Suzette M. Malveaux
Professor of Law
Where you are from:
My parents are from Louisiana, but I grew up in Columbia. Columbia is a planned community – founded on principles of respect for the environment, appreciation for diversity and commitment to community. What I love about Columbia was the extraordinary and real diversity that existed in my neighborhood. Just going around the cul-de-sac, my immediate neighbors were families that were African-American, Jewish, Russian, white and Asian. Growing up I worshipped in an Interfaith Center, which is a building where people of all faiths held their services under the same roof. So I would attend mass with Catholics in one room, while Baptists would hold their service in another room, and members of the Jewish community would do the same in another room. And afterwards, everyone would come out and have coffee and donuts together, so that religion was not a basis for division. Columbia challenges you to experience people as they truly are, to protect and appreciate the environment, and to push the world to be better than it is.
I went to public school all my life until I went to college. I went to Harvard University as an undergrad and New York University School of Law for my J.D. I chose to attend NYU because of the Root-Tilden scholarship program. The scholarship provided not only financial support, but also professional support for those interested in public interest law. I have always been oriented towards issues of social justice and equality, so it was a great fit for me.
Discipline/research and accomplishments:
My scholarship examines the impact of procedural mechanisms on the enforcement of civil rights. I teach Civil Procedure, Complex Litigation, Civil Rights Law, and Fair Employment Law.
One of my accomplishments is my casebook on class actions and multi-party litigation. In my second year of teaching, I was invited to co-author the second edition of this casebook, so now I teach Complex Litigation from my own book! Another accomplishment is the recent publication on my article, Front Loading and Heavy Lifting; How Pre-Dismissal Discovery Can Address the Detrimental Effect of Iqbal on Civil Rights Cases, 14 LEWIS & CLARK LAW REVIEW 65 (2010). In response to a nationwide call-for-papers, my article was selected for presentation at the American Association of Law School’s annual conference this January.
Obstacles to overcome:
One of the best things in my life but also most challenging is being a single parent. My sixteen year old daughter keeps me very busy! She currently dances on the POMS Team and performs in musicals. So when I’m not working, I’m at high school football and basketball games, or working backstage as a stage mom. We spend our nights together doing our homework and sharing our day. Juggling professional and family responsibilities is tough but extremely rewarding.
Mentors/role models who encouraged you:
My family has been a source of inspiration for me. I am fortunate not to have to go too far for role models. My parents have instilled in me the importance of working hard, respecting others, and fighting for social justice. I grew up surrounded by love and support, but also high expectations. That combination has made me what I am today.
What you do for fun in leisure time:
I enjoy running when I get a chance. I used run the Marine Corps Marathon every year, but I’ve since cut back. I now run and walk for various charities. Recently, I ran in Lawyers Have Heart, Race for the Cure, and our own law school’s first Race Judicata. I’m currently organizing all the women (3 generations) in my family to do the Avon Breast Cancer walk here in DC, where we not only raise money to fight breast cancer, but also walk a marathon and camp out in tents! I’m still working on them!