Lisa Pruitt

by: Matt Sharp, KTLO

A Newton County native will join the country’s most well-known non-governmental organization of legal reform. Jasper High School alumnus and current University of California at Davis professor Lisa Pruitt has been elected to the American Law Institute.

According to the Newton County Times, Pruitt has been a Martin Luther King Jr. professor of law since 1999. Prior to her time at UC Davis, she worked abroad for nearly a decade in settings ranging from international organizations to private practice. She worked with attorneys in over 30 countries negotiating cultural conflicts in different arenas from intellectual property rights to rape as a war crime.

Pruitt graduated from Jasper in 1982. She later received a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and a Juris Doctor degree from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from the University of London. From 1992 to 1993, Pruitt served as a law clerk to Justice Morris Sheppard Arnold of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit.

Pruitt was granted tenure at UC Davis in 2004. She then undertook to establish a new sub-discipline in legal scholarship that explored rural-urban difference in relation to the manner in which people engage law and the state. The central premise of Pruitt’s work in law and rural livelihoods is law and legal scholarship have become metro-centric, and most lawyers, law professors and judges know little about rural people and places and how they differ from the implicit urban norm. She has since brought a ruralist lens to substance abuse, termination of parental rights, domestic violence, access to justice, health and human services, abortion access and indigent defense.

Pruitt has also written extensively on Article 14 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. Article 14 guarantees particular rights to “rural women.”

The American Law Institute oversees law-reform projects that often form the basis of laws enacted across the United States and become standards cited in judges’ legal opinions, lawyers’ briefs and scholarly articles. The institute’s membership is considered a distinct professional honor, and 3,000 is the limit to its membership. Pruitt’s appointment makes her the 17th American Law Institute member of the UC Davis School of Law faculty and emeriti.

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