Promises and Challenges of Achieving Racial Equality in Legal Education in Canada




Adjin-Tettey, Elizabeth
Deckha, Maneesha

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This paper considers the challenges law school actors (students, faculty, administrators) face in countering the hegemonic whiteness of Canadian law schools. In examining both admissions policies as well as current dominant law school cultures, the authors reveal how Canadian law schools can act as sites of institutional racism and provide suggestions on how to meaningfully diversify law schools in order to create a more egalitarian society. Part I of the paper focuses on admissions policies. The authors discuss the need for affirmative action and analyze different options for implementing racial balance in the admissions process. The paper also provides insights relating to the need for outreach and recruitment of racialized students as well as considers the way the racialization of poverty may impact attempts to achieve racial equality in legal education. Part II of the paper focuses on the cultural norms that permeate law schools and the difficulties they pose to racialized students and faculty. Specific problematic practices relating to academic support, curriculum content, classroom dynamics, pedagogy, evaluation and administration are identified and concrete steps that law schools can adopt in these areas to achieve greater racial balance are offered. The paper ends by highlighting the importance of racial equality in legal education to the broader goal of achieving a socially just society.


This is a post-print version of this paper, published in the Canadian Legal Education Annual Review, (2010) pp. 171-209. Reproduced by permission of Carswell, a division of Thomson Reuters Canada Limited.



Elizabeth Adjin-Tettey & Maneesha Deckha, “Promises and Challenges of Achieving Racial Equality in Legal Education in Canada” (2010) CLEAR, 171-209.