Theodore M. “Ted” Shaw will join UNC School of Law July 1, 2014, as the first Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Law and as director of the UNC Center for Civil Rights. The position had been open since founding director Julius L. Chambers, who died last year, stepped down in 2010.
The Julius L. Chambers Distinguished Professorship is supported by an endowment grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation.
Previously Shaw served as director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund (LDF), the legal arm of the civil rights movement founded by Thurgood Marshall, who later became an associate justice of the Supreme Court. Chambers was LDF’s third director; Shaw was the fifth, serving from 2004 to 2008. Shaw joined the LDF in 1982 to litigate school desegregation, voting and other civil rights cases.
Shaw, a graduate of Wesleyan University and Columbia Law School, began his career as a trial attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. He joined the LDF in 1982, litigating at the trial and appellate levels, including the Supreme Court, and established LDF’s Western Regional Office in Los Angeles. Shaw was counsel for African American students in the University of Michigan undergraduate affirmative action admissions case heard by the Supreme Court in 2003. He also played a key role in initiating the review of Michigan Law School’s admissions policies and served on committees that adopted the plan that was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
UNC School of Law Dean Jack Boger ’74 says the challenge in selecting a successor to Chambers was to find someone who would serve as a full law faculty member while also bringing rich experience as director of a litigation and advocacy center.
“Most talented civil rights experts are classroom teachers and scholars or front-line advocates and litigators, but not both,” Boger says. “Ted Shaw excels in both areas.”
Shaw says he was drawn to UNC and to the State of North Carolina. “What happens in North Carolina is important. North Carolina is a bellwether state when it comes to civil rights. There’s work to do here.”
Over the years, Shaw has testified regularly before Congress and state legislatures. His work has taken him to South Africa to train lawyers after the post-apartheid constitution came into being, and he has worked closely with the Roma community to achieve civil rights in Eastern Europe.
“I hope to continue to have an international presence and bring some of the people I’ve met in other parts of the world to visit with students and faculty at UNC,” Shaw says.
Civil rights issues often arise in the junction of poverty and race, and Shaw is looking forward to possible collaborations between UNC’s Center for Civil Rights and other social justice advocates at UNC and across the state.
“Ted knows everyone across the country in the civil rights field,” Boger says. “We’re thrilled to have the chance to work with someone so deeply experienced who is so humane and compassionate.”
Charles Daye, the deputy director for the Center for Civil Rights, is pleased to welcome Shaw to the center. “He knows the law, and the best strategies for advancing the law,” Daye says. “He steps into big shoes to fill, following Julius Chambers, but there’s not a better person to take on the challenge.”
-March 31, 2014