Professor Kimberly Thomas's research, teaching, and practice concentrate on criminal law, especially on sentencing law and practice, juvenile justice, indigent persons accused of crimes, and prisoner re-entry into the community. Professor Thomas is the cofounder (with Professor Frank Vandervort) of the Juvenile Justice Clinic. In 2013, Professor Thomas was among several attorneys honored with the Justice For All Award from the Criminal Defense Attorneys of Michigan. The group developed a pro bono program to represent juvenile defendants following the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court
Miller v. Alabama decision holding that mandatory juvenile life-without-parole sentences were unconstitutional. They created a comprehensive civil rights strategy that involved the recruitment, training, and support of more than 100 attorneys who volunteered their pro bono time and resources. In 2011, Professor Thomas spent three months as a legal education expert for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA-ROLI) in Amman, Jordan, working on law school curriculum development, especially in criminal law, as well as the creation and support of experiential education and the first clinics in the country. In addition, she spearheaded a weeklong series of trainings for Egyptian law professors through the ABA-ROLI office in Cairo, Egypt, on clinical legal education, curriculum innovation, and moot court. Prior to joining the Law School faculty in 2003, Professor Thomas served as a major trials attorney with Defender Association of Philadelphia. She is a
magna cum laude graduate of the University of Maryland and Harvard Law School, where she was editor-in-chief of the
Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review. After law school, Professor Thomas clerked for the Hon. R. Guy Cole of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. During law school she worked for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and spent time with Legal Aid of Cambodia and the Justice Committee of Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa.
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