FACULTY PROFILE Anita Weinberg
Professor Anita Weinberg encourages students to embrace social justice work as a lifelong commitment
Anita Weinberg (JD ’86), Curt and Linda Rodin Clinical Professor of Law and Social Justice, director of the Child Law Policy Institute, and director of the Rodin Center for Social Justice has worked on behalf of children and families as a social worker and attorney for more than 40 years. At Loyola, she directs students in interdisciplinary projects in the areas of child welfare, juvenile justice, and health. Weinberg has led student research projects on youth identified as sexually offending for the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission, as well as numerous initiatives to eliminate childhood lead poisoning in Chicago. She is the inaugural recipient of Loyola’s St. Ignatius Loyola Award for Excellence in Teaching. As director of Loyola’s Curt and Linda Rodin Center for Social Justice, she encourages students to embrace social justice work as a lifelong commitment. Launched in 2018, the Rodin Center facilitates programming and initiatives that advance fairness, equity, and justice in marginalized communities throughout Chicago.
What put you on your path to becoming a lawyer?
I grew up in a home where labor and criminal defense attorney Clarence Darrow and social worker Jane Addams were household heroes because of their forceful advocacy with and on behalf of marginalized populations. I pursued social work before law school because it was the more obvious avenue to working on social justice and racial equity issues, which is what I knew I wanted to do. I’ve been incredibly lucky to be able to put to work what I learned in both of these fields.
What do you find most satisfying about your work?
I love policy work because it provides an opportunity to envision something more. It requires us to pull together as a team—to reframe and rethink a problem, and begin to tackle it systematically—putting together an array of puzzle pieces. And I get to do this with students! Clinical teaching gives me the opportunity to educate students about the law, their responsibilities as lawyers, and their potential to use the law to challenge the status quo and work to create a just society.
It’s wonderful to find myself collaborating with former students on various projects or be in Springfield during the legislative session and see former students, now working for policy organizations, testifying on bills that will impact underserved communities.
“[Students] have the opportunity to participate in, and often spearhead, policy and legislative development, coalition building, and community outreach.”
What skills or attributes do you need to be an effective attorney?
Listening to other people’s points of view and learning from one another. Seeing a client or a problem as multidimensional—no client is only about his or her legal problem. To bring about change, lawyers need to be able to think critically about whether the law is effective, fair, and sufficient to address particular societal issues, and how it might be improved.
What are some ways Loyola law students supplement their classroom experience?
Through our clinics, students can gain practical legal training and can make a difference in the community. They also have the opportunity to participate in, and often spearhead, policy and legislative development, coalition building, and community outreach. Students also have the opportunity to participate in a hotline available to parents, and provide legal information, advice, and representation on school suspension, bullying, and education issues.
How does the Curt and Linda Rodin Center for Social Justice provide unique opportunities for law students?
The Rodin Center makes our social justice work more visible, tangible, and impactful: connecting the dots of all the work done at the law school. The center also raises the visibility of our law school programs that advance fairness, equity, and justice at Loyola and in marginalized communities. It helps students embrace a career-long commitment to social justice while teaching them how to use the law as a tool to achieve it.
Which accomplishment in your career are you most proud of?
I’m proud to have established a policy institute and legislation clinic, and to have helped launch the Rodin Center for Social Justice. I’ve sought to create a model that builds coalitions and uses legislation, policy, interdisciplinary collaboration, and community outreach to make change. We’ve applied it in our work, including on lead poisoning prevention, advancing safe and affordable housing, child welfare, and juvenile justice work.
Loyola University Chicago's Law Faculty memebers have earned a reputation for excellence in teaching, publishing, speaking, and public policy.