District Court Judge/Alumna Receives Prestigious LLM Degree

News Date
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Judge Shera Grant poses with her daughter on graduation day at Duke University School of Law.

By Hazel Scott/ASU

Judge Shera Grant, a District Court Judge based in Jefferson County, is the newest member of the prestigious Judicial Studies LLM (Master of Laws) class of 2023 from Duke University School of Law.

The LLM is an internationally recognized postgraduate law degree.

Judges from across the country and around the world were a part of the class, which included 10 federal judges, two state supreme court justices, eight state court judges and two international judges.

“As a proud Alabama State University graduate, I leaned on the skills learned from the College of Business Administration.  I’m grateful for professors like Dean Kamal Hingorani, Dean Percy Vaughn, Dr. Tammy Prater, and Nasrin Danesh while I was a student there,” Judge Grant said.

Judge Grant noted that only active judges who sit on courts exercising jurisdiction over civil and/or criminal actions are eligible for the classes. Executive branch judges, administrative law judges, arbitrators and special masters are not eligible for this program.

Judge Grant spent two summer terms in residence at Duke.  She had a total of eight weeks of intensive coursework and attended lectures taught by Duke Law faculty, a federal judge, and a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Students also completed a written thesis based on original research.

“My thesis was titled ‘Civil Gideon:  A Judge’s Perspective On The Right to Counsel In Eviction Cases.’ I’m elated it will be published in the Stanford Journal of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties at Stanford Law School,” she said.  “I hope (it) will impact the judiciary nationwide one day soon.”

During that two-year stint, Judge Grant was taught analytical skills and research approaches necessary for studying judicial institutions and how to apply those skills to study domestic and international judicial institutions, common and emerging legal issues, general judicial practices, and judicial reform efforts.

“My two-year course-study focused on issues relating to judicial institutions, judicial behavior, and decision making.  Some of my administrative processes were reformed after going through this program. My experience in the College of Business Administration (COBA) allowed me to complete the challenging and intensive coursework for this two-year undertaking,” she said.  

The coursework was tough, but Judge Grant said having an advanced degree from Duke Law as a professional credential is very beneficial.

“There are numerous benefits of obtaining an LLM degree, such as expansion of your legal knowledge, specialization in a specific area of law, contribution to legal research and global recognition.  All of these can expand your trajectory in the legal field.  This program allowed me to become a better judge in a variety of areas,” she pointed out.  

There are other important reasons for pursuing the LLM, said Judge Grant. “You have a chance to work with other judges from around the country and world, a chance to study ways to reform the judiciary, and, simply, the opportunity and challenge of pursuing academic study with colleagues and scholars of similar interests.”

About Judge Shera Grant

Judge Shera Grant, a 1999 ASU graduate, studied International and Comparative Law at the Universite` d’Aix-Marseille III in Aix en Provence, France, and graduated from law school at Louisiana State University (LSU) on the chancellor’s list with dual degrees: a Juris Doctor (JD) and a Bachelor of Civil Law (B.C.L.) in 2002.

When she returned to Birmingham, Ala., Grant opened her own law practice. She has received numerous awards and sits on several professional organizations and boards, including the Board of Directors for Growing Kings and Alabama State University’s Foundation Board.

As the presiding divisional district civil court judge for Jefferson County, Birmingham Division, Judge Grant presides over civil disputes and eviction matters.