Sonja R. West holds the Otis Brumby Distinguished Professorship in First Amendment Law at the University of Georgia, a post shared by the School of Law and Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. She specializes in constitutional law, media law, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Prior to joining the School of Law faculty, West taught as the Hugo Black Faculty Fellow at the University of Alabama School of Law. She has also 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 Ninth Circuit. Her other professional experience includes several years as an associate attorney for the Los Angeles law firms Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and Davis Wright Tremaine, where she represented media clients on a variety of First Amendment and intellectual property issues at the trial and appellate levels.
In recognition of her scholarship, West was awarded the School of Law's 2022 Faculty Research Award in Public Law, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication's 2017 Harry W. Stonecipher Award for Distinguished Research on Media Law and Policy, and the National Communication Association's 2016 Franklyn S. Haiman Award for Distinguished Scholarship in Freedom of Expression. Her work has been published in numerous law reviews and journals including the Harvard Law Review, the California Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the Michigan Law Review and the Northwestern Law Review.
Having earned a B.A. in journalism and communication studies with honors and distinction from the University of Iowa, West worked as a reporter in Illinois, Iowa, and Washington, D.C., 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.
For the 2023-2024 academic year, she is a Senior Visiting Research Fellow at the Knight First Amendment Institute. Her research project, in collaboration with RonNell Andersen Jones, will explore how law and policy can better protect journalism and core press functions. They will engage scholars and practitioners in law, media studies, technology, history, and political science in a series of workshops and blog posts, leading up to a symposium in the spring of 2024 at Columbia University.