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Rhode, Deborah L. 1952-

Rhode, Deborah L. 1952-

PERSONAL: Born January 29, 1952; married Ralph C. Cavanagh (an attorney). Education: Yale University, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1974; Yale Law School, J.D., 1977.

ADDRESSES: Office—Stanford Law School, 559 Nathan Abbott Way, Stanford, CA 94305-8610. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Scholar, lawyer, and writer; member of the Bar, California and District of Columbia. U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, New York, NY, law clerk, 1977-78; Supreme Court of the United States, Washington, DC, law clerk to Justice Thurgood Marshall, 1978-79; Stanford University, Stanford, CA, assistant professor, 1979-82, associate professor, 1982-84, professor, 1985-97, Ernest W. McFarland, professor of law, 1997-, director of Stanford Center of Ethics; Institute for Research on Women and Gender, director, 1986-90; Keck Center on Legal Ethics and the Legal Profession, director, 1994-2003; House of Representatives, Washington, DC, senior counsel to judiciary committee, 1998. Visiting professor, Harvard University, 1984-85, Columbia University, 1993, New York University, 1993, 1995, and 1999, Yale University, 1999; and Fordham University, 2001; distinguished lecturer, University of California, Berkley, 1987; visiting fellow, Harvard University, 2003. Cooperating attorney, American Civil Liberties Union, 1982-86; member of board of directors, Stanford Public Interest Law Foundation, 1981-83, National Council for Research on Women, 1986-91, Equal Rights Advocates, 1997-2000, NOW Legal Defense Fund, 1999-2001; member of board of trustees, Yale University, 1983-89; vice chair of board of directors, Legal Momentum, 2002-.

MEMBER: Association of American Law Schools (chair of section on professional responsibility, 1985-86; executive committee, 1994-99; president, 1998-99), American Bar Association (co-chair of committee on professional responsibility, section on litigation, 1987-88; chair of Commission on Women and the Profession, 2000-02), California State Bar Association (co-chair of Attorney-Client Commission), District of Columbia State Bar Association; Phi Betta Kappa.

AWARDS, HONORS: Peres Prize, and Egger Prize for outstanding student contribution to Yale Law Journal; Exceptional Merit Media Award, National Women's Political Caucus and Radcliffe College, 1997, 1998, for columns in National Law Journal; W. M. Keck Foundation Award for Distinguished Scholarship on Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility, American Bar Foundation, 1999; Pro Bono Publico Award, American Bar Association, 1999, for efforts to expand public service opportunities in law schools; First Annual Deborah L. Rhode Pro Bono Award, Association of American Law Schools Section on Pro Bono and Public Service, 2000.


Justice and Gender: Sex Discrimination and the Law, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1989.

(With David Luban) Legal Ethics, Foundation Press (Westbury, NY), 1992, fourth edition, 2004.

Professional Responsibility: Ethics by the Pervasive Method, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1994, second edition, Aspen Law & Business (New York, NY), 1998.

(With Barbara Allen Bacok and others), Sex Discrimination and the Law: History, Practice, and Theory, 2nd edition, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1996.

Speaking of Sex: The Denial of Gender Inequality, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1997.

In the Interests of Justice: Reforming the Legal Profession, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

(With Katharine T. Bartlett and Angela P. Harris) Gender and Law: Theory, Doctrine, Commentary, 3rd edition, Aspen Law & Business (New York, NY), 2002.

(With Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr.) Professional Responsibility and Regulation, Foundation Press (New York, NY), 2002.

Access to Justice, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2004.

Columnist, National Law Journal, 1995-. Contributor to scholarly publications, including Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, South Carolina Law Review Current Legal Problems, Journal of Legal Education, Fordham Law Review, Washington University Journal of Law and Policy, Pepperdine Law Review, Hofstra Law Review, and Stanford Law Review. Also contributor of articles to Ms., Chicago Tribune, New York Times and Nation.


(With Geoffrey C. Hazard, Jr.) The Legal Profession: Responsibility and Regulation, Foundation Press (Mineola, NY), 1985, 3rd edition, 1994.

Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual Difference, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1990.

(With Annette Lawson) The Politics of Pregnancy: Adolescent Sexuality and Public Policy, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1993.

Ethics in Practice: Lawyers' Roles, Responsibilities, and Regulation, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.

The Difference "Difference" Makes: Women and Leadership, Stanford Law and Politics (Stanford, CA), 2003.

(With Charles J. Ogletree, Jr.) Brown at Fifty: The Unfinished Legacy, a Collection of Essays, American Bar Association (Chicago, IL), 2004.

(With Carol Sanger) Gender and Rights, Ashgate (Burlington, VT), 2005.

Editor, Yale Law Journal, 1976-77.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Pro Bono in Principle and Practice, for Stanford University Press.

SIDELIGHTS: Profiled in the National Law Journal in 1998 as one of the nation's fifty most influential women lawyers, Deborah L. Rhode is an expert in ethics and professional responsibility in law, as well as gender law and public policy. As editor of Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual Difference, she brings together a number of experts who write about sexual difference in terms of what it means to feminism and female rights and standing in society. Writing in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, Linda I. A. Burke stated that the book's contributors write predominantly about the issue of sexual "difference" as a dualism and "focus, in various ways, on the need to break down that dualism, to challenge the premises on which its rests." Noting that the book's essays have some "overlap and repetition," as well as "contradictory stances," Burke went on to comment, "feminism is indubitably also about challenging the iron fist. One way to do so is the kind of careful, painstaking analyses which this volume presents."

Rhode served as coeditor with Annette Lawson for The Politics of Pregnancy: Adolescent Sexuality and Public Policy. Rhode and Lawson gathered fifteen commentaries from a group of prominent researchers from backgrounds such as law, psychology, medicine, sociology, philosophy, and history. The essayists delve into such topics as the historical context of adolescent pregnancy and childbearing, whether or not adolescent pregnancy always constitutes a problem, and the policies that set up barriers preventing willing but unmarried teen fathers from actively participating in their child's care. Writing in Lancet, Cynthia Waszak remarked that "women and men who provide services to adolescents may not find many new ideas in this book," but ultimately called the work "valuable … in arguing for a re-examination of the 'problem' by those who … may have some influence in making policy or funding programs." Melissa Benn, in the New Statesman & Society, stated that "All the authors have solutions: more housing, improved education, better access to birth control and sex knowledge. But so deep are our structural problems that these sound both cosmetic and absurdly idealistic." A Children Today contributor noted that the authors collectively "argue that to alter the social conditions that simultaneously promote and punish early childbearing, America needs a better range of health, welfare, educational and vocational strategies," and Janie S. Steckenrider wrote in Policy Studies Journal that they "provide insightful analyses of the multiple dimensions of teenage pregnancy and its consequences."

In Speaking of Sex: The Denial of Gender Inequality Rhode makes the case that, despite advances in modern society, gender inequality still exits and more must be done. In the process she examines the fundamental roots and causes behind the disadvantages she contends women face in society and the lack of a progressive public policy to combat these disadvantages. In fact, she stresses that in many ways gender inequality is furthered by institutionalized attitudes concerning women in education, the media, the workplace, sports, family, and pornography. Rhode notes that because of all the media talk about issues such as date rape, the glass ceiling, and battered women, many people think that these issues are being addressed and either are not major problems or problems that will be solved in the near future. She calls these misguided perceptions the "no problem" problem, noting that women still lag behind men significantly in such issues as wealth, power, and status. In addition to talking about the denial of gender equality, Rhode addresses the people who deny injustice by rationalizing that women's inequality stems from women's choices and capabilities. She also writes of people who deny responsibility because the believe they are not part of the problem or solution.

Reviewing the book in Library Journal, Kathleen L. Atwood commented, "This readable yet scholarly treatment is essential for all women's studies collections." A reviewer writing in the Atlantic Monthly commented, "Although Rhode breaks little new ground, the sheer accumulation of data and her cogent analysis make this an excellent guide for sexism in our time."

In In the Interests of Justice: Reforming the Legal Profession Rhode examines recent trends in the practice of law and proposes ways to reform the profession she diagnoses some of what she perceives to be the major flaws in the U.S. legal system and looks at the reasons why lawyers are often perceived negatively by the general public. The book's chapters cover such topics as discontent within the law professions itself, the role of the advocate in the adversary system, and further regulation of the system. "Rhode's book is a stirring critique of the legal profession for putting its own interest above the public interest and, at the same time, for failing to promote professional lives that are meaningful and satisfying," wrote Austin Sarat in the Stanford Law Review, while fellow contributor Angela P. Harris commented that "Rhode applies her trademark lucidity and good sense." Another Stanford Law Review writer, Robert W. Gordon, found the book "depressing" because of the bleak but, in the reviewers eyes, accurate depiction of the profession. Gordon noted that the author "strives to be restrained, temperate and discriminating in her critiques" and added that "one of the great virtues of Rhode's book is that for every problem its author identifies, she proposes solutions." Library Journal contributor Steven Puro described the book as a "clear, well-written critique," while Jonathan Kirsch wrote in the Washington Post Book World that "Rhode brings a lively style to a subject that is more typically covered in a drone of rhetoric and legalese." Kirsch also commented, "A good many burned-out and stressed-out lawyers will find In the Interests of Justice to be inspiring and invigorating, if only because it appeals to the idealism that attracted at least some of us to the practice of law in the first place."

In Access to Justice Rhode criticizes the legal system as disregarding one of the underlying tenets of the American justice system: equal justice for all. She noted that more and more lawyers are providing essential services primarily to the wealthy, leaving the poor behind, especially concerning issues of individual rights, to be assisted largely by unqualified and often negligent lawyers. She points out that the number of lawyers working pro bono for those who cannot afford exorbitant attorneys' fees is dwindling and provides insight into the growing gap between the lofty aspirations and harsh realities of American justice. She also argues that the justice system is not only inaccessible for many of the poor but is also increasingly beyond the budget of the American middle class. Rhode also addresses reform measures created to lessen the gap between the haves and have-nots. Writing in Booklist, Bryce Christensen commented, "Not all readers will embrace Rhode's agenda for change, but her analysis of legal injustices will spark much-needed debate."



Archives of Sexual Behavior, April, 1993, Linda I. A. Birke, review of Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual Difference, p. 177.

Atlantic Monthly, November, 1997, Katha Pollitt, review of Speaking of Sex: The Denial of Gender Inequality, p. 160.

Booklist, October 1, 2004, Bryce Christensen, review of Access to Justice, p. 287.

Children Today, March-April, 1993, review of The Politics of Pregnancy: Adolescent Sexuality and Public Policy, p. 40.

Executive Female, July-August, 1997, Carol Wheeler, review of Speaking of Sex, p. 70.

Lancet, January 29, 1994, Cynthia Waszak, review of The Politics of Pregnancy, p. 281.

Library Journal, June 1, 1997, Kathleen L. Atwood, review of Speaking of Sex, p. 124; February 1, 2001, Steven Puro, review of In the Interests of Justice: Reforming the Legal Profession, p. 110.

Michigan Law Review, May, 1997, Christine A. Littleon, review of Sex Discrimination and the Law: History Practice, and Theory, pp. 1560-77.

National Review, August 20, 1990, Nicholas Davidson, review of Theoretical Perspectives on Sexual Difference, p. 42.

New Statesman & Society, July 30, 1993, Melissa Benn, review of The Politics of Pregnancy, p. 41.

Policy Studies Journal, fall, 1995, Janie S. Steckenrider, review of The Politics of Pregnancy, p. 555.

Reason, April, 1998, Cathy Young, review of Speaking of Sex, p. 62.

Signs, spring, 1995, Amy Erdman, "Feminism and the Media: Introduction," p. 642; winter, 2001, Carol Sanger, review of Speaking of Sex, p. 617.

Stanford Law Review, June, 2002, reviews of In the Interests of Justice by Austin Sarat, p. 1491, Geoffrey C. Hazard Jr., p. 1463, Robert W. Gordon, p. 1427, Dennis Curtis and Judith Resnik, p. 1409, Anthony V. Alfieri, p. 1389, and William H. Simon, p. 1387.

USA Today, August, 2002, "Women Lawyers Still Face Equity Obstacles," p. 8.

Washington Post Book World, March 21, 2001, Jonathan Kirsch, review of In the Interests of Justice, p. 8.


Stanford Law School Web site, (February 10, 2005), "Deborah L. Rhode."

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