Douglas NeJaime, a nationally recognized scholar in family law and law and sexuality, will join the Yale Law School faculty next July.
NeJaime is currently the faculty director of the Williams Institute, a think tank at the University of California, Los Angeles Law School that conducts independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. In an interview with the News, NeJaime said he has seen a growing national interest in LGBTQ issues, as well as in his area of family and parental recognition, specifically the standard for granting legal status to self-identified parents and domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.
“With good reason, any law school in the country would love to have [NeJaime] join the faculty — and so Yale Law School is most fortunate that he is joining ours,” law professor William Eskridge LAW ’78 said.
NeJaime said he ultimately chose Yale for the distinguished faculty members in his fields and the outstanding student body. He said he was surprised when the offer came last December during his time as a visiting professor at the Law School, adding that physically being in Sterling Law Building gave him the convenience to celebrate immediately with other faculty members. NeJaime accepted the position earlier this month, describing the decision to move to New Haven as finding a “permanent home.”
NeJaime said he brings unique work to the Law School while fitting within the broader scholarship already being done by Yale Law faculty.
After relocating to New Haven, NeJaime said he looks forward to collaborating with the Law School’s Reproductive Rights and Justice Project to explore the intersection between reproductive rights and the legal recognition of parents under the leadership of project instructor Priscilla Smith ’84 LAW ’91. Having worked with students involved in clinical work, NeJaime said he is thinking about ways clinical programs can contribute to promoting gender rights.
Although some Yale Law School faculty, including Eskridge, have written on family law, there has been a shortage of scholars at the Law School working in this area since the death of law professor Joseph Goldstein LAW ’52 in 2000.
According to law professor James Whitman ’80 LAW ’88, the Law School has been looking to find a scholar in family law for a long time and was lucky to recruit NeJaime.
Maya Menlo LAW ’18, who took a class with NeJaime when he was a visiting professor last fall, characterized him as thoughtful, accessible and intelligent, in addition to being funny and charming. She recalled asking him a list of questions she had prepared in advance and receiving precise answers to all of them right away.
Menlo, who serves as the co-chair of OutLaws, the Law School’s LGBTQ student association, added that although the appointment of NeJaime can be seen as a demonstration of the Law School’s commitment to supporting LGBTQ scholarship and advocacy, there is still more work to be done.
The appointment follows a diversity report written by Yale Law School professors and students released last April, which urged the Law School administration to reconsider its approach to racial, gender and political diversity in the faculty. OutLaws is a member of a Law School coalition Alliance for Diversity, which has been pushing for more faculty of color to be appointed for several years. Menlo said the appointments that Law School Dean Robert Post made over the past few years have not fully met the demands of the community.
“And I could imagine that some scholars, even if they were given an offer, might hesitate to join a faculty that is so overwhelmingly male, white and straight,” Menlo said.
The Law School has over 40 full-time faculty members.
Correction, April 19: A previous version of this article included confidential information about other job offers NeJaime received and has been excised.