Caroline Bettinger-López

Professor of Clinical Legal Education & Director, Human Rights Clinic

J.D. 2003, Columbia Law School
B.A. 1997, University of Michigan

Phone: 305-284-5923
Office: E256

Caroline Bettinger-López is a Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. She recently completed a two year term in the Obama Administration as the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women and Senior Advisor to Vice President Joe Biden. In Fall 2014, she was a Visiting Associate Clinical Professor and Acting Director of the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School. 

Professor Bettinger-López’s scholarship, practice, and teaching concern international human rights law and policy advocacy, violence against women, gender and race discrimination, immigrants' rights, and clinical legal education. She focuses on the implementation of human rights norms at the domestic level, principally in the United States and Latin America. Professor Bettinger-López regularly litigates and engages in other forms of advocacy before the Inter-American Human Rights system, the United Nations, and federal and state courts and legislative bodies.

She is lead counsel on Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2011), the first international human rights case brought by a domestic violence victim against the U.S. She has worked extensively with advocates and government officials in Canada on issues of violence against Indigenous women and girls, and collaborated with local advocates in Miami and Haiti to challenge U.S. deportations to post-earthquake Haiti.

Her work has appeared in numerous journals, law reviews, and online and traditional media, including: Harvard Human Rights Law JournalColumbia Human Rights Law ReviewAmerican Journal of International LawClearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and PolicyThe New York TimesThe Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, and Jotwell.

Prior to joining Miami Law, Professor Bettinger-López was the Deputy Director of the Human Rights Institute and Lecturer-in-Law and Acting Director of the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School. There, she helped to coordinate the Human Rights in the U.S. Project and the Bringing Human Rights Home Lawyers' Network, a network of over 900 lawyers who are actively involved in domestic human rights strategies in the U.S. Before that, Professor Bettinger-López worked as a Skadden Fellow/Staff Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, Women's Rights Project, where she focused on employment, housing, civil, and human rights of domestic violence survivors; and as a law clerk for Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. in the Eastern District of New York. Professor Bettinger-López earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar; and a B.A. from the University of Michigan, where she studied cultural anthropology and earned Highest Honors for her senior thesis, which was later published as a book, Cuban-Jewish Journeys: Searching for Identity, Home, and History in Miami (Univ. of Tennessee Press, 2000).




“Women’s Rights, Gender, and Sexuality,” in DOCTRINE, PRACTICE, AND ADVOCACY IN THE INTER-AMERICAN SYSTEM (ed. with James Cavallaro, Bernard Duhaime, Ariel Dulitzky, Stephanie Brewer, and Cecilia Naddeo), Oxford Univ. Press (UK) (forthcoming 2015).



“Stand Your Ground” Laws” International Human Rights Law Implications, 68 U. MIAMI L. REV. 1129 (2014).

Introduction: Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States: Implementation, Litigation, and Mobilization Strategies, 21 AM. U. J. GENDER SOC. POL’Y & L. 207 (2012) (Keynote address at Symposium on the Jessica Lenahan case).

The Challenge of Domestic Implementation of the International Human Rights Law in The 'Cotton Field' Case 15 CUNY L. REV. 315-334 (2012).

Implementing the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' Domestic-Violence Ruling, (with Elizabeth M. Schneider, Julie Goldscheid, Sandra S. Park, Ejim Dike, Lisalyn Jacobs, Margaret Drew, Mary Haviland), 46 CLEARINGHOUSE REV.: J. POVERTY L. AND POL’Y 113 (July-Aug. 2012).

Foreword: Gender Justice in the Americas: A Transnational Dialogue on Violence, Sexuality, Reproduction, and Human Rights (with Alma Beltran y Puga, Jorge Contesse, Paola Garcia-Rey, Diana Hortsch, Risa Kaufman, Nicole Tuszynski), 65 U. MIAMI L. REV. 501 (May 2011).

Redefining Human Rights Lawyering Through the Lens of Critical Theory: Lessons for Pedagogy and Practice (with Deborah Weissman, Davida Finger, Sarah Paoletti, JoNel Newman, and Meetali Jain), 18 GEO. J. POVERTY L. & POL’Y 337 (Feb. 2011).

The Inter-American Human Rights System: A Primer, 42 CLEARINGHOUSE REV.: J. POVERTY L. AND POL’Y 581 (March-April 2009).

Human Rights at Home: Domestic Violence as a Human Rights Violation, 40 COLUM. HUM. RTS. L. REV. 19 (Fall 2008).

Jessica Gonzales v. United States: An Emerging Model for Domestic Violence and Human Rights Advocacy in the United States, 21 HARV. HUM. RTS. L. J. 183 (Summer 2008).

Castle Rock v. Gonzales and the Future of Police Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence (with Emily J. Martin), Domestic Violence Report at 1 (Oct.-Nov. 2005).

Book Chapters

International Union, U.A.W. v. Johnson Controls: The History of Litigation Alliances and Mobilization to Challenge Fetal Protection Policies (with Susan Sturm) in CIVIL RIGHTS STORIES, eds. Myriam Gilles and Risa Goluboff, Foundation Press (2008).

Hebrew with a Cuban Accent, in CUBA: THE IDEA OF A NATION DISPLACED, State Univ. of New York Press (2007).


Representing Child Migrants (in the Midst of Our Border Crisis), JOTWELL (The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)), Nov. 2014 (reviewing Shani M. King, Alone and Unrepresented: A Call to Congress to Provide Counsel for Unaccompanied Minors, 50 Harv. J. Legis. 331 (Summer 2013)).

Comparative Pragmatism versus Comparative Formalism in the Abortion Context, JOTWELL (The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)), Apr. 22, 2013, (reviewing Rachel Rebouché, Comparative Pragmatism, 72 MD. L. REV. 85 (2012)).

The Human Rights of Non-Citizens: A New Unified Domain? Book Review of David Weissbrodt’s THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF NONCITIZENS (with Bassina Farbenblum), AM. J. INT’L L. (Oct. 2010).

White House Blogs

Improving the Law Enforcement Response to LGBT-Identified Individuals (Nov. 4, 2016).

Honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Oct. 31, 2016).

Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual and Domestic Violence (Oct. 28, 2016).

Inaugural Meeting of the North American Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls (Oct. 26, 2016).

Prioritizing School Safety: A New Curriculum for Colleges and Universities to Address Sexual Assault (Aug. 12, 2016).

The United State of Women: Mobilizing to End Violence Against Women (and More) (July 29, 2016).

Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls: Commitments from the North American Leaders Summit (July 28, 2016).

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative: An Important Step Toward Ending the Rape Kit Backlog (March 15, 2016).

Two Years Later: Assessing Campus Climate Remains a Key Part of Changing Campus Culture (Jan. 28. 2016).

Read the Vice President’s Human Rights Day Statement on Gender Violence (Dec. 16, 2015).

Supporting Survivors Across the Lifespan: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2015 (June 15, 2015).

Don’t Look to Your Left, Don’t Look to Your Right – It’s on You (April 29, 2015).

Stepping out of the Shadows, Together for Women and Girls (March 10, 2015).



Child Migrants in the Midst of Our Border Crisis, LAW PROFESSOR BLOG NETWORK: HUMAN RIGHTS AT HOME BLOG (Aug. 25, 2014).

Implementation of Lenahan v. U.S. and a Tribute to Jessica Lenahan, LAW PROFESSOR BLOG NETWORK: HUMAN RIGHTS AT HOME BLOG (July 25, 2014).

VAWA Is Not Enough: Academics Speak Out About VAWA, Statement by Caroline Bettinger-López, Donna Coker, Julie Goldscheid, Leigh Goodmark, Valli Kalei Kanuha, James Ptacek, Deborah Weissman, various websites (American Constitution Society, The Faculty Lounge, Columbia Gender & Sexuality Law Blog, IntLawGrrls, Family Law Profs, Feminist Law law), Crim Law Profs, Sentencing Law and Policy, (progressive crime blog)), (Feb.-March 2012).

Inter-American Ruling Invites Global Rethink of State Protection Against Domestic Violence, INTLAWGRLS BLOG POST (Sept. 4, 2011).

Inter-American Court Rules Against Mexico on Gender Violence in Ciudad Juárez, INTLLAWGRLS BLOG POST (Jan. 18, 2010).

Other Publications

Deportations to Haiti: Still a Death Sentence (with Vince Warren and Sunita Patel), HUFFINGTON POST (April 8, 2011).

Domestic Violence is a Human Rights Violation (with Farrah Elchahal and Rachel Oostendorp (students)), New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, OPDV Bulletin (Fall 2011).

Protection from Domestic Violence: Time To Set a New Standard, Nat’l L. J. (Oct. 22, 2007).

The Dominican Republic: Grant Full Citizenship to All Born in the Country (with Indira Goris), THE MIAMI HERALD AND EL NUEVO HERALD, at 19A (June 9, 2007).

Phone: 305-284-5923
Office: E256

Websites and Blogs

Human Rights Clinic

White House Blogs