SEATTLE - Anita Ramasastry will be installed as the as the Wayne & Anne Gittinger Professor of Law Thursday, April 30 at 4 p.m. in William H. Gates Hall.
The Gittinger Professorship in Law was the second permanent, endowed professorship established at the School of Law.
Established in 1990 by Wayne, class of 1957, and his wife Anne, the professorship supports faculty research, scholarship, teaching, and professional activities in the areas of corporate or business law.
Anita Ramasastry, D. Wayne & Anne E. Gittinger Professor Law
"The Quest of Global Financial Integrity: Stopping the Illicit Financial Flows of Terrorists, Tax Dodgers & Kleptocrats" April 30, 2009 at 4 p.m.
From working on cutting-edge issues as diverse as regulation of new types of payment systems like PayPal to recovering stolen assets from dictators, Anita Ramasastry has found a unique way to blend her passion for justice and human rights with her expertise in banking law, commercial law, and the complexities of financial networks and systems.
After receiving her master’s degree in history from the University of Sydney, Ramasastry continued her education at Harvard Law School. By the end of her first semester, she knew she wanted to be a law professor and soon took on the added responsibilities of a teaching fellow in the areas of history, American government, constitutional law, and legal writing. As a third-year law student, she interned at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York as well as the New York law firms of Debevoise and Plimpton, Sullivan and Cromwell and the Australian law firm of Mallesons, Stephen Jacques.
Given the opportunity to serve on Harvard’s Shareholder Advisory Committee as both an undergraduate and a law student, Ramasastry advocated for Harvard’s divestiture of South African investments and later for divestiture of investments in the tobacco industry. After graduation, she clerked for Justice Alan Handler of the New Jersey Supreme Court and was then tapped as the first assistant professor of law for the newly created Central European University in Budapest, founded by financier George Soros. There, Ramasastry worked with students from former Soviet republics as those nations began the process of reforming their legal systems and building democracy. She also worked on legal reform in post-socialist countries as a staff attorney for Soros’s Constitutional and Legislative Policy Institute. In this role, she managed legal education efforts in Ukraine and commercial law reform projects in the region.
Ramasastry returned to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York where she tackled complex financial fraud cases in the wake of the Wall Street crash of the late 1980s. She also volunteered with Sakhi, an organization assisting South Asian women who were victims of domestic abuse. When the opportunity came for Ramasastry and her husband, Associate Professor of Law Walter Walsh, to teach at the UW School of Law in 1996, they jumped at the chance — it was the return to a calling she nurtured since law school.
By the end of her first year on the faculty, students named Ramasastry Professor of the Year, an award she has now received three times. She also received the UW Distinguished Teaching Award in 1998.
Ramasastry’s research has focused on banking and payments law. In 1997, Ramasastry was selected as the reporter for a new uniform state law to regulate nonbank payment companies, such as Western Union and PayPal. The Uniform Money Services Act, drafted by the Uniform Law Commission, has been enacted in numerous states including Washington. In 2004, Ramasastry worked on amendments to the act after the September 11 attacks to close loopholes in payment systems related to terrorist financing. This work launched her research on new electronic payment systems. Today, she is one of the leading experts in the United States in this field and was appointed as a commissioner to the Washington Uniform Legislation Commission in 2002 and now serves as its chair.
In the midst of these activities, Ramasastry was asked to serve as a senior attorney and advisor to a special claims resolution tribunal in Zurich, Switzerland, which was established to resolve claims to World War II-era bank accounts. This foray into the world of asset recovery and the complicity of financial institutions during that period led to her subsequent work on the relationship between banks and kleptocracies and the role of businesses in conflict zones. She has served as an advisor and received numerous grants for her research in the emerging field of business and human rights. Her most recent work has focused on political corruption and the global financial system. Last fall, she was at the World Bank in Washington, DC, as part of the Stolen Asset Recovery Initiative, a joint program of the World Bank Group and U.N. Office of Drugs and Crime focused on improving stolen asset recovery in cases of political corruption.
Ramasastry has conducted research on financial regulation at the British Financial Services Authority and the University of London on a prestigious Atlantic Fellowship in Public Policy awarded by the British government. She has also been a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School.
Ramasastry has also been active in business and commercial law reform in countries in transition. From 1997 to 2002, she served as a commercial law advisor to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. She has advised the U.S. Agency for International Development, the European Commission and the Open Society Institute on commercial law reform. Most recently, she served as an advisor to the U.S. Department of Commerce on commercial legal reform in the Arabian Peninsula.
Ramasastry founded and remains the faculty advisor for the Immigrant Families Advocacy Project (IFAP), a volunteer student group at the law school. IFAP trains lawyers and law students to assist immigrants who are victims of domestic violence, abuse, neglect, or human trafficking. Last year, about one-third of all first-year students participated in IFAP. For her work with battered immigrant women and children, Ramasastry received the UW Outstanding Public Service Award in 2002 and the Amicus Award from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project in 2007. IFAP is now in its twelfth year of operation.
In 2008, Ramasastry was selected as one of 25 fellows in the Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders Forum. That same year, she was a Fulbright Scholar and visiting professor at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, NUI Galway.She was recently an advisor to the International Commission of Jurists Expert Panel on Corporate Complicity and participated in expert consultations of the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative on Business and Human Rights. She is the project leader for the Commerce, Crime and Conflict project coordinated by the Fafo Institute for Applied International Studies in Norway. Ramasastry serves as a co-director of the Shidler Center for Law, Commerce and Technology.