Deborah Rhode

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Deborah L. Rhode is an American jurist. She is the Ernest W. McFarland Professor of Law at Stanford Law School, and the director of the Stanford Center on the Legal Profession.[1] She has authored over 20 books, including Women and Leadership and Moral Leadership, and is the nation's most frequently cited scholar in legal ethics.[2]

Professor Rhode is the former president of the Association of American Law Schools, the former chair of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession, the founder and former director of Stanford’s Center on Ethics, and the former director of the Michelle R. Clayman Institute for Gender Research at Stanford. She also served as senior counsel to the Democrats of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary on presidential impeachment issues during the Clinton administration. She has received the American Bar Association’s Michael Franck award for contributions to the field of professional responsibility; the American Bar Foundation’s W. M. Keck Foundation Award for distinguished scholarship on legal ethics; and the American Bar Association’s Pro Bono Publico Award for her work on expanding public service opportunities in law schools. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and vice chair of the board of Legal Momentum (formerly the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund). She is currently a columnist for the National Law Journal.

In 2011, Rhode participated in a teleconference organized by the liberal advocacy group Common Cause that called for an investigation by the U. S. Department of Justice into whether Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia should have recused themselves from the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission Supreme Court case of 2010.[3]

Before joining the Stanford Law faculty, Professor Rhode was a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Professor Rhode received her B.A. in Political Science from Yale University Summa Cum Laude and with Honors in 1974. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and the Yale debate team. She received her J.D. from Yale University Law School in 1977. She is a former member of the Yale Corporation, the governing body of Yale University.

She is married to Ralph Cavanagh, a senior attorney and co-director of Natural Resources Defense Council's energy program.


  • Moral Leadership; The Theory and Practice of Power, Judgment, and Policy (Jossey Bass, 2006).[8][9]
  • Gender and Law: Theory, Doctrine, and Commentary (with Katharine Bartlett, Aspen Press, 2006).[10]
  • Pro Bono in Principle and in Practice: Public Service and the Profession (Stanford University Press, 2005).
  • Access to Justice (Oxford University Press, 2004).
  • The Difference Difference Makes: Women and Leadership, editor (Stanford University Press, 2003).
  • Gender and Law: Theory, Doctrine and Commentary, with Katharine T. Bartlett and Angela P. Harris (Aspen, 2002).[10]
  • In the Interests of Justice (Oxford University Press, 2000).
  • Ethics in Practice, editor (Oxford University Press, 2000).
  • Professional Responsibility: Ethics by the Pervasive Method, (Aspen, 2d ed., 1998).
  • The Politics of Pregnancy: Adolescent Sexuality and Public Policy, Editor, with Annette Lawson (Yale University Press, 1993).
  • The Legal Profession: Responsibility and Regulation, with Geoffrey Hazard (Foundation Press, 3rd Ed. 1993).
  • Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual Difference, Editor (Yale University Press, 1990).
  • Justice and Gender (Harvard University Press, 1989).[12]