May 11, 2022

UC Berkeley Law Professor Selected as ACS’s First RBG Award Winner

Immediate Release
Contact: Pablo Willis,

Abbye Atkinson
Class of 1965 Assistant Professor of Law
UC Berkeley School of Law

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The American Constitution Society today announced Abbye Atkinson,  the Class of 1965 Assistant Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law, has been selected as the inaugural winner the ACS Ruth Bader Ginsburg Scholar Award.

The award, which was created last year, recognizes an outstanding scholar in the early stages of their academic career who has demonstrated those qualities exemplified by Justice Ginsburg: scholarly excellence, the ability to imagine how society might be more just and more equal, and the determination to use the law and one’s scholarship to creatively and strategically make the imagined real.

“ACS is honored and humbled to offer this award in memory of a jurist who, as a justice, a litigator, and a scholar, broke barriers and advanced our understanding of the law,” said ACS President Russ Feingold. “ACS and the members of our selection committee recognize the responsibility to choose an awardee whose scholarship reflects the values to which Justice Ginsburg dedicated her life. That is why we could not be more thrilled to have Professor Atkinson accept this award.”

Atkinson will be presented her award at the ACS Annual National Convention in Washington, D.C. on June 16. She also will receive a $5,000 cash award.

The award is sponsored by Ramona Strategies, a woman-owned consultancy that partners with organizations to help them better embody and live their values, particularly around cultivating and maintaining equitable and inclusive teams and environments.

“We at Ramona Strategies are deeply honored to sponsor the inaugural RBG award; our own careers were made possible by Justice Ginsburg's groundbreaking vision and work, and Ramona Strategies was founded to help employers and employees understand the protections that Justice Ginsburg so carefully crafted for women and other marginalized groups,” said company co-founder Katherine Kimpel, who also litigated and won the largest gender discrimination class action in U.S. history. “We look forward to seeing the real-world impacts of current legal scholars who follow in her footsteps.”

While Justice Ginsburg’s litigation career is widely praised, her significant academic experience and accomplishments are less well known to the public. Ginsburg began her academic career at Rutgers Law School, where she co-founded the first legal journal in the country to focus exclusively on the field of women’s rights law and taught her first class on Women and the Law, among the earliest taught on the subject in American law schools.

"Justice Ginsburg was a true trailblazer, and I am tremendously honored to receive this award, given in her name,” said Atkinson, whose research focuses on the law of debtors and creditors as it affects marginalized communities.

Atkinson’s research focuses on the law of debtors and creditors as it affects marginalized communities. Her work is forthcoming in the Duke Law Journal and the Texas Law Review Online, and it has been published in the Columbia Law Review, Stanford Law Review, Vanderbilt Law Review, Arizona Law Review, Michigan Journal of Race & Law, and the N.Y.U. Law Review Online.

Before joining Berkeley Law, Atkinson was a Thomas C. Grey Fellow and Lecturer in Law at Stanford Law School and the Reginald F. Lewis Fellow at Harvard Law School.  Previously she worked as an associate attorney in the San Francisco office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and she served as a law clerk to the Honorable Ronald M. Gould of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and for the Honorable Marilyn Hall Patel of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. She graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School and earned her undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley. Prior to attending law school, she worked as a special education teacher in California public schools.



ACS believes that the Constitution is “of the people, by the people, and for the people.” We interpret the Constitution based on its text and against the backdrop of history and lived experience. Through a diverse nationwide network of progressive lawyers, law students, judges, scholars, and many others, we work to uphold the Constitution in the 21st Century by ensuring that law is a force for protecting our democracy and the public interest and for improving people’s lives. For more information, visit us at or on Twitter @acslaw.