For almost 100 years, animated by the Vincentian question, What must be done?, St. John’s Law has opened its doors to a wonderfully diverse student body.
Today, as one of the best law schools in New York City, with one of the highest graduate employment rates in the nation, we remain committed to being an engine of opportunity, particularly for the most traditionally underrepresented groups in the legal profession.
With that firm commitment, we’re very pleased to announce the funding of two new support opportunities for students of color:Theodore T. Jones, Jr. Fellowship: 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 laptop computer and printer; a summer preparatory program; a 1L paid internship; funding to attend the annual National Black Law Students Association annual conference; as well as special access to 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.Aequitas Scholarship: 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.
Read the Announcement
"I decided to go to law school after discovering Thurgood Marshall in middle school, but not because he won 29 of the 32 cases he argued before the U.S. Supreme Court. And not because he was the first African American to be appointed U.S. Solicitor General, or because he was the first African American Supreme Court Justice. His work for the NAACP on Brown vs. Board of Education stayed with me because it didn’t just change things for his initial client, but helped to end racial segregation for so many others. Seeing the impact of that work inspired me to become a lawyer."
In June, Vernadette Horne joined the Law School’s leadership team as Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. She's a native New Yorker raised just around the corner in Hollis, Queens and a major NYC sports fan. Her career path has taken her from litigation practice and corporate consulting to law school administration, with a laser focus on creating a truly inclusive and representative legal profession.
This Q & A story introduces you to Dean Horne and her vital work at St. John's Law.
Putting our commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion further into action, we recently welcomed Oliver Colbert to our full-time Admissions Office team as our first-ever Associate Director of Admissions & Diversity Initiatives.
A native of New York City born and raised in Brooklyn, Oliver currently resides in St. John’s home borough of Queens. He earned his undergraduate degree in Journalism from SUNY Buffalo State and a master’s in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University. As a college administrator for six years, Oliver’s work focused on supporting and developing students, specifically students of color from marginalized communities.
His favorite quote, from American novelist, playwright, essayist, poet, and activist James Baldwin, nicely captures the importance of Oliver’s work at St. John’s Law:
“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”
Oliver hosted an event for future lawyers of color in January 2021. You can view highlights in this video.
Want to learn more about diversity at St. John's Law? Please email Oliver at [email protected]
Ready to apply? Start here.
In June 2020, as protesters across the country demanded justice for George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and so many other Black Americans, close to 300 members of the St. John’s Law community came together for a virtual Dialogue Day organized by the student-run Coalition for Social Justice and Black Law Students Association, along with co-sponsoring student organizations and our Ronald H. Brown Center for Civil Rights.
The program’s theme was clear and direct: No More Talking, What Are We Going to Do?
As Dean Michael A. Simons shared widely before and afterwards, that milestone event was a call to action in solidarity with our Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni. It was also a catalyzing moment for St. John’s Law, as we commit to being an ardently and actively anti-racist institution and a community that embraces, prioritizes, and reflects the values of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Read Dean Simons’ June 1, 2020 message
Read Dean Simons’ June 5, 2020 message
More recently, in the wake of escalating, racism-fueled violence against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders nationwide, Dean Simons shared a message of solidarity in support of the Law School's extended AAPI community, reaffirming our deep and unwavering commitment to calling out, and standing against, racism and intolerance in their many forms.
Read Dean Simons’ March 11, 2021 message
The Law School’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion is reflected in, and carried by, a range of student-run shared identity groups. Students also support diversity, equity, and inclusion at St. John’s Law as members of the Dean’s Advisory Council.
Student Shared Identity Groups
Dean's Advisory Council Student Members
During the June Dialogue Day, the student affinity groups and a number of other student organizations presented their commitments—events, petitions, fundraisers, committees, speakers, outreach, research, and more—to making St. John’s Law an actively anti-racist institution and combatting injustice in its many forms. Their pledges of support are now the pillars of an action plan that the Coalition for Social Justice (CSJ) is coordinating and memorializing in a series of publications:The Contract
In early September, the CSJ published the St. John's University School of Law Student Organization Commitment to Racial Justice and Solidarity with Marginalized Communities (the Contract). It documents participating student organizations’ commitments to a general set of obligations, including organizational changes. The Contract also shares each organization’s pledge to individual, specifically tailored, year-to-year obligations.
Read the Contract
In late September, the CSJ launched its new website, SjuCsj.org. With robust features, including a blog and a forum for dialogue, the site furthers the CSJ’s mission of providing an open and inclusive platform and outlet for St. John’s Law students and others to learn about, and advocate for, the broad spectrum of social justice issues. It took only three months for the project to go from concept to reality.
Read about the site launch
The Full Report
For its next document project, in December 2020, the CSJ published a report on the evolution of student organization activity from the June Dialogue Day to the start of the Fall 2020 semester (the Full Report). Among other things, the Report encapsulates the moment that was June for the Law School community, reflecting on the work done thus far, projecting what will come next, commenting on what still needs to improve, and providing a model for other law schools to follow.
Read the Full Report
We’re proud to have a faculty that reflects our diverse and inclusive Law School community. They are dedicated educators whose doors are always open to our students. And they are notable legal scholars and clinicians who are deeply committed to exploring and addressing issues of real-world significance and impact, including today’s most pressing social justice, racial justice, civil rights, and human rights matters.Our Diverse Faculty
Faculty Diversity Committee
Several years ago, the Law School launched a bold strategic plan anchored by twin goals of academic excellence and student achievement. An important part of that plan is adding new talent to the faculty.
In the last four years, we welcomed seven full-time faculty members:
And, now, we’re delighted that Marissa Jackson Sow is joining our full-time faculty!Read all about our newest faculty members.
Our Career Development Office (CDO) counselors are there from day one to help students identify and pursue right-fit opportunities. CDO hosts a variety of programs designed to increase employment opportunities for students from historically marginalized and underrepresented communities and backgrounds.
There are a number of diversity and inclusion internships and fellowships available to St. John’s Law students, including offerings from the:
And our students are often selected to participate in exclusive internships and externships in corporate, public interest, and governmental positions.
Throughout the year, we host a wide array of events and programs that support diversity, equity, and inclusion in the St. John's Law community and that further our commitment to being an anti-racist institution. Here's just a sampling of those offerings:
Faculty Workshop Series
Our annual Hon. Edward D. Re Faculty Workshop Series brings scholars from across the country together to discuss their current research and receive feedback on their works-in-progress from our faculty.
This year’s Workshop Series features scholarship related to race, racism, and anti-racism across a host of domains. The presenters will focus on racial justice and racial empowerment issues—particularly those most affecting, experienced by, or relevant to Black people in America.
The Black Authors Book Club
Led by Professors Cheryl L. Wade and Sheldon A. Evans, The Black Authors Book Club challenges preconceived notions and inspires newfound depth in understanding as participants discuss books by African American authors that explore some of the most impactful issues of our time, including:
With unique insight into the racial caste system suffered in America and across the African Diaspora, and through their literary prowess, the authors express messages to the Black community and to those in power that seek to understand the Black experience and how to change it.
We’re proud to share stories reflecting the Law School’s longtime and deep commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. You’ll find them on our website, in our official social media feeds, in our print magazine, and in a special digital compilation, Diverse Voices @ St. John’s Law.
Website Read our stories online
Diverse Voices @ St. John’s LawRead the compilation
St. John’s Law Magazine
For the Fall 2020 issue of St. John’s Law magazine, we’re pleased to present a special digital edition:
The Anti-Racism Essay Project
Written by students, alumni, faculty, and staff, the 20 essays presented here offer a curated collection of perspectives that, individually and collectively, aim to move our Law School, our community, and our profession forward in solidarity as we work to be actively anti-racist and to combat injustice in all its forms.
This special digital issue of the magazine has a permanent home at stjohnslawseeinfra.com, our online hub for sharing news and stories from St. John's Law.
Read past issues of St. John's Law Magazine