Getting to know…L. Song Richardson, dean of the UCI School of Law

A faculty member at UCI School of Law since 2014, Richardson is the only woman of color to currently lead a top 30 law school. Here, she shares her passions and hobbies, from social justice to thrill rides.

L. Song Richardson/UCI Law

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by the opportunity to create conditions for people to thrive — at UCI Law and in the community. Social justice is my life’s passion. It has informed my research, teaching and work prior to my career in academia.

How do you prioritize your work, when you have so many responsibilities as a scholar, administrator and advocate for your students?

I have a wonderful team working with me to help manage all of the important work the School of Law performs, from providing academic and professional opportunities for our students to fostering an environment where all of us can succeed.

We hear you’re a gifted classical pianist! What were your favorite pieces of music to play?

Some of my favorites are Beethoven’s Pathetique Sonata; Saint-Seans Piano Concerto in G minor; and Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto Number 1.

What books are you currently reading? Any books you like to re-read from time to time?

Right now, I’m reading Chokehold: Policing Black Men by Paul Butler, a renowned scholar and educator at Georgetown University Law Center. We were fortunate to have him visit UCI Law for a lecture on his book as part of our own Black History Month celebration this month.

Richardson and Paul Butler at UCI School of Law event, Feb. 2018. /UCI Law

I like to re-read Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston. It’s a book I think everyone should read at least once.

UCI School of Law is an innovator in legal education

You study the role of implicit bias in our institutions and personal lives. What are some ways people can guard against it?

The way to push back against implicit bias is to change the systems and incentives that enable it. We need to continually question our own objectivity, and make an effort to hold ourselves accountable for the biases we may hold, consciously and subconsciously.

You’re known as the only woman of color to currently lead a top 30 law school. What does this mean to you, and do you feel a responsibility to create opportunities for those who are underrepresented in the field?

Throughout my life, I have been inspired by other women and the incredible work they’ve done, and I hope with me in this position it will potentially inspire other women to dream big and to work hard to achieve their dreams.

Growing up in a military family, you traveled all over the world. How did your parents shape your worldview?

They taught me to be open to new ideas, to be empathetic, to try new things, and to never give up.

What do you like to do for fun? Any hobbies?

I love to cook, eat and read. I also love rollercoasters and other thrill rides! My favorite theme park is Cedar Point in Ohio.

If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be and why?

Charlotte E. Ray, the first Black American female lawyer. She is an inspiration to me and paved the way for many other women to practice law.