AuthorColleen Sheppard
She told me that our ories are the ladders that make it easier for us to touch
the ars.
— Donovan Livingston, 20161
   years ago, I was asked to give a speech at a conference
organized by high-school girls about the role of law in young women’s
lives. I focused on the law, coercion, and young women and discussed
various ways in which the law played a coercive role, using examples
from actual legal cases. At the end of my talk, the f‌irst question I was
asked was, “What is coercion?” Needless to say, I hadn’t def‌ined the
meaning of coercion “the action or practice of persuading some-
one to do something by using force or threats”2 at the outset and
had simply assumed that everyone knew what it meant. I was taken
aback and realized the mistake that I had made. I explained it as
clearly as I could but was left humbled by the experience. It raised
an important question: How can we ensure that we communicate
the meaning of legal concepts in ways that make sense to broad and
diverse audiences? If we want scholarly work to be accessible, we
need to think carefully about how we communicate the things we
learn in our research.
In my work, I have focused a lot of my teaching and research
on discrimination and equality rights. While the organizing theme
throughout the chapters is discrimination, the underlying animating
principle is equality. The two concepts are closely related — equality

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