Margaret Montoya, Professor Emerita of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law, lectured Monday, January 22, at The University of Alabama School of Law.
During her lecture titled, “Latinx and the Law,” Montoya said law schools haven’t yet acknowledged that everyone deserves to be heard.
“We know that important learning takes place during verbal exchanges in the classroom. We also know that it can be difficult for students of color, particularly women students of color, to speak up with the same assuredness as white students. But when students of color remain silent or when they self-censor, when they don’t tell stories, or when they don’t raise issues that are pertinent to them, the full promise of the classroom is lost,” Montoya said. “Law Schools have spent a lot of money, and they are dedicated to creating diverse student bodies. But learning in these spaces only reaches its full promise when the pedagogy is developed to make sure that everyone speaks, that everyone is heard.”
Montoya is a 1978 graduate of Harvard Law School. She was the first Latina to be accepted to Harvard Law. Her article, Mascaras, Trenzas y Greñas: Un/Masking the Self While Un/Braiding Latina Stories and Legal Discourse, bridges autobiographical narratives with legal analysis and draws attention to opposing the cultural assimilation that often occurs when someone attains degrees in higher education.
In 2010, she was the lead scholar of a comprehensive report, “Diversity in the Legal Profession: Next Steps,” a study commissioned by the American Bar Association. The study analyzed data about how to advance diversity within the legal profession.
Montoya’s lecture was sponsored by the Office of Diversity & Inclusion.