New Visiting Assistant Professor Program Aims to Diversify Legal Education Faculty Ranks – News and Events

Among Mitchell Hamline’s six new faculty members are three women of color who are the school’s first Visiting Assistant Professors (VAPs): Engy Abdelkader, Maikieta Brantley, and DeShayla Strachan.

The VAP program is designed specifically to diversify the legal profession by recruiting accomplished lawyers of color into teaching positions with two-year appointments – and an option for a third year.

The aim is to launch them into permanent teaching positions at the law academy.

“There is a divide between diversity within the law school and the legal profession,” said Anthony Niedwiecki, who took over as president and dean of Mitchell Hamline last year with the aim of launching a such effort. “Our student bodies are more racially diverse, but the legal profession as a whole is no more diverse than it was a decade ago.”

For example, 2020 data from the American Bar Association found that five percent of all lawyers in the United States are African American, a percentage unchanged from 10 years ago. The population of the whole country is made up of 13% African Americans.

Overall, people of color make up about 14% of lawyers in the United States, but make up about 40% of the total United States population. Students of color currently make up 22% of Mitchell Hamline’s student body.

“Law schools have a duty to help bridge this gap, and greater diversity among instructors is a step,” Niedwiecki added.

Engy Abdelkader

Engy Abdelkader is an accomplished human rights lawyer who has served on the Public Religion Research Institute and the German Marshall Fund in the United States. Abdelkader (she) also taught at Rutgers University and Rutgers Law.

“At Mitchell Hamline, I hope to build on my previous teaching experiences and research projects that focused on religion, race and gender at the intersection of law, politics and society at the national level. and international, ”she noted. “As a law professor, I want to help students achieve their goals by instilling in them the skills necessary for their success, regardless of the chosen field. “

Abdelkader holds a JD from Rutgers University Law School and an LL.B. from the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and she chairs the Immigrant Rights Committee of the Human Rights Section. American Bar Association Civilians and Social Justice.

Maikieta brantley

Maikieta brantley joins Mitchell Hamline of the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver, where she was a member of the Lawyering Process program. Previously, she practiced in private practice in Missouri and Illinois, also serving as a mock trial mentor and coach.

Originally from St. Louisan, Brantley (she) taught at the University of Missouri after earning her Masters in Accountancy and while studying at the university’s law school. Her volunteer work has included representing clients in landlord / tenant matters; it also focuses on labor and employment issues.

“I look forward to teaching in the blended learning program [at Mitchell Hamline], “she said.” I love the integration of learning and technology and the fact that students can come from all over the world. I want my students to be prepared for the ‘real world’.

DeShayla Strachan

DeShayla Strachan (she / she) was encouraged to attend law school by an attorney she met while working as a reporter in Florida.

She has held legal positions with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence, the Florida Department of Children and Families, and as an Assistant State Attorney in Orlando. She was also recently an adjunct lecturer at Mercer University Law School.

Strachan holds a BS from the University of North Florida and a JD from Barry University School of Law.

“Mitchell Hamline was first on my list [of places to apply] because it gives non-traditional students a chance to get legal education, ”she said. “I hope to encourage students to turn theory into ready-to-practice work.

“So go out into the world and be zealous advocates of those who cannot speak for themselves. “

Each visiting assistant professor will teach legal writing and an additional class while working on scholarships and serving the school and the community. Future VAP cohorts are likely to teach different courses, depending on Mitchell Hamline’s needs at the time.

“We’re excited to launch this effort in our department,” said Tom Cobb, director of the school’s legal writing program. “Our first VAP group has extensive practical experience and a broad interest in teaching skills and will help us create a top notch legal writing program. “

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