UW Today

September 28, 2011

UW law professor named a judge of High Court of Kenya

Joel Ngugi

Joel Ngugi

Joel Ngugi, an associate professor at the UW School of Law, was recently appointed a judge of the High Court of Kenya. Under Kenyas new Constitution, the High Court has unlimited original jurisdiction in criminal and civil matters and is primary court on constitutional issues. The court also has supervisory powers over subordinate courts.

Professor Ngugi, who is 38 and a native of Kenya, has been involved in legal reforms in Kenya as a scholar, an activist involved in human rights and as a lawyer. This judicial appointment, will allow Ngugi to directly contribute to Kenyas legal reform.

“Kenyas new Bill of Rights marries traditional civil and political rights based in part on American law with innovative social, economic and cultural rights based in part on South African law,” Ngugi said. “I plan to use my comparative law experience to craft a constitutional jurisprudence that maximizes individual autonomy while ensuring reasonable existence and subsistence for all citizens as promised in the new constitution.”

Ngugi is taking a leave of absence from UW but plans to continue his involvement via externships, independent studies, and international legal research opportunities for students.

Ngugi joined the law school faculty in 2004. His research interests include the role of law in economic development, market regulation and wealth allocation. He also researches human rights and legal reforms in developing economies. At UW Law, Ngugi won the Professor of the Year award in 2004 and 2011.

Prior to joining the faculty, Ngugi practiced corporate and international litigation with Foley Hoag, LLP in Boston. He also practiced with the Kenyan firm Kariuki Muigua & Company Advocates. Ngugi has worked with the United Nations Mission in Kosovo and conducted research for the Global Coalition for Africa/World Bank, Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research at Harvard University and the Global Trade Watch Division of Public Citizens, Inc. in Washington, DC.

Ngugi received his doctorate from Harvard Law School, and his undergraduate degree from the University of Nairobi, Kenya. At Harvard University, Ngugi was one of two recipients of the John Gallup Laylin Prize in International Law in 2002. At Harvard, his fellowships and grants included the Clark Byse Fellowship for academic distinction among graduate students and the European Law Research Center Seminar Fellowship. Ngugi was also awarded dissertation fellowship grants from the Institute for the Study of World Politics, Washington, D.C. and the MacArthur-Weatherhead Center for International Affairs.