UC Law SF’s Diversity Week Sparks Cultural Understanding and Intellectual Growth

Professor Jyoti Nanda of UC Davis School of Law explains how lawyers can use their skills to advance racial justice and equity during an all-day symposium organized by the Center for Racial and Economic Justice (CREJ) as part of UC Law San Francisco’s Diversity Week.

UC Law San Francisco community members broadened their knowledge and perspectives with five days of cultural exchange, learning, and celebration during the law school’s inaugural Diversity Week in March.

Chancellor & Dean David Faigman connects with members of UC Law San Francisco’s diverse student body during a Diversity Week social function.

From learning effective ways to counter workplace bias to groundbreaking approaches for tackling racial inequality, the week’s events served as catalysts for dialogue on justice, equality, and the evolving role of lawyers in a diverse society.

“At UC Law San Francisco, we believe the next generation of lawyers are better positioned to thrive when they understand and appreciate diverse people, cultures, and perspectives,” said Chancellor & Dean David Faigman. “Diversity not only makes our community stronger; it helps prepare our students to face the challenges of an evolving world.”

The inaugural Diversity Week included five days of cultural exchange, learning, and celebration.

During the week, students, faculty, and staff engaged in a series of culturally enriching and thought-provoking events organized by the law school’s Diversity Equity and Inclusion Working Group (DEIWG), started in 2018 under Faigman’s leadership.

WorkLife Law Founding Director Joan Williams and Senior Vice President of Strategy and Research Jamie Dolkas led a talk on their center’s Bias Interrupters program, emphasizing the importance of identifying and addressing bias in the legal profession and other fields. The program will move to UC Law SF’s new Equality Action Center this summer.

“We wanted to highlight the research and scholarship that our colleagues are currently undertaking to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion and eliminate bias broadly,” said Deputy General Counsel Laura Wilson-Youngblood, who served on the DEIWG subcommittee that helped plan the week’s events.

Center for Racial and Economic Justice (CREJ) Co-Directors Alina Ball, Thalia González and Shuana Marshall co-organized the Racial Justice Symposium, which explored groundbreaking approaches to tackling racial inequality with panel talks on rebellious lawyering and restorative justice models. González also presented a separate panel discussion on restorative and transformative justice from LGBTQ+ perspectives.

Professor and CREJ Co-Director Thalia González introduces a discussion on innovative approaches to justice from the perspectives of LGBTQ+ practitioners during UC Law SF’s Diversity Week.

“CREJ is committed to hosting thought-provoking conversations on restorative justice to advance racial equity in the legal system and communities,” González said. “As the field of restorative justice continues to grow, students should have access to cutting-edge theory and expert practitioners to generate innovative responses to racial inequality.”

Through Community Portraits adorning the walls of Mary Kay Kane Hall, the faces and voices of UC Law SF’s diverse community were proudly displayed, reinforcing the message that every individual contributes to the quality of the campus environment.

Chief Diversity Officer and DEIWG Chair Mario Ernesto Lopez ’15 said the planning committee aimed not only to celebrate and advance diversity, but also to highlight UC Law SF’s ongoing commitment to fostering an inclusive and welcoming environment.

Chief Diversity Officer Mario Ernesto Lopez ’15 says diversity is essential to strong legal education, as UC Law SF graduates will practice in a complex word and be required to contemplate different perspectives.

“Diversity Week was not just a one-time event but a pivotal moment in the journey of aspiring lawyers,” Lopez said. “It equipped them with the cultural competence, empathy, and understanding necessary to navigate the complexities of a diverse world and informed their future practice as lawyers committed to justice for all.”

Other events included karaoke performances in multiple languages, culinary journeys sampling cuisines from around the globe, and an arts-and-crafts activity sponsored by the law school’s Center for Advocacy, Resources, and Education and Disability Resource Program.

“It was great to see the smiles of students, staff, and faculty when folks were singing karaoke songs in different languages, trying new foods, or making unique art pieces,” said Director of Student Life, Leadership & Belonging Miguel Zavala, who helped plan the week’s events as a member of the DEIWG Diversity Week planning subcommittee.

For students like Victoria Ang, Diversity Week was more than just a series of events; it reinforced her sense of acceptance and feeling at home within the institution.

“I enjoyed seeing UC Law SF students, faculty, staff, and administration in the same spaces celebrating each other for the diversity we all bring to this campus,” she said.