We live in unsettling, often terrifying times; it can feel as though progress is too slow, or perhaps even nonexistent. Patriarchy and white supremacy are still marching in our streets, alive and thriving in state houses and courthouses and boardrooms. The past feels too close, too powerful. The past feels too present.
Luckily, If/When/How’s new cohort of Reproductive Justice Fellows are the future. And they are futuring so hard. From Atlanta to Oakland to Washington, D.C., our Reproductive Fellowship Program (RJFP) is launching a growing and powerful group of new legal advocates – to date, the RJFP has launched the careers of nearly seventy lawyers who have a passion for reproductive rights and justice, placing them at both grassroots and national nonprofits from coast to coast.
Among U.S. law students admitted in 2017, nearly 69 percent were white. Women make up just over half of that class. But gender parity disappears and racial disparities increase when we look at who’s practicing: 65 percent of lawyers are men, and 85 percent are white. Just 7.5 percent of lawyers employed by firms in the NALP Directory of Legal Employers are women of color, and 2.64 percent are openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender folks.
In contrast: More than 60 percent of If/When/How’s nine fellow cohorts are women of color, and 34 percent are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender folks. That’s not an accident. We know that reproductive justice doesn’t just happen; from courtrooms to the Capitol, we’re changing the face of lawyering. From authoring an amicus brief in the landmark contraceptive access case Zubik v. Burwell, to presenting at the International AIDS Conference in South Africa, to writing and passing a Brownsville, Texas city resolution denouncing the construction of a border wall, our fellows have done incredible work building a world in which everyone is free to decide if, when and how to create and sustain their families.
We’re also thrilled (and maybe a little bit scared) to launch Lawyering Then/Lawyering Now, our first-ever individual giving campaign in conjunction with the ’18-’19 RJFP class, highlighting the amazing work our fellows have done, and will do, to upset the status quo and bring new, diverse, and creative voices to the legal field. Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, and (of course) here on the blog to get the latest.
Please join us in congratulating the seven new RJ Fellows and the placement organizations selected to participate in the 2018-19 cohort.
Mashayla Hays (University of Louisville, Brandeis School for Law ’18) – RJ State Fellow at New Voices for RJ/Women’s Law Project, Pittsburgh, PA
Bridget Schaaff (University of Oregon School of Law ’18) –RJ Federal Fellow at National LGBTQ Task Force, Washington, DC
Monica Edwards (University of Alabama ’18) – RJ Federal Fellow at URGE, Washington, DC
Kelly Flannery (New York University School of Law ’17) – RJ-HIV Fellow at Positive Women’s Network – USA, Oakland, CA
Rosann Mariappuram (University of Texas at Austin School of Law ’18) – RJ State Fellow at Legal Voice/Surge, Seattle, WA
Jillian Heaviside (Vanderbilt Law School ’18) – RJ-HIV Fellow at SisterLove, Atlanta, GA
Mariah Lindsay (University of California, Irvine School of Law ’18) – RJ Federal Fellow at the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Washington, DC
We could not do this work without the generous funding from our foundation partners, the continued collaboration with the Women and the Law Program at American University Washington College of Law, the unflagging support from our allies and community, and the energy and enthusiasm from our student and attorney members. Thank you!