Cornell Law Review is committed to increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion within legal academia, both in our membership and in our scholarship. We aspire to maintain an organization that is representative of the diversity within our nation and provides opportunities for underrepresented minorities in the legal profession to access opportunities to engage with legal academia. Furthermore, Cornell Law Review aims to amplify the voices of underrepresented and emerging scholars within every issue we publish. In recognition of these goals, and in acknowledgment of the role that law review journals play in the continued marginalization of underrepresented groups, Cornell Law Review humbly submits the following review of its past practices and ongoing changes.
While the history of the legal profession has been filled with chronic inequality and long-time ignorance of diversity issues, Cornell Law Review acknowledges its own past of insufficient representation and commitment to overcoming the inaction in the industry. Underrepresentation continues to persist in our membership—although Cornell Law School admits many students from underrepresented backgrounds, only a few become editors in our organization, and even fewer serve in leadership positions. For the last 108 years since our founding in 1915, there have only been 12 female editor-in-chiefs. It was not until 1992 that Cornell Law Review elected its first African American editor-in-chief. Additionally, Cornell Law Review helped reinforce discrimination and inequality through its legal scholarship and heightened the barrier to entering legal academia by reifying the biases against minorities in the scholarship selection process. As our society and the legal profession evolve toward a more inclusive future, Cornell Law Review is aware that we lagged behind on many issues in diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Nonetheless, there are some milestones to celebrate progress at Cornell Law Review. For example, Cornell Law Review was the first law review journal in the United States to have a female editor-in-chief. She was followed by three more female editors-in-chief – the next three in the country. A hundred years later in 2019, Cornell Law Review elected an all-female executive board, believed to be a first for a flagship journal at a top law school. We have also had editors-in-chief of various races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Even outside the editor-in-chief position, Cornell Law Review has been achieving more diverse representation on the executive board and in the general membership. Today, we continue to strive for diversity in our organization and have implemented various initiatives to achieve this. These include:
- Including a diversity statement as part of the journal write-on competition;
- Creating a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion senior board position;
- Creating a diversity committee;
- Adopting a blind review process to minimize the impact of any biases;
- Working on a petition to earn class credit for journal participation to remove barriers to joining the journal.
These accomplishments are surely ones to celebrate, but our work continues. Cornell Law Review will continue to actively promote and pursue diversity until it is fully reflected in our membership as well as scholarship. Our plan of action going forward is to work on increasing diversity within our membership by designing and passing amendments to the Cornell Law Review constitution to ensure that diversity statements play a bigger role in the member selection process. We also hope to amplify the works of new scholars who represent historically marginalized groups by continuously reevaluating our current blind review process to ensure that our selection processes are free from bias. We are confident in our ability to keep moving forward in the right direction and are excited to see what Cornell Law Review can accomplish in the coming years as an evolving diverse community.