Dehlia Umunna

Clinical Professor of Law


Dehlia Umunna is a Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School (HLS), and the Deputy Director of the law school’s Criminal Justice Institute (CJI), where she supervises third-year law students in their representation of adult and juvenile clients in criminal and juvenile proceedings in the Massachusetts Courts.  She teaches in the areas of Criminal Defense and Theory, Mass Incarceration and Race Issues.  Professor Umunna coaches the HLS National Criminal Justice Trial Advocacy Team and the HLS Black Law Student Association Trial Teams, and has led them to numerous national and regional awards.  In addition to her work at HLS, Professor Umunna serves as a faculty member for Gideon’s Promise (formerly the Southern Public Defender's Training Center), and is a frequent presenter at Public Defender Training Conferences around the country.

In September 2014, Professor Umunna received the Harvard Law School 2014 Dean’s Award for Excellence, in recognition of her outstanding service to the HLS community where she has excelled as a student supervisor, staff manager, lecturer, coach, and mentor.

Prior to coming to Harvard, Professor Umunna spent seven years at the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia (PDS) as a trial attorney.  At PDS, she was a felony one trial attorney, representing indigent clients in hundreds of cases from misdemeanor charges of theft, assault, and drug possession, to kidnapping, child sexual abuse, rape, to homicide.  Some of Professor Umunna’s cases received nationwide media attention.  She also served as a presenter in training attorneys under the District of Columbia Criminal Justice Act.

From 2002 to 2007, Professor Umunna was an Adjunct Professor of Law and Practitioner in Residence at American University, Washington College of Law.  She was also a board member of the District of Columbia Law Students in Court Clinic and a guest lecturer for several years at the George Washington University Law School.

Professor Umunna is a member of the Massachusetts, Maryland, and District of Columbia Bar Associations.  She earned her Bachelor of Arts in Communication from California State University, a JD from George Washington University Law School, and a Masters in Public Administration (MC) from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government.  Her article “Rethinking the Neighborhood Watch: How Lessons from Nigerian Villages Can Creatively Empower Communities to Assist Low-Income, Single Mothers In America,” was recently published in AM. U. J. GENDER, SOC. POL'Y & L. (Volume 20, Number 4).  She is the very proud mother of daughter, Ifeanyi and son, Edozie.

Dehlia Umunna, Rethinking Neighborhood Watch: How Lessons from the Nigerian Village Can Creatively Empower the Community to Assist Poor, Single Mothers in America, 20 Am. U.J. Gender Soc. Pol'y & L. 847 (2012).
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
International, Foreign & Comparative Law
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Poverty Law
Law & Social Change
Foreign Law
Type: Article

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