Jane Aiken’s work in violence prevention and advocacy stretches across two decades and has an impact that is hard to describe but is undoubtedly felt by many. Jane earned a bachelor’s degree from Hollins College in 1977, a juris doctor from New York University in 1983 and a legum magistra in advocacy from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1985. Having completed a great breadth of scholarly work involving legal education, domestic violence, AIDS/HIV and rules of evidence, Jane currently serves as Washington University in St. Louis’s William M. Van Cleve Professor of Law.
In her capacity as a professor, Jane has immersed herself in the lives and careers of her students. Motivated by the injustices she witnessed while growing up in South Carolina during the Vietnam War and the civil rights movement, Jane explains, “I’m trying to help students clarify how their values and experiences affect their case handling. I want to teach them to be legal change agents for justice.” Jane takes a large step forward in this mission by directing the School of Law’s Civil Justice Clinic. This clinic is responsible for the release of wrongly imprisoned victims of domestic violence, garnering orders of protection for low-income domestic violence victims and functioning as guardians ad litem for at-risk children.
Her other current, large endeavor is the Washington University Interdisciplinary Children and Youth Project. In conjunction with other lawyers, pediatricians, psychologists and social workers, Jane is discerning the connections between community violence and children’s illnesses. Jane, as Director of the project, hopes to find new ways to decrease community violence by identifying problems the St. Louis community has yet to realize.
Additionally, Jane has earned a Fulbright scholarship (Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal, 2001) and used it to train 15 Nepali lawyers in mediation skills and draft a clemency petition to the King on behalf of 12 women serving life sentences for self-induced abortions.
It is clear that Jane Aiken has had a strong impact on the St. Louis and world community and her students. As Margaret Scavotto, her nominator, states, “…because Aiken teaches her service ethic to her students, her mission will be carried into the future.”