UGA law school’s West promoted to named professorship in First Amendment law

Sonja West

January 6, 2017

Emily Johnson

Emily Johnson

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Sonja R. West

Sonja West

Associate Professor of Law

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Athens, Ga. - The University of Georgia School of Law's Sonja R. West has been named the inaugural holder of the Otis Brumby Distinguished Professorship in First Amendment Law, a post shared by the law school and UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

"Sonja is a distinguished scholar in media law, and it is fitting that she be named to this professorship, which is devoted specifically to teaching and research about the First Amendment," Georgia Law Dean Peter B. "Bo" Rutledge said. "Both law and journalism students will benefit from her experience and insight on this important American right, and this appointment continues the university's commitment to equipping our students with the tools to be successful once they graduate. We are grateful to the Brumby family, including Georgia Law graduates Lee Dobbs Garrett and Otis A. Brumby III, two of the late Otis Brumby's children, for their support of this professorship."

"We're indebted to the Brumby family, one of the great names in Georgia journalism history, for their support, and delighted that professor West has joined the faculty of Grady College," said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College. "We're assembling a world-class team of First Amendment scholars at Grady and at the law school, and the benefits to students are immense."

West joined the Georgia Law faculty in 2006 and specializes in media law, constitutional law and the U.S. Supreme Court. Her scholarship has appeared in various publications including the Harvard Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Michigan Law Review and the Washington University Law Review. Earlier this year she earned the National Communication Association's 2016 Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression. She also was invited to address more than 100 judges from 19 European countries on the issue of press and court communication at the Annual European Conference on Courts and Communication in Budapest, Hungary. She has authored articles about legal issues and the U.S. Supreme Court for a variety of popular news outlets such as Slate and Huffington Post, and frequently commentates for various news media outlets such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, The Guardian and National Public Radio, among others.

West earned her bachelor's degree in journalism and communication studies with honors and distinctions from the University of Iowa and worked as a reporter before entering law school. She graduated with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School, where she served as executive editor of The University of Chicago Law Review and was inducted into the Order of the Coif. After law school, she served as a judicial clerk for U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and Judge Dorothy W. Nelson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit before practicing media law for several years in Los Angeles.

This professorship was created by the late Otis A. Brumby Jr., a Georgia Law graduate who desired to help law and journalism students better understand the importance of First Amendment guarantees and to be able to convey that understanding to the public. Brumby was a veteran journalist who served as the publisher of the Marietta Daily Journal for 45 years.


School of Law
Consistently regarded as one of the nation's top public law schools, Georgia Law was established in 1859. Its accomplished faculty includes authors of some of the country's leading legal scholarship. The school offers three degrees - the Juris Doctor, the Master of Laws and the Master in the Study of Law - and is home to the Dean Rusk International Law Center. Georgia Law is proud of its long tradition of providing first-rate legal training for future leaders who will serve state and nation in both the public and private sectors. For more information, see

Grady College
Established in 1915, the UGA Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication offers undergraduate majors in advertising, entertainment and media studies, journalism and public relations. The college offers several graduate degrees and is home to the Peabody Awards, internationally recognized as one of the most prestigious prizes for excellence in electronic media. For more information, see or follow @UGAGrady on Twitter.



Filed under: Public Policy and Politics, Law, University News, Appointments, Honors / Awards, Faculty Honors

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