January 29, 2020
January 2020: April Dawson
April Dawson (she/her)
ACS Faculty Advisor, North Carolina Central University School of Law
When I was in law school from 1991-1994, ACS, which was founded in 2001, did not yet exist. My introduction to the still-nascent organization came after I began teaching law full time in 2006. However, I did not become a member of ACS until 2016, when I was asked by students to be the faculty advisor for the recently formed NCCU Law ACS Student Chapter.
When the students asked me to be their faculty advisor, I was not entirely sure I had the capacity. I was already advising two other student organizations, and in addition to having a full teaching load and working on scholarship, I was heavily involved in school- and community-related service activities. However, after learning more about ACS, I knew I wanted to be a part of the organization, and more importantly, support the students in their efforts to become involved in the progressive justice issues being addressed by ACS.
So, what specifically convinced me to add to my already full plate?
First, the mission of ACS aligned with my reasons for becoming a lawyer and my perspective as an academic. I decided to go to law school because I was deeply concerned about injustices in our society. And as a professor, I remind my students often that lawyers are public servants and have a responsibility to make our society more just and equitable. One of ACS’s primary purposes is to ensure “that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives.” That purpose resonated with me on many levels, and I was eager to engage with other like-minded lawyers and advocates.
Second, I was impressed with ACS’s commitment to providing support and resources to students. In addition to providing students with forums to discuss and learn about progressive issues, ACS helps students grow professional networks, which will benefit them throughout their law school and legal careers.
Finally, I was impressed with the information ACS provides to the legal community and the public at large on some of the most pressing issues of the day. ACS has been a valuable resource for me as an educator. This year I taught or am teaching Con Law, Voting Rights, Admin Law, and a Supreme Court Seminar. ACS provides me with additional information regarding current issues that have helped and is helping inform class discussions. My involvement with ACS has also facilitated school-wide engagement. For example, as a result of discussions with other ACS faculty advisors and support from ACS, I spearheaded the effort at NCCU Law to cancel classes on election day so students and faculty can serve as election day volunteers and be directly involved in serving the community as citizens exercise one of their most fundamental and vital rights – the right to vote.
I have never regretted my decision to become involved in ACS. Not only have the resources been invaluable, but the people I have met – ACS staffers, other ACS faculty advisors, and ACS lawyer chapter members – have all exhibited genuine warmth and have been supportive and encouraging. And I am honored to be the faculty advisor for the dedicated members of the NCCU Law ACS Student Chapter. The students are committed to doing their part to ensure our society moves towards justice and equality for all. I am impressed with and inspired by them and optimistic about our future because of them.
April Dawson is a professor at North Carolina Central University School of Law. April graduated from Howard University School of Law in 1994 and practiced in Washington, D.C. With her growing family, April relocated to North Carolina in 1999 to start a private firm. In 2006, she joined NCCU Law as a full-time faculty member. She teaches, among other classes, Constitutional Law, Voting Rights, Administrative Law, and Supreme Court Seminar, and has been voted Professor of the Year multiple times. April also co-hosts The Legal Eagle Review, a weekly radio show which airs on Sundays at 7p on WNCU 90.7 FM in Durham, NC. April is the proud mother of four amazing kids — one is in law school, one is serving in the Peace Corps in Mongolia, and two are in college.