Ruth Claiborne is an innovative lawyer who practices in the forefront of family building. She has established herself as one of Georgia’s most pioneering and preeminent reproductive technology and adoption attorneys Serving individual clients is her main mission, but through lobbying and public service appointments, she has also taken part in shaping public policy around assisted reproductive technology, adoption, child advocacy, and special education.
Ruth’s career includes several milestone events. In 1998, Ruth completed the first co-parent adoption between same-sex couples ever granted in Georgia. In 1996-97, Ruth handled her first egg donation and gestational surrogacy cases, making her one of the very first lawyers in Georgia to ever handle assisted reproduction matters. In 2009, she obtained the first joint pre- birth parentage order granted in Georgia to a same sex couple in a surrogacy matter. Ruth mediated the first case at the Neighborhood Justice Center (now the Justice Center of Atlanta, Inc.) when it opened its doors in 1977 as a pilot project during Jimmy Carter’s term as President, and she served for several years on the Justice Center’s training team, focusing on mediation of special education disputes.
1977 was also the year she founded Ruth F. Claiborne, P.C., to emphasize the rights of children and families and to promote mediation. Still today, she takes a collaborative approach to working with clients, attorneys, physicians and mental health professionals, believing that family building through assisted reproduction or adoption is best approached in a truly multidisciplinary fashion. She has always approached clients and law practice with sincerity, warmth, compassion, and a sense of humor.
Ruth has spent much of her career working as a judicial officer and serving as a legislative consultant before the Georgia General Assembly. From her judicial experiences, she gained insights into fair and impartial adjudication, especially where novel issues are involved that are not always addressed in specific laws, yet are within the sound discretion of the judge. In 1991, she was named as a Magistrate Judge specially assigned to the Fulton County Superior Court, and through this part time appointment, she heard and decided cases in Superior and Juvenile Courts for 12 years. She has also held administrative law judge appointments spanning her entire career, starting as an Administrative Law Judge for the Georgia Departments of Education, of Human Resources, Secretary of State Licensing Boards, and Office of State Administrative Hearings. From 1993 through the present, she is on the three-member Board of Review, Georgia Department of Labor, reviewing unemployment compensation appeals.
Ruth’s approach to clients is also informed by public policy skills, honed over years of intensive legislative advocacy on health, education and family issues. She has been instrumental in drafting and successfully advocating improvements to Georgia laws on adoption, embryo donation, special education, child support, and legal procedures governing state administrative hearings, to name a few.
Ruth shares her knowledge and experience by speaking at seminars and meetings for consumers, lawyers, doctors, nurses, mental health professionals, and advocates on legal and practical aspects of reproductive law including egg, sperm, and embryo donation, gestational and traditional surrogacy.
In 2000, Ruth was honored by the Stonewall Bar Association with its Award for Conspicuous Service to the Stonewall Community. In 2004, she was named an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Assistance, in recognizing her extraordinary work to promote adoption in the United States. In 2008, she was named a Georgia Super Lawyer in the field of Family Law. She has also served numerous public service appointments, including the Georgia Commission on Women, Georgia Commission on Equality, and on the Georgia Commission on Child Support for 18 years, the longest tenure of any member.
Ruth is an active member of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in downtown Atlanta, and she has held several leadership positions at St. Luke’s and in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Her personal passions include spending time with her family, active travel, yoga, flower arranging, and decorative arts.