Tolulope Odunsi-Nelson


Professor Tolulope “Tolu” Odunsi-Nelson is a scholar and advocate on issues related to race discrimination in the workplace and diversity in legal education and practice. Before joining the faculty in 2022, Professor Odunsi-Nelson taught legal research and writing at the University at Buffalo School of Law (“UB”), where she also served as UB Law’s first Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Informed by her practice in employment discrimination and her former role as Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, her writing highlights policies, laws, practices, attitudes, and biases in employment and higher education that place minoritized persons in “racial subgroups” that make them more susceptible to discrimination and harassment.

Professor Odunsi-Nelson earned her J.D. at the American University, Washington College of Law, where she graduated cum laude and served as a senior staffer for the American University International Law Review. After graduation, Professor Odunsi-Nelson served as a legal intern for the Hon. E. Jeannette Ogden on the New York State Supreme Court and as a law clerk at a boutique law firm focused on civil rights violations. Subsequently, she worked as a civil litigation defense attorney, where she represented clients in various complex civil litigation matters, including employment law, product liability, premises liability, insurance defense, and class action lawsuits. While at her law firm, she also assisted in launching the firm’s first diversity equity and inclusion law clerk program.

In 2018, Professor Odunsi-Nelson was elected as President of the Minority Bar Association of Western New York for the 2018 term. As president, Professor Odunsi-Nelson’s work focused on building pipelines for students of color to law school, providing pro-bono legal services to under-resourced communities, and promoting inclusion amongst the Western New York bar. Professor Odunsi-Nelson has also participated in a number of panels, presentations, and media appearances to discuss her work, including her appearance as a Legal and Racial Justice Expert Analyst for WKBW Channel 7 ABC News’ Election Night Special for the 2020 presidential race.     

Professor Odunsi-Nelson has received numerous honors and awards. In 2017, she was an honoree of Buffalo Business First’s 30 Under 30; in 2018 she was recognized by the Buffalo Law Journal as a “Legal Elite Leader;” in 2019, she was featured by the Buffalo News as a Next Generation Leader; in 2021 she was awarded the “Outstanding Woman in the Law Award” by the New York State Court’s Eighth Judicial District Gender and Fairness Committee; and in 2022 she was the recipient of UB School of Law’s Jacob D. Hyman Professor of the Year Award and the Minority Bar Foundation Education Award.

Scholarly Works

Book Chapters

Tolulope F. Odunsi, Is Race Really the Issue? Examining the Fallacy of “Black Foreigner Privilege,” in Pan African Spaces: Essays On Black Transnationalism 31 (Msia Kibona Clark et al. eds., 2019). Digital Commons

Journal Articles

Tolulope F. Odunsi, Remedying Trait-Based Employment Discrimination: Lessons from the CROWN Act, 14 Ne. U. L. Rev. 317 (2022).