Photo by Voces de la Frontera (Flickr/Creative Commons)

Former UCLA Dean to Head Latino Research Project

The American Bar Foundation announced Tuesday that UCLA Law School Dean Emerita Rachel F. Moran will chair its new research initiative on the laws and policies needed to serve the growing Latino population in the U.S.

Moran is taking a year-long sabbatical to help launch the research project, which is officially called, “The Future of Latinos in the United States: Law, Opportunity, and Mobility.” She will hold the title of William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law.

Rachel F. Moran

In an interview with Big Law Business, Moran said the project is premised around the idea that the nation’s Latino population is growing — and projected to reach nearly 30 percent of the total U.S. population by 2050 — and many communities need better information to create smart policies and laws that serve their needs. To that end, the research initiative will launch a website that has resources such as experts and reading material for lawmakers in communities small and large.

“I think at the end of the day this is reminder that the legal profession has a need to serve society,” said Moran. “Lawyers have always been architects of not just law but of justice — I mean if you think about the role that lawyers played in the civil rights movement and the new deal, law is really what binds us together as people. And that is really what this project is all about: making sure law continues to bind us together even as our demographics change.”

She cited eight areas that already have been identified as high priorities for research: education, immigration, civic engagement and political participation, economic opportunity and entrepreneurship, family formation, healthcare, criminalization and Latino news and media.

During the next year, while on sabbatical from UCLA, Moran will convene experts and policy makers around the country in a series of roundtable discussions on these eight topics to identify what resources and research is already underway on these topics and what areas deserve attention.

According to the ABF press release, the Neukom Fellows Research Chair was established in 2014 to create “empirical research on law and legal processes centered on issues of diversity and inequality that women, people of color, people with disabilities, and persons from the LGBTQ community face in legal practice and before the law.”

“The whole point is to try and inform law and policy,” she explained. “We are definitely trying to help people put together better law and policy based on Latinos’ needs.”

Moran was appointed dean of UCLA Law School in 2010, and announced she would step down one year ago, but remains on faculty. In 2017, Moran will serve as a visiting professor at Harvard Law School.