Danielle Kie Hart

Professor of Law

Professor Dani Hart

B.A., History and Economics, with honors in History, Whitman College J.D., University of Hawaii
LL.M., Harvard University

Member, Hawaii State Bar


Professor Hart began her legal career as a judicial clerk to Chief Justice Herman T.F. Lum and Associate Justice Mario Ramil of the Hawaii Supreme Court where she had a first-hand look at the appellate process and how laws are shaped. She then entered private practice as a commercial litigation associate with the firm of Paul, Johnson, Park & Niles. Her areas of practice included contracts, real property, insurance, construction, and bankruptcy.

"I want students to understand how powerful and pervasive the law is, touching every aspect of peoples' lives." [I want to explore with them] the possible systemic changes that might be needed in the law."

A few years later, Professor Hart moved to the nonprofit sector as a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii where she established and supervised the poverty law hotline for senior citizens. At Legal Aid, Professor Hart says, "it became very apparent that many of the people who we helped were going to be repeat clients, because we could only take care of their immediate problems. The only way to affect real change would have to be on a more systemic level."

Professor Hart's next step was to get her masters of law, or LL.M., from Harvard Law School. After graduating, she accepted a visiting teaching position at her alma mater, the University of Hawaii. In 1999, she moved to California to join the Southwestern faculty.

Professor Hart's research has covered a wide range of topics, from procedural reform and the strategic uses of procedure to same-sex marriage. Her current research focuses on contract law—its politics, distributive effects and social consequences. Professor Hart has been a panelist at a number of academic forums, and has served as a member and past Chair of  the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools Section on Gay and Lesbian Legal Issues. In January, 2012, Professor Hart was elected to the Executive Committee of the Association of American Schools Section on Contracts. She is also a member of the organizing committee for ClassCrits, a network of scholars and activists interested in critical analysis of law and economic relations.

Selected Achievements

Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient: 2008, 2010, 2012, and 2023

Elected Commencement Grand Marshal: 2022