Racial Bias, Disparities and Oppression in the 1L Curriculum

A Critical Approach to the Canonical First Year Law School Subjects

February 28-29, 2020
Boston University School of Law

Symposium Schedule

We will be live streaming the majority of the Symposium. Please click here to view Live Stream. Please note that you will be asked to enter your name and email in order to view the live stream. There will be a short period during which we will not be streaming due to privacy requests.

Students studying in the law cafe at BU School of Law

Despite the volume of scholarship addressing how law reinforces and reproduces power disparities, first-year casebooks in legal education are written from a neutral perspective. As a result, the legal system is presented in the first-year classroom as neutral and equal rather than as a way in which American society polices and enforces disparities and subordination. Too often, instructors and students operate as if it was possible to create, weigh, and evaluate rules and arguments in ways that neither reflect nor enforce any particular perspective.

This failure to incorporate the perspectives of marginalized and oppressed groups harms students. First-year legal education that fails to directly address hierarchy and subordination provides students with an impoverished experience and a limited and defective legal training that falls short of preparing them for legal practice and interaction in a diverse and demographically shifting country and a globally interdependent world.

This symposium will bring the new, national conversation about racial bias, disparities, and oppression in the 1L curriculum to the BU Law community. Delivering an inclusive, rigorous, and critical first-year legal education that empowers students to be effective legal professionals requires a fundamental shift in the culture and practice of legal education. The event will focus specifically on race, addressing both substance and pedagogy – that is, what we teach in the first year and how we teach it.

Friday, February 28

Panel I: Race and Private Law: The Role of Racial Disparities and Oppression in The Allegedly Neutral Law that Enables Free Interactions Between Equal Private Actors.

Panel II: Race & Civil Procedure: Racial Disparities in Access to Civil Justice

Panel III: Criminal Law as a System of Racialized Social Control

Saturday, February 29

Panel IV: Towards an Inclusive, Critical and Collective Pedagogy

All professors, law students, graduate students, undergraduates, alumni and the general public are welcome to attend the program. If you require disability accommodations in order to attend this event, please contact us at lawevent@bu.edu