Dec. 20, 2023 — University of Houston Law Center Professor Renee Knake Jefferson has been selected as a recipient of 2024 Deborah L. Rhode Award presented by the Association of American Law Schools. The annual award is given by the AALS Sections on Leadership, Professional Responsibility, Women in Legal Education, and Pro Bono and Service Opportunities. She will be recognized during the 2024 AALS Annual Meeting on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, in Washington, D.C.
The award is named in honor of the late Rhode as a memorial to her long legal career where she served as president of the AALS and founding president of the International Association of Legal Ethics in 2010.
“I’m honored to receive what is a bittersweet award for me,” said Jefferson. “Deborah was a dear friend and mentor, who left us much too soon.” Jefferson first met Rhode in 2010 but had previously studied Rhode’s work as a junior scholar.
Jefferson shares the honor with co-recipient of the award Penelope Andrews, John Marshall Harlan II Professor of Law, Director, Racial Justice Project Dean, New York Law School.
“The honorees stood out as exemplars of all the qualities that made Professor Rhode exceptional – her commitment to legal education and the legal profession, her trailblazing scholarship on pro bono, access to justice and the health of our legal systems, and her role as mentor and leader, among others,” said Eliza Vorenberg, member of the award selection committee and Clinical Professor of Law at Roger Williams University School of Law.
Jefferson teaches professional responsibility and a writing seminar on leadership at the University of Houston Law Center. She is also the Joanne and Larry Doherty chair in Legal Ethics and director of the Law Center Outcomes and Assessments. Over the years, Jefferson has been selected for several leadership roles that mirror Rhode’s work. For example, Jefferson sits on the board of directors for the International Association of Legal Ethics. In 2017, she was elected to the American Law Institute and was named a fellow of the American Bar Foundation in 2016. She is also a past chair for the AALS Section on Professional Responsibility.
“My scholarship, like Deborah’s, intersects ethics, access to justice, leadership, and gender, and I am grateful to be recognized in this way,” said Jefferson.
Jefferson is the author of five books and over 30 academic articles in leading legal journals such as Fordham Law Review, Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, and Yale Law Journal Forum.
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