UNM School of Law Professor Christine Zuni Cruz received the 2010 Pincus Award, the most prestigious honor for a clinical law professor, at the 2011 annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools in early January.
Zuni Cruz is founder and former director of the UNM School of Law's Southwest Indian Law Clinic and serves as editor-in-chief of the Tribal Law Journal, the only online academic journal that focuses on indigenous tribal laws. A member of Isleta Pueblo, in 2002 she became the first female pueblo member to earn tenure at a national law school.
In her clinical teaching, Zuni Cruz emphasizes community involvement, sensitivity to difference and a multi-disciplinary approach to complex problem-solving. She has written extensively about ongoing concerns with Indian law, community and culture and clinical legal education, and regularly engages her students in the ongoing exploration of these themes.
"Professor Zuni Cruz has long been a national leader in clinical legal education, having spawned a whole new genre of clinical education for work in the field of Indian and tribal law," said Kevin Washburn, dean of the UNM School of Law. "While being a transformative clinical teacher with a national reputation, she also founded the Tribal Law Journal and has been a very active legal scholar. Few professors combine excellence in disparate fields in the way she has."
The annual award, named for William Pincus, who helped establish clinical education as a curricular staple in American law schools, honors individuals or institutions that have demonstrated excellence in service, scholarship, program design and implementation and other activity beneficial to clinical education or to the advancement of justice.
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