By Kristy DemasAugust 15, 2017
Michigan Law was honored to host the 11th Annual Lutie A. Lytle Black Women Law Faculty Workshop and Writing Retreat earlier this summer. The seven-day event—which combines professional development and networking with opportunities for focused writing and peer feedback—celebrates Lytle, one of the first women law professors in the United States. It was conceived by Michigan Law alumna Angela Onwuachi-Willig, ’97, the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, and is hosted at a different law school each year.
This year’s Lutie Lytle host, Michigan Law Professor Laura Beny, said the theme, “Being Brilliant, Balanced, and Bold in the New Legal and Political Landscape—Academia and Social Justice,” was especially timely. “It is representative of Lutie at its core, and meaningful in these legal and political times. This conference brings together Black women law professors at all career stages for workshops, writing sessions, and fellowship in a venue where it’s comfortable to talk openly about our varied experiences in legal academia.”
Planning committee member Dana Thompson, ’99, enjoyed welcoming the group to Ann Arbor and speaking on a workshop panel. “Lutie offers established African American women legal scholars, clinical professors, and aspiring professors the chance to share their scholarship, discuss legal academic issues, and honor each other's accomplishments in a collaborative and supportive environment,” said Thompson, who is a clinical professor of law at Michigan and the founding director of its Entrepreneurship Clinic. “It’s fitting to host the workshop here this year in light of U-M’s recent commitment to implementing diversity, equity, and inclusion in a five-year plan."
This was Michigan Law’s first time hosting the conference and, for one participant, the only Lutie Lytle Workshop she had attended. “This was my first Lutie conference and I still can't stop raving about it. Without being dramatic, it was really a life changer in terms of my personal career growth,” said Leslie Culver, professor of legal writing and director of A.I.M. for Law at California Western School of Law.
Culver said she especially appreciated the works-in-progress forum and specified writing time during the last four days of the workshop. “The feedback was thoughtful, engaging, and really was the catalyst that turned my current work into something that I never would have imagined without their insight.”
This year’s conference drew nearly 100 participants. Speakers included Marcilynn Burke, dean, University of Oregon Law School; Michele Coleman Mayes, ’74, vice president, general counsel, and secretary, New York Public Library; Robert Sellers, U-M vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer; and Kristin N. Johnson, ’03, professor of law, Seton Hall University Law School. Johnson, chair of the program committee, was recognized for her service to the Lutie Lytle committee.
Conference feedback, Beny said, was overwhelmingly positive, with Veronica Root of Notre Dame Law School likely speaking for many when she said, “The Lutie Workshop provides a unique space for intellectual engagement and growth that is unparalleled within the legal academy.”
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