(From left to right) Third-year law student Maria Martinez, Senior Assistant Dean Valerie D. James, and second-year law student SJ Hammon walk across campus at McGeorge School of Law. Photo by Ashley Golledge.

Valerie D. James is helping the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law increase its commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging by recruiting and supporting a dynamic cohort of law students each year.

James joined McGeorge as the Senior Assistant Dean of Admissions, Financial Aid, and Diversity Initiatives in 2022.

Under James’ leadership, she and her admissions team have brought in record-setting cohorts of law students. For the second year in a row, a majority of the incoming class of law students identify as racially or ethnically diverse. In fact, 54.4% percent of students in the Class of 2026 are from marginalized populations, surpassing even last year’s cohort, which had a record-setting 51% of students from marginalized populations.

This year’s incoming class set a record for the law school’s highest enrollment of students who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. This year, 27% of first-year JD students identify as LGBTQ+.

To James, it is important to ensure everyone – including underserved communities – has access to legal services but also to a legal education.

“In all things, I want to ensure every student has an educational experience that is engaging and transformative, so they are prepared to make an impact in their community,” James said.

James is a respected leader in higher education administration. She serves as co-advisor to McGeorge’s Black Law Students Association and oversees the Sacramento Campus’ Center for Inclusion and Diversity. This month, James was installed as the Vice Chair of the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Pre-Law Education and Admission to Law School.


For more information about McGeorge School of Law, visit our website.

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