MSU College of Law

Hannah Brenner

Hannah Brenner
[Hi-Res Photo]
Lecturer in Law, Co-Director of the Frank J. Kelley Institute of Ethics & the Legal Profession, and Director of Externship Programs
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 332
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

Hannah Brenner joined the Law College in 2009. She is a Lecturer in Law, Director of Externship Programs, and Co-Director, with Professor Renee Knake, of the Frank J. Kelley Institute of Ethics and the Legal Profession. She is also a core faculty member and serves on the advisory committee of the Center for Gender in the Global Context and a member of the Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence, both at Michigan State University.

Her research and teaching interests primarily surround issues of law and gender, and fall into two main thematic areas: gender, leadership and equality in the legal profession, and violence against women.
 She often approaches these topics through a media framework.

In addition to teaching Torts, Professor Brenner created two seminars that address issues of gender, equality, and the legal profession: Gender, Power, Law & Leadership and Global Perspectives on Women in Law. Both courses, though differing markedly in their focus, were inspired by her observations that absent from the current discourse on addressing gender equality in the profession are both global perspectives and attention to legal education.

She also teaches a Domestic Violence seminar.

One of her major research projects, in collaboration with Professor Knake, involves an empirical analysis of the media's depiction of Supreme Court nominees. Their work offers a modern lens for understanding why women remain significantly under-represented among positions of power within the legal profession. They are the first scholars to engage in such a project through the innovative merger of law, gender studies, mass media, and political science and their first article, Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession's Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees (Phase I, The Introduction Week) was published in Temple Law Review Their research served as a site of inspiration for a symposium in April 2012 with the Michigan State Law Review, Gender and the Legal Profession's Pipeline to Power. Professors Brenner and Knake are undertaking a new research project entitled Shortlisted, which explores the lives of fourteen women who were considered, but not nominated, to the United States Supreme Court.

Professor Brenner's teaching and research also focuses on issues of violence against women. She has written in the area of domestic violence, co-authoring several articles on mandatory arrest policies. Her article, Transcending the Criminal Law's One Size Fits All Response to Domestic Violence, appearing in the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law, explores novel legislative and policy innovations that may serve the needs of more victims and more needs of individual victims. Recently, Professor Brenner has studied two major political figures, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Moshe Katsav, using them as case studies to understand issues of sexual violence, politics and power. She recently published an article on this topic in the Michigan Journal of Gender and Law, and is engaged in conducting a content analysis of how media representations of these cases intersects with the presumption of innocence.

Prior to moving to Michigan, Professor Brenner served as the first executive director of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas School of Law. Under her leadership, the Center hosted the inaugural Women's Power Summit on Law & Leadership, an event that brought together leaders from all sectors of the legal profession with the goal of developing a blueprint for the continued advancement of women the legal profession. She remains active in these national efforts for reform. She previously taught at the University of Oklahoma, where she also directed a statewide women's political leadership program designed to address the historic under-representation of women in politics and public service.

Professor Brenner earned her BA from the University of Iowa in American Studies/Women's Studies, and her JD from the University of Iowa College of Law.

J.D. 1998, University of Iowa College of Law; B.A. 1994, University of Iowa

  • Domestic Violence
    (Formerly DCL 427) A historical background of Domestic Violence. Focus will be placed on understanding the nature of domestic violence, the prevention of domestic violence, and the survivor and batterer behavior.
  • Gender, Power, Law & Leadership
    This seminar will expose students to various theories of leadership and their intersections with gender, power and law. The semester will begin with an analysis of power structures through a gendered lens, observing the operation of masculinism and feminism within those structures, especially as they pertain to leadership. It will identify the traits and characteristics associated with leadership and power, and observe the leadership across all sectors of the legal profession, and related professions, through analysis of recent benchmarking research. The seminar will focus on both personal and organizational leadership, examine the various double binds facing women leaders, identify barriers and obstacles that have impeded women's advancement into leadership positions, analyze the ways in which leadership is conveyed in culture (vis a vis the media), and ultimately explore how power, gender and leadership intersect and operate in the fields of and law and politics. This seminar will consider whether gender impacts judicial decision making and political candidacy. Students will also read a biography of their choice during the semester featuring a transformative leader. Throughout the semester, students will learn, through the readings and class discussions,about various characteristics of leaders and organizational dynamics, further aiding them in their entrance into the powerful profession of law.
  • Global Perspectives on Women in Law
    This seminar will consider international dimensions of gender and the legal profession, including an examination of history, employment trends, practices and demographics within all sectors of the profession (the judiciary, private practice, the corporate world, academia and public service). The seminar will explore explanations of inequality - like bias and stereotypes - and will consider other obstacles that have impeded the advancement of women in the profession across continents. Biographical material on transformative women lawyers will also be included.
  • Law and Gender
    (Formerly DCL 386) This course will concern itself with aspects of the following: protective labor legislation, employment discrimination, sex role discrimination in the law of the family, women and the criminal law, the right of women to equal educational opportunity and the right to choose whether to bear children. A short paper will be assigned on a topic dealing with present and proposed legislation affecting the status of women. There will be a consideration of the theoretical and legal issues associated with the category of gender.
  • 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.