New video Highlights Law School’s Commitment to Diversity

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New England Law | Boston helps students of color succeed in law school and the legal profession

New England Law | Boston’s commitment to diversity and its legacy of providing opportunity to students from diverse backgrounds is being highlighted in a new video by the Boston Lawyers Group (BLG) that features Dean John F. O’Brien.

The video examines how New England Law and BLG are helping students of color with “great expectations” achieve their dreams in law school and beyond.

“Diversity and opportunity are crucial to the success of our community, not only our school and legal communities but also the Boston community as a whole,” said Dean O’Brien. “The BLG shares our belief in the value and importance of diversity, and we value the professional opportunities that our students and graduates have enjoyed through our work together.”

New England Law was founded in 1908 to provide legal education to women at a time when they were often excluded from advanced professional study. The law school became fully co-educational in 1938, and its legacy of encouraging diversity in law school has expanded over the years to include and support others from groups that historically have faced obstacles as they strive to reach their professional goals.

The BLG’s mission is to support the efforts of its member organizations – law firms, corporations, and other organizations – to identify, recruit, advance, and retain attorneys of color. As noted by BLG Executive Director Carol Golden Hebsgaard, “In today’s legal organizations, diversity is not merely ‘nice-to-have’; it is critical to productivity, growth, and economic prosperity.”

The law school’s programs engage students of color and encourage their success. Annual events include the Diversity Day program for prospective students, which showcases New England Law’s welcoming environment, and the Minority Alumni Welcome Reception, which brings together multicultural students and alumni to celebrate diversity at New England Law and to promote mentoring opportunities.

The Charles Hamilton Houston Enrichment Program (CHHEP) was established to address racial bias, promote law school diversity, and help alleviate the isolation that minority students might feel in some law school environments. CHHEP has helped create a community in which students’ varied backgrounds and experiences contribute to the intellectual and social life of the school.

The Career Services Office provides a variety of opportunities for minority students, including actively supporting students’ attendance at local and national job fairs targeted to minority candidates. Meanwhile, student organizations encompass the range of diverse backgrounds, interests, and lifestyles found on campus.

The law school’s proud heritage includes trailblazers such as Blanche Braxton ’21, the first African-American woman lawyer in Massachusetts and the first African-American woman to practice in the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts, and Judge Joyce London Alexander Ford ’72, who was the country's first African-American woman magistrate judge. Prominent modern-day alumni include Michael Curry ’05, president of the Boston chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

“Our goal at New England Law is to create a supportive environment where students of all backgrounds and experiences can obtain substantive instruction, extensive preparation in practical skills, and valuable opportunities for experiential learning,” Dean O’Brien said. “We feel very fortunate and proud to have BLG as a partner in that effort.”

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Patrick Collins
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