The faculty recently adopted revisions to the curriculum designed to help our students examine and understand racism in the law and throughout the legal system. Dean Melanie Leslie appointed Professor Markowitz as Associate Dean of Equity in Curriculum and Teaching. The Dean's Council on Diversity and Inclusion spearheaded strategies to address inequities and structural racism within the community and in the legal system at large. We are committed to empowering all programs and initiatives at Cardozo with support for continuous and ongoing advancement in diversity, equity and inclusion.
Diversity at Cardozo is multidimensional, going beyond simple metrics of gender, race and age. We believe diversity is defined by the ideas expressed in a community with a broad range of perspectives, life experiences and cultural backgrounds. An inclusive community enriches the experience of students intellectually and helps them become innovative problem solvers.
The mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) is three-fold:
Diversity at Cardozo is expressed in our classes, clinics, special events and hands-on learning opportunities outside the classroom. Student journals, nationally ranked programs in intellectual property and dispute resolution and advocacy, and our internationally recognized clinics, such as The Innocence Project and the Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic, support fundamental social justice and equal rights—taking issues of diversity into the public realm.
The Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA) organizes programs and events that enhance the academic, social and professional lives of its members while contributing to the wider Cardozo community. APALSA is especially proud of its mentor program, pairing upper-level students with first-year students to provide as much academic guidance and personal support as they request. APALSA also actively reaches out to alumni to encourage more collaboration and mentoring between our students and working professionals. APALSA’s annual Lunar New Year celebration is a Cardozo community favorite.
The Black Law Students Association (BLSA), affiliated with the National Black Law Students Association (NBLSA), provides support, encouragement, and advice to students who identify themselves as African American, Caribbean or African. BLSA membership is open to all Cardozo students and provides valuable programming to inform and enlighten its members and the Cardozo community at large. BLSA serves its members and local community through many programs, including exam prep and outlining workshops, a mentoring program, networking programs with alumni and social programming.
The Cardozo Women’s Law Initiative was founded to celebrate women’s achievements, address professional challenges, and facilitate continued progress by bringing legal practitioners and law students together to share in an ongoing conversation about gender issues in law school and the legal profession.
The Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA) runs social and educational events throughout the year. JLSA also serves as a liaison to school administrators on issues impacting Jewish students. All events are open to the entire school community, and membership is not limited to Jewish students.
The Korean American Law Students Association (KALSA) was established to support students with a specialized interest in Korean and Korean American culture. KALSA programs serve their members and extend to the wider Korean community, including the Korean American Lawyers Association of Greater New York (KALAGNY), to provide networking opportunities for students. KALSA’s fall festival celebrating the Korean holiday Chuseok is enjoyed by the Cardozo community.
The Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) offers mentorship programs for members and establishes ties with the Latinx legal community, providing students with information about internships, job fairs, firm receptions, and networking opportunities. LALSA hosts a Thanksgiving potluck dinner for the law school. Its “Fiesta” event, held each spring, features a live salsa band, capoeira dancing, and Latin American and Caribbean food.
The Minority Law Student Alliance (MLSA) is the umbrella organization for Cardozo’s affinity groups. The sole purpose of MLSA is to bring together the affinity groups to find the intersections of identity, to provide social and academic support, and to advocate for underrepresented communities at Cardozo Law and beyond. MLSA co-sponsors cultural and political events with the affinity groups, hosts regular town halls to discuss issues related to diversity and inclusion, and organizes regular meetings with administrators.
The Muslim Law Student Association (MSA) aims to promote the professional needs and goals of Muslim law students, influence the legal community to promote meaningful change to meet the needs of the Muslim community, and promote a greater understanding of Muslims and Islam on campus. This organization is open to all Cardozo Law students.
OUTlaw is Cardozo’s pioneer student group for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex students and their allies. OUTlaw organizes meetings, educational panels, and social activities to advance LGBTQI rights and issues. One of the group’s prominent events is an annual reception in which the E. Nathaniel Gates Award, established in honor of a beloved Cardozo professor, is presented to notable Cardozo LGBTQI alumni. Past recipients include a Tony Award winner, two lawyers at the forefront of LGBTQI immigration rights, and Robert Balsam ’82, Geoffrey Bowers ’82 and Daniel Felber ’82, whose story was chronicled in the movie Philadelphia.
The Southeast Asian Law Students Association (SALSA) serves Cardozo’s South Asian student body through mentoring programs for first-year students, career panels and alumni receptions. SALSA also provides various cultural activities for the wider Cardozo community. SALSA’s highlight of the academic year is the annual Diwali/Eid Festival, celebrating the Hindu holiday of Diwali and the Muslim holiday of Eid with fellow students, staff, and faculty.
“The diversity at Cardozo is incredible, and is one of my favorite parts about being a student here. OUTlaw has become a safe space for myself and so many other LGBTQI students, allowing us to have a platform to share our ideas with each other and an administration who wants to help make Cardozo a more inclusive place. Cardozo provides a number of networking opportunities, clinics, courses on race and sexual orientation, diversity scholarships and other programs aimed at helping diverse students succeed. It is an amazing thing to really feel like we are being heard by others, while at the same time being taught so much by our peers.”
“I’m always amazed by the myriad interests of my colleagues and professors here at Cardozo. I am especially motivated by my professors’ intellect and dedication. They inspire me to challenge myself each day.”
The Dean’s Council on Diversity and Inclusion (DCDI) was a forum and working group that was created to assist the dean in proactively and creatively meeting the diversity-related challenges affecting Cardozo Law and the legal profession. The DCDI was made up of Cardozo students, faculty, administration and alumni. READ MORE
The Office of Career Services is committed to exploring, promoting, and providing access to career opportunities for students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession. We develop resources and implement programming that emphasize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also conduct extensive outreach to, and work closely with, employers and professional organizations to identify DEI opportunities, provide guidance on the best strategies to take advantage of these opportunities, and develop the skills to ensure success. By collaborating with our students and alumni, our goal is to help shape career paths that they will find rewarding and fulfilling. READ MORE
The Office of Alumni Affairs and Diversity Programming
Alumni Affairs strives to serve as a bridge between graduates, students, and the Cardozo community. Our staff is committed to building and cultivating meaningful, personal relationships that connect alumni leaders to students. By understanding commonalities and celebrating differences, we create programming and opportunities that foster a culture that not only values differences but also inspires those on campus and in the professional world.
Cardozo is a longstanding member of the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) and has received numerous awards for our continuing commitment to diversifying the legal profession. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education through the Thurgood Marshall Legal Educational Opportunity Program, CLEO is dedicated to expanding opportunities to minority, low-income and disadvantaged groups.
Cardozo/Google Patent Diversity Project
Victor Wang ’15 is the director of the Cardozo/Google Patent Diversity Project, which aims to increase patents issued to women, people of color, and underprivileged inventors. The Google-funded project, in collaboration with Cardozo’s Tech Startup Clinic, offers students a unique hands-on experience in patent law. The project has secured its first patent on behalf of Rose Coppee, a black inventor, for a modular hairbrush.
“The Cardozo community actively seeks diverse solutions within their work and everyday life. Continually learning from each other in this manner makes us successful advocates.”
Discover Cardozo is an open house event tailored to prospective students of color and LGBTQI students. The objective of Discover Cardozo is to demystify the law school admission process and to underscore Cardozo as a law school that seeks to enroll students who have varied backgrounds and interests.
Discover Cardozo participants observe a law school class, tour the facility and hear from various Cardozo community members. In small groups, they meet with current students to discuss expectations and academic success strategies. The participants also have an opportunity to interact with the Minority Law Student Alliance (MLSA) and each of its member-organizations. In addition, participants hear from diverse members of the Cardozo faculty and administration on how to have a successful first year, and the importance of defining your professional goals and aspirations.
In conjunction with Cardozo’s Office of Career Services and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, the Office of Admissions participates in Youth Law Day. This program is hosted with the New York State Bar, Department of Education and Law School Admission Council (LSAC). The event addresses early outreach, awareness and preparation aimed at racially and ethnically diverse students who are in high school or their first two years of college. Cardozo was named a Top 10 finalist for the 2015 LSAC Diversity Matters Award in honor of its commitment to diversity.
Historically a student-driven initiative, and now a Cardozo tradition, Horizons is designed to provide incoming students of color and members of the LGBTQI community insight on navigating the law school landscape. Held during our extensive orientation program, Horizons offers incoming students a foretaste of classes and faculty expectations. Components of the program have included a mock class taught by a Cardozo faculty member and debriefing sessions with current students and alumni.
At the start of the fall semester, the Office of the Dean and the Office of Diversity and Inclusion co-sponsor an annual evening reception for students, faculty, administration and staff. The Dean’s Reception features a keynote speaker who addresses the Cardozo community on the importance of diversity within the legal profession.
“Diversity is extremely important, particularly in the law school setting because it is absolutely necessary that lawmakers and judges come from diverse backgrounds to mirror the populations they are affecting with their decisions. As an immigrant, diversity will always be important to me, and Cardozo’s clinical commitment to serving underrepresented communities was crucial in my decision to attend Cardozo. My decision was made the moment I knew Cardozo had one of the leading immigration clinics in the nation.”
“Cardozo has shown a strong commitment towards increasing diversity within the legal profession and has recognized that developing an environment where students are able to have a diversity in ideas and cultures leads to the production of the best legal advocates.”
Cardozo’s administrative offices regularly inform students about outside scholarship opportunities supporting diversity in law schools as soon as they become available.
The Office of Student Finance keeps students up to date on opportunities via email notifications, its dedicated web portal and bulletin boards. In addition, students are supported as they use the variety of online search engines available. Throughout the scholarship application process, the Office of Student Finance partners with students with the goal of achieving a higher probability of success.
Cardozo’s Office of Career Services also compiles and publicizes information about scholarship, internship and fellowship initiatives, including specific hiring criteria, required application materials and deadlines. OCS actively supports students throughout the application process with various services, including mock interviews and resume reviews.
The Gates Scholars Program helps students from underrepresented backgrounds achieve success in law school. Prospective students are automatically considered for the program upon applying to the law school. No additional application materials are required, but applicants are encouraged to submit a diversity statement with their application. Gates Scholars have access to special community offerings including pre-orientation community building events, introduction to affinity groups throughout law school, education opportunities to help demystify legal education, networking and social events, mentorship opportunities, and representation by Gates Scholar Leaders who liaise directly with law school departments on behalf of Gates Scholars community members.
Second-year Cardozo students are invited to apply to the Black, Asian, & Latino Law Students Association (BALLSA) Alumni Scholarship. This scholarship is need-based and is awarded to a second-year student who has overcome hardship and who has distinguished themselves by making a positive impact on and contribution to one or more of the following Cardozo student groups: Asian Pacific American Law Students Association, the Black Law Students Association, the Latin American Law Students Association, Minority Law Student Alliance, and/or the South Asian Law Students Association.
Third-year and LL.M. students are invited to apply to the LGBTQI Fund Scholarship for Outstanding Student Work on LGBTQI Rights. This scholarship is awarded to a third-year or LL.M. student who, during their time at Cardozo, has done exemplary work related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or intersex rights in a clinic, a credited externship or through a non-credited work or pro bono experience.
“I felt welcomed into the Cardozo community from my first day here. The students, the faculty and the staff have always been friendly and supportive. Being here felt like being home. I not only met new people, I have made friends from every part of the world. Cardozo represents the spirit of New York.”