appellate District Court, who received the 2017 Nicholas Longworth, III Alumni Achievement Award. I am very proud of our most recent alums and look forward to the significant contributions they will make to the profession and society.
On that note, I recently attended A Celebration of Black Lawyers, hosted by Harvard Law School’s Center on the Legal Profession. This event honored three giants in the legal field:
- Ken Chenault, Chairman and Chief Executive Office of American Express Company,
who spoke about the important role corporations have to play in the struggle for social justice;
- Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Inc.,
who challenged all lawyers–irrespective of substantive area of expertise–to take get involved in civil rights matters; and
- The Hon. Rob Wilkins of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit,
who inspired attendees to follow his lead in persisting despite the odds. Judge Wilkins was a primary catalyst in making the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) a reality (it also was the site of the Celebration!).
Perhaps most poignant and moving of all was how Ms. Ifill reminded all of us–many of whom were African American attorneys–of the significant role Black lawyers played in moving this nation closer to the promise of equality set forth in our founding documents.
Her words made me remember that I am part of something larger. A profession with the power to realize the country’s democratic potential. A tradition of lawyers that pushed this nation to live up to its creed. A social engineer, to use the term coined by the great Charles Hamilton Houston,
architect of the strategy that dismantled de jure segregation.
Envisioning myself as descended from such notables as Thurgood Marshall, Constance Baker Motley, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I walked out of the NMAAHC considerably more inspired than when I entered.