Live Law in Color
Troy Riddle, Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, Welcomes
John Marshall’s Most Diverse Entering Class
The John Marshall Law School already is a pioneer when it comes to diversity,
but Troy Riddle thinks the school can become a standard bearer. “John Marshall
is better than most law schools when it comes to diversity,” says Riddle, the
law school’s Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer, but he wants to push it to be
even better. “I want to create a model for other law schools with respect to diversity and
“The fact that this position was even created says a lot about the institution,” he adds.
It’s not surprising, considering John Marshall’s history. The law school graduated its first
female student, Jessie Cook, in 1903; its first African-American student, James Randle, in
1904; and its first Hispanic student, William E. Rodriguez, in 1912.
This year’s entering class is John Marshall’s most diverse ever, with nearly half of the
students identifying as a minority. More than 60% of the full-time entering students are
women. The class of 2019 will create an even more diversified student body which, as of
last year, was composed of more than 34% minority students, making the law school one
of the most diversified in the nation, according to preLaw Magazine.
John Marshall achieved another recognition on the diversity front this year, as it was
named to the Chicago LGBT Hall of Fame.
The Most Diverse Class Ever
Even though John Marshall has such a diverse student body, Riddle says the numbers
don’t tell the whole story. The law school must be prepared to meet their needs. “Many
of our diverse students are first generation law students and don’t have the guidance and
role models that other students get naturally when their parents, family members, or peers
are legal professionals,” Riddle says.
“They don’t know how to work through the maze
of higher education, especially law school,” he
adds. “They lack a built-in support system.”
Riddle is making plans to improve the law school
experience of John Marshall’s diverse student
body. “I want to improve the cultural sensitivity
of our faculty, staff, and students, so that there
is a cognizable and better appreciation of our
differences. Doing this creates better lawyers and
“The fact that this position was even created says a lot about the institution.”
“Cultural sensitivity is very important to the practice of law,” Riddle says. “If you can’t hear
people, you can’t represent them.”
Dialogue and Action
Along with Professor Arthur Acevedo, the newly appointed Director of Diversity & Inclusion
for Faculty, Riddle is working on plans that pull from all levels of the law school, including
training, opportunities for dialogue, and a school-wide commitment to action.
Riddle plans to survey the entire institution to assess its actual and perceived
environment. Once tallied, Riddle plans to use the survey to create a team from all levels
of the institution to ensure that the law school does not have any policies or practices
in place that create obstacles to an inclusive workplace. He also plans to work with the
admission team to reach out and develop relationships with undergraduate institutions
to ensure that the school remains diverse. He also wants to continue to be a resource for
faculty, staff, and students.
Riddle knows plans are not enough. He intends to create measurable and actionable
goals with timelines and revisit them regularly. He also seeks to engage alumni in his
mission. “We want our students to see what they are doing. The students need to know
what is possible.”
Ultimately Riddle wants the law school’s faculty and staff to resemble the student body,
so that when students graduate from John Marshall, “they leave here able to handle work
and life in a global and diverse society.”