A Legacy of Diversity
Emory Law has a long history of embracing diversity—among our faculty, within our student community, in the varied experiential learning opportunities we provide, through our role in the international legal arena, and in the scholarship of our curriculum and centers.
Taking the Lead
Since its founding, Emory Law has graduated a diverse cadre of distinguished lawyers, reflecting the high caliber of our alumni, their passion for justice, and leadership in challenging the status quo.
Eléonore Raoul, who enrolled in the School of Law in 1917, became the first woman admitted to Emory University. Patricia Butler 31L, one of two women in her class, served as a career attorney with the United States Department of Justice and a founding secretary of the American Bar Association's Section on Administrative Law. Orinda D. Evans 68L was the first woman to serve as a federal district court judge in Georgia and the first woman partner of the Atlanta law firm of Alston, Miller & Gaines (now Alston & Bird). Today, women comprise more than half of Emory Law's student body.
In 1962, two Emory Law alumni pursued and won a court case that integrated private education in Georgia. In a powerful example of how the law can lead to social change, Henry L. Bowden 32C 34L 59H and Ben F. Johnson, Jr. 36C 40L 05H won a declaratory judgment from the Supreme Court of Georgia overturning a segregation measure then in the state constitution that eliminated property tax exemptions for private schools that attempted to integrate. As a result of this victory, Emory was able to admit students regardless of race without losing its tax-exempt status; Bowden's defense of Emory's position against segregation earned him the Alexander Meiklejohn Award from the American Association of University Professors.
In 1966, Ben Johnson, then dean of Emory Law, received a Field Foundation grant for Pre-Start, a summer program that successfully recruited African American students. The Emory concept became a model for a national program, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity. (Read more about Bowden and Johnson in Emory Lawyer magazine, "Opening Doors: Two Emory Law alumni pave the way for private schools in Georgia to desegregate.")
A Community of Diversity and Inclusion
Today, Emory Law is an institution where diversity is the norm. Student organizations span a wide range of cultural, gender, philosophical, faith, and political interests, from the active and engaged Black Law Students Association, Legal Association of Women Students, OutLaw, and Latin American Law Students Association to Jewish Law Students Association and Law School Democrats. Our faculty represents the world of legal education, reflecting their diverse interests and backgrounds in the classroom and in their scholarship. Emory University's international acclaim and proactive encouragement of diversity and inclusion adds a multicultural texture to its curricular offerings, student life, and social opportunities across campus.