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SPRINGFIELD — The Western New England University (WNE) School of Law will host a talk by Judge Nancy Gertner titled “Incomplete Sentences: Judging in the Era of Mass Incarceration” on Thursday, Oct. 21 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. as part of the fall 2021 Clason Speaker Series. This free event will take place in the Law School Common and is open to the public.

“Incomplete Sentences” is about the dilemma of judging and applying laws with which a judge disagrees that effect grossly disproportionate sentences and have a profound, racially disparate impact. It is a story told firsthand by a sentencing judge, through her eyes, and through the eyes of some of the men she sentenced, whom she has interviewed for this book.

Gertner was appointed to the federal bench for the District of Massachusetts in 1994 and served until her retirement in 2011. She is also the co-author of “The Law of Juries” and author of “In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate,” her 2011 autobiography.

The Clason Speaker Series presents expert lectures to the School of Law. The series is named after Charles Clason, a prominent local attorney and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, who held the position of dean of the WNE School of Law from 1954 to 1970. Today, the purpose of the Charles and Emma Clason Endowment Fund is to host speakers who will enhance the academic environment of the School of Law and the university.

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SPRINGFIELD — Western New England University School of Law Dean Sudha Setty has been named 2021 Human Relations Award winner by the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ), a human-relations organization whose mission is to champion social justice for all; fight bias, bigotry, and racism in all forms; and work toward building strong and inclusive communities.

In a message to Setty notifying her of this honor, NCCJ board member Andrea O’Connor said, “we are so pleased to recognize the excellent work that you’ve been doing at the law school on these issues and proud to honor you with our Human Relations Award.”

Each year, the NCCJ presents the Human Relations Award to individuals or corporations that have actualized in their daily lives the values and mission of the organization. These individuals and companies have demonstrated their commitment to fostering social justice and cooperation among all races, religions, cultures, genders, abilities, and sexual orientations.

“I am humbled and gratified to receive the 2021 Human Relations Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice,” Setty said. “Social-justice lawyering has been a priority at the WNE University School of Law for many years and continues to grow rapidly as we help educate and train even more lawyers doing cutting-edge work. I view the School of Law’s social-justice work as part of the larger efforts that NCCJ has championed for decades. It is essential to meet the challenges of this moment and those that will arise in the future.”

Setty became dean of the School of Law in 2018 and has served on the faculty since 2006. She is the author of National Security Secrecy: Comparative Effects on Democracy and the Rule of Law and the editor of Constitutions, Security, and the Rule of Law, and has written dozens of articles on national-security law and policy. In July 2018, she was elected to membership in the American Law Institute.

Her leadership of the School of Law has been characterized by a commitment to social justice; diversity, equity, and inclusion work; and supporting excellence in teaching, learning, and research. In May 2019, the School of Law founded the Center for Social Justice, which has quickly grown to be a regional hub of research, advocacy, education, and activism. In April 2021, the faculty of the School of Law adopted an anti-racism and cultural-competency graduation requirement, making it the first law school in the region to do so.

Setty is also a founder of the Workshop for Asian-American Women in the Legal Academy, with its inaugural workshop being held in 2021, an effort to support current and aspiring members of the legal academy and to diversify its ranks.

She was recognized on the Lawyers of Color Power List in 2020; was recognized as part of Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly’s Top Women in the Law in 2019; was awarded Western New England Law School’s Catherine J. Jones Professor of Year Award in 2009, 2016, and 2018; received the 2017 Tapping Reeve Legal Educator Award from the Connecticut Bar Assoc.; and was recognized in 2015 as a Trailblazer by the South Asian Bar Assoc. of Connecticut.

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SPRINGFIELD — Ariel Clemmer, director of the Western New England University School of Law Center for Social Justice, was named a 2021 Emerging Women Leader in Law by the Women’s Bar Assoc. (WBA). The award honors women attorneys who have demonstrated professional excellence or had a significant professional achievement in their first 12 years in the legal profession, and promote the status of women in the legal profession or contribute meaningfully to the equal participation of women in a just society.

“I am so honored to receive this WBA award and recognition,” Clemmer said. “Directing the WNE Center for Social Justice has been a dream come true. I’m tremendously grateful to engage in such rewarding work every day alongside my team, the community we serve, and our passionate students, faculty, volunteers, and partners.”

The university’s Center for Social Justice works toward advancing social justice through research, advocacy, education, innovation, and public engagement. It is designed to strengthen collaborative efforts between the School of Law and the region to work toward a more just, equitable, and inclusive society.

“The center has grown tremendously under Ariel’s leadership. Its cutting-edge Consumer Debt Initiative engages in important economic and racial-justice work in Springfield, and its Sealing and Expungement initiatives are part of essential criminal-justice reform activism that is long overdue,” said Western New England University School of Law Dean Sudha Setty.

In addition to providing these crucial services to the community, the center has conducted Know Your Rights trainings, provided financial support for initiatives that seek to measure and mitigate the legal fallout from COVID-19, and hosted nationally recognized speakers like Evan Wolfson, the legal architect of the marriage-equality movement.

Clemmer is among six to receive this prestigious award. “This year’s group of Emerging Women Leaders is exceptional in their talent and their accomplishments thus far in their careers,” said Heather Gamache, president of the Women’s Bar Assoc. of Massachusetts.

The 2021 awardees will be celebrated and honored at the WBA’s annual gala on Monday, Oct. 25.

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SPRINGFIELD — More than 100 current and aspiring law professors participated in the inaugural Workshop for Asian-American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Women in the Legal Academy on Aug. 5-6. The event included workshops focused on professional development, scholarship, wellness, and Asian-American history.

The AAPI workshop was co-hosted by Sudha Setty, dean and professor of Law at Western New England University (WNEU) School of Law, along with Shoba Sivaprasad Wadhia, associate dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Samuel Weiss Faculty Scholar; clinical professor of Law; and director of the Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Penn State Law in University Park.

“I’m delighted that WNE University School of Law and Penn State Law in University Park have been able to partner on bringing this workshop to fruition,” Setty said. “Law schools have spent the last year focusing on anti-racism as a guiding principle in legal education, including what that means in terms of supporting historically excluded populations of students, staff, faculty, and administrators. This workshop is one important way in which we can engage in some of that work. The overwhelming, positive response to this workshop is evidence that it is much-needed and long overdue.”

In addition to providing inspiration, the workshop offered tangible support to individuals from populations that are historically underrepresented in the legal field.

“Watching this workshop turn from an idea to a space for Asian-American and Pacific Islander women to build community, share their scholarship, and navigate the challenges and complexity of identity in the legal academy has been a truly rewarding experience,” Wadhia said. “I am grateful to have collaborated with Dean Sudha Setty and our stellar planning committee in this historic workshop, and hope it inspires representation and inclusion of AAPI women in the legal academy for generations to come.”

Given the workshop’s success in its inaugural year, Wadhia said organizers hope it will be an annual event hosted by a rotating group of law schools across the country. Institutional support, she added, is key to making progress on diversity, equity, and inclusion within the legal academy.

“It is inspiring to see leaders in the legal field recognize the importance of acknowledging and celebrating the vast range of successes and contributions of Asian-American and Pacific Islanders in the legal profession,” said Dr. Maria Toyoda, WNEU’s senior vice president for Academic Affairs and provost. “Opportunities of this kind bring people together to advance communal conversations and education, which results in healthy, inclusive, and compassionate cultures.”

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SPRINGFIELD — John Pucci, a partner at Bulkley Richardson, and Jennifer Levi, professor of Law at Western New England University School of Law, were named members of a bipartisan advisory committee to review and provide recommendations on U.S. attorney candidates for the District of Massachusetts. The announcement was made on Dec. 18 by U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey.

The advisory committee will solicit, interview, and comment on applications for the position of U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts, the state’s top federal law-enforcement officer. The committee is comprised of members of the Massachusetts legal community, including prominent academics and litigators, and is chaired by former U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Gertner.

Levi noted that “the strength of our justice system depends on the inclusion and participation of people from every community and walk of life. It’s an honor to serve on this committee and get the chance to work to build a strong, diverse pool of candidates for such an important position.”

Other members of the committee include Elissa Flynn-Poppey, former deputy legal counsel to Gov. Mitt Romney and executive director of the judicial nominating commission for the Office of the Governor of Massachusetts; Angela Onwuachi-Willig, dean of Boston University School of Law; Walter Prince, partner at Prince Lobel and former president of the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Assoc; and Georgia Katsoulomitis, executive director of the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute.

“The advisory committee plays an important role ensuring that a highly qualified, fair-minded, and justice-seeking candidate is appointed as U.S. attorney for the District of Massachusetts,” Warren and Markey said in a joint statement. “We look forward to receiving the committee’s recommendations.”

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