With CLEAR Objectives, Northeastern Law Announces New Center for Law, Equity and Race

Professors Margaret Burnham and Deborah Ramirez

09.21.21 — Today, Northeastern University School of Law launches a new Center for Law, Equity and Race (CLEAR), which will bring together the school’s pioneering programs and faculty— long engaged in theoretical and translational research, innovative pedagogy and collaborations with external communities — to address current challenges and provide solutions for the nation’s most complex social challenges. Two dynamic programs are at the core of the CLEAR’s work: the nationally recognized Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project (CRRJ), led by Professor Margaret Burnham, and the highly regarded Criminal Justice Task Force (CJTF), led by Professor Deborah Ramirez. As one of the law school’s four Centers of Excellence, CLEAR offers an interdisciplinary convening space for faculty and students across the university whose work addresses racial inequities and racism and who want to have an impact on these critical issues.

“This is an extraordinary moment for our law school and for the nation,” said Dean James Hackney. “Our community has long led the way in fighting for racial justice. The Center for Law, Equity and Race will play a key leadership role in our continuing engagement not only in important academic research and pedagogy, but also in collaborating with external communities on projects designed to enhance access to justice, racial equity and reform.”

CLEAR’s projects have a common goal: to build from historical memory and work to address the racial injuries of the past through the use of law, teaching, techniques of restorative justice and community partnerships. CRRJ and CJTF share a methodological focus on law as it intersects with history and other disciplines, resulting in deeply interdisciplinary investigations of race, law and justice.

Among its first projects, CLEAR joins the Massachusetts Bar Association and Massachusetts Bar Foundation in launching the Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants Access to Justice Fellowship, founded and led by Professor Deborah Ramirez, which honors the legacy of Chief Justice Gants by continuing his commitment to equity, diversity and inclusion in the judiciary and court systems. Among other opportunities, the fellowship will provide Northeastern Law students who identify as BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, or as having a disability with $6,000 stipends for co-ops with a state or federal judge in New England.

“CLEAR will focus on identifying and addressing the problems that create racial inequities in our justice systems. We will focus on improving access to justice and racial equity by making the justice systems fairer and more just.  In this way, through the Access to Justice Fellowship we are building on Ralph’s legacy and his most important work,” said Professor Deborah Ramirez, co-director of CLEAR and director of the associated Criminal Justice Task Force.

CLEAR is also supporting four Racial Justice Faculty Fellowships to encourage Northeastern Law faculty research and scholarship on issues of racial justice and/or structural racism.

“Because of the law school’s longstanding commitment and pioneering work on racial justice, CLEAR is well poised to address today’s most vexing questions and create for the future a vibrant network of students, activists, policy leaders and professional researchers,” said Professor Margaret Burnham, co-director of CLEAR and director of the associated Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project.

About Northeastern University School of Law

The nation’s leader in experiential legal education since 1968, Northeastern University School of Law offers the longest-running, most extensive experience-based legal education program in the country. Northeastern guarantees its students unparalleled practical legal work experiences through its signature Cooperative Legal Education Program. More than 1,000 employers worldwide in a wide range of legal, government, nonprofit and business organizations participate in the program. With a focus on social justice and innovation, Northeastern University School of Law blends theory and practice, providing students with a unique set of skills and experiences to successfully practice law.

For more information, contact d.feldman@northeastern.edu