Race, Inclusion and Excellence in Law Schools: A Perspective From Three Continents

Birmingham Law School Lecture Theatre 2
Thursday 21 March 2019 (18:00-19:00)

There will be refreshments and all are welcome. If you have any further questions please email Hilary Mousley


SPEAKER: Professor Penny Andrews, New York Law School

Drawing on her experience of three decades in legal education in South Africa, Australia, the USA and Canada, as a faculty member and administrator, Professor Andrews will explore the contemporary challenges facing law schools in countries that have histories of racial discrimination and exclusion, and the opportunities that flow from such challenges.  

Against the backdrop of extraordinary shifts within the legal profession globally, including the globalization of legal services and technological innovations, law schools currently face internal challenges of diversity, inclusion and decolonization, relating to issues of institutional identity and institutional culture.  In addition, as individuals from previously marginalized communities seek inclusion and academic success in law schools, questions about the curriculum, faculty research and scholarship, teaching and learning methods are increasingly being examined and re-examined.   Professor Andrews will share her experiences to reflect upon, observations - and lessons learned.

Penelope Andrews joined NYLS in January 2019 as Visiting Distinguished Professor of Law and teaches comparative and international law courses. She also serves as Co-Director of NYLS’s Racial Justice Project, focusing on international and South African issues.

Professor Andrews was the 2018–19 Sabbatical Scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia Law School. She previously completed two terms as Dean: From 2016 to 2018 as the first Black dean at the University of Cape Town Faculty of Law, and from 2012 to 2015 as the first female dean of Albany Law School in New York. She was previously the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs at the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law and Director of International Programs at Valparaiso Law School.

She began her teaching career at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia, where she taught for eight years before moving to CUNY, where she was on the faculty for 15 years, teaching public international law, gender and law, race and law, comparative law, torts, and lawyering. She has also held visiting appointments at several law schools in the U.S. and internationally, including in South Africa, Canada and Australia. Professor Andrews received her B.A. and. LL.B. degrees from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (formerly University of Natal) in South Africa and an LL.M. from Columbia Law School.

Professor Andrews is active in international collaborative research and mentoring networks and is particularly committed to ensuring the relevance of law and society scholarship to academic communities in the global south and global north. She is an editor of the International Journal of Law in Context, the Human Rights and the Global Economy E-Journal, and the African Law E-Journal.

She has also published several books and articles that focus on comparative constitutional law, gender and racial equality, human rights—particularly the tension between respect for indigenous law and implementing broader human rights norms—the judiciary, and legal education. Her book From Cape Town to Kabul: Rethinking Strategies for Pursuing Women’s Human Rights was published in 2012. She publishes regularly in the popular media and on social media, focusing on issues of race, poverty, legal education, public interest litigation, and the ongoing challenges of transforming an economically unequal and racially divided society.

Professor Andrews’s focus on the judiciary in South Africa seeks to bridge the divide between theory and practice. She is a trainer for the Judicial Institute for Africa, focusing on opinion writing and communications skills for new and experienced judges. She also served as an Acting Judge of the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for the 2018 third term, presiding over criminal appeals, motion court, and civil trials. She has served as an arbitrator in hearings on racial discrimination in South Africa.

She has served on significant law school committees and the boards of public interest and human rights organizations, including the Africa Section of Human Rights Watch, South Africa Partners, the Legal Resources Center, and the National Center for Law and Economic Justice. Professor Andrews has received many awards for her work, including, in 2015, the National Bar Association’s International Award for her global human rights advocacy. In recognition of her human rights work, the University of KwaZulu-Natal provides an annual award in her name.

She will start her two-year term as the President of the Law and Society Association in June 2019.

Read Professor Andrews’ Curriculum Vitae

Below are some short editorial pieces Professor Andrews has written on the topic in the past three years as Dean of Law and Professor, University of Cape Town: