Catherine L. Carpenter '76
The Honorable Arleigh M. Woods and William T. Woods Chair | Professor of Law | Co-Director of the Moot Court Honors Program | Co-Director, Southwestern’s Evening Program | Director of Criminal Law and Advocacy Concentration | Executive Director, Southwestern’s Access to Social Justice Fund
B.A., cum laude, English, 1973, University of California, Los Angeles J.D., cum laude, 1976, Southwestern Law School
Member, California State Bar
Elected to the American Law Institute in 2012, Professor Carpenter is a nationally renowned criminal law scholar in the area of sex crimes and sex offender registration laws. Her scholarship has been cited by numerous courts and used as a guide by attorneys. She is the executive director of Access to Restorative Justice Fund and is the Vice President of Alliance for Constitutional Sex Offenses, which both strive for the reintegration of the marginalized through education, legislation, and advocacy.
Additionally, Professor Carpenter is one of the foremost authorities on law school curricula and accreditation. She has served in several leadership posts within the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar of the American Bar Association (ABA). She has served as past chair of the Section's Accreditation Committee, past Chair of the Curriculum Committee, and as a member of the Standards Review Committee. As chair of the Curriculum Committee from 2002-2004 and again from 2009-2012, Professor Carpenter was the principal drafter of two comprehensive national surveys: A Survey of Law School Curricula 2002-2010 and its predecessor A Survey of Law School Curriculum 1992-2002. She earned national recognition in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017 from the National Jurist as one of the "Top 25 Most Influential People in Legal Education."
Legal education, and Southwestern, in particular, has been Professor Carpenter's professional passion for more than three decades. After distinguishing herself while a law student earning several academic awards and serving as Notes and Comments editor of the Southwestern Law Review, she returned to her alma mater in 1980 as a member of the faculty and continued to add dimensions to her association with the law school—as Alumni Association President and member of the Board of Trustees, a professor, and an administrator. She served as Vice Dean from 2014 to 2016. She previously spent over a decade from 1984 to 1997 as Assistant Dean/Dean of Students and Associate Dean for Academic Affairs from 1984 to 1997. She also served as an advisor to Southwestern's Moot Court Honors Program from 2006 to 2014. In recognition of her tremendous contributions to the law school, legal education, and the profession, Professor Carpenter was named Southwestern Alumna of the Year in 2013.
"One of the most exciting aspects of teaching a first year course in law is having the opportunity to watch new students blossom as they gain confidence and perspective."
Professor Carpenter received Southwestern's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2001, 2016, and 2020 and was elected Grand Marshal by the graduating class of 2015, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Professorship of Law: In prior years, she was named the Irving D. and Florence Rosenberg Professor of Law in 1996 and 2012, the Irwin R. Buchalter Professor of Law in 2004, and the Justice Marshall F. McComb Professor of Law in 2006.
Beyond legal education, Professor Carpenter has served as a site evaluator for the American Bar Association, the Association of American Law Schools, the State of California Council for Private Post-Secondary Education, and as a consultant to the Board of Regents for the State of Kansas and the Office of Higher Education for the State of Minnesota. She is a member of the editorial board of CALI (Computer-Assisted Legal Instruction) and has served as a consultant to a number of law schools.
Elected Grand Marshal by the graduating classes of 2015, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Named Southwestern Alumna of the Year, 2013
Elected to the American Law Institute, 2012
Received Recognition in National Jurist, listed among the "Top 25 Influential People in Legal Education," 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2017.
Chair, Accreditation Committee, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, American Bar Association, 2008-2010 (member since 2004)
Chair, Curriculum Committee, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, American Bar Association, 2010-2012; 2002-2004 (member from 2000-2004)
Member, Standards Review Committee, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, American Bar Association, 2010-2011
Member, Foreign Programs Committee, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, American Bar Association, 2010-2011
Member, National Council, Valparaiso University School of Law, 2010-2011
Member, Nominating Committee, Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, American Bar Association, 2003-2005
Named to Who's Who in America of Outstanding Teachers, 2002
Chair, Committee on Law School Administration, Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, American Bar Association, 1996-1999 (member from 1995-1999)