After nearly 30 years on the federal bench, U.W. Clemon, former Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Northern District, returned to the practice of law in 2009 with the law firm of White Arnold & Dowd P.C. Clemon is an active member of the firm’s civil litigation group, serving clients in corporate and commercial litigation, environmental torts, personal injury, employment and labor, class actions and multi-district matters.
In the white collar criminal group, Clemon defends both individuals and organizations accused of wrongdoing. His practice also includes arbitration and mediation matters, along with service as an appointed Special Master in complex civil actions.
Clemon, educated in the segregated public schools of Jefferson County, decided to become a civil rights lawyer at age thirteen. His early involvement in the 1962 boycott of Birmingham’s downtown stores and his fight to end the segregation of the Birmingham Public Library earned him the designation of one of Dr. Martin Luther King’s foot soldiers in the Birmingham civil rights movement. As a young lawyer, Clemon was a member of the Adams, Baker & Clemon law firm.
In 1974, Clemon became one of the first two blacks to be elected to the Alabama State Senate since Reconstruction. In his two terms, he chaired the Rules and Judiciary Committees, respectively, and vigorously opposed Governor George C. Wallace on various racial issues.
President Jimmy Carter appointed Clemon as Alabama’s first black federal judge in 1980. He served as Chief Judge of the court from 1999-2006, and he is credited with addressing some of the most important issues of our time. Under his administration, the court adopted a more juror-friendly and representative jury plan, increased minority presence in the workforce of the court, and transitioned to electronic case filing and management. He has served on the executive committee of the Eleventh Circuit Judicial Council.
He and his wife of 41 years, Barbara Lang, are members of Sixth Avenue Baptist Church of Birmingham, where he serves as a deacon and member of the 100-voice Male Chorus. He is a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity.
Columbia University Law School, New York, New York (1968)
Miles College, Birmingham, Alabama (1965), summa cum laude
Recipient, Alabama Bar Association’s Judicial Award of Merit
Recipient, Alabama Trial Lawyers’ Association “Howell T. Heflin Award”
Recipient, Drum Major Award of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference
Honorary Doctor of Humanities, Birmingham-Southern College, (2003)
U.W. Clemon Pre-Law Scholarship, Birmingham-Southern College, (2002)
Honorary Fellow, The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, Inc. (2002)
Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Alabama Law School, (2002)
Brotherhood Award, National Conference of Christians and Jews, (1996)
Distinguished Jurist Award, Mississippi State University, (1992)
C. Francis Stradford Award, National Bar Association, (1987)
Law and Justice Award, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, (1980)
Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Miles College, (1976)
Earl Warren Fellow, NAACP Legal Defense Fund (1968-70)
American Bar Association, Council, Individual Rights and Responsibilities
Alabama Lawyers Association, President and Co-founder
Alabama Bar Association
Birmingham Bar Association
National Bar Association
Judicial Council of the Eleventh Circuit
Leadership Birmingham Board, (1986-1988)
Board Member, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, (1993-98)
Board Member, Operation New Birmingham, (1992-present)
Board Member, Glenwood, Inc., (2000-present)
Member, Alabama Women’s Commission, (1975-77)
Alabama Permanent Judicial Study Commission, (1976-80)