Professor Jenny S. Martinez appointed dean of Stanford Law School

A scholar of international law and constitutional law, Martinez also chaired the law school’s Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion in 2018.

Professor Jenny S. Martinez, a scholar of international law and constitutional law who has been a member of the Stanford faculty for more than 15 years, has been named dean of Stanford Law School, Provost Persis Drell announced.

Jenny S. Martinez portrait

Professor Jenny S. Martinez will become dean of Stanford Law School on April 1. (Image credit: Jennifer Paschal)

Martinez is a leading expert on the role of courts and tribunals in advancing human rights. She joined Stanford Law School as a faculty member in 2003, served as associate dean for curriculum from 2013 to 2016, and in 2018 chaired a key working group that developed a plan to advance diversity and inclusion in the school.

Martinez will assume her new position April 1. She succeeds M. Elizabeth Magill, who is stepping down as dean to become provost of the University of Virginia.

“I am delighted that Jenny Martinez has agreed to serve as dean of the Stanford Law School,” Drell said. “She has deep support from her faculty colleagues, students and staff for both her scholarship and her leadership. She brings an enthusiasm for the future of Stanford Law School and she will be a great addition to the senior leadership of the university.”

Martinez, professor of law and the Warren Christopher Professor in the Practice of International Law and Diplomacy, is a senior fellow (by courtesy) of Stanford’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. She also is a faculty affiliate of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation and Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.

An experienced litigator as well as a scholar, Martinez teaches courses on constitutional law, civil procedure, international law and international business transactions. Both in her earlier career and in her academic work at Stanford, Martinez has focused on the role of legal institutions, historical and contemporary, in supporting and protecting human rights. She is the author of The Slave Trade and the Origins of International Human Rights Law and numerous articles in leading academic journals.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to serve Stanford Law School as a leader at this important time,” Martinez said. “Through my work in international and comparative law, I have seen how important law is to building societies where everyone is treated fairly and all kinds of human endeavors can flourish. Through innovative research and teaching, in collaboration with other departments in the university, Stanford Law School is uniquely situated to contribute to solving public policy problems and training lawyers for the future.”

In 2018, Martinez chaired a Working Group on Diversity and Inclusion, consisting of faculty, students and staff, convened to recommend ways of strengthening the student experience at Stanford Law School. The group made immediate recommendations that the school adopted, including creating a diversity and inclusion cabinet, improving outreach to prospective and admitted students, and establishing a speaker series on identity and bias. The group also made longer-term recommendations, also accepted, in the areas of climate, curriculum, admissions, faculty appointments and data collection in the school.

“Jenny Martinez is not only an exceptional scholar and gifted teacher, but has been a spectacular citizen at the law school who has played a pivotal role in the school’s important recent initiatives on promoting diversity and inclusion, and providing pathbreaking global learning opportunities for our students,” said Jane Schacter, professor of law and co-chair, with Drell, of the search committee for the new dean. “She has a naturally collaborative style of leadership and a vibrant vision for Stanford Law School’s role in a rapidly changing world.

“Professor Martinez has strong relationships with faculty, students, staff and those alumni who have had the chance to interact with her. She is well positioned to hit the ground running and provide wise and creative leadership to move the school forward.”

Martinez holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University and earned her JD at Harvard Law School. She clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer and Judge Guido Calabresi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Martinez also was associate legal officer for Judge Patricia Wald of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia in the Hague, where she worked on trials involving genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.

Martinez is a member of the American Law Institute and serves as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Committee on International Law.  She and her husband have three children and are active in the local community.

Media Contacts

Brad Hayward, University Communications: (650) 724-0199, bhayward@stanford.edu