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Open Access Publications from the University of California

National Black Law Journal

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The National Black Law Journal (NBLJ) has been committed to scholarly discourse exploring the intersection of race and the law since 1970, when the NBLJ was started by five African-American law students and two African-American law professors. The Journal was the first of its kind in the United States.

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CREATING WISE CLASSROOMS TO EMPOWER DIVERSE LAW STUDENTS: Lessons in Pedagogy from Transformative Law Professors

Many of today’s law students experience a triple-threat. They suffer from the solo status that accompanies being a member of an underrepresented group, the stereotype threat that accompanies being a member of a stereotyped group, and the challenges that attend lacking a background in the law before beginning law school. But today’s law schools often fail to create safe1 environments, teach foundational content and skills, or take basic steps toward providing instruction that ensures students from all backgrounds are empowered to thrive. While much has been written about improving legal education and about the failure of current pedagogies to provide a sound education to students experiencing this triple-threat, little has been written about approaches that ensure that these students succeed. This article is an attempt to identify an initial pathway forward. It builds off of research regarding legal pedagogy, inclusive pedagogy, and the results of eleven in-depth-interviews with “transformative professors” who UC Berkeley Law students identified as being skilled at creating safe spaces and ensuring that individuals from all backgrounds succeed academically. This rich data can inform professors and institutions across the state and country in their efforts to provide a legal education that, instead of simply benefiting the most privileged, provides a transformative education to all.