Laura E. Gómez

Professor of Law
Rachel F. Moran Endowed Chair in Law

Laura E. Gómez teaches Civil Procedure and Criminal Law in the first-year UCLA School of Law curriculum and has taught courses in law and society and the Critical Race Studies Program in the law school’s upper-year curriculum.

In recent years she has served as Interim Dean of the Division of Social Sciences in the College of Letters & Science (2016-17), which is UCLA’s largest academic unit, and Vice Dean of UCLA School of Law (2013-2015). Gómez began her teaching career at UCLA School of Law in 1994 and also holds faculty appointments (without teaching duties) in UCLA’s Departments of Sociology and Chicana and Chicano Studies. After 12 years at UCLA, she returned to her hometown of Albuquerque in order to raise her young son amidst a large extended family. She was a professor of law and American studies at the University of New Mexico, served as Associate Dean of the law school (2007-09), and was a faculty fellow at the Robert J. Woods Foundation Center for Health Policy at UNM. Gómez rejoined the UCLA faculty in 2011.

Prior to beginning her career as a law professor, Professor Gómez clerked for Judge Dorothy W. Nelson on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (1992-93) and worked as a legislative aide to U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico (1996-97), with a portfolio that included Central American policy, South African policy, and Armed Services (for the latter, she held a top secret government clearance). She graduated with honors in Social Studies from Harvard (where she was a Truman Scholar). She received three degrees from Stanford–an M.A. (1988) and Ph.D. (1994) in Sociology (while holding a graduate fellowship from the National Science Foundation), and a J.D. (1992).

Gómez has lectured widely and has published numerous articles (in both student-edited law reviews and peer-reviewed journals), book chapters, and books. Broadly speaking, her research focuses on the intersection of law, politics and inequality both today and in the distant past. Her books include the following: Misconceiving Mothers: Legislators, Prosecutors and the Politics of Prenatal Drug Exposure (1997), which is widely taught in law and society and gender studies courses; Mapping “Race”: Critical Approaches to Health Disparities Research (2013), a book co-edited with Dr. Nancy López; and Manifest Destinies: The Making of the Mexican American Race (2007), which is widely taught in ethnic studies and history courses. The academic popularity of Manifest Destinies has led publisher New York University Press to issue a second edition in late 2017 marking the tenth anniversary of the original publication and featuring a new preface and postscript that situate the book—which concentrates on 19th and early 20th century history, law and politics—in the current political moment. She also has a book under advance contract with The New Press.

Professor Gómez is proud to have co-founded and served as the first co-director of UCLA School of Law’s Critical Race Studies Program, and she continues to be actively involved in CRS. At UCLA Law, Gómez is the faculty adviser to three student organizations: La Raza, the Latino student association, the Chicano-Latino Law Review, and the Womyn of Color Collective. She served as President of the Law and Society Association (2009-11), a multi-disciplinary organization of scholars who study law, legal actors and legal institutions in cultural and social context. She has served as an associate editor, a member of the editorial board, or a reviewer for a number of scholarly journals, including the Law & Society ReviewLaw & Social InquiryAztlan: A Journal of Chicano StudiesSIGNS: Journal of Women in Culture and SocietyStudies in Law, Politics and Society, the Journal of Legal History, Latino Studies, the Law and History Review, and Contemporary Sociology.

View Professor Gómez’s website.


  • B.A. Harvard College, 1986
  • M.A. Stanford University, 1988
  • J.D. Stanford Law School, 1992
  • Ph.D. Stanford University, 1994


  • Inventing Latinos: A New Story of American Racism. The New Press (2020).
  • 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).

Articles & Chapters

  • Capítulo 2: Donde Los Mexicanos Encajan En El Nuevo Orden Racial, 37 Chicanx-Latinx Law Review (2020). Full Text
  • 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). Full Text
  • Connecting Critical Race Theory with Second Generation Legal Consciousness Work in Obasogie’s Blinded by Sight, 41 Law & Social Inquiry 1069 (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 Perspectives 45-58 (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.).