Institute for Race and the Law

Transforming the landscape of legal education

The Pillars of Our Work

  • placeholderPillar One

    Legal Education

    Providing law students, law schools, and practicing lawyers with critically needed legal curriculum on race.

  • placeholderPillar Two

    Justice Reform

    Legal research and policy work to address racial inequity in legislation and the administration of justice.

  • placeholderPillar Three

    Legal Services

    Providing counsel and representation in the areas of law most significant to Rhode Island’s racial inequality such as housing discrimination, economic opportunity and access, and prisoners’ rights.

Roger Williams University is launching the Institute for Race and the Law to transform the landscape of legal education, drive justice reform through legal scholarship, and address root causes of systemic inequality.

At Roger Williams University School of Law, a movement for race and social justice is underway - a movement we invite you to join.

In 2023-2024, Roger Williams University School of Law is commemorating its 30th anniversary. To celebrate and reaffirm our values, we are establishing a new Institute for Race and the Law. This innovative institute will further deepen our social justice mission and our commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging. 

We are national leaders in teaching and scholarship around issues of race and the law including issues of doctrine and diversity. Because of this work, Bloomberg Law ranked RWU Law as a top law school for programs regarding Innovation and Justice.

With your support, this new Institute for Race and the Law will make the law school’s next 30 years even more impactful than its first three decades. 

Contact the Office of Institutional Advancement to get involved. 
401-254-3005 | advancement@rwu.edu

Bernard Freamon, Racial Justice Leader, to Helm RWU's Institute

A university is not worth its salt if it doesn't bring change to society. Our Institute for Race and the Law will rise to this challenge and be a catalyst for real change. We will use the Institute to broaden our horizons, expand academic research on racial justice, and promote practical work on the ground that will make a real difference to the community.

—Bernard Freamon, Professor of Law

Objectives

Law school professors and dean discuss important issues

Lead justice reform in the Northeast through actionable research, advocacy, and policy. 

A professor teaching in a classroom

Establish a fellowship program that will encourage aspiring law professors to make anti-racist principles part of their teaching and scholarship. 

Law professor teaching

Modernize legal education and the legal system to ensure justice for all through teaching and research, scholarships, and programming around our priorities. 

By 2027, we aspire to:

  • 500

    Train 500 lawyers and legal educators about systemic oppression in the law and contemporary manifestations of white supremacy in legal spaces.

  • 50

    Advise 50 U.S. law schools seeking to incorporate issues of race into their curriculum.

  • 500

    Engage 500 non-legal professionals in training, discussions, and partnership to address systemic racism and American law.

Join Our Work

  • Make a monetary contribution. We are looking to raise $3,000,000 in the next three years. 
  • Serve on our new advisory board guiding the work of the Institute for Race and the Law. 
  • Become a community partner – legal firms, nonprofit organizations, advocacy and research institutions – and help contribute to the work of the Institute. 

Become a Race and the Law Champion

We are seeking 30 premier partners to support the Institute for Race and the Law with a three-year, $100,000 commitment. Benefits include founding partner recognition and signage.

Contact the Office of Institutional Advancement to get involved. 
401-254-3005 | advancement@rwu.edu

A professor teaches at the law school

Pillar One: Legal Education

Providing law students, law schools, and practicing lawyers with critically needed legal curriculum on race. 

Funding Opportunities Include:

  • Named Director of the Institute.
  • Public programming for student, professional and public audiences.
  • Named classrooms.
  • Annual conference sponsorship. 
  • Scholarships.
  • Law Review on Race and the Law.
Students mingle at a law event

Pillar Two: Justice Reform

Legal research and policy work to address racial inequity in legislation and the administration of justice. 

Funding Opportunities Include:

  • Research fellow in justice reform, public policy or anti-racist interventions. 
  • Development and launch of Continuing Legal Education curricula online.
  • Training and technical assistance for law enforcement.
RWU School of Law students at RI District Court

Pillar Three: Legal Services

Providing counsel and representation in the areas of law most significant to Rhode Island’s racial inequality such as housing discrimination, economic opportunity and access, and prisoners’ rights. 

Funding Opportunities Include:

  • Small Business Start Up Clinic funding for minority-owned business and entrepreneurs.
  • Representation for housing discrimination cases.
  • Prisoner’s rights clinic. 

Jonte' McKenzieThe creation of this Institute on Race & the Law will improve the RWU experience for all students. More open discussion about the role that race played, and continues to play, in the creation of our systems, is necessary to foster an even richer curriculum while providing us with even more hands-on opportunities to make change on the ground while we are still students.

—Jonte' McKenzie

Accomplishments

RWU Law Students collaborating

In 2020, Roger Williams University Law students inspired a movement at our law school. With their collaboration, we developed and launched a new required course called Race and the Foundations of American Law

Integrating Doctrine and Diversity cover

Two of our faculty members created the country's leading book on race in the classroom - Integrating Doctrine and Diversity: Inclusion and Equity in the Law School Classroom - and more publications are on the way. Each year, we train law professors nationwide on this important topic. 

Mandell, Boisclair, and Mandell

RWU Law has raised $600,000 in grants for the Small Business Start Up Clinic from Commerce RI's Minority Business Accelerator, a $250,000 major gift from Mark S. Mandell and family for the Mandell-Boisclair Justice Scholarship, along with a $250,000 pledge to match future donations to the Scholarship.