St. John’s Law is launching two important new initiatives to further its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism: the Theodore T. Jones, Jr. Fellowship and the Aequitas Scholarship.
“Dedication to diversity, equity, and inclusion is at the heart of our Law School’s mission,” says Dean Michael A. Simons. “Our commitment to diversity is shared by the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, and almost every organization in the country.”
Yet, even with that shared commitment, underrepresentation in the legal profession persists, Dean Simons notes. Current data illustrate the point. Although approximately 13 percent of the U.S. population is Black and approximately 12 percent of recent college graduates are Black, only seven percent of law students and five percent of lawyers are Black.
“Educating future lawyers who represent the society they will serve requires more than words and general statements of support,” Dean Simons says. “It requires action. It requires proactive and intentional steps to change the forces that allow inequality and systemic racism to persist. That is the essence of being actively anti-racist. These two new initiatives reflect not just our dedication to diversity in the legal profession, but our commitment to be actively anti-racist in pursuit of that goal.”
Established in honor of Hon. Theodore T. Jones, Jr. ’72, ’07HON, who built a thriving legal career that took him to the heights of public service on the New York State Court of Appeals, the Theodore T. Jones, Jr. Fellowship provides competitive Black applicants with support over and above their other generous merit scholarships (many of them full-tuition), including: books; an Apple computer and printer; a summer preparatory program; a 1L paid internship; funding to attend the National Black Law Students Association annual conference; as well as alumni, academic support, and professional development mentors. A fund of over $1 million, generated by gifts from alumni and friends, will provide fellowships for approximately 50 students over the next three years.
“Judge Jones, who passed away in 2012, was a staunch advocate for justice, a dedicated public servant, a highly respected jurist, and a loyal St. John’s Law alumnus,” Dean Simons shares. “His commitment to diversifying the legal profession grew out of his own experience as a trailblazing lawyer and judge. It’s only fitting that we recognize his life of service by naming this Fellowship in his memory. The Theodore T. Jones Fellows, and the talent they will add to the legal profession, will be a fitting legacy for Ted Jones.”
As a companion initiative, St. John’s Law has established the Aequitas Scholarship. Named after the Latin concept of justice and fairness and the root of the modern English word “equity,” this scholarship is awarded to incoming students of color from underrepresented backgrounds. The new funding is in addition to financial support that the Law School’s Ron Brown Scholarship Program has long provided to students of color as well as numerous endowed diversity scholarships established by alumni and friends to build and sustain a more diverse and inclusive St. John’s Law.
To learn more about the Jones Fellowship and Aequitas Scholarship, please visit the Law School’s Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion website.