U.Va. Law Professor Wins Order of the Coif Book Award

January 20, 2010 — University of Virginia law professor Risa Goluboff has received the Order of the Coif Book Award for her 2007 work, "The Lost Promise of Civil Rights."

The biannual award, presented in New Orleans earlier this month during the annual meeting of the Association of American Law Schools, is a top honor for books about the law.

Goluboff's book focuses on the fight for civil rights as it existed before the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954. She examined the way in which African-American workers understood civil rights, and what they were asking lawyers to do for them. A paperback edition was released in October.

"What I found was that civil rights meant very different things before Brown than it did after," she said. "In particular, civil rights encompassed claims to material equality as well as formal legal equality."

Goluboff joins an notable list of former winners, including U.Va. professors Chuck McCurdy and G. Edward White. Goluboff is the third woman to win the award, which until 2004 was given only every three years.

"I'm very excited. It's a wonderful honor," she said.

A committee appointed by the Order of the Coif considered every law and law-related book published during 2007 and 2008 before selecting eight finalists and eventually choosing "The Lost Promise of Civil Rights" as the winner, according to U.Va. law professor Alex Johnson, who is also president of the Order of the Coif's executive committee.

According to its Web site, "The Order of the Coif is an honorary scholastic society, the purpose of which is to encourage excellence in legal education by fostering a spirit of careful study, recognizing those who as law students attained a high grade of scholarship, and honoring those who as lawyers, judges and teachers attained high distinction for their scholarly or professional accomplishments."