The Association of American Law Schools has selected Professor Ron Whitener as the 2009 recipient of the M. Shanara Gilbert “Emerging Clinician” award for excellence in clinical legal education. Professor Whitener is Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic at University of Washington School of Law, is Of Counsel to the law firm of Foster Pepper PLLC in Seattle, and serves as Chief Judge for the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis.
The AALS award announcement states:
Through the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic, Ron Whitener has made access to justice a reality for countless clients and has helped to train a new generation of advocates for American Indians. For many American Indians, the Tribal Court Criminal Defense Clinic is the only source of representation for those facing criminal charges because tribal courts are not required by law to provide legal representation. Professor Whitener saw this pressing need, started this clinic, and has helped to expand its reach through fundraising. In addition, Professor Whitener has helped to build the clinical program at University of Washington and has been a resource to other clinical programs. Professor Whitener also is an engaged scholar, authoring or co-authoring three journal articles focused on legal and health issues affecting American Indians.
Professor Whitener is actively involved in American Indian legal issues. He began his career as Legal Counsel to the Squaxin Island Tribe, of which he is a member, and he has done lay advocate and other legal training for nearly a dozen other tribes in addition to direct representation of clients. He frequently speaks about treaty rights, tribal jurisdiction, and other legal issues affecting American Indians. He has also promoted international clinical legal education efforts through his collaboration with the Afghan Legal Educators Program, a program of the Asian Law Center at the University of Washington. Afghan law faculty participating in that program visited tribal courts and attended meetings with faculty and students in the Tribal Court Public Defense Clinic.
The M. Shanara Gilbert Award will be presented at the Conference on Clinical Legal Education at a special ceremony on Friday, May 8, at 9:00 a.m., in Cleveland, Ohio. We look forward to seeing you in Cleveland and honoring Professor Whitener for his creativity in addressing a pressing legal need for an underserved community and his outstanding contributions to clinical legal education.