Brianna Joaseus and Edrius Stagg are two law students at Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge, La., who spent nine months earlier this year tackling systemic racism in the legal system. On the latest LawNext, they join host Bob Ambrogi to discuss their projects and how their work impacted their goals for their legal careers. 

Joaseus and Stagg were two of 18 law students from six law schools who participated this year in the second year of a fellowship program sponsored by the LexisNexis Rule of Law Foundation and the LexisNexis African Ancestry Network, in partnership with the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Law School Consortium. (Two students from the program’s first year were featured on this podcast in July 2021.)

The project Joaseus designed focused on the problem of racial bias in real estate appraisals. Her proposal would reduce appraisal bias by creating a digital checklist for appraisal professionals, developed using LexisNexis resources, that would help identify “red flag” situations in which the appraisal process may be unfair or biased.

Stagg’s project focused on the problem of jury pools that are not racially diverse or representative of their communities. His proposal was to create a “Jury Wheel 2.0” data visualization dashboard that would leverage available technology to ensure that a jury-duty summons is sent to the correct address and represents the demographic make-up of the community.

Both students stand as inspiring examples of those who are shaping the future of the legal profession and their schools are examples of how law schools can do more to drive change in their communities. Of course, credit also goes to LexisNexis, which organized this program and committed $180,000 in funds plus the time and mentorship of numerous employees.

In addition to Southern University Law Center, the schools that participated this year were: Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University College of Law, Howard University School of Law, North Carolina Central University School of Law, Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, and the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law.

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Photo of Bob Ambrogi Bob Ambrogi

Bob is a lawyer, veteran legal journalist, and award-winning blogger and podcaster. In 2011, he was named to the inaugural Fastcase 50, honoring “the law’s smartest, most courageous innovators, techies, visionaries and leaders.” Earlier in his career, he was editor-in-chief of several legal publications, including The National Law Journal, and editorial director of ALM’s Litigation Services Division.