Dean Michelle J. Anderson is the recipient of the 2014 Diversity & Inclusion Champion Award from the New York City Bar Association.
This award recognizes individuals who champion the ideals embodied in the New York City Bar’s Statement of Diversity Principles—“facilitate diversity in the hiring, retention and promotion of attorneys and in the elevation of attorneys to leadership positions within our respective organizations.” Nominees are recognized for influencing others, being a role model, continually learning, cultivating diverse teams, innovating and taking risks and holding themselves and others accountable for diversity and inclusion.
The New York City Bar Association formally presented the award to Dean Anderson on June 18 at the 30th Anniversary Celebration Dinner.
Associate Dean of Student Affairs and Director of the Pipeline to Justice program Cheryl Howard nominated Dean Anderson for this award because of “her continued commitment to graduating high quality lawyers who go on to serve underserved communities”.
The Pipeline to Justice program offers a second chance at admission to CUNY Law to excellent, public interest-focused underrepresented students whose LSAT scores seem incompatible with their achievements. Pipeline participants go through a rigorous training that enhances their test taking, critical thinking and analytic reading and writing skills.
Associate Dean Howard emphasized that, “it is not enough to have diverse faces. It is important to have a diverse community where people feel accepted as full members of that community, judged fairly by the standards of that community and supported by that community and that is the atmosphere that Michelle has created.”
Dean Anderson stressed that she was accepting the award on behalf of the entire CUNY School of Law Community.
“I am honored and humbled to serve an institution that takes very seriously our particular obligation in the legal academy as gatekeepers to the legal profession to engage in practices that help diversify the legal profession. It’s one of the things that makes working at CUNY School of Law so rewarding.”
Dean Anderson pointed out that the legal profession is still disproportionately white, and that this “lack of diversity overall in the legal profession contributes to a justice deficit that leaves the poor with inadequate legal representation.”
She cited a study that concluded that on average attorneys of color, do more to address the justice gap.
“Diversity in the legal profession is perhaps most important and valuable because it will enhance the delivery of justice to disempowered communities.”
She thanked the NYC Bar association for its efforts to enhance diversity in the legal profession, but pointed out that there is a lot more to be done.
“We, the academy and the bar need to work together to promote diversity and leadership and the inclusion of women, people of color and LGBT individuals in all sectors of the profession and at its highest echelons.”