Carliss Chatman, Associate Professor of Law at Washington and Lee University School of Law, has been selected by the Association of American Law Schools Section on Minority Groups as the winner of the 2021 Derrick A. Bell, Jr. Award.
The annual award is named in honor of the late Derrick A. Bell Jr., the first African-American tenured professor at Harvard Law School. The award “honors a junior faculty member who, through activism, mentoring, colleagueship, teaching and scholarship, has made an extraordinary contribution to legal education, the legal system or social justice.”
“Carliss has been a driving force in promoting wider access to positions in legal academia, and she has been remarkably generous in mentoring junior faculty in the hiring process in particular,” said Brant Hellwig, Dean of W&L Law. “But it doesn’t stop there. She has a passion for bringing people together to foster scholarly productivity and innovation in teaching approaches. We are both proud and fortunate to have her as a colleague at W&L Law.”
“I am so honored to be selected by my colleagues and to join a list that includes so many mentors and friends,” said Chatman. “This award is especially meaningful in this particular time when events have led the world to focus on issues of racial justice and equality. I aspire to use my scholarship, service, and teaching to ensure that Derrick Bell’s vision for justice within and beyond the academy is realized during my lifetime.”
Professor Chatman teaches an array of business law, commercial law, and ethics classes at W&L Law, and her scholarship interests are in the fields of corporate law, ethics, and civil procedure. Her research and writing projects currently include two business law casebooks, an article examining the use of slavery in commercial law simulations, a book chapter that reimagines the Citizens United opinion using the framework of critical race feminism, and a children’s book titled Companies are People Too.
Prior to law teaching, Chatman was a commercial litigation attorney in Houston, Texas. In practice, she focused on trial law, appeals and arbitration in pharmaceutical, healthcare, mass torts, product liability, as well as oil, gas and mineral law. In addition to negotiating settlements and obtaining successful verdicts, Professor Chatman has also analyzed and drafted position statements regarding the constitutionality of statutes and the impact of statutory revisions for presentation to the Texas Legislature.