Kerry Abrams

  • Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
  • Professor of Law

Kerry Abrams joined the University of Virginia faculty in 2005 and was promoted to full professor in 2010. Her primary teaching and research interests are in the areas of citizenship law, immigration law, constitutional law, legal history, family law, and gender and law. Abrams has written numerous articles on the intersection of immigration law and family law, the history of immigration law, and the marriage equality movement. In February 2018 she was selected to be the next dean of Duke Law School, effective July 1.

Abrams is a graduate of Swarthmore College, where she earned a B.A. in English literature with highest honors. She graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School, where she was president of the Moot Court Board. After law school, she clerked for Judge Stanwood R. Duval Jr. of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and practiced law for several years in the litigation department of the New York City law firm Patterson, Belknap, Webb & Tyler, primarily handling intellectual property and employment discrimination cases. From 2002-05, she was acting assistant professor of lawyering at the New York University School of Law. In June 2014, she became vice provost for faculty affairs for the University of Virginia.

Scholarship Profile: Investigating the Intersection of Immigration and Family Law (Virginia Journal 2014)


  • J.D.
    Stanford Law School
  • B.A.
    Swarthmore College

Works in Progress:

"The Rights of Marriage: Obergefell, Din, and the Future of Constitutional Family Law" (forthcoming, Cornell Law Review)

“Constitutional Family Rights after Obergefell and Din

Published Works:

"Domicile Dismantled" (with Kathryn Barber), 92 Ind. L.J. 387 (2017)

"Cumulative Constitutional Rights" (with Brandon L. Garrett), 97 B.U. L. Rev. 1309 (2017)

"Family Reunification and the Security State" 42 Const. Comm. 247 (2017)

"(Mis)Recognizing Polygamy" (chapter in Polygamy: The New Marriage Rights Frontier,ed. Janet Bennion and Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Colorado University Press, 2016).

"Making Admin. Visible," (Jan. 14, 2016).
Link to Article

"DNA and Distrust" (with Brandon L. Garrett), 91 Notre Dame L. Rev. 757 (2015).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Foreword: The Future of Immigration Enforcement: A Tribute to David Martin," 29 J.L. & Pol. 401 (2015).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Restructuring Family Law," (April 20, 2015).
Link to Article

"Structured Dialogue on Building a Sustainable, Stable Immigration Enforcement System (editor and moderator)," 30 Journal of Law & Politics 555 (2015).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“No More Blood,” contribution to Bloodlines and Belonging: Time to Abandon Ius Sanguinis? 

"Immigration's Family Values" (with Kent Piacenti), 100 Va. L. Rev. 629 (2014). 
SSRN | Link to Article 

"Labor Protection Parity for Au Pairs," (Jan. 24, 2014).
Link to Article

"Citizen Spouse," 101 Cal. L. Rev. 407 (2013).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"The End of Annulment," 16 J. of Gender Race & Just . 681 (2013).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“Family History: Inside and Out,” 111 Mich. L. Rev. 1001 (2013) (reviewing Joanna L. Grosman & Lawrence M. Friedman, Inside the Castle: Law and the Family in 20th Century America (2011)).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Plenary Power Preemption," 99 Va. L. Rev. 601 (2013).
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"What Makes the Family Special?" 80 Chi. L. Rev. 7 (2013).
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Brief of Amici Curiae Edward D. Stein, Joanna L. Grossman, Kerry Abrams, Holning Lau, Katharine S. Silbaugh, et al in Support of Respondents, Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013).
Link to Brief 

Reconsidering Work and Family with "The Marriage Equation" (Jan. 11, 2013).
Link to Article

"Marriage Fraud," 100 Cal. L. Rev. 1 (2012).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“Brief Amici Curiae of Professors of History, Political Science, and Law in Support of Petitioner, Flores-Villar v. United States” (with others), 91 B.U. L. Rev. 1497 (2011).
HeinOnline (PDF)

“Peaceful Penetration: Proxy Marriage, Same-Sex Marriage, and Recognition,” 2011 Mich. St. L. Rev. 139 (symposium issue).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"The Hidden Dimension of Nineteenth-Century Immigration Law," 62 Vand. L. Rev. 1353 (2009).
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"Marriage as a Message: Same-Sex Couples and the Rhetoric of Accidental Procreation," (with Peter Brooks), 21 Yale J. L. & Human. 1 (2009). 
SSRN HeinOnline (PDF)

"Becoming a Citizen: Marriage, Immigration, and Assimilation," in Linda McClain & Joanna Grossman, eds., Gender Equality: Dimensions of Women’s Equal Citizenship (Cambridge University Press, 2009).

"Immigration Law and the Regulation of Marriage," 91 Minn. L. Rev. 1625 (2007). Reprinted in 12 Bender's Immigration Bulletin 1421 (2007). 
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

"Mae Ngai's Impossible Subjects: Illegal Aliens and the Making of Modern America(2004)," 25 L. & Hist. Rev. 428 (2007) (book review).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Immigration Status and the Best Interests of the Child Standard," 14 Va. J. Soc. Pol'y & L. 87, (2006) (symposium issue).
SSRN | HeinOnline (PDF)

“Polygamy, Prostitution, and the Federalization of Immigration Law,” 105 Colum. L. Rev.641 (2005).

Current Courses

All Courses

Colloquium: Marriage in Law, Culture, and the Imagination
Family Law
Immigration Law
Feminist Legal Theory
Citizenship and Membership
Lawyering for In-House Counsel

2015 Supreme Court Roundup at UVA Law

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