"In an office or workplace, take this one for example, I have to make a lot of decisions about things, and I would be ill-served if I didn’t hear from the different perspectives of my leadership team. They help enrich my thinking about issues and situations and make a better decision—particularly when they disagree with me. That’s important for them to express,” said Williams.
Underrepresentation of certain groups is a barrier to the inclusion of diverse voices in the profession. One obstacle is the disparity in LSAT scores between white students and students of color.
“I don’t believe that diversity and excellence are at odds, but I do believe the metrics we use can create that impression. When we think about this disparity, we have to look at the education system, which is still very segregated. When wealthier school districts get the most resources and the not-so-wealthy ones get the least, you’ve baked in inequity.”
“Structural inequality is keeping us from having the society that we really want to have, with the fullest possible array of creative minds engaged in development, helping to make all our lives better,” said Williams.
Law schools can help by getting engaged with high schools, particularly in communities of need. “It’s important that kids see professionals, like lawyers, because they may not be seeing them otherwise. If they can work with them as volunteers, helping out in whatever way they can, that can serve many goals including broadening the horizons of some of the students,” said Williams.
Williams is one of several African American women recently appointed as law school deans. She sees this as a positive sign in this moment of division within society. “It’s really exciting to be a part of this change, to be one of these women of color who are leading law schools. That doesn’t mean we share the same perspectives. We all have different perspectives, but we share a level of energy in recognizing that we are making history,” said Williams.
In the testimony of these five professionals, a picture emerges of the College of Law. This is a place that encourages open conversations, values differing perspectives, seeks connection with diverse communities, offers empathy and guidance to its students, and tells the untold stories.