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2017-18 Neukom Chair: Angela Onwuachi-Willig

Angela Onwuachi-Willig

Angela Onwuachi-Willig


Angela Onwuachi-Willig was appointed as the American Bar Foundation's 2017-18 William H. Neukom Fellows Research Chair in Diversity and Law. She is the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law and was recently named dean of Boston University School of Law (where she will begin her appointment in August 2018). Professor Onwuachi-Willig earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in sociology and African-American Studies from Yale University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, and a B.A. in American Studies with a concentration in African-American Studies from Grinnell College. A renowned scholar of law and inequality, she teaches Employment Discrimination, Evidence, Family Law, Critical Race Theory, and Torts at Berkeley Law.

Onwuachi-Willig joined the faculty of Berkeley Law in 2016. Prior to her position at Berkeley, she was the Charles and Marion Kierscht Professor at the University of Iowa College of Law and an assistant professor of law at the University of California, Davis, King Hall. She is the recipient of several prestigious awards including the Iowa Organization of Women Attorneys and the Iowa Chapter of the National Bar Association’s Gertrude Rush Award, the University of Iowa‘s 2012 Marion Huit Award, and the Association of American Law Schools' 2015 Clyde Ferguson and 2006 Derrick A. Bell Awards, given to a senior and junior faculty, respectively, who have made extraordinary contributions to legal education, the legal system, or social justice. In 2010, Onwuachi-Willig was elected to the American Law Institute and selected as a finalist for the Iowa Supreme Court. She was chosen as one of the “50 Law Professors of Color Under 50” by Lawyers of Color in 2013 and “Minority 40 Under 40” by the National Law Journal in 2011.

She writes in a variety of areas including employment discrimination, family law and critical race theory, and her articles have appeared in several notable publications including the California Law Review, the Georgetown Law Journal, the Michigan Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal. She is the author of the book, “According to Our Heats: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family” (2013).  

During her year as the Neukom Fellows Research Chair, Onwuachi-Willig worked on two research projects. The first was a book project tentatively titled, “Trials and Trauma: The Ties Between Till and Trayvon,” which examined the race-based traumas that African-Americans experience in the wake of high-profile acquittals of defendants who have killed unarmed African-Americans, specifically comparing and analyzing the murders of Emmett Till and Trayvon Martin and the acquittals for those responsible, J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, and George Zimmerman. Her second research project focused on the founding and development of the National Bar Association, the country’s largest network of predominantly African-American lawyers and judges formed in 1925 in Des Moines, Iowa, and explored how the five founders understood their role as black lawyers during that time period, the factors that drove the NBA’s development and the challenges the founding members faced in the bar and courtroom. 

Research Focus: 

Law and inequality, employment discrimination, family law, evidence, critical race theory, and torts.

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