Maine Law faculty are engaged in a wide range of activities designed to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion in the law. Below are some recent examples:
- Orientation Programming. Professor Northrop and Associate Dean Wilshusen co-hosted a module for Orientation with the goal of raising DEI as a core issue in legal education.
- Common Read. The New Jim Crow. Incoming 1Ls were required to read Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow. Nineteen Maine Law faculty and several staff members moderated small reading group sessions as part of Orientation.
- Racial Injustice in the Law. In Fall 2020, Maine Law offered this new course, team taught by Maine Law faculty members – Professors Bordelon, Davik, Feinberg, Maine, Moffa, Norchi, Pitegoff, Schindler, Welch, and Wriggins. The course, attended by 21 students, examined racial injustice issues throughout a wide range of legal fields, including Property, Tax, Criminal Law, Business Law, Family Law, and many others, with different faculty members leading various sessions.
- Changing Laws. In January 2021, Maine Law offered a second new course, team taught by several Maine Law faculty members. Over 45 students have enrolled in the course, which will cover numerous topics, such as controlled substances, criminal/court records sealing and expungement, policing in schools/education disparities, and right/access to counsel.
In 2020, many Maine Law faculty incorporated social justice themes, including issues of race, in particular, into their assigned readings and class discussions. The following examples highlight some of the issues raised in select courses.
- Cannabis Law. Professor Bloomberg focused numerous class discussions on racial inequities in cannabis law, and dedicated separate classes to impacts of the war on drugs on communities of color and to building social equity in the cannabis industry.
- Contracts. Professor Feinberg incorporated readings/discussions that address diversity-related concerns, particularly in the context of the doctrine of unconscionability and in determinations of how the “reasonable person” would view a given situation.
- Employment Law. Vice Dean Bam required students to read an article about the “Me Too” movement when discussing sex discrimination in the workplace.
- Juvenile Law. Professor Northrop and Associate Dean Wilshusen incorporated DEI and anti-racism more broadly throughout the course as a critical consideration for system-involved youth.
- Privacy Law. Professor Bloomberg focused numerous class discussions on how privacy law has historically prejudiced women, minorities, and other disfavored groups. He also assigned group projects on facial recognition software and e-carceration.
- Tax Law. Professor Maine highlighted and discussed several racial disparities in the Internal Revenue Code.
Cumberland Legal Aid Clinic
The Maine Law clinics continued to engage in important DEI work, including impactful DEI training of students:
General Practice Clinic
- In the Clinic Seminar, a 90-minute class is devoted to Cultural Humility.
- Professor Smith taught a 90 minute class for Clinic summer interns and fellows on Evidence and Race.
- Clinic faculty have incorporated more explicit references to and discussion of the potential benefits of mindfulness training in addressing bias and racism in mindfulness teaching of law students, such as bringing in the work of Rhonda Magee.
Refugee & Human Rights Clinic (RHRC)
- In 2019, the RHRC filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to USCIS Asylum Offices trying to get at the root of asylum denials.
- In 2020, the RHRC filed a complaint in federal court seeking to compel production related to the FOIA request.
- Also in 2020, the RHRC filed a complaint in federal court seeking to end unethical transfers of ICE detainees from CCJ to areas down south.
- Professor Welch assigns to RHRC students various readings on race and immigration law (e.g., Ahmad’s article on the Ethics of Narrative as well as Srikantiah’s piece on immigration law and white supremacy), accompanied by a class (and multiple case rounds) on racial injustice in immigration law.
Professors Bam, Bloomberg, Norchi, Thaler, and Welch participated in a joint course with the University of Maine Graduate and Professional Center, the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine, and Maine Law. The course, titled “Understanding the COVID-19 Pandemic,” touched on disparate impacts of the pandemic.
|Vice Dean Bam serves as Chair of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion subcommittee of the Portland Chamber Music Festival Board (and also serves on the board of the organization).|
|Professor Bordelon assisted in drafting the joint Association of Academic Support Educators (AASE) and AALS-Academic Support Programs Section statement on racial injustice (July 2020).|
Professor Feinberg served on the Planning Committee for the Feminist Legal Theory Collaborative Research Network Program at the 2020 Law and Society Conference.
Professor Northrop was appointed to Maine Juvenile Justice Advisory Group’s DEI committee in October 2020.
|Professor Pitegoff is a board member and officer at Surf Point Foundation, an arts and artist residency foundation, based in York, Maine. He is working to strengthen explicit racial justice goals and practices in governance and program activity, and also successfully helping to add several new board members of color. He is also a board member at Avesta Housing, a nonprofit affordable housing organization based in Portland, Maine, where he supported Avesta’s participation in the Portland Regional Chamber’s “21-Day Racial Equity Challenge,” designed to create dedicated space to deal with issues of race, power, privilege, and leadership.|
|Professor Wriggins consulted with staff of PBS Program, Raising our Roots, hosted by Henry Louis Gates, on legal issues involving tort litigation in Mississippi in the early twentieth century (program will air in 2021). She also consulted with staff of the HBO Program Real Sports, hosted by Bryant Gumbel, on legal and related in the NFL Concussion settlement.|