Laura E. Gómez

Laura E. Gómez

Laura E. Gómez

Joint Faculty


Office: Murphy Hall 2300



She rejoined the faculty of UCLA Law in 2011 after serving as professor of law and American studies at the University of New Mexico from 2005-10. Before that, she spent 12 years as professor of law at UCLA Law. She was a co-founder and the first co-director of UCLA’s Critical Race Studies Program.Prior to starting her career in academia, Professor Gómez clerked for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico.Professor Gómez teaches in the areas of race and the law, law and society, and she has taught three first-year courses: Civil Procedure, Criminal Law, and Constitutional Law. She has lectured widely and has published numerous articles, book chapters, op-ed commentaries, and books. Her scholarship has focused on the intersection of law, politics and social stratification in both contemporary and historical contexts. Her books include Misconceiving Mothers: Legislators, Prosecutors and the Politics of Prenatal Drug Exposure (1997), which is widely taught in law and society and gender studies courses, and Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (2007), which is widely taught in ethnic studies and history courses.  In 2013, she published a co-edited volume (with Nancy López): Mapping “Race”: Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research.Professor Gómez is the past president of the Law and Society Association (she was the youngest person and the first person of color ever elected), a multi-disciplinary organization of scholars who study law, legal actors and legal institutions in cultural and social context.  As an associate editor of the Law & Society Review, she worked to produce a special issue on law and racial inequality, published in 2010. She currently serves on the editorial board of Law & Social Inquiry, Aztlan, and she has in the past served on the editorial boards of SIGNSand Studies in Law, Politics and Society. She serves as a peer reviewer for many journals in the fields of law, sociology, ethnic studies, history, American studies, and gender studies, as well as for the National Science Foundation.She received an A.B. from Harvard in Social Studies (where she was a Harry S. Truman Scholar), an M.A. and Ph.D. in Sociology from Stanford University (where she had a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship), and a J.D. from Stanford Law School.


  • PhD, Stanford University (1994)
  • JD, Stanford Law School (1992)
  • MA, Stanford University (1988)
  • BA, Harvard College (1986)

Selected Publications

  • A New Color Line: Latinos and the Future of Race. The New Press (forthcoming).
  • Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race. 2nd ed. New York University Press (2018).
  • Mapping “Race”: Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research (edited by Laura E. Gomez & Nancy Lopez). Rutgers University Press (2013).
  • Misconceiving Mothers: Legislators, Prosecutors and the Politics of Prenatal Drug Exposure. Temple University Press (1997).
  • Use Your Personal Lie Detector to Judge Kavanaugh, 26 UCLA Women’s Law Journal 29 (2019). Full Text
  • La Colonización Estadounidense del Norte de México y la Creación de los Mexicano-Estadounidenses, 36 Chicana/o Latina/o Law Review 189 (2019).
  • Connecting Critical Race Theory with Second Generation Legal Consciousness Work in Obasogie’s Blinded by Sight, 41 Law & Social Inquiry1069 (2016).
  • Taking the Social Construction of Race Seriously in Health Disparities Research, in Mapping “Race”: Critical Approaches to Health Disparities (edited by Laura Gómez & Nancy Lopez, Rutgers University Press, 2013).
  • Looking for Race in all the Wrong Places, 46 Law & Society Review 221-45 (2012).
  • Understanding Law and Race as Mutually Constitutive: An Invitation to Explore an Emerging Field, 6 Annual Review of Law and Social Science 487-505 (2010). Abstract
  • Review of White But Not Equal: Mexican Americans, Jury Discrimination, and the Supreme Court by Ignacio M. Garcia, 85 New Mexico Historical Review 452 (2010).
  • What’s Race Got To Do With It? Press Coverage of the Latino Electorate in the 2008 Presidential Primary Season, 24 St. John’s Journal of Legal Commentary 425-59 (2009). Symposium Volume: Making History: Race, Gender and the Media in the 2008 Presidential Election. Full Text
  • Opposite One-Drop Rules: Mexican Americans, African Americans and the Need to Re-conceive Turn-of-the-20th-Century Race Relations, in How the United States Racializes Latinos: White Hegemony and Its Consequences (edited by Jose A. Cobas, Jorge Duany, and Joe R. Feagin, Paradigm Publishers, 2009).
  • Off-White in an Age of White Supremacy: Mexican Elites and the Rights of Indians and Blacks in Nineteenth-Century New Mexico, UCLA Chicano-Latino Law Review 9-59 (2005). (Symposium Volume: Hernandez v. Texas at 50.) Reprinted in “Colored Men and Hombres Acqui”—Hernandez v. Texas and the Emergence of Mexican American Lawyering (edited by Michael A. Olivas, Arte Publico Press, 2006).
  • A Tale of Two Genres: On the Real and Ideal Links Between Law and Society and Critical Race Theory, in Blackwell Companion to Law and Society(edited by Austin Sarat, Wiley-Blackwell, 2004).
  • Book Review, 32(6) Contemporary Sociology 689-690 (2003). Review of Crossroads, Directions, and a New Critical Race Theory (edited by Francisco Valdes, Jerome McCristal Culp and Angela P. Harris, Temple University Press, 2002)
  • Race Mattered: Racial Formation and the Politics of Crime in Territorial New Mexico, 49 UCLA Law Review 1395-1416 (2002).
  • Race, Colonialism and Criminal Law: Mexicans and the American Criminal Justice System in Territorial New Mexico, 34 Law & Society Review 1129-1202 (2000).
  • Constructing Latina/o Identities (Differences, Solidarity and Law: Building Latina/o Communities through the LatCrit Theory), 19 Chicano/Latino Law Review 187-91 (1998).
  • The Birth of the “Hispanic” Generation: Attitudes of Mexican American Political Elites Toward the “Hispanic” Label, 19(4) Latin American Perspectives45-58 (1992). Reprinted in Latinos in the United States: History, Law and Perspective (edited by Antoinette Sedilla-Lopez. Garland Publishing, 1994).
  • What the “Wise Latina” Remark Meant, CNN Politics (on-line) (July 14, 2010).
  • Haiti in Context: Law, Race and Colonialism. Presidential Column, Law and Society Association Newsletter (March, 2010).
  • A Different Kind of Generation Gap. Presidential Column, Law and Society Association Newsletter (November, 2009).
  • Reflections on Wise Latinas, Judging and Affirmative Action. Presidential Column, Law and Society Association Newsletter (August, 2009).
  • Another Proud Baby of Affirmative Action, USA Today (July 12, 2009).
  • It’s Time to Dispel Conquistador Myth, Albuquerque Journal (July 8, 2008).
  • Checks and Balances Isn’t Check In, Skew Balance, Albuquerque Journal(March 29, 2007). (Commentary on elected officials’ role in U.S. Attorney firings.)
  • The Legacy of Affirmative Action, UCLA Today (April 11, 2006). (Commentary on Marco Firebaugh’s premature death).
  • Lessons from Loss of Affirmative Action, UCLA Today (Feb. 11, 2003).
  • Loss of UC Diversity Means Lost Opportunity for Law Students, LA Times(Sept. 24, 2000).
  • Processing and Managing Social Problems: The Institutionalization of Pregnant Women’s Drug Use in the California Legislature and Criminal Justice System, Stanford University, Ph.D. Dissertation (1994).
  • Stratification and Inequality in American Society, Doctoral Field Examination.
  • The Sociology of Law, Doctoral Field Examination.
  • Co-Editor, Beyond the Casebook: A Supplementary Reader for First Semester Stanford Law School Students, (1990).
  • From Barrio Boys to College Boys: Ethnic Identity, Ethnic Organizations, and the Mexican American Elite: The Cases of Ernesto Galarza and Manuel Ruiz, The Stanford Center for Chicano Research (1989). Working Paper No. 23.
  • Senior Honors Thesis: What in a Name? The Politics of “Hispanic” Identity, Magna Cum Laude, Committee on Degrees in Social Studies, Harvard College.