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Adam Benforado

Professor of Law

Professor Adam Benforado


Office: School of Law, Room 277
Phone: 215.571.4809

Administrative Support:
Tyra Mwai
Phone: 215.571.4715


Adam Benforado’s principal focus is on criminal justice and children’s rights. He is particularly interested in bringing insights from the mind sciences—most notably cognitive psychology—to law and legal theory. Collaborating with psychologists on novel experiments, Professor Benforado is committed to developing a more realistic understanding of the behavior of legal actors. He was awarded a National Science Foundation grant for his empirical work investigating human intuitions about punishment.

As an undergraduate, Professor Benforado studied at Yale University and Oxford University. He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School and was a Frank Knox Fellow and Visiting Scholar with the Cambridge University Faculty of Law. He clerked for Judge Judith Rogers on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Professor Benforado also worked at Jenner & Block, LLP in Washington, D.C., where he handled trial and appellate litigation matters.

He has published numerous scholarly articles in law reviews and scientific journals, and his op-eds and essays have appeared in a variety of publications including The New York TimesWashington PostAtlanticTime, Rolling Stone, Chronicle of Higher Education, American Scholar and Boston Review.

His first book, Unfair: The New Science of Criminal Injustice (Crown), was a New York Times bestseller, a #1 bestseller, and the recipient of a variety of awards and honors: 2017 American Psychology-Law Society Book Award, 2016 Science in Society Journalism Awards Honorable Mention, Green Bag Exemplary Legal Writing Honoree, 20th Annual Books for a Better Life Awards Finalist, and Media for a Just Society Awards Finalist. It has been translated for editions in Taiwan, South Korea and China.

Adam’s latest book, A Minor Revolution: How Prioritizing Kids Benefits Us All (Crown), has drawn strong praise from inside and outside academia. Harvard Kennedy School professor Robert Putnam called it “a must-read for anyone of any political persuasion who is concerned with restoring the American dream of equal opportunity and upward mobility” and lauded the book for combining “vividly written case studies with a comprehensive review of the latest scientific research to offer a simple but radical prescription for what ails America.” Emory law professor Dorothy Brown asserted that “A Minor Revolution will forever challenge the way you think about America’s treatment of her children.” And University of Florida law professor Nancy Dowd described it as a “compelling, passionate call to be serious about children’s lives.” On the public side, The Atlantic characterized A Minor Revolution as an “extremely sympathetic and worthy attempt to protect kids,” New York Magazine called it an “encyclopedically researched, surprisingly hopeful take,” and Publishers Weekly commended “this persuasive and wide-ranging study . . . [as] deeply researched and passionately argued.”

An active media voice, Professor Benforado has been interviewed by Larry King, Al Sharpton, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Scott Simon and been featured on Fresh Air. He regularly speaks to academic audiences, legal practitioners and the public about his research.