Advancing Legal Research

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New Fellowship Focuses on Latinx Issues

To address disparities in the legal profession and advance the study of issues related to the law as it impacts Latinx people, the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program (CRS) recently announced the creation of the Laura E. Gómez Teaching Fellowship on Latinx People and the Law.

The two-year academic fellowship, which begins July 1, 2024, honors Laura E. Gómez, a pioneering scholar and one of the first Latina professors to receive tenure at a Top 20 U.S. law school. Funded by a $1 million donation from UCLA Law alum Alicia Miñana de Lovelace, the fellowship recognizes Gómez’s significant contributions to legal scholarship on Latinx communities.

Law school academics gathered at a UCLA symposium to honor the work of retiring law professor Laura Gómez (center) in advancing Latinx legal research. Alicia Miñana de Lovelace (left) — the donor who funded a Latinx legal fellowship in Gómez’s honor.— and Eloyda Gómez (right), Laura’s mother, were in attendance at the event. (Photo courtesy of UCLA Law)

“Boosting opportunities and creating meaningful change is never easy and takes a group effort — which is precisely what UCLA Law and CRS have been doing for a long time now,” Miñana de Lovelace said in a statement announcing the fellowship. “This is the perfect place to continue tackling these challenges head-on.”

The fellowship offers a unique opportunity for emerging scholars to develop their academic careers through teaching, research, mentorship, and active participation in CRS, while making significant contributions to the understanding and advancement of legal issues affecting Latinx communities.

The fellow will continue the legacy of Laura E. Gómez, whose work has profoundly impacted the field of legal scholarship on race and law.

Designed for individuals engaged in legal research related to Latinx people in the U.S., the fellowship’s potential areas of study include criminal, labor and employment, immigration, voting and political rights, civil rights, sexuality and gender, and family law.

During the first nine months, the fellow is expected to complete a scholarly article to be presented to the UCLA Law faculty and submitted for publication, therefore contributing to the ongoing academic discourse on Latinx legal issues.

One of the primary responsibilities is teaching an annual course focused on the intersection of Latinx persons and the law, providing students with critical insights into the legal issues affecting these communities. The course aims to deepen students’ understanding of the intersectionality of law, race, and society.

“UCLA is progressing toward receiving the federal designation as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, and law students will benefit immensely from a regular course offering on Latinx people and the law that covers topics including voting rights, immigration law and policy, and racial disparities in the criminal justice system,” Gómez said in response to the fellowship’s creation.

Mentorship is another crucial component of the program. The fellow will mentor law students, with a particular emphasis on first-generation and underrepresented scholars, and work with two CRS faculty mentors. This close collaboration with experienced faculty will support the fellow’s growth as an academic and researcher.

Additionally, they will be actively involved in the CRS intellectual community, attending and participating in symposia, workshops, faculty paper presentations, and other CRS activities.

“This fellowship will ensure that current and future legal scholars will take up [Gómez’s] mantle and become the changemakers who further advance Latinx legal studies here at UCLA Law,” Miñana de Lovelace said in the statement. “Thanks in no small part to Laura’s leadership, CRS has become a signature part of the law school’s curriculum and reputation.”●