Risa Goluboff

Risa Goluboff

David and Mary Harrison Distinguished Professor of Law
Professor of History
(434) 924-3749

Risa Goluboff is a renowned legal historian whose scholarship and teaching focuses on American constitutional and civil rights law, and especially their historical development in the 20th century. She served as the 12th, and the first female, dean of the University of Virginia School of Law from 2016-2024.

Goluboff is the author of The Lost Promise of Civil Rights (Harvard, 2007), which won the 2010 Order of the Coif Biennial Book Award and the 2008 James Willard Hurst Prize. Her second book, Vagrant Nation: Police Power, Constitutional Change, and the Making of the 1960s (Oxford, 2016) was supported by a 2009 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in Constitutional Studies and a 2012 Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. It received the American Historical Association’s 2017 Littleton-Griswold Prize, the 2017 Lillian Smith Book Award, the 2017 John Phillip Reid Book Award and the 2016 David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History, among other honors. Goluboff is co-editor (with Myriam Gilles) of Civil Rights Stories, and the author of numerous shorter works.

Goluboff has been quoted or cited by The New York Times, Time, The Atlantic and more, and her commentaries frequently appear in Slate. She has appeared on PBS documentaries and the popular radio podcast “BackStory.” She hosted the UVA Law School podcast “Common Law” for six seasons.

Goluboff is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the American Law Institute and a distinguished lecturer for the Organization of American Historians. She is also a member of the board of directors of Equal Justice Works and the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, and the executive committee of the Association of American Law Schools. In 2023, President Biden appointed her to the Permanent Committee for the Oliver Wendell Holmes Devise, which documents the history of the U.S. Supreme Court. She received the Law School’s Carl McFarland Award for excellence in faculty scholarship in 2008, the University of Virginia’s All-University Teaching Award in 2011 and the Raven Award from UVA’s Raven Society. She is also a professor of history in the Corcoran Department of History, a faculty affiliate at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African-American and African Studies, and a faculty senior fellow at the Miller Center. She is chair of the advisory board for the UVA Karsh Institute of Democracy. Goluboff chaired the University’s Deans Working Group, established to lead the University’s response to the events of Aug. 11-12, 2017. From 2011 to 2016, she directed the University’s J.D.-M.A. in History Program. Goluboff has served as a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and Columbia, Chicago and New York University law schools.

Before joining the Law School in 2002, Goluboff clerked for Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and Justice Stephen Breyer of the U.S. Supreme Court. She also served as a Fulbright Scholar to South Africa.

Goluboff’s “Vagrant Nation” Uncovers Rapid Revolution in Nation’s Laws, Police Power

Scholarship Profile: A Legal Historian Committed to Contemporary Social Justice (Virginia Journal 2007)

All Courses

Civil Rights History From Plessy to Brown
Civil Rights Litigation
Constitutional Law
Equality and the Law
Poverty and the Constitution
Seminar in Ethical Values

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