It’s one thing to talk about diversity and inclusion. It’s another to put in the work and show results. So, when the Chapman University Dale E. Fowler School of Law was recently honored with a CLEO EDGE Award for Greater Equality, it was an acknowledgment of how “diversity” is much more than just a buzzword for the school—it’s intricately woven into the school’s fabric.
“Having the support from the top down allows for a true commitment to diversity,” said Associate Director for Admissions and Diversity Allison Takeda Flaig.
In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the Council on Legal Education Opportunity (CLEO) created the CLEO EDGE Awards to recognize individuals and organizations that have shown a commitment to Education, Diversity, and Greater Equality in the legal profession. They selected 50 recipients for each of those three categories, and Fowler School of Law was one of just 11 schools honored with the Greater Equality award.
“We’re extremely proud of this recognition, which speaks to the hard work our staff and faculty put into diversity and outreach efforts,” Dean Matt Parlow said. “The underlying work supports one of the pillars of Chapman University’s strategic plan—community engagement and increased diversity.”
Takeda Flaig accepted the award on behalf of the school at the CLEO EDGE Awards Gala on Nov. 15 in Washington, D.C., where civil rights trailblazer Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. received the inaugural CLEO EDGE Heritage Award, now named in his honor. Other honorees included educators, social justice activists, and politicians, including—in absentia—former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michele Obama.
“To see multiple law schools, organizations and individuals being recognized was quite amazing,” said Takeda Flaig. “Having a wider range of backgrounds and perspectives in the legal community increases access to justice for an increasingly diverse population. It makes us hopeful for the future of what the legal profession is going to look like.”
Takeda Flaig is also the director of Fowler School of Law’s Pre-Law Undergraduate Scholars (PLUS) Program, which introduces the law school experience to first- and second-year college students from groups traditionally underrepresented in the legal profession. Funded by a grant from the Law School Admission Council (LSAC), the no-cost, five-week summer program establishes a supportive learning community and provides a foundational understanding for students seeking to become a lawyer.
The law school’s diversity efforts have shown results. The newest class of first-year law students at Fowler is the most diverse in its 25-year history, with about 48 percent coming from traditionally underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, and first-generation college students making up 29 percent of the class. That class is also among the most highly qualified, with a median undergraduate GPA of 3.42 and median LSAT score of 157.
The CLEO EDGE Award isn’t the first time the Fowler School of Law has received accolades for its diversity initiatives. It’s also a six-time recipient of the DiscoverLaw.Org Diversity Matters Award. But the school isn’t about to rest on its laurels.
“We’ve been working hard adding events every year geared toward diversity,” said Takeda Flaig. “In the larger goal of diversity and inclusiveness, we’re all in this together.”
Display image at top/Associate Director for Admissions and Diversity Allison Takeda Flaig poses with other honorees at the CLEO EDGE Awards Gala. (Photo/Courtesy CLEO, Inc.)