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Regina Austin L'73

William A. Schnader Professor of Law

Regina Austin

Regina Austin’s scholarship focuses on the impact of law on cultural conflicts arising from race, gender, and class inequality, with much of it revolving around the critical analysis of ethnographies and law-genre documentary films and photography. In addition to using nonfiction films in teaching traditional torts courses, she directs the pathbreaking Penn Program on Documentaries & the Law which hosts screenings of law-genre documentaries, maintains a national archive of clemency videos as a resource for capital defense attorneys, and produces mitigation videos on behalf of young, first-time defendants in cooperation with the Defender Association of Philadelphia. Continue reading…

Articles and Book Chapters

“Second Looks, Second Chances”: Collaborating with Lifers Inc. on a Video about Commutation of LWOP Sentences, 22 U. PA. J. L. & SOC. CHANGE 71 (2019).

A Dose of Color, A Dose of Reality: Contextualizing Intentional Tort Actions with Black Documentaries, 68 J. LEGAL EDUC. 45 (2018).

The Loving Story: Using a Documentary to Reconsider the Status of an Iconic Interracial Married Couple, 86 FORDHAM L. REV. 2635 (2018).

"This, Too, Takes a Village": The Social Basis of Sustained Black Homeownership as Illustrated in Three Documentary Films, in RACE & REAL ESTATE (Adrienne Brown and Valerie Smith eds., Oxford 2015) (© Oxford University Press 2015).

Ed Baker, Colleague, 12 U. PA. J. CONST. L. 939 (2010).

Documentation, Documentary, and the Law: What Should Be Made of Victim Impact Videos? 31 CARDOZO L. REV. 979 (2010).

Women’s Unequal Citizenship at the Border: Lessons from Three Nonfiction Films about the Women of Juarez, in GENDER EQUALITY: DIMENSIONS OF WOMEN’S EQUAL CITIZENSHIP (Linda McClain & Joanna L. Grossman, eds., 2009).

Sapphire Bound!, 1989 WIS. L. REV. 539 (1989); reprinted in THE REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS READER: LAW, MEDICINE, AND THE CONSTRUCTION OF MOTHERHOOD (Nancy Ehrenreich ed., New York University Press 2008).

Super Size Me and the Conundrum of Race/Ethnicity, Gender, and Class for the Contemporary Law-Genre Documentary Filmmaker, 40 LOYOLA L.A. L. REV. 687 (2007).

The Next “New Wave”: Law-Genre Documentaries, Lawyering in Support of the Creative Process, and Visual Legal Advocacy, 16 FORDHAM INTELL. PROP. MEDIA & ENT. L.J. 809 (2006).

Of Predatory Lending and the Democratization of Credit: Preserving the Social Safety Net of Informality in Small-Loan Transactions, 53 AM. U.L. REV. 1217 (2004).

"The Shame of It All": Stigma and the Political Disenfranchisement of Formerly Convicted and Incarcerated Persons, 36 COLUM. HUMAN RIGHTS L. REV. 173 (2004).

Kwanzaa and the Commodification of Black Culture, BLACK RENAISSANCE/RENAISSANCE NOIRE (2004).

Back to Basics: Returning to the Matter of Black Inferiority and White Supremacy in the Post-Brown Era, 6 J. APP. PRAC. & PROCESS 79 (2004).

Speaking Volumes: Musings on the Issues of the Day, Inspired by the Memory of Mary Joe Frug, 12 COLUM. J. GENDER & L. 660 (2003).

Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother's Back: Poor Moms, Myths of Authority, and Drug-Related Evictions from Public Housing, 14 YALE J.L. & FEMINISM 273 (2002).

Mary Jo Frug's Postmodern Feminist Legal Manifesto 10 Years Later: Reflections on the State of Feminism Today, 36 NEW ENG. L. REV 1 (2001) (with Elizabeth M. Schneider).

Not Just for the Fun of It”: Governmental Restraints on Black Leisure, Social Inequality, and the Privatization of Public Space, 71 S. CAL. L. REV. 667 (1998).

More publications can be found here.

Working Papers

The Saga of Pennsylvania’s “Willie Horton” and the Commutation of Life Sentences in the Commonwealth, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 20-10 (forthcoming)
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"Not Just a Common Criminal": The Case for Sentencing Mitigation Videos, U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 14-19. (forthcoming)
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Race and Law-Genre Amateur Documentaries: Lessons Learned When the Subaltern Shoots

Documenting Injustice: Katrina, Class, and Visual Legal Advocacy

'Black People's Money': The Impact of Law, Economics, and Culture in the Context of Race on Damage Recoveries (July 26, 2003), U of Penn, Inst for Law & Econ Research Paper No. 16-24.
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Research Areas

  • Torts
  • Insurance
  • Law & Cultural Studies
  • Minority Feminism
  • Law-Genre Documentary Film Studies (Criticism and Production)


Penn Law - William A. Schnader Professor (1996- ); Professor (1990-96); Associate Professor (1983-90); Assistant Professor (1977-83)

Law Clerk to the Hon. Edmund B. Spaeth, Superior Court of Pennsylvania (1973-74)

Schnader, Harrison, Segal & Lewis - Associate (1974-77)

Visiting Professor - Columbia, Brooklyn, Stanford, Harvard, Fordham


  • Torts I
  • Cultural Conflict and the Intentional Torts
  • Visual Legal Advocacy
  • Documentaries & the Law

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