Diversity and inclusion are central values at Cardozo School of Law. We strive to provide a welcoming community to all students, and an educational curriculum that provides deep insight into structural racism and its impact on society the law, and civil and criminal legal systems.The Deans Council on Diversity and Inclusion, the Associate Dean for Equity in Curriculum and Teaching and the Dean of Students lead these efforts.
Interdepartmental Diversity Officers
Jenn Kim, Associate Dean of Student Services & Advising, Diversity & Inclusion
Sherry-Ann Smith-Gomez, Senior Director of Career Services, Coordinator of Diversity Initiatives
Jeanne Estilo Widerka, Associate Dean of Admissions, Associate Dean of Admissions and Diversity & Inclusion Admissions Initiatives
Office of Diversity and Inclusion
The mission of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI) is three-fold: to ensure that all Cardozo graduates have the cultural competency to be effective attorneys and leaders; to cultivate and sustain an inclusive campus culture where students, faculty, administrators and staff of all backgrounds feel welcome and valued; and to welcome students who are underrepresented based upon race, color, culture, ethnicity, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability or medical condition, age, creed, religion, socioeconomic status, ancestry, nationality, citizen or immigrant status, marital or civl union status, familial or parental status, veteran status, and intersectionality thereof. Cardozo Law is committed to supporting, encouraging and fostering an open and inclusive community that respects the dignity of each individual, embraces diversity as a means of promoting a learning environment, encourages an exchange of information, values and ideas, and is free from discrimination, harassment and intimidation.
Cardozo School of Law is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ+ community
Cardozo holds a deep and steadfast commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. We recognize that LGTBQ+ students and alumni play a critical role in our community and believe that inclusion and equality are cornerstones of legal education. Cardozo has always been a vibrant place to study and advocate for the right of LGBTQ+ individuals. Our faculty, our student and alumni OUTLaw organizations are engaged with legal issues impacting LGBTQ+ people.
- Administration: The Office of Diversity and Inclusion, led by Dean of Students Jennifer Kim, offers continuous support and works to ensure that all programming is thoughtfully inclusive. Peter Markowitz, the Associate Dean of Equity in Curriculum and Teaching, assists professors in developing pedagogical approaches that address the historical underpinnings of systemic bias and discrimination within the law and legal systems.
- Student life: Our student group OUTLaw runs social, educational, and networking events for Cardozo’s LGBTQ+ students and allies and works closely with the administration to make the law school a welcoming and inclusive place for all.
- Curriculum: Cardozo’s curriculum thoroughly engages with the rights of LGBTQ+ communities in core courses like Family Law and Constitutional Law as well as special courses like Sexual Orientation and the Law and Transgender and Reproductive Rights and pop-ups taught by prominent scholars, researchers and movement leaders. In addition, all faculty receive support to enhance the curriculum with new pedagogical approaches to address systemic bias.
- Clinics: Cardozo’s wide range of pro bono clinics and field clinics regularly work with and for LGBTQ+ people. For example, the Immigration Justice Clinic has represented gay and transgender immigrants who face persecution based on gender or sexuality in their home countries; the Civil Rights Clinic has represented transgender individuals who are incarcerated and face harassment, violence and discrimination behind bars, and the Filmmakers Legal Clinic represents filmmakers who tell important LGBTQ+ stories, like T.J. Parsell’s “Invisible,” which documents the hidden role of lesbian women in country music.
- Events: Events at the school are relevant, timely, and an important way to bring LGBTQ+ law to life. For example, in 2023 we hosted a panel discussion featuring six Cardozo alumni who are working to advance LGBTQ+ rights; our OUTLaw student group held a screening of the documentary CANS Can’t Stand, which explores the efforts of Black trans women to obtain the repeal of Louisiana’s Crime Against Nature law. These are just examples of the many forums available at the law school dealing with LGBTQ+ issues.
Office of Career Services – Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives
Cardozo’s Office of Career Services (OCS) provides a dedicated OCS coordinator of diversity initiatives who works in conjunction with Cardozo’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion to develop resources and programming. The two offices work together to advise students and alumni regarding placement. OCS provides resources for students and alumni of diverse backgrounds, including a broad range of initiatives such as career fairs, fellowships, and internships.
Our Values and Student Organizations
On our campus and in our classrooms, we strive to create an environment that is welcoming to people of all religions, races, ethnicities, socioeconomic backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities. Our student organizations work with alumni, faculty and administrators on a wide array of events at the law school such as: OUTlaw's annual E. Nathaniel Gates Award ceremony honoring excellence in lawyers from the LGBTQI community; the Black and Latino Law School Association's annual dinner celebrating diversity and excellence in the legal profession by those pressing forward in the face of adversity; and the Jewish Law Students Association, which provides frequent forums and speakers throughout the year.
At Cardozo we believe that inclusion is a cornerstone of legal education and that diversity advances the entire legal system. We are committed to two core values: providing opportunities for historically underrepresented people in the legal profession and ensuring that every Cardozo lawyer has the training and sensitivity to conduct an inclusive practice in the modern legal world.
The director of diversity and inclusion is in charge of ensuring a robust annual assessment of the many ongoing and newly created initiatives to ensure Cardozo is supportive, inclusive and diverse.
Cardozo’s student organizations offer social activities for their members while sharing their culture and traditions with the broader Cardozo community.
- Asian Pacific American Law Students Association
- Black Law Students Association
- Cardozo Women’s Law Initiative
- Jewish Law Students Association
- Korean American Law Students Association
- Latin American Law Students Association
- Minority Law Student Alliance
- Muslim Law Student Association
- OUTLaw, Cardozo’s pioneer LGTBQ+ student group
- Southeast Asian Law Students Association
Professor Peter Markowitz, Associate Dean of Equity in Curriculum and Teaching
Professor Peter Markowitz is Associate Dean of Equity in Curriculum and Teaching, a position created to ensure ongoing review of the law school curriculum and teaching practices with respect to diversity, equity and inclusion. Professor Markowitz oversees the implementation of additions to the curriculum and faculty training on issues of race, implicit bias and cultural competency.
Dean Melanie Leslie created the position saying, "It is critical that we develop new pedagogical approaches that squarely address the historical underpinnings of race, racism, antisemitism and bias of all kinds that have impacted legal doctrine.”
Initiatives include developing courses to satisfy Cardozo’s upper-level race and the law requirement, facilitating faculty discussion sessions regarding, and monitoring steps toward, increasing the attention given to diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging in standard law school courses, creating new upper-level courses and organizing faculty implicit-bias training sessions.
These issues have long been neglected in too many law school classrooms,” said Professor Markowitz. “We in the legal community must all work to confront the discrimination and structural racism within our legal system and to produce lawyers with a deep understanding of how discrimination has been perpetrated through many of our laws and legal institutions.”
Professor Markowitz is a member of the dean’s leadership team and a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Working Group, helping formulate policy and creating a climate that is welcoming and supportive for all members of the community.
The Gates Scholars and Martinidez Scholarship Programs
The E. Nathaniel Gates Scholars Program supports students who are first-generation college or graduate students or who experienced particular barriers or challenges in their path to a career in law. Cardozo Law has designed an inter-departmental, multi-faceted program with new opportunities throughout law school for support, community, networking and more. The Gates Scholars program is rooted in the belief that community drives success in law school.
The David Martinidez Scholarship provides scholarship funding for applicants who have demonstrated a commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion or have themselves overcome obstacles, financial and otherwise, in advancing their career objectives. The scholarship is named for a former dean of admissions who championed diversity at Cardozo Law.
Zoe Sheppard, 3L
Undergraduate School: St. John's University
Activities: Student Attorney, Criminal Defense Clinic; Inclusion Committee Chair, Moot Court Honor Society; Public Service Scholar; Former Co-President, Minority Law Student Association; Former Clinic Intern, Bronx Defenders Mainzer Family Defense Practice; Former Teaching Assistant, Lawyering and Legal Writing;
Stacy Moses, 2L
Undergraduate School: Hunter College
Activities: Clinic Intern, Kathryn O. Greenberg Immigration Justice Clinic; Teaching Assistant, Lawyering and Legal Writing; Vice President, South Asian Law Students Association
Leandra Ipina, 3L
Undergraduate School: University of San Diego
Activities: Staff Editor, Cardozo Law Review (Volume 44); Samuel & Ronnie Heyman Scholar; 2L Senator, Student Bar Association; Steve Madden Extern; Founder and President, Cardozo Wine Society; MetroLALSA Delegate, Latin American Law Student Association; 2022 Hispanic Scholarship Fund Scholar; Student Ambassador, Mergers, Acquisitions & Corporate Control Contests Committee Appointment, NYC Bar Association
Breana Beaudreault, 2L
Undergraduate School: Barnard College
Activities: Public Service Scholar; Floersheimer Fellow; Clinical Intern, Bronx Defenders Mainzer Family Defense Practice; Co-President of MLSA
Chantall Sanchez, 2L
Undergraduate School: Stony Brook University
Activities: 2L Staff Editor, Moot Court Honor Society; Alumni Chair, Latin American Law Student Association; Director of Events: Alumni Affairs, Sports Law Society; Cardozo Wine Society; Women in Tech
Makayla Manning, 3L
Undergraduate School: University of Miami
Activities: Staff Editor, Cardozo Law Review (Vol. 44); Treasurer, National Lawyers Guild; Black Law Student Association; Intellectual Property Law Society
Sydney Clarke, 3L
Undergraduate School: City College of New York
Activities: Vice President, Black Law Student Association; Selected Student Competitor, 30th Willem C. Vis. International Commercial Arbitration Moot; Staff Editor, Cardozo Alternative Dispute Resolution Competition Honor Society; Teaching Assistant, Trial Advocacy; Student Member, Entertainment Law Society
Rebecca Malek, 2L
Undergraduate School: Penn State University
Activities: Staff Editor, Alternative Dispute Resolution Honor Society; BLSA; Cardozo Wine Society
Cardozo has shown a strong commitment towards increasing diversity within the legal profession, and has recognized that developing an environment where students are able to have diversity in ideas and cultures leads to the productions of the best legal advocates.
Office of Career Services: Diversity and Careers
The Office of Career Services is committed to exploring, promoting, and providing access to career opportunities for all students, including for students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession. We develop resources and implement programming that emphasize the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We also conduct extensive outreach to, and work closely with, employers and professional organizations to identify opportunities, provide guidance on the best strategies to take advantage of these opportunities, and develop the skills to ensure success. By collaborating with our students and alumni, our goal is to help shape career paths that they will find rewarding and fulfilling.
Office of Alumni Affairs and Diversity Programming
Alumni Affairs strives to serve as a bridge between graduates, students, and the Cardozo community. Our staff is committed to building and cultivating meaningful, personal relationships that connect alumni leaders to students. By understanding commonalities and celebrating differences, we create programming and opportunities that foster a culture that not only values differences, but also inspires those on campus and in the professional world.
I felt welcomed into the Cardozo Community from my first day here. The students, the faculty and the staff have always been friendly and supportive. Being here felt like being home. I not only met new people, I have made friends from every part of the world. Cardozo represents the spirit of New York.
The Cardozo Community actively seeks diverse solutions within their work and everyday life. Continually learning from each other in this manner makes us successful advocates.
I'm always amazed by the myriad interests of my colleagues and professors here at Cardozo. I am especially motivated by the professors' intellect and dedication. They inspire me to challenge myself each day.