Professor Davis teaches Constitutional Law and Professional Responsibility. She is also a faculty director for the law school’s Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy and the NuLawLab. In 2015, she was selected for a Fulbright Award. Under these auspices, she will serve as distinguished chair in human rIghts and humanitarian law at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, Lund University, in Lund, Sweden.

Professor Davis has written widely on human rights, women’s rights, and social justice issues. She is co-author of the first law school textbook focused on domestic human rights: Human Rights Advocacy in the United States (West 2014) and she co-edited Bringing Human Rights Home, a three-volume work chronicling the US human rights movement. In 2008, Bringing Human Rights Home was named one of the “best books in the field of human rights” by the US Human Rights Network. Professor Davis’s book, Brutal Need: Lawyers and the Welfare Rights Movement, received the Reginald Heber Smith Award for distinguished scholarship on the subject of equal access to justice, and was also honored by the American Bar Association in its annual Silver Gavel competition. Professor Davis’ articles have appeared in the Yale Law Journal, the North Carolina Law Review, Fordham Law Review and many others.

Prior to joining the law faculty in 2002, Professor Davis was vice president and legal director for the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund. As a women’s rights practitioner, she was counsel in a number of cases before the US Supreme Court, including Nguyen v. INS, a challenge to sex-based citizenship laws that Professor Davis argued before the court. Professor Davis has also served as a fellow at the Bunting Institute, as the first Kate Stoneman Visiting Professor of Law and Democracy at Albany Law School, a Soros Reproductive Rights Fellow, a fellow at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School and fellow of the Women and Public Policy Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Professor Davis chairs the board of directors of the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative. She is an appointed member of the Massachusetts State Advisory Committee of the US Commission on Civil Rights.

Fields of Expertise

  • Civil Rights
  • Constitutional Law
  • Domestic Violence
  • Gender and the Law
  • Human Rights
  • International Law
  • Legal Ethics
  • Poverty Law
  • Professional Responsibility

Selected Works


Selected Articles

Selected Chapters

  • “Restoring Government Leadership on Human Rights at Home,” Mandate for Change (Lexington Books, 2009) (Hartman, ed.)
  • “Progressive Lawyers and Human Rights: Using International and Comparative Law to Inform Domestic Decisions,” Progressive Lawyering, Globalization and Markets: Rethinking Ideology and Strategy (William S. Hein & Co., 2007) (Dalton, ed.)
  • “Sexual Harassment,” Social Issues in America: An Encyclopedia (M.E. Sharpe, 2006) (Ciment, ed.)
  • “Legislating Patriarchy,” From Poverty to Punishment: How Welfare Reform Punishes the Poor (Applied Research Center, 2002) (Delgado, ed.)
  • “The Ties that Bind: How Violence Perpetuates Women’s Poverty,” Family Violence and Welfare Reform: What are the Links? (Brandwein, 1999) (ed. Sage)
  • “NOW is the Time: Mainstream Feminism’s Statements on Welfare Rights,” For Crying Out Loud: Women’s Poverty in the United States (South End Press, 1996) (Dujon and Withhorn, eds.)

Selected Commentary