Nina Rabin wins the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award

May 24, 2024
Nina Rabin

UCLA School of Law’s Nina Rabin has won the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award for 2024, with an additional citation for distinction in teaching at the graduate level. The honor is UCLA’s highest recognition for excellence in the classroom.

The UCLA Academic Senate has presented the award since 1961 “to increase awareness of UCLA’s leadership in teaching and public service by honoring individuals who bring respect and admiration to teaching, at UCLA.” Each year, only six faculty members across the UCLA campus are so recognized. In addition to the honor for members of the university’s tenure-track faculty, awards go to leading lecturers and teaching assistants. This year, Peter Reich, a continuing lecturer in law, earned that honor.

Rabin is the 36th member of the UCLA Law community to earn this campus-wide accolade.

She is the director of the law school’s trailblazing Immigrant Family Legal Clinic. She joined UCLA Law in 2018 and has directed the clinic since its founding at the Robert F. Kennedy Community Schools in Koreatown. There, Rabin and UCLA Law students collaborate with community partners in providing essential legal services to immigrant families. Law students in the clinic engage in community lawyering on the ground level, learning the ins and outs of individual representation and holistic advocacy for students and their families.

Rabin also oversees the law school’s renowned clinical program and is a longtime innovator in clinical legal education. For example, she helped develop the Immigrant Family Legal Clinic’s unique school-based model of legal service delivery, through which law students learn firsthand about a wide range of challenges facing immigrant children and asylum-seeking families. She has also developed intensive “mini-clinics” during the law school’s brief J-term each January. For those, law students have traveled to the U.S.-Mexico border, provided consultations to Afghan asylum seekers, and, most recently, assisted immigrant workers who have been subjected to rampant workplace violations in poultry processing plants in East Los Angeles.

Many people offered support in nominating Rabin for the Distinguished Teaching Award, emphasizing her commitment to causing meaningful change in the community while preparing students for impactful careers as lawyers and advocates.

“I am deeply honored to receive this award, which is only possible because of the remarkable clients and students who inspire me every day,” she says. “It is truly a gift and privilege to teach community-based lawyering in the special space we have created at RFK Community Schools.”

Rabin earned her B.A. from Harvard University and her J.D. from Yale Law School. Before she joined the UCLA Law faculty, she served as a clinical professor of law at University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law. There, she served as director of the Bacon Immigration Law and Policy Program, an interdisciplinary program on immigration law and policy. She has engaged in extensive scholarship on issues surrounding immigrant families, including writing articles and reports on the consequences of immigration enforcement for children in immigrant families, working conditions of low-wage immigrant women workers, immigrants’ parental rights, and the treatment of women fleeing gender-based violence in immigration detention.

Rabin also previously clerked for UCLA Law alumna Judge Dorothy Wright Nelson ’53 on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and practiced civil rights law in California.

In a message to the community announcing Rabin’s honor, UCLA Law dean Michael Waterstone praised her for her motivation, vision and broad influence.

“As the director of our clinical program,” he wrote, “she mentors other clinical faculty members and helps ensure a consistency of excellence throughout our outstanding clinical work. Thanks to her, generations of law students have developed the tools to be thoughtful, dynamic, and successful advocates – and generations of clients have gotten vital help to improve their lives and communities.”

See All
Mar 26, 2024

UCLA Law’s immigration center scores a big win in federal court for humanitarian parole

Read More
Nov 08, 2023

Victor Narro earns MALDEF honor for community service

Read More