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Rachel E. Lopez

Director of the Andy and Gwen Stern Community Lawyering Clinic

Associate Professor of Law

Professor Rachel E. Lopez


Office: School of Law, Room 274
Phone: 215.571.4704

Administrative Support:
Tyra Mwai
Phone: 215.571.4715

‘Participatory Law Scholarship’ Forthcoming

Columbia Law Review coverProfessor López’s article “Participatory Law Scholarship,” which draws from the experience of co-authoring scholarship with two activists who were sentenced to life without parole over three decades ago, is forthcoming in Columbia Law Review.

Read the article on SSRN


Rachel López is an Associate Professor of Law at the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at Drexel University, and will be a SPIA Fellow in Law, Ethics, and Public Policy at Princeton University for the 2023-2024 academic year. Professor López writes, teaches, and practices in the areas of criminal law, public international law, international human rights law, international criminal law, and post-conflict and transitional justice. 

Professor López has received numerous awards, fellowships, and other honors in recognition of her research, teaching, and service. Her article, Redeeming Justice (co-authored with Terrell Carter and Kempis Songster), was awarded the 2022 Law and Society Association (LSA) Article Prize. She has also held visiting fellowships at research institutions around the world, including the Harvard Kennedy School, Yale Law School, the University of Cambridge, and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law. In 2016, López researched transitional justice in Guatemala and Spain as a Fulbright Scholar. At Drexel, she has been honored with the University President’s Civic Engagement Award for Faculty and Professional Staff, the Donna M. Murasko Teaching Award, and the inaugural Dean’s Research Fellowship.

Her award-winning scholarship primarily focuses on state responsibility for mass atrocity, transitional justice, and the carceral state, with a particular focus on Eighth Amendment jurisprudence. She is also pioneering a new genre of legal scholarship called Participatory Law Scholarship, which is written in collaboration with authors who have no formal legal training, but rather expertise in law’s injustice through lived experience. Her articles have appeared or are forthcoming in well-regarded law journals, such as the Columbia Law Review, Northwestern Law Review, Columbia Law Review Forum, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, NYU Journal of International Law and Politics, and University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law. López recently joined leading human rights experts as a co-author of the first law school textbook focused on domestic human rights in the U.S., Human Rights Advocacy in the United States (West, 2023).

She is a recognized expert in criminal law and public international law. She is currently a Special Advisor of the Latin American and Caribbean Law Council for the American Bar Association. From 2015 to 2019, she served as a Commissioner on the Pennsylvania Sentencing Commission, as an appointee of then Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. In 2021, she was appointed to co-chair the 2022 Annual Meeting for the American Society for International Law (ASIL). She is the current co-Chair of ASIL’s Transitional Justice & Rule of Law Interest Group and the Chair-Elect of the AALS Section on International Human Rights. Additionally, she co-founded the LSA’s Collaborative Research Network on Transitional Justice. Her writing and commentary have been featured in The Hill, Bloomberg News, Americas Quarterly, Scientific American, the Guardian, Just Security, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and local affiliates of NPR and NBC. She has also testified at hearings before the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Philadelphia City Council.

Prior to joining the faculty at the Kline School, Professor López taught at Seton Hall University School of Law and served as a Cooperating Attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights. Before entering the legal academy, she clerked on the New Mexico Supreme Court and worked at the Open Society Justice Initiative, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. Through the support of the Arthur C. Helton Fellowship from ASIL, she also worked at the Citizen Governance Initiatives in Cameroon. Professor López received her B.A. in Sociology, Political Science, and International Studies from Northwestern University and her J.D. from the University of Texas, School of Law. She also has an LL.M. in French and European Law from Université Paris 1, Panthéon-Sorbonne.