Judge Rupen R. Shah of Staunton, Virginia has been selected for the 2018 Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. Achievement Award given by the Virginia State Bar Diversity Conference to a state lawyer who sets an example exemplifying the goal of encouraging diversity and inclusion in the bar, the judiciary, and the legal profession.
The award will be presented to Shah on Friday, June 15 at the 80th Annual Meeting of the Virginia State Bar in Virginia Beach, a May 30 press release from the VSB, said.
The award celebrates the devotion of civil rights leader Clarence M. Dunnaville Jr. to improving diversity and equality in Virginia, and has been a feature of the VSB conference since 2012.
Shah hails from northwest India and before he went into law, was running three restaurants as well as a newspaper route in Staunton until his wife, Shruti, encouraged him to follow his passion and attend law school.
Shah graduated from Syracuse University Law School and went to work as a prosecutor in Augusta County, where he worked for 20 years.
Last year, he was elected by the General Assembly to be the district judge for the 25th district, becoming the first Indian American on the bench in the Commonwealth. Shah told the Staunton News Leader he was also “humbled” to be the first judge in the nation to hail from Gujarat, the paper reported.
Shah has been the president of the Augusta County Bar Association and has also served as chair of the VSB Diversity Conference and oversaw the Millennium Diversity Initiative.
He was nominated as “Bar Leader of the Year” in 2009 by Edward L. Weiner of Weiner Spivey & Miller in Fairfax.
“He exemplifies excellence in promoting and working for diversity and ‘serving the underserved.’ As a role model, Judge Shah lights the way for young people to see the possibilities,” Weiner wrote in the nomination.
Shah has personally created and endowed a fund for The Valley’s Children’s Advocacy Center that counsels and assists children who have been victims of sexual crimes.