Early Career Scholars Medal Winners Announced

Early Career Scholars Medal Winners Announced

The American Law Institute announced today that it will award its Early Career Scholars Medal to Professors Ashley S. Deeks of the University of Virginia School of Law and Francis X. Shen of the University of Minnesota Law School. The award recognizes outstanding law professors whose work is relevant to public policy and has the potential to influence improvements in the law. The medalists are selected every other year and presented the award at the Institute’s Annual Meeting.  

“Ashley and Francis are two early-career law professors who are already making a tremendous impact on the way we think about some of the most important and current legal topics of our day,” said Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, who serves as the chair of ALI’s Early Career Scholars Medal Selection Committee. “I am thrilled, on behalf of ALI, to award the Early Career Scholars Medal to these extraordinary professors.”  

Judge Wood continued, “Ashley’s work on national security, international law, and foreign relations has earned her national recognition. In fact, she is currently taking a leave from her school to serve as White House associate counsel and deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council. Francis has been a pioneer in establishing the interdisciplinary field of law and neuroscience. His research has helped lead to the better administration of justice in areas such as criminal and elder law, and it has been essential in developing tools to improve the legal system through the responsible use of neuroscientific evidence and neurotechnology.” 

The ALI normally presents the Early Career Scholar Medal to the recipients at an Annual Meeting. Since the 2021 Annual Meeting will be held virtually this year, Professors Deeks and Shen will receive their medals at a future in-person Annual Meeting.  

Professor Deeks is the E. James Kelly, Jr.–Class of 1965 Research Professor of Law and Senior Fellow, Miller Center at the University of Virginia School of Law. She is currently on leave from the Law School to serve as White House associate counsel and deputy legal adviser to the National Security Council. Deeks joined the Law School in 2012 as an associate professor of law after two years as an academic fellow at Columbia Law School. Her primary research and teaching interests are in the areas of international law, national security, intelligence and the laws of war. She has written articles on the use of force, executive power, secret treaties, the intersection of national security and international law, and the laws of armed conflict. She is a member of the State Department's Advisory Committee on International Law and The American Law Institute, and she serves as a contributing editor to the Lawfare blog. Deeks also serves on the boards of editors of the American Journal of International Law, the Journal of National Security Law and Policy, and the Texas National Security Review. She is a senior fellow at the Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare, and a faculty senior fellow at the Miller Center.  

Before joining Columbia in 2010, she served as the assistant legal adviser for political-military affairs in the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, where she worked on issues related to the law of armed conflict, the use of force, conventional weapons, and the legal framework for the conflict with al-Qaida. She also provided advice on intelligence issues. In previous positions at the State Department, Deeks advised on international law enforcement, extradition and diplomatic property questions. In 2005, she served as the embassy legal adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, during Iraq’s constitutional negotiations. Deeks was a 2007-08 Council on Foreign Relations international affairs fellow and a visiting fellow in residence at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

Deeks received her J.D. with honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where she was elected to the Order of the Coif and served as comment editor on the Law Review. After graduation, she clerked for Judge Edward R. Becker of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. 

Professor Shen is a Professor of Law and McKnight Presidential Fellow at the University of Minnesota Law School, where his scholarship focuses on empirical and interdisciplinary research at the intersection of law and the brain sciences. He is co-author of the first law coursebook on law and neuroscience (Aspen Publishers, 2014), and has explored the implications of cognitive neuroscience for criminal law, tort, and legislation in the United States. His additional research areas of focus are criminal law and crime policy, and education law and policy. 

His research has been published in a variety of outlets in law, political science, psychology, and education, and he has made more than 50 professional presentations. He co-authored two books, The Education Mayor (Georgetown, 2007) and The Casualty Gap (Oxford, 2010), and has authored or co-authored many articles and book chapters. 

Shen completed his B.A. in economics and English at the University of Chicago in 2000, his J.D. at Harvard Law School in 2006, and his Ph.D. in government and social policy at Harvard University and the Kennedy School of Government in 2008. During graduate school he was a doctoral fellow in the Harvard University Multidisciplinary Program in Inequality & Social Policy, supported by the National Science Foundation. From 2007-09, he was a teaching fellow, lecturer, and assistant director of undergraduate studies in the Harvard Department of Government and received five Certificates of Distinction for Excellence in Teaching from Harvard’s Derek Bok Center. 

In 2009 he joined the MacArthur Foundation Law and Neuroscience Project, at the University of California Santa Barbara, as a post-doctoral research fellow. In 2010-11 he became associate director of the Project and a visiting scholar at Vanderbilt Law School. In 2011-12 he was a visiting assistant professor at Tulane University Law School and The Murphy Institute. 

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