Panel Discussions and Workshop Sessions



Title: The Black Law Students Survival Guide: Tips on How to Navigate the Additional Challenges of Prejudice and Bias in the Law School Environment – and Not Only Survive, But Thrive

Date and Time: Friday, November 10, 2017 * 1:45 P.M. – 3:00 P.M.

Description: This session goes beyond the typical law student discussions about the difficulties and rigors of law school academically and socially. Here, panelists explain how to survive law school as a Black student. They discuss the harsh realities of being a minority student in law school, as well as the importance of diversity in law schools, and the challenges that this diversity can bring. Panelists address prejudice and bias in a diverse law school environment, particularly issues that Black law students must be prepared to face both inside and outside of the classroom.

There will be discussion about intelligently and thoughtfully navigating racial issues in daily law school life. They will also discuss how to handle issues they may confront in seeking legal jobs, during the interview process and in legal work settings while still a law student that can help them to be successful during internships and externships, clinical experiences, summer jobs, and beyond.

In addition, time will be spent sharing the importance of participating in affinity groups, getting law student and lawyer mentors early, and having a very solid support system with family and friends both inside and outside law school prior to and throughout the entire law school experience.

Further, panelists will talk about the important and positive impact of Black students’ leadership in various extracurricular and co-curricular activities throughout the law school community, and the importance of their making positive and concrete contributions while there to make the law school and their fellow students better.


Ralph Culpepper
Third-Year Law Student
University of Pennsylvania School of Law
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Whitney Dumeng
Second-Year Law Student
President, Association of Black Law Students
Rutgers Law School
Newark, New Jersey

Taliesin Ashleigh Gabriel
Third-Year Law Student
The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law
Washington, DC

Lawrence Pittman
Third-Year Law Student
Lewis and Clark Law School
Portland, Oregon

Mary Jessica Simon
Third-Year Law Student
Quinnipiac University School of Law
Hamden, Connecticut

Samanta Simpson
Second-Year Law Student
Columbia Law School
New York, New York

Riley Jones
First-Year Law Student
New York University School of Law
New York, New York


Shirley A. Jefferson, Esq.
Associate Dean for Student Affairs and Diversity
Title IX Coordinator
Associate Professor
Vermont Law School
South Royalton, Vermont



Title: Inside the Careers of Black Lawyers: What We Do, How We Got to Where We Are and Wisdom for the Challenges Ahead

Date and Time: Friday, November 10, 2017 * 3:15 P.M. – 4:30 P.M.

Description: Panelists will briefly discuss their educational and career backgrounds, as well as their current positions and the work they do with legal training. This panel is designed to expose aspiring African American lawyers to the various possibilities available to those possessing a professional legal education.

Additionally, tips will be given as to how to gain entry into these various jobs and what it really takes to perform them. Panelists also address the additional challenges that African American lawyers face and advice on how to overcome them and to succeed and advance in the years ahead.


Chasity Boyce, Esq.
Diversity and Inclusion Projects Manager
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meager & Flom LLP
Chicago, Illinois

Xavier R. Donaldson, Esq.
Donaldson & Chilliest, LLP Attorneys at Law
New York, New York

Tiffany R. Harper, Esq.
Associate Counsel
Grant Thornton LLP
Chicago, Illinois

Justina “Tia” O. Hooper, Esq.
Major, United States Air Force, Office of The Judge Advocate General
Chief, Recruiting Branch
Washington, DC

Marlen Whitley, Esq.
Executive Director of Diversity Recruiting
Hiring Partner, Houston Office
Reed Smith LLP
Houston, Texas

Jonathan Wright, Esq.
Chief Legal Officer and General Counsel
QPharma, Inc.
Morristown, New Jersey


Lorenzo Banks, Esq.
Banks, Gilbert, Gillette, PLLC
Assistant Director of Admissions & Director of Diversity Initiatives
Oklahoma City University School of Law
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma