Campus News

Alumna named inaugural director of law school’s Wilbanks Clinic

Emma Hetherington-v
Emma M. Hetherington

Emma M. Hetherington will serve as the inaugural director of the Wilbanks Child Endangerment and Sexual Exploitation Clinic, the first of its kind in the nation.

“As the work of this important clinic gets underway, we are delighted to have identified a highly capable leader who has demonstrated a true commitment to serving those who too often have no voice,” said Georgia Law Dean Peter B. “Bo” Rutledge. “Emma’s background combined with her passion for advocating on behalf of victims will allow this clinic to make a positive impact as a meaningful avenue for providing public service to our state.”

Hetherington returns to her alma mater from private practice, where she represented individuals in child welfare dependency proceedings and special education cases as well as survivors of child sexual assault and exploitation. Her experience also includes work with the Georgia Law Center for the Homeless and the DeKalb County Child Advocacy Center.

“I have dedicated my legal career to the defense of abused and neglected children and am honored to have been given this incredible opportunity to continue those efforts while helping to train a new generation of attorneys,” Hetherington said. “I greatly sympathize with how helpless victims often feel and am encouraged that we will be able to provide them hope that their perpetrators will not continue to go unpunished.”

Law students participating in the clinic will learn how to work with and represent survivors of sexual abuse and their families, according to Erica J. Hashimoto, Georgia Law’s associate dean for clinical programs and experiential learning.

“Given the sensitive and complex nature of the cases that the clinic will bring forth, it is important that the director be someone who not only has legal experience but also the gift of reaching clients,” Hashimoto said. “We are confident Emma Hetherington is the right choice for this groundbreaking program.”

It is anticipated that many of the clinic’s first clients will be survivors and their families who are able to bring civil charges forward as a result of Georgia’s Hidden Predator Act, passed in 2015.