Reflections From 50 Years

A banner image of gray blue with red swirl illustrations, and the center reads "Reflections from 50 Years: Hastie Fellows Discuss How the Program Impacted Their Careers" in the center with a photo of William H. Hastie in the center of the zero in the year.

Hastie Fellows discuss how the program impacted their careers.

Mario Barnes ’04 had finished 12 years of active service in the United States Navy when he faced a difficult decision.

He could have gone on to complete 20 years of mili­tary service before moving on to a second career or ac­cept University of Wisconsin Law School’s Hastie Fellow­ship that provides attorneys with diverse backgrounds and experiences an opportunity to prepare for a career in law teaching through two years of mentoring and scholarly work.

With the urging of law professor mentors, Barnes chose the latter despite all that extending his military career offered.

“Be willing to take some risks because the payoff is often well worth it,” said Barnes, who was UW Law’s Hastie Fellow from 2002-04. He is currently a law professor at the University of California (UC), Irvine. “Taking their advice has yielded rewards beyond anything I could have imagined.”

In celebration of the Hastie Fellowship’s 50-year milestone in 2023, UW Law School honors William H. Hastie (1904-1976), a lawyer, teacher, jurist and civil rights advocate who championed the importance of high-quality legal education.

UW Law School Professor James E. Jones Jr. (1924-2014), a leading expert in labor law and the architect of several significant programs aimed at achieving greater racial equality in the workforce, was a force in creating the pioneering program.

“Not only is the Hastie Fellowship the first such pipeline program ever estab­lished to try to diversify law faculties across the country, it remains the premier such program 50 years after it was established,” said Michael States, associate dean for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) at UW Law. “When you look at the list of former Hastie Fellows, the impact that the program has had on legal education and the legal profession is undeniable.”

Hastie Fellows pursue a scholarly agenda of their choice, typically prepare two pieces for publication, and receive mentoring in both their teaching and scholarly work. They have served or are now serving on the faculties of law schools throughout the country and have earned prestigious national honors. Several Hastie Fellows have gone on to become law school deans.

Mentorship from professors who encouraged Hastie Fellow candidates to tap the program as well as those who assisted the students at the Law School is a theme that led to pivotal career growth among the fellows.

Thomas Mitchell, a Hastie Fellow from 1996-99 and now a law professor and the Robert F. Drinan, S.J. Endowed Chair at Boston College Law School, said professors at Howard University (where he attended law school) helped solidify his decision to become a fellow, even nudging him to pursue being a law professor after he was practicing law.

“Professor Andrew Gavil, one of my law professors, came to my office at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., to show me a virtual tour of the Hastie program,” Mitchell explained. “The focus on interdisciplinary research and the Law-in-Action mission really resonated with me. I got a sense that was central to what I was trying to do. That motivated me to apply to the Hastie program.”


A photo of Mario Barnes, a black man wearing a gray blue suit, light blue buttoned shirt, and yellow and blue cross hatched tie, while leaning against a table and has a confident expression.Mario Barnes, 2002-04: Adopting Jones’ Philosophy Paid Off

Barnes helped build a law school at UC Irvine during his first stint at that university before becoming the Toni Rembe Dean of the University of Washington’s Law School (2018-21) and then return­ing to UC Irvine.

He is a nationally recognized scholar for his research on the legal and social implications of race and gender, primarily in the areas of employment, education, criminal and military law.

Barnes said Professor Jones made a huge impact on him during his time as a Hastie Fellow as well as on his career thereafter. He adopted Jones’ philos­ophy that fellows commit themselves to personal excellence and uplifting others.

“I would spend hours in his office learning about the history of the Hastie Fellowship and the key role he played in advancing diversity, equity and inclu­sion throughout his career, in the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Department of Labor, the University of Wisconsin and the legal profession,” Barnes said. “His words were a constant reminder of the significant resourc­es that had been expended to create and maintain new pathways for scholars of color. At the end of my fellowship, I had several offers of employment.”

Barnes went on to earn the 2008 Derrick Bell Award from the Association of American Law Schools Minority Groups Section (AALS-MGS) that honors junior faculty members who have made extraordinary contributions to legal education, the legal system or social justice. He was also a co-re­cipient in 2015 of the AALS-MGS’s Clyde Ferguson Award that recognizes senior law teachers who have provided outstanding support to aspiring legal ed­ucators. At the time, he and Boston University Law Dean Angela Onwuachi-Willig were the first people to be awarded both the Bell and Ferguson Awards. This year, along with colleague Kaaryn Gustafson, Barnes received the American Bar Foundation Fel­lows Outstanding Scholar Award.

Barnes said his time as a Hastie Fellow resulted in his own prioritizing of DEI matters, both as a faculty member and a dean.

“I know personally what it feels like for students, faculty and staff who are first-generation and per­sons of color to exist in majority institutions that do not understand the unique challenges they face due to status markers of identity,” he said. “It is only through the deliberate creation of structures such as the Legal Education Opportuni­ties Program, Hastie Fellowship, diverse hiring and other institutional forma­tions that reflect our commitments to meaningful inclusion that we make law schools more comfortable for everyone.”

In each of the six institutions where Barnes has served as a permanent or visiting faculty member, he said it has been a privilege to participate in efforts to advance DEI initiatives for the benefit of the schools, profession, clients and communities.


A photo of Angelica Guevara, an Hispanic woman smiling brightly at the camera, and she is wearing a white blazer with red top and white pearl necklace. Her brown hair is slightly curly and flows over her shoulders. She stands in front of abstract illustrations and has a happy and proud expression.Angélica Guevara, 2019-21: Hastie Helped Her ‘Survive and Thrive’

Angélica Guevara, assistant professor at the Depart­ment of Business Law and Ethics at Indiana Uni­versity’s Kelley School of Business, was the Hastie Fellow from 2019-21.

She said her fellowship provided the opportunity of a tenure track position at Indiana University, one of the top business schools in the country.

“I never saw myself teaching law at a business school, but in the end, they offered better pay and greater support for someone with my reading and writing disability,” Guevara said. “I am sure I would not have been seriously considered by such a presti­gious school had I not been a Hastie Fellow. Indiana University knew the prestige of the Hastie Fellow­ship.”

Guevara said her career has been especially ful­filling because she teaches in an area where Latinas are rare in academia.

“I am a dime a dozen in Los Angeles, but in the Midwest, I am rare,” she said. “After being a target of a neo-Nazi group, I realized the Midwest needed professors like me.”

She said diversity and inclusion have always been important to her, but it became even more critical after experiencing the hate for being hired to teach law.

“As a proud neurodivergent Latina with a reading and writing disability, at times making minimum wage with all of my degrees, given the level of discrimination I faced, it was important for me to find programs like the Hastie Fellowship willing to support me to survive and thrive and help the next generation,” Guevara said.

“…it was important for me to find programs like the Hastie Fellowship willing to support me to survive and thrive and help the next generation.” — Angélica Guevara ’21

Upon finishing her Hastie Fellowship, Guevara became a business development specialist for the U.S. Department of Labor in the Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP). She also served as an American Bar Association (ABA) commissioner for disability rights from 2021-22.

Guevara encourages law students to keep in mind that a plethora of opportunities await them.

“Always keep your options open because you can really do almost anything with a law degree,” she said.


A photo of Thomas W. Mitchell, a black man wearing a navy blue suit, finely patterned dress shirt, and a red, blue and white patterned tie. He looks at the camera with a serious expression and stands in front of abstract illustrations.Thomas W. Mitchell, 1996-99: Never Settle on the Status Quo

Mitchell has engaged in law reform and policy work and served as the principal drafter of the Uniform Partition of Heirs Property Act (UPHPA).

Designed to help disadvantaged families main­tain ownership of their property and their prop­erty-related generational wealth, the act has been enacted into law by more than 20 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Several other states will consider it in the next few years, making it one of the most successful uniform acts the Uniform Law Commission has promulgated over the past 30 years.

In 2020, Mitchell was named one of 21 recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship (commonly referred to as the MacArthur Genius Grant) for assisting disadvantaged farmers and property owners through his scholarship and law and policy work. He is the only lawyer in his MacArthur class. In 2021, he was awarded the Howard University Award for Distin­guished Postgraduate Achievement, an award that former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall and Vice President Kamala Harris, among other Howard luminaries, also have received.

In 2022, Mitchell received the American Bar Association’s Jefferson B. Fordham Advocacy Award, a presti­gious honor that recognizes “outstand­ing legal advocacy within the area of state, local, regional and tribal govern­ment law.” He is also a previous recipient of the Eliz­abeth Hurlock Beck­man Award for mentoring law students who went on to make substantial contributions to advancing social justice.

In addition to being a Boston College law pro­fessor, Mitchell is director of the Initiative on Land, Housing and Property Rights at the institution. The Initiative seeks to preserve and expand property rights for disadvantaged communities through train­ing law students to have capacity in real estate and community development law, research, legal reform and policy work, community outreach and training lawyers and judges. Mitchell is also currently en­gaged in fundraising efforts to elevate his Initiative into a university-approved center.

Mitchell said facing hurdles as an undergraduate student at Amherst College, including financial hard­ships and racial equity issues, helped him develop a toughness that carried him throughout his career.

“There was constant financial pressure of not knowing if I’d be in school the next semester,” he said. “I started every semester late and didn’t have money for textbooks, so I’d work all kinds of jobs to earn money to try to keep me in school.”

As a football player at the college, Mitchell experienced racism on the team, leading him to become a student activist. As a result of his activism, the president of the college appointed Mitchell co-chair of a task force to investigate systemic rac­ism within the athletic department.

“I approached my task force role as a lawyer and was able to force the athletic department to compile racial data on a variety of matters, including recruitment and retention,” he said. “The data was shocking, and it led to opportunities for minority players and coaches. It did not earn me a lot of friends in many circles, but I didn’t back down.”

Even though Mitchell knew he wanted to be a cat­alyst for change, he said he still had to be convinced by his law professors at Howard University that was a path he should follow.

“I was very resistant to being a law professor,” Mitchell said. “I gently kept putting them off, but ultimately they convinced me to apply for the Hastie Fellowship.”

He said his experience as a Hastie Fellow cata­pulted him on the job market.

“I didn’t go to Harvard or Yale for law school, so the stellar reputation of the Hastie Fellowship opened doors that would not have been open to me,” Mitchell said. “It also was invaluable in terms of giv­ing me the time and space to write a thesis with good mentorship and polish it.”

Mitchell said he cannot thank Jim Jones enough for his vision in establishing the Hastie Fellowship and for his substantial mentorship.

“His vision and commitment changed the trajec­tory of my life,” he said.

Networking was another advantage of being a Hastie Fellow.

“I met a subset of professors at conferences who are engaged in the real world,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s thesis, which was published in the Northwestern University Law Review, was titled “From Reconstruction to Deconstruction: Under­mining Black Ownership, Political Independence and Community Through Partition Sales of Tenan­cies in Common Property.” The article addresses how African Americans lost millions of acres of land and the sociopolitical implications of that land loss. Forced partition sales of tenancy in common prop­erty, referred to more commonly as heirs’ property, was a major source of the land loss.

One to never settle for the status quo, Mitch­ell, during his time as a Hastie Fellow, directed a national summer law externship program that he named the Community Development Externship Program. It sought to help individuals who faced a lack of access to affordable legal services through­out the country.

“It was part of the service work I did separate from serving as a Hastie Fellow,” Mitchell said. “It was a way to leverage the academic work I was doing to make a greater impact. Throughout my career, having that approach resulted in me doing a lot of essential work that was not a part of my job.”


A black and white photo of William H. Hastie (1904-1976), wearing black frame glasses, a dark suit jacket, and a striped tie.
William H. Hastie (1904-1976)

Hastie Fellowship: Addressing Diversity with Measurable Outcomes

Mitchell said fellowships such as the Hastie one are critical in today’s job market because fewer tenured-track law jobs exist.

“Having opportunities to observe faculty up close is incredibly important,” Mitch­ell said. “Formal and informal networking allows you to expand your knowledge of the field.”

Since Barnes had worked as an attorney in the Navy and was building a research agenda at “the intersection of sociolegal studies and critical theories,” some believed when he re-entered the job market that he may be unemployable unless he was willing to “repackage” himself.

“But my Hastie mentors encouraged me to pursue the work I was passionate about and to find a school that would see value in my choices,” he said. “One of the greatest benefits to my career was that the fellowship convinced me I did not need to change my­self to succeed in law teaching. Irrespective of conventional wisdom, I do belong and my work matters.”

Barnes said the example UW Law set with its own faculty hiring and the creation of the Hastie Fellowship is that we must place deeds behind words when it comes to improving diversity, equity and inclusion in law schools and the profession.

“Professor Jones established the Hast­ie Fellowship, in part, as a response to law schools claiming they could not locate any ‘qualified’ candidates of color,” Barnes explained. “If we are truly concerned about improving representation and opportunity, we must stop reinvesting in the status quo and start addressing our lack of diversity through plans tied to measurable outcomes. The large number of Hastie Fellows teaching throughout the nation is such an outcome.”


By Brian Walker, Photo Illustrations by Kimberly Raether


A photo of Stacy Leeds standing with arms crossed in front of a polished stone wall with a window nearby. She is of Native American descent with light brown wavy hair that is chin-length, light color eyes, and she is wearing a black jacket featuring golden buttons over a patterned top. She is smiling confidently a the camera.
Stacy Leeds

Stacy Leeds ‘00: Hastie Fellowship Was ‘Immeasurably Valuable’

Read more about the impact of the Hastie Fellowship Program in our interview with Stacy Leeds, the first Indigenous woman to serve as a law school dean.