Legal Education

Heather Gerken, known for federalism scholarship, is first woman to become Yale law dean

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Heather Gerken

Heather Gerken. Photo courtesy of Marquette University Law School.

Yale law professor Heather Gerken will become dean of the law school beginning July 1.

Gerken will be the first female law dean and first federalism scholar at Yale Law School, the Volokh Conspiracy, a blog published in the Washington Post, reports. She also is an expert in election law who was featured as one of the best law professors in the country in a 2013 book, What the Best Law Teachers Do, reports. A press release is here.

Gerken told the Yale Daily News that diversity and inclusion will be among her priorities as dean. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and a former clerk for Justice David Souter.

Gerken wrote a recent article for on how progressives at the state and local levels can use “uncooperative federalism” to force a compromise with the federal government on issues such as immigration enforcement.

The Yale Daily News reports that Gerken will continue to lead the law clinic she created, the San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project. According to Bloomberg News, the clinic works with the San Francisco city attorney’s office to develop and litigate public interest lawsuits.

The clinic contributed to the first lawsuit that challenged President Donald J. Trump’s crackdown on sanctuary cities by withholding federal funds.

Gerken will replace Robert Post, who became law dean in 2009.

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