Renée Lettow Lerner is Donald Phillip Rothschild Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School.
Professor Lerner works in the fields of U.S. and English legal history, civil and criminal procedure, and comparative law. She advises judges, lawyers, and government officials from the United States and countries in Europe, Latin America, and Asia about the differences between adversarial and nonadversarial legal systems.
She writes extensively about the history of American juries. Her work includes not only scholarly articles, but also online publications intended for a broader audience of legal professionals and the public. In many different settings, she has debated the role of juries with other academics and with lawyers. She has a book forthcoming with Oxford University Press in the Very Short Introduction Series entitled “The Jury.” She is also working on a book about the American civil jury, from the colonial period to the present.
She is the author, with John Langbein and Bruce Smith, of the book History of the Common Law: The Development of Anglo-American Legal Institutions (2009).
Her recent writings include “The Resilience of Substantive Rights and the False Hope of Procedural Rights: The Case of the Second Amendment and the Seventh Amendment,” 116 Northwestern University Law Review 275 (2021); “The Surprising Views of Montesquieu and Tocqueville about Juries: Juries Empower Judges,” 81 Louisiana Law Review 1 (2020); a book review of Amalia D. Kessler’s Inventing American Exceptionalism: The Origins of American Adversarial Legal Culture, 1800-1877, 67 J. Legal Ed. 888 (2018); “How the Creation of Appellate Courts in England and the United States Limited Judicial Comment on Evidence to the Jury,” 40 Journal of the Legal Profession 215 (2016); “The Troublesome Inheritance of Americans in Magna Carta and Trial by Jury,” in Magna Carta and its Modern Legacy 77-98 (Robert Hazell and James Melton eds., Cambridge University Press 2015); and “The Failure of Originalism in Preserving Constitutional Rights to Civil Jury Trial,” 22 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal 811 (2014).
Professor Lerner received an A.B. summa cum laude in history from Princeton University. She was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, where she studied English legal history. At Yale Law School, she was Articles Editor of the Yale Law Journal. She served as a law clerk to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy of the U.S. Supreme Court and to Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. From 2003 to 2005, she served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel at the U.S. Department of Justice.