When I look out at my first-year Torts class every August, there is a sea of eager faces, presumably all dying to learn the Palsgraf foreseeability rule. There may be a few students like me that grew up on a farm in middle-America, but there are many more from countries all over the world. I’ve had research assistants whose ancestors came from Afghanistan, Mexico, Nigeria, Egypt, Columbia, Vietnam and China. I might stumble over their names at first, but learning from them has been amazing. It’s exciting to be part of a community that embraces cultural differences. Loyola Law School truly is the United Nations of law schools.
Growing up in Montana, I didn’t have the exposure to diversity I have now. That would change when I began studying at Harvard Law School, where I met my wife. After a year-long judicial clerkship, I accepted a one-year stint at a civil rights law firm in North Carolina, where my mentors were African-American. These amazingly-talented lawyers taught me how to practice law, and one year turned into many more. Under the guidance of these greats, I participated in three cases that went to the Supreme Court. We prevailed in all, with each of these cases having a significant impact on combatting race and gender discrimination.
My passion for fighting for civil rights followed me when I returned to academia. As a professor, it’s my job to help students realize their potential. In turn, they help me see where our world is going, both in terms of social policy and technology. This last year, my Torts students proposed a “mannequin challenge.” I loved the idea because it would show the diversity in our classroom. A camera could zip through the mob like a hummingbird, stopping to appreciate students of different backgrounds and ethnicities living, learning and laughing together. Like my colleagues and students, I feel incredibly privileged to learn from and to live in such a diverse community. Let us embrace our differences.
Editor’s Note: Professor Nockleby has enjoyed an illustrious career as a civil rights lawyer and law school professor. Click here for his LLS page. The cases he participated in at the Supreme Court include Anderson v. Bessemer City and Cooper v. Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. We plan on additional features about Professor Nockleby and other Loyola professors who have made substantial contributions to the civil rights movement. Friend us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for updates!