MSU College of Law

Joan W. Howarth

Joan W. Howarth
[Hi-Res Photo]
Dean Emerita and Professor of Law (on leave, 2017-18)
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 368
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

Joan is currently a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. During the 2016-17 academic year she was a Consultant to the Provost, MSU. She served as Dean of the Law College from 2008-2016, with accomplishments that included elevating the Law College’s academic and professional reputation, building the College’s scholarly profile and impact, and increasing alumni engagement. During her deanship, exceptional new teachers and scholars were hired, clinical opportunities were expanded, academic support and debt reduction programs were started, new degree programs were created, and the College gained a national reputation for innovation in curriculum and professional programs. Prior to her deanship, she was a professor at the Boyd School of Law, UNLV, since 2001. There she was named William S. Boyd Professor of Law in 2003 and served as associate dean for four years.

She began her career as a law professor in 1989 after practicing with California’s Office of the State Public Defender and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. In addition to MSU Law and the Boyd School of Law, she has been a faculty member at the Golden Gate University School of Law and a visiting professor of law at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, UC Hastings College of Law, and UC Davis School of Law.

Her scholarship interests include attorney licensing, gender and the death penalty, and LGBT legal history.

She is a leader in legal education through work with the Association of American Law Schools, the American Bar Association, and the Society of American Law Teachers.

J.D. Order of the Coif 1980, University of Southern California; A.B. 1972, Smith College

  • Constitutional Law I
    (Formerly DCL 171) An introduction to American constitutional law. This course surveys the distribution of national powers among the Congress, the president and the federal judiciary. After examining the fundamentals of judicial review and its limitations, the course considers the delegated powers of Congress and the tensions between Congress and the president in the exercise of national powers. The course concludes with an overview of governmental immunities. Some sections of Regulatory State and constitutional Law I are taught as a combined class.
  • Foundations of Law
    The primary focus of this course is to provide first-year students with an introduction to the study of law, with preliminary exposure to legal reasoning, the structure of the American legal system, and fundamental legal-theoretical concepts. This course also seeks to put students who come to the law from a variety of academic backgrounds on a more equal footing.
  • Torts I
    (Formerly DCl 141) The study of the protection that the law affords against interference by others with one's person, property or intangible interest. It is broadly divisible into three areas of liability: intentional interference, negligence and strict liability. Specific tort actions and defenses are analyzed. Each is examined in the context of underlying social and economic factors that provide the framework in which law develops and social conflict is managed.

California (inactive)