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Is The Law a Tool of Social Justice?

“Superlawyer” Nancy Erika Smith ’77 joins University panel discussion October 14

Posted in: Alumni, Communication and Media, Humanities and Social Sciences, University

Nancy Erika Smith in cap and gown at podium
Nancy Erika Smith addressed graduates of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at a commencement ceremony in June.

Civil rights attorney Nancy Erika Smith ’77, most famous for her role in the sexual harassment suit that resulted in Roger Ailes being terminated from Fox News, will join a panel of social justice experts to explore the question of whether the law is a meaningful instrument of social justice.

Smith, who earned an undergraduate degree in social work at Montclair State in 1977 before obtaining a JD at Rutgers Law School in 1980, spoke as a Distinguished Alumna at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences 2021 Commencement. She told graduates, “Every day I get to try to change the world: to fight racism, sexism, misogyny, Islamophobia, xenophobia, and just plain hatred. … Do your best every day. Try to make the world a better place.”

Each year since 1986, Smith has been listed as an employment litigation specialist in “Best Lawyers in America.” In April 2009, she was listed as one of Superlawyers’ “Top Ten” Best lawyers in New Jersey.

The October 14 panel discussion, Is The Law a Tool of Social Justice? will be moderated by Nikki Chambers, Dean of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging at the Williston Northampton School, and also includes author, legal commentator, blogger, social justice advocate and Justice Studies Professor Jessica Henry, and co-editor of Black Males and the Criminal Justice System and Justice Studies Associate Professor Jason Williams, both of whom are with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

Panelists will explore how the law, both in the United States and around the world, has been used for social change, social justice and strengthening democracy – but also to support injustice, inequality, discrimination and even authoritarian rule. They will tackle whether the law is a means of promoting social justice and a tool for healing American democracy at a time of increased polarization, or of preserving injustice and blocking meaningful social change.

Event Details

Date: Thursday, October 14
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: School of Communication and Media, Presentation Hall (event will be livestreamed)
Registration: This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required.