Professor Alina Ball Earns National Recognition

The Clinical Section of the American Association of Law Schools (AALS) has selected Prof. Alina Ball as the winner of the 2018 Shanara Gilbert Award. This is the second national award this year for UC Law SF clinical professors, following Prof. Carol Izumi’s 2018 Pincus Award for lifetime achievement.

Named in honor of a vibrant, rising clinical star whose life tragically ended on a visit to South Africa, the Shanara Gilbert Award is given to a clinician in their first decade of clinical teaching who shares Prof. Gilbert’s spirit and qualities, including: (1) a commitment to teaching and achieving social justice, particularly in the areas of race and the criminal justice system; (2) an interest in international clinical legal education; (3) a passion for providing legal services and access to justice to individuals and groups most in need; (4) service to the cause of clinical legal education; and (5) an interest in the beauty of nature.

Professor Ball is the founding director of the Social Enterprise & Economic Empowerment Clinic, which she launched at UC Law SF in 2013. This in-house corporate law clinic is a unique blend of transactional lawyering and critical examination of issues of economic and social justice. Her scholarship focuses on the intersections of corporate law, community lawyering, clinical pedagogy, and critical race theory.

The Award will be bestowed on Professor Ball in Chicago at the AALS Clinical conference on Monday April 30. Below are a few highlights from the nomination package of letters from her clients, students, UC Law SF colleagues, and leading outside clinicians presented to the Awards Committee:

The large sign on Prof. Alina Ball’s office wall speaks volumes: Work Hard and Be Kind. It both precisely describes her fundamental expectations of herself and her students and wildly understates by how far she surpasses those aspirations. Alina more than works hard, she works tirelessly, brilliantly, thoroughly, and efficiently. The time and consideration she puts into the design and continual redesign of her Social Enterprise and Economic Empowerment Clinic-its every element, assignment, client matter, practice, and system-is obvious. And to call Alina “kind” is akin to calling Usain Bolt “quick.” As you will read in comments from her students, clients, and colleagues, Alina’s deep human kindness and loving care for others ring out even more clearly and loudly than the infectious enthusiasm with which she greets each student or colleague she encounters.

Her clients, students, colleagues, and outside clinicians variously describe her as: boundlessly energetic, enthusiastic, imaginative, fierce-minded, joyful, humble, inspiring, available, a blessing, flexible, adaptive, community-friendly, thoughtful, demanding, encouraging, a mentor, attentive, empowering, captivating, collegial, ground-breaking, understated, powerful, tireless, outspoken, respected, indefatigable, unswervingly positive, wise, a champion of social justice, a committed scholar, intentional, creative, strong, a brilliant thinker, thoughtful, a great friend, a huge influence.

Jane Aiken, Georgetown: “I would be not be surprised if in a few years, when we look back at the hosts of transactional clinics that have come into being now, we will be able to trace how they have been profoundly influenced by Alina Ball.”

Jerry Lopez, UCLA: “Alina Ball is nothing short of remarkable: as a teacher, as a lawyer, as a scholar, and as a person. She embodies the spirit Shanara Gilbert personified during her lifetime. For all the terrific nominations you shall receive, I cannot imagine a candidate who more fully embodies the extraordinary qualities Shanara personified. . . . For Alina, scholarship is not a way to insist ‘I am the first to do this or that’ but rather it’s another way to say ‘I aim to join others in doing all I can to illuminate how we might better define and address the predicaments we face.'”