Advocate for Diversity in Legal Education

Leticia M. Diaz, Ph.D., J.D., was appointed Dean of the Barry University School of Law in 2007, becoming the first female Cuban-American dean of an ABA-accredited law school. During her tenure, Diaz has been a relentless advocate for diversity, social justice, professionalism, and service in the legal profession.

Diaz believes the most important qualities a woman leader should have are perseverance and the ability to mentor. “It’s rewarding when I’m able to mentor other women who then become successful,” she said.

Her professional endeavors didn’t originate in the legal sector. She first earned a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from Rutgers University and worked as a postdoctoral research chemist testing the synthesis of anti-HIV compounds. She ultimately realized law was her true calling and returned to Rutgers to pursue a law degree.

Diaz has been with Barry Law since 1999, working her way up to full professor, associate  dean, and then dean. Under her leadership, the student body has grown 26 percent and minority enrollment has increased by 57 percent. Her staunch commitment to diversity has propelled both herself and Barry Law into the national spotlight. Barry Law was recently recognized for its diversity in U.S. News and World Report, ranking 8th among U.S. law schools for diversity. The law school also received an A+ ranking from preLaw Magazine for both faculty and student body diversity. “Becoming Dean has been very rewarding and has allowed me to assist in the movement for increasing diversity in legal education,” Diaz said.

Diaz has been named to the Lawyers Color Power List twice and recently to the National Jurists’ Top 20 Leaders in Diversity. She has served on the advisory committee for the ABA Commission on Immigration, Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities; was appointed to the ABA Commission on Immigration; and has penned an article on the DREAM Act that was entered into the Congressional Record.

She holds a J.D., Rutgers School of Law; a Ph.D. and Masters in Organic Chemistry, Rutgers University; and a Bachelor of Science, Bloomfield College; and a Nursing Diploma, Union County College.