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Student Leadership and Service (SLS)

SLS Awards 2020 - Outstanding Faculty Award

April 29, 2020

  • headshot of Professor Kaplan facing the camera.

Aliza Kaplan, Professor of Lawyering and the Director of the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic at the Law School, is the recipient this year’s Outstanding Faculty Award. This is the highest honor Student Leadership and Service (SLS) presents to a faculty member. One of SLS’ student staff members caught up with Aliza recently to learn more about the great work she’s been doing at Lewis & Clark.

SLS: What is your role at Lewis & Clark?

Aliza: I am a law professor and director of the law school’s criminal justice reform clinic (https://law.lclark.edu/clinics/criminal_justice_reform/).

SLS: What does service and leadership mean to you?

Aliza: Service means using our law degrees to help others. Service is about recognizing your power (whatever it may be) and privilege and using it to serve others in meaningful ways. For me, that is about reforming the criminal justice system by representing clients individually and learning through their cases and their stories how we can change the system for the better, to make it more just, fair, and compassionate to all. Leadership in my role is to provide some knowledge, skills, and encouragement to my students and then watch them take off on their journeys to change the world. To recognize as best I can what each of my students need (big and small) and support them through the class, case/project work, or law school. Often my leadership also means letting others lead.

SLS: Could you talk about what you have done this year regarding service and leadership?

Aliza: The [Criminal Justice Reform] Clinic has had an incredible year advocating for our clients and changing the law. We have also been able to see the fruits of work done a few years back or over many years. We have represented numerous individual clients in clemency and parole cases — and walked a few of them out of prison. We have provided legal information and assistance to dozens and dozens of incarcerated youth, we have written numerous briefs for various courts on important criminal justice issues, we have drafted and passed legislation, and we have conducted studies and reports on a number of interesting issues.

SLS: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Aliza: I am honored to be receiving an award for just doing my job–my favorite part is my students and my former students — they inspire me every day on so many levels.

For more information:

Harold McNaron
Director of Student Leadership and Service
haroldmcnaron@lclark.edu