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New York Law School

185 West Broadway

New York, NY 10013

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The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law is excited to announce the launch of its Inaugural Racial Justice Institute, co-sponsored by New York Law School.

The Racial Justice Institute is dedicated to bringing together leading attorneys, activists, journalists, academics, and community leaders working on the front lines of the fight for racial justice. This free conference will feature a full day of programming addressing some of the country’s most pressing civil rights issues, including the criminalization of race and poverty, ensuring a fair and accurate 2020 Census count, and why courts matter.

RJI Agenda

8:30AM – 9:00AM – Registration and Light Breakfast

9:00AM – 9:30AM – Opening Remarks

9:30AM – 11:00AM – Morning Plenary

Civil Rights Litigation in the Current Judicial Environment

1.5 Professional Practice CLE (NY Transitional & Non-Transitional)

This panel will discuss the challenges in litigating civil rights in the federal courts as the Supreme Court and some other federal courts have become increasingly more conservative. The panel will discuss recent civil rights decisions of the Supreme Court and lower federal courts as well as some of the strategic issues civil rights groups are considering.

Featuring Shira Sheindlin, retired United States District Judge and of counsel at Stroock & Stroock, Janai Nelson, Associate Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Jon Greenbaum, Chief Counsel of the Lawyers’ Committee.

11:15AM – 12:15PM – Morning Breakout Sessions

21st Century Barriers to the Vote

1 Professional Practice CLE (NY Transitional & Non-Transitional)

Over the past decade, 23 states have enacted legislation creating barriers to the vote. Six years ago, the Supreme Court removed the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. In recent years, the Department of Justice has appeared to abdicate its role as enforcer of voting rights, having not filed a single suit under the Voting Rights Act since January 2017. This perfect storm has resulted in increased barriers faced by communities of color to their exercise of the franchise. In response, state and national voting rights and civic engagement organizations have been working together to defend the right to vote and to advocate for reforms that will allow for increased access to the ballot. These efforts will be discussed during "21st Century Barriers to the Vote”, a panel discussion that will explore the express and subtle means that states, local governments and private parties are using to create obstacles to the vote and strategies being used to overcome them.

Featuring Dale Ho, director of the ACLU’s Voting Rights Project, Myrna Perez, Deputy Director of the Brennan Center's Democracy Program, Jerry Vatamalla, director of the Democracy Program at AALDEF, and Susan Lerner, Executive Director of Common Cause New York.

Moderated by Ezra Rosenberg and Marcia Johnson-Blanco, Co-Directors of the Voting Rights Project at the Lawyers’ Committee.

#MeToo: How Women of Color Navigate their Workplaces

1 Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias CLE (NY Non-Transitional only)

Various cities like New York have passed laws aimed at strengthening protections for victims of harassment. The panel will explore how law firms and corporations can play a role in creating safer and more inclusive workplaces for women of color both internally and beyond.

Featuring Penelope Andrews, Co-Director of the Racial Justice Project at NYLS, Marissa Jackson Sow, Deputy Commissioner of the NYC Commission on Human Rights, and Melissa Woods.

Fighting Hate in the Age of Trump

1 Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias CLE (NY Non-Transitional only)

Join us for an interactive workshop to discuss strategies to fight hate in today’s America. Given the divisive rhetoric coming from our country’s leaders, and new online tools that allow white supremacists to connect and mobilize more easily, what can advocates do to counter the spread of hate? We’ll hear from individuals that have been directly targeted for hate, before learning about the legal framework for hate crimes. Presenters will share a wide range of tools advocates have leveraged to push back on hate, including litigation, community organizing, and policy advocacy with tech companies. Participants will be given an opportunity to engage with pressing questions concerning how to best respond to hate, online and offline.

Moderated by Nadia Aziz and Arusha Gordon, Co-Interim Directors of the Stop Hate Project at the Lawyers' Committee.

12:30 - 1:30PM - Lunch & Fireside Chat

1:45PM – 2:45PM – Afternoon Breakout Sessions

Disparate Impact under the Fair Housing Act after Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project

1 Professional Practice CLE (NY Transitional & Non-Transitional)

This panel will highlight the importance of the Fair Housing Act’s disparate impact standard for attempts to dismantle structural racism in housing and provide an overview of the obstacles that have arisen in some disparate impact lawsuits since the Supreme Court’s 2015 decision upholding the disparate impact standard.

Featuring Stan Brown, Senior Counsel at Hogan Lovells, and Thomas Silverstein, Associate Counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee. Moderated by Deborah Archer, Associate Professor at NYU and Co-founder of the NYLS Racial Justice Project.

Black Perspectives: At the Intersection of Racial Justice and Immigration

1 Diversity, Inclusion and Elimination of Bias CLE (NY Non-Transitional only)

Africans are one of the fastest growing immigrant groups in the United States. However, their voices have been largely absent from the mainstream immigration conversation. This panel will feature an in-depth discussion about the unique position of African immigrants in the United States immigration debate, the intersection of immigration advocacy and racial justice, and recent litigation filed on behalf of African immigrant communities.

Featuring Amaha Kassa, founder and Executive Director of African Communities Together, Carl Hamad-Lipscombe, Deputy Director of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, Patrice Lawrence National Policy and Advocacy Director at UndocuBlack, and Maryum Jordan, Associate Counsel at the Lawyers’ Committee.

Moderated by Dorian Spence, Director of Special Litigation and Advocacy at the Lawyers’ Committee.

Legal Challenges to Efforts to Promote Diversity and Educational Equity in K-12 Schools

1 Professional Practice CLE (NY Transitional & Non-Transitional)

Over the past year, there have been a number of legal challenges filed to voluntary efforts by K-12 schools to promote more diverse and integrated learning environments. These cases, and others like them, ask whether uniform admissions standards and high-stakes testing are objective measures of merit or create an unfair advantage or disadvantage to certain minority groups, or whether magnet programs or controlled choice amounts to intentional discrimination. This panel will explore the emerging threats to the constitutionality of voluntary efforts to increase racial diversity within schools by focusing on the efforts of Mayor de Blasio and his Department of Education to improve diversity at the competitive high schools in New York City.

Featuring Professor Syed Ali, Long Island University, Leanne Nunes, Director of Equity at IntegrateNYC, Rachel Kleinman, Senior Counsel & Director of Professional Development at LDF, Sadye Campoamor, Director of Community Affairs at NYC Department of Education, and Shino Tanikawa, Parent and Advocate.

Moderated by Natasha Quiroga and Genzie Bonadies Torres, Educational Opportunities Project at the Lawyers' Committee

3:00PM – 4:30PM – Afternoon Plenary

Central Issues to Criminal Justice and Changes for the Better

1.5 Professional Practice CLE (NY Transitional & Non-Transitional)

The Panel will discuss recent, important developments that promise to bring greater recognition and support for defendants’ rights and a reduction of unwarranted incarceration.

4:30PM – 5:00PM – Closing Remarks

5:00PM – 6:00PM - Reception


How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Please email for questions or concerns

Are CLE credits available?

Yes, CLE credits are available! Please note NYLS is only accredited to provide CLE in New York State. However, there may be reciprocity with New Jersey. Attorneys from other states will have to inquire with their respective State CLE Board about what the process is, if any, for reciprocity.

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New York Law School

185 West Broadway

New York, NY 10013

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