The Color of Law Review


Toussaint - 0000-0001-8536-031X

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Of the approximately sixty-five Black law review Editors-in-Chief (“EICs”) throughout U.S. history, at least thirty-eight—more than half—were elected in the past ten years. What inspired the dramatic increase in the diversity of law review leadership in recent history, and why has it taken so long? This question—what this Article calls law review’s ongoing “diversity problem”— does not have an easy answer. While legal scholars have been talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion (“DEI”) on law review boards for far longer than the past decade, no law school has yet to solve it. Further, even as an increasing number of law schools promote DEI in the classroom, from creating antiracist curricula to appointing diversity-focused administrators, only a handful of law schools seem to be paying much attention to the diversity of their law review boards. The overwhelming silence of law schools amidst the persistent racial and ethnic homogeneity of their law reviews suggests that some law school administrators believe the problem lies with the merit of their nonWhite students. Or, perhaps some believe that law review’s diversity problem is merely symptomatic of ongoing challenges to admit more underrepresented students into J.D. programs nationwide.

This Article argues that law review’s diversity problem must be viewed in the broader context of sociopolitical efforts to eradicate racial injustice in the United States and reform legal education. Applying a critical racial lens toward efforts to promote DEI in law review, this Article clarifies three fundamental drivers of law review’s diversity problem, with implications not just for law review, but for legal education writ large. First, this Article claims that the purpose of DEI for law reviews is not solely to increase the number of racially and ethnically minoritized students on the law review roster to enhance the learning experience of student editors, but also to realign the distorted function of law review with its ideal purpose. Second, it argues that the role of law review’s DEI is not merely to increase the equality of opportunities for underrepresented students or broad-based discussion of marginalized experiences and diverse perspectives of law, but also to challenge the fundamental structure of the sociolegal institutions that coordinate legal education in the United States. Finally, this Article contends that the value of DEI for law reviews is not simply the increased of marginalized voices engaged in mainstream legal discourse, but, perhaps most importantly, the inclusion of voices into mainstream legal discourse that do not always have the perceived academic merit or societal prestige necessary to gain access