Gwendolyn Leachman

Assistant Professor

Leachman, Gwendolyn

Room 7108, Law School


Ph.D. University of California, Berkeley
J.D. Berkeley Law (Boalt Hall)
B.A. University of California, Santa Cruz


Gwendolyn M. Leachman is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Wisconsin Law School and a Faculty Affiliate with the Sociology Department at the University of Wisconsin. She teaches courses in Labor Relations, Employment Discrimination, and Torts.

Professor Leachman's research critically examines the interaction between law and social movements, focusing on how litigation strategies affect agenda-setting and representation within movements. Her recent publications include Institutionalizing Essentialism, which examines the institutional factors that generate marginalization within identity movements; The Future of Polyamorous Marriage, which considers the consequences of same-sex marriage litigation for the burgeoning polyamorous marriage equality movement; and Media, Marriage, and the Construction of the LGBT Legal Agenda (forthcoming 2017), a study of media bias in coverage of LGBT rights litigation. Leachman's publications have appeared in both law reviews and empirical journals, including U.C. Davis Law Review, Wisconsin Law Review, Harvard Journal of Law & Gender, Annual Review of Law and Social Science, among others. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Williams Institute, the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues, and internal university grants.

Leachman is currently working on a book project, Litigation and the Shaping of the LGBT Movement, which investigates how the pursuit of impact litigation has transformed the movement for LGBT rights. Drawing on original empirical research on LGBT movement activism and organizing over the past three decades, the book highlights a series of mechanisms that have enabled litigation to dominate the broader agendas of LGBT rights activists working outside the courtroom. The book expands on research Leachman completed for her Ph.D. dissertation, which won the Law & Society Association Dissertation Award in 2015.

Professor Leachman received her B.A. with highest honors in Legal Studies and Linguistics from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She received her Ph.D. and her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, where she served in editorial positions at the California Law Review and the Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, and provided bilingual legal aid to Spanish-speaking clients at La Raza Employment Law Clinic and the Legal Aid Society-Employment Law Center. Prior to joining the UW faculty, Professor Leachman was a Williams Institute Law Fellow at the UCLA School of Law, where she taught courses on sexual orientation and gender identity law. 

Scholarship & Publications


Law Repository

Research Interests

  • Social Movements and Legal Mobilization
  • Law and Inequality
  • Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, and the Law
  • Critical Race Theory

Teaching Areas

  • Employment Law
  • Employment Law: Employment Discrimination
  • Labor Law
  • Sexual Orientation & the Law

Recently Taught Courses

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