25 Years of Law, Gender, and Justice

2023-2024 marked the 25th academic year that WashULaw in partnership with the Department of Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies has offered the course Law, Gender, and Justice to undergraduate students. The course is unique because it is taught by law students under the supervision of a member of the School of Law faculty. It explores how social constructions of gender, race, class, and sexuality have shaped traditional legal reasoning and American legal concepts, including women’s legal rights. Students also explore key cases that have influenced law and policy, examining how they affect the everyday lives of women and others from marginalized populations.

The idea originated with Beth Richardson, JD ’01, who had taken a similar course as an undergraduate and wanted to bring this program to WashULaw. Richardson joined Michelle Michelson, JD ’00, and Heather Lea, JD ’00 as the first law student teachers in the spring of 2000, supervised by Professors Susan Frelich Appleton and Karen Tokarz, with support from Professor Joel Seligman, who was dean of the law school at that time. Originally called Woman and the Law and housed in the University College program, the course was offered once per academic year, but it became so popular among law students and undergrads that it quickly evolved to be offered every semester. There have been 145 law student instructors for the course over the past 25 years, including this year’s instructors, pictured below.

Student teacher Michael Fabiyi, JD ’24 reflects on his experience, “Teaching this class was an incredibly enriching experience for me and my students, enabling me to introduce students to salient issues concerning gender, sexuality, race and other identities.”

Professors Appleton and Tokarz with Fall ’23 student teachers Caitlin Aladham, Ja’Brae Faulk, Claire Kirkland, and Elena LeVan.
Professors Tokarz and Appleton with Spring ’24 student teachers Michael Fabiyi, Margaret Min, Cara Hunt, and Rachel Finkelstein.