Assistant Professor Priya Baskaran Receives Outstanding Academic Award from ABA

June 16, 2021

Assistant Professor Priya Baskaran
Assistant Professor Priya Baskaran

American University Washington College of Law Assistant Professor Priya Baskaran has received the 2021 Outstanding Academic Award from the ABA Business Law Section’s Nonprofits Organizations Committee.

Each year, the Committee recognizes accomplished and civic-minded nonprofit lawyers in the categories of academic, attorney, in-house counsel, young attorney, and lifetime lifetime commitment to the nonprofit field. Baskaran, who has dedicated her teaching career to furthering economic justice in both urban and rural communities through transactional law, is founder and director of AUWCL’s Entrepreneurship Law Clinic (ELC), which provides free transactional legal services to organizations dedicated to economic justice and revitalization in the greater Washington, D.C. area. As a teacher, Baskaran encourages her students to embrace opportunities to facilitate change and support the public interest through transactional lawyering.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, ELC, along with the Community and Economic Development Law Clinic and Georgetown Law’s Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic, created the Transactional Law Clinic Collaborative to assist small business owners in navigating a wide range of government programs to receive needed support.

“I am proud that this project maintains the social justice mission of the Washington College of Law Clinical Program,” Baskaran previously told The Advocate, AUWCL’s alumni magazine. “What brought us to this project really was assisting vulnerable workers, and then understanding how part of that assistance was inherently tied to small business aid.”

Prior to AUWCL, Baskaran was an associate professor at West Virginia University College of Law and served as director of the school’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Law Clinic. She has also taught in the Social Enterprise and Nonprofit Law Clinic at Georgetown University Law Center and served as a staff attorney for the Community and Economic Development Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School.

While in West Virginia, Baskaran partnered with Legal Aid of West Virginia to train transactional pro-bono attorneys and expand legal services across the state, providing ongoing training for Legal Aid attorneys on nonprofit organizations and relevant tax regulations. She additionally served as co-counsel for cases, assisting Legal Aid attorneys in more complex representations.

Baskaran has also written extensively on using transactional law and social enterprise to further economic justice, and has worked closely with nonprofit organizations advocating for economic enfranchisement of returning citizens, including testifying before the West Virginia State Advisory Committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.