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News Release

Vermont Law School to Explore Racism in Legal Education with Embedded Racism in the Law Discussion Panel

Monday, February 14, 2022


The free, open to the public event to be held Feb. 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. 

SOUTH ROYALTON, Vt. (Feb. 14, 2022) – Vermont Law School (VLS) will examine racism in legal education when it hosts an Embedded Racism in the Law discussion panel on Thursday, Feb. 17, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.  

Presented by the VLS Diversity Committee, the free, open to the public event will be livestreamed at

“The rule of law is essential to a legal education, so law schools and other institutions of higher education have a special obligation to fight inherent ignorance, intolerance, and racial and social injustice,” said Shirley Jefferson, VLS’s associate dean for student affairs and diversity and an associate professor of law. “Exploring these issues and their impact through discussions like this are vital to creating learning environments that are inclusive of all people, regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, religion, nationality, ethnicity, ability, age, or socioeconomic class.” 

During the event Dean Jefferson will provide an overview of the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) plan, including what steps it is taking to reach the plan’s goals, while VLS Vice Dean for Faculty and Professor of Law Cynthia Lewis will detail how school faculty members are incorporating DEI in their courses. 

Black Law Students Association at VLS President Kaci Stewart will preview the Racism and the Law symposium taking place Feb. 19, while panel presentations on racism in legal education will be led by Aaron Taylor, executive Director for the AccessLex Center for Legal Education Excellence, and Keeshea Turner Roberts, adjunct clinical law professor and supervising attorney at Howard University School of Law’s Fair Housing Clinic.

"Racism in legal education is apparent in admission to law school, attending law school, and studying for the bar,” said Heather Francis JD/MFALP’22, senior notes editor of the Vermont Law Review and a student organizer of the event. “The panel will highlight these difficulties, while also proposing solutions to dismantle racism in legal education. Hopefully, after the panel, law school administrators, faculty, and staff across the country think critically about how they can dismantle racism in the classroom and in the admissions process."

Additional events in the Embedded Racism in the Law discussion series will be held March 17 and April 21. 

The VLS Diversity Committee is comprised of members of the faculty, staff, and students, and serves as the primary catalyst for efforts to address diversity within the law school.  Its primary mission is to educate the VLS community on the diversity, differences, needs, and obstacles confronted by faculty, staff, and students with diverse backgrounds.