Sophia Z. Lee
Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law
Sophia Z. Lee is the Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law at Penn Carey Law, with a secondary appointment in history. A prominent legal historian, award-winning teacher, and respected leader, Dean Lee is committed to Penn Carey Law providing an outstanding legal education that is broadly accessible, innovative, and interdisciplinary.
Lee’s scholarship focuses on administrative and constitutional law, using history to place the law in broader context and examine how the law’s past can shed light on its future. She helped pioneer the study of “administrative constitutionalism,” the study of administrative agencies’ role in shaping constitutional law. Her 2014 book, The Workplace Constitution from the New Deal to the New Right, offered an early legal history of the postwar conservative legal movement. The book documents the origins of a rights-based strand of that movement that has come to the fore during the Roberts Court. Her work on civil rights lawyering generated interest in the relationship between administrative law and racial justice movements and intervened in debates about the interaction of civil rights and labor rights.
Her forthcoming work examines the origins of privacy as a constitutional value and their implications for contemporary Fourth Amendment doctrine. Throughout, Dean Lee demonstrates how the law is politically embedded, creating important avenues for non-court actors to influence the law and for the law to shape politics, at times in surprising ways.
Dean Lee has received Penn Carey Law’s Harvey Levin, A. Leo Levin, and Robert A. Gorman awards for excellence in teaching. Her classes include Administrative Law, Employment Law, and seminars on racial justice movements and on constitutional history and theory. She followed an unconventional path to the deanship, earning an undergraduate and master’s degree at U.C. Berkeley and pursuing social work before returning to graduate school to earn a JD and PhD in history from Yale University.
Dean Lee joined the Penn Carey Law faculty in 2009 as an Assistant Professor of Law and served as Deputy Dean from 2015 to 2017. She has held leadership roles in the American Society for Legal History and the Labor and Working Class History Association. Prior to joining the Law School, she was a Samuel I. Golieb Fellow at New York University School of Law and clerked for the Honorable Kimba M. Wood of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.