Kathleen Morris

Job title: 
Resident Scholar

Professor Kathleen Morris is the founder of California Public Counsel, a private law firm specializing in representing public entities. She taught for over a decade at Golden Gate University Law School, where she was a tenured professor, and has also taught at Yale, U.C. Berkeley, U.C. Davis, and Rutgers law schools. In 2006, she co-founded (with Dean Heather Gerken) Yale Law School’s “San Francisco Affirmative Litigation Project,” which flourishes today.

Professor Morris is a proud graduate of U.C. Berkeley Law School (J.D. 1997); the University of Edinburgh, Scotland (M. Sc. Politics 1993), where she was a Rotary International Scholar; and California State University, Northridge (B.A. English 1991). After graduating U.C. Berkeley law school in 1997, Professor Morris clerked for Sidney R. Thomas, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, then practiced law for five years in top San Francisco law firms. In 2003, Professor Morris joined the City and County of San Francisco as a Deputy City Attorney. Over the next nine years, she handled more than 100 cases for that City, including high-profile efforts in the United States Supreme Court to protect abortion access and achieve constitutional equality for LGBTQ+ Californians. 

In 2006, Professor Morris co-created the City’s Affirmative Litigation Task Force, a groundbreaking public interest law firm built inside a local public law office, and began teaching at Yale Law School. In 2012, Professor Morris became a full-time law professor, choosing to remain in Oakland where her family is rooted. She has built a national reputation for outstanding scholarship in the areas of State and Federal Constitutional Law; State and Local Government Law and Litigation; Public Lawyering; and Civic Education. Her current research projects include American Atlas: A People’s Guide to American Democracy, Law, and Government (book for a popular audience), Democracy’s Dark Matter (book for a scholarly audience), and Democracy’s Double Agents (publication pending). Past published work includes Rebel Cities, Bully States: A New Preemption For An Anti-Racist, Pro-Democracy Localism, 65 Howard L.J. 225 (2021); Legal Education, Democracy, and the Urban Core, in Legal Scholarship for the Urban Core (2018); Cities Seeking Justice: Local Government Litigation in the Public Interest, in How Cities Will Save The World (2016); Expanding Local Enforcement Of State And Federal Consumer Protection Laws,40 Fordham Urban L. J. 1903 (2013); The Case for Local Constitutional Enforcement, 47 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 1 (2012); and San Francisco and the Rising Culture of Engagement in Local Public Law Offices, in Why The Local Matters:  Federalism, Localism, and Public Interest Advocacy (Yale & Columbia 2010).