Office of Equity & Inclusive Excellence

Welcome to the Office of Equity & Inclusive Excellence at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Established in 2018, Pitt Law's OEIE mission is threefold:

(1) To identify and remove or accommodate for structural barriers to students accessing opportunities available through the law school

(2) To develop, discuss, and model the habits of inclusion that will support student and faculty efforts to bring about an inclusive campus community

(3) To engage with external contacts to enrich students' regional and professional connections

The OEIE is responsible for coordinating and monitoring Pitt law's efforts to institutionalize a culture of equity and inclusion within the law school community. We collaborate with administrative offices, faculty committees, student organizations, and alumni to create and implement strategies for fulfilling our vision for equity and inclusive excellence. This work ensures that Pitt Law maintains a learning and working environment in which faculty, staff, and students can thrive.

Pitt Law Credo:

  • Inclusion: We strive to create an environment where persons of differing backgrounds are welcomed, where different perspectives are respectfully voiced and respectfully heard and where every individual is valued & included.
  • Civility: We treat people with unconditional respect and an assumption of good faith, giving meaningful consideration to the ideas, beliefs, and feelings of others as a matter of professionalism and self-discipline.
  • Intellectual Rigor: We challenge ourselves and others to critically examine facts and ideas meticulously and from diverse perspectives.
  • Justice: We strive to attain equal justice under law, and to assure that justice benefits everyone across our society

 

Make Your Voice Count! - ​Take the Law School Survey of Student Engagement (LSSSE)

You will be reciivng an email to participate in the Law School Survey of Student Engagemtn (LSSSE). WE encourage your participation as we will use the results to improve your experience and quality of education. Your responses help us identify what is going well and what could benefit from more attention or a different approach. Through your participation we will gain meaningful insights about how your educational experiences compare with other law schools.

Note: The survey is conducted by an independent research center, your responses and comments are anonymous to the law school.

Student of Color Virtual Visitation Day

Admitted and prospective students who identify as persons of color are invited to join us virtually for a deep dive into the high-quality JD program available at Pitt Law!

Hear from current Students of Color, the Vice Dean, Admissions and Financial Aid Office, and the Associate Dean for Equity and Inclusive Excellence.

When: Friday, April 12, 2024

Time: 12:00 – 2:00 p.m.

Where: Via Zoom

Click here to register.

Questions? Contact Vincent Johnson, Director of Equity and Inclusive Excellence. We look forward to seeing you!

Spring/Summer Edition of the BLSA Apparel Sale is back!

The wait is finally over and the Spring Edition of the BLSA Apparel Sale is back! Gear up for spring and summer and don’t miss this limited-time opportunity to stock up on your favorite Pitt Law gear. Whether you’re looking for stylish hoodies, tees, or alumni apparel, we’ve got you covered. The online store will be open until Sunday, 04/14/2024 at Midnight EST. Assuming no extensions or issues, orders will begin shipping out on Friday, 04/26/2024. Individual customer orders ship via USPS and can take 1-5 days to arrive depending on the distance.

Questions? please reach out to blsa@pitt.edu.

Paid Summer Internships for Disabled Law Students

The ABA Commission on Disability Rights is partnering with Accenture, Eli Lilly, Microsoft, and Prudential to offer paid summer internships for disabled law students. 

To learn more, visit https://www.americanbar.org/groups/diversity/disabilityrights/resources/lawstudents/internships/.

Please reach out to Amy Allbright, Staff Director, Commission on Disability Rights at amy.allbright@americanbar.org with any questions.

OEIE Student Advisory Council

The Student Advisory Council (SAC) is an OEIE-affiliated student organization. The SAC will encourage and facilitate broad student participation regarding matters of diversity, equity, inclusion, social justice, and belonging as it pertains to the Pitt Law community.

The SAC will meet weekly in the 2nd Floor Conference Room (aka Room #225) on Tuesday afternoons from 12:30 – 1:30 p.m. from Tuesday, January 23rd through Tuesday, April 16th during Spring Term 2024.

All JD, MSL, and LLM students are welcome to attend and participate in any, and all of the meetings. Any student is welcome to attend regardless of whether or not one has participated in past meetings.

We welcome you to attend any and all meetings of the SAC!

Law School Response on recent Supreme Court Rulings

We write today in response to two recent Supreme Court rulings. In SFFA v. Harvard, the Court held that the way Harvard College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill had considered applicants’ race in their admissions processes violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. While the implications of this decision are still coming into focus, the University and Pitt Law are reviewing admissions policies and procedures to ensure that they remain inclusive while also remaining fully compliant with the law.

In the second ruling, 303 Creative LLC v. Elenis, the Court held that the First Amendment prohibits Colorado from legally requiring a website designer to create expressive designs that communicate messages with which the designer disagrees. According to the decision, a commercial product or service that is expressive in nature can be considered speech.  As a result of this decision, there is a question of whether and when state public accommodation laws, some of which prohibit discrimination against members of the LGBTQIA+ community (among others), may compel business owners to provide expressive products or services to those seeking to communicate messages with which the business owner disagrees.

While these decisions may be upsetting to members of our community, other members may consider them rightly decided. If you find yourself troubled, anxious, or angered by these decisions, please know that you are not alone in those feelings. Please also know that we will not be deterred from our mission “to create an environment where persons of differing backgrounds are welcomed, where different perspectives are respectfully voiced and respectfully heard, and where every individual is valued and included.”

As we look ahead to the start of a new school year, we will identify opportunities to congregate in dialogue about the immediate and long-term consequences of these rulings. As always, should you need acute support, please contact us or Deans Sinsheimer and Linsenmeyer with your questions or concerns.

Sincerely,

Interim Dean Mary Crossley and Vice Dean Jerry Dickinson

The Quest to get more Black Attorneys in Pittsburgh

It’s no secret that Pittsburgh isn’t Philadelphia, or Richmond, or Cleveland, in terms of its African American population. The city proper continues to lose African American residents; a 27 percent Black population in 2000 has dwindled to about 22 percent today, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A Gender Equity Commission report in 2019 revealed that Pittsburgh was one of the worst places in the country economically for African Americans.

And it’s no secret that the Black professionals’ population in Pittsburgh isn’t large when compared to many other places. The Allegheny County Bar Association (ACBA) sports roughly 5,500 members—but less than 175 members, or less than 3 percent, are Black.

Kellie Ware, Esq., the new director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion for ACBA, estimated that there may be 50 or so Black attorneys in the Pittsburgh region who are not part of ACBA. Thus, according to Ware, stating that there are less than 250 Black lawyers in the Pittsburgh region… “I would say that is a fair statement to make,” she said.

Click here to read more of this interesting and eye-opening article by Rob Taylor Jr. a Pittsburgh Courier Staff writer.

The History of Black Justices and Judges in PA’s Statewide Appellate Courts

Judge Doris Smith-Ribner, a Pitt Law School graduate; class of 1972, presents an insight into the Black justices and judges in the PA’s statewide appellate courts. Judge Smith-Ribner stated in her article that, “As a former Commonwealth Court Judge, it gives me the honor and great pride to reflect principally upon those who paved the way for others to follow”.

Click here to read the full article.

Policy on Administrative Statements 

The purpose of the Policy on Administrative Statements is as follows:
 
To establish a proactive protocol for statements coming from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law’s deans’ office in response to current events that bear upon legal education and the law school environment; and
To set expectations for the Pitt Law community for when and how the administration will lead the law school’s response to such events.
 
This version of the Policy on Administrative Statements is as of November 16, 2021.