Sullivan Hall 461
(206) 398-4393


J.D., New York University
M.Ed., Harvard Graduate School of Education


Legal Writing
Homeless Rights Advocacy


      Fall 2015

      • Legal Writing I  (WRIT-100-A3)
      • LW II: Written and Oral Advocacy  (WRIT-200-A)
      • Homeless Rights Advocacy Practicum  (WRIT-415-A)
      • Legal Writing I  (WRIT-100-A5)
      • Independent Study  (INDS-420-SR)

        Sara Rankin

        Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills

        Curriculum VitaePDF


        Professor Rankin currently teaches lawyering skills, including applied legal analysis, legal research and writing, general principles of trial and appellate procedure and advocacy, and homeless rights advocacy. She is also the founder and Director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project at the Korematsu Center. Professor Rankin has nearly a decade of experience in private practice at major law firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, LLP and Sidley Austin, LLP, where she specialized in complex litigation. She also gained an in-house perspective, serving as assistant general counsel for a national accounting firm.

        Prior to her legal career, Professor Rankin received her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she studied under the internationally-known education expert, Howard Gardner. Currently, Professor Rankin continues to support innovation in legal education as a member of various boards and committees for entities such as the Legal Writing Institute (LWI), the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT), and ALICE (American Legislative Issue Campaign Exchange).

        Professor Rankin's teaching and scholarship interests include the social and political aspects of legal education reform, lawyering skills, legal issues affecting the homeless, policy making, and legislative drafting and advocacy. She is a frequent commentator on legislative drafting, advocacy, and policymaking issues as a co-editor of the Legislation Law Professors Blog.


        A Homeless Bill of Rights (Revolution), 45 Seton Hall L. Rev. (lead article, forthcoming 2015). Available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2376488.

        Invidious Deliberation:  The Problem of Congressional Bias in Federal Hate Crime Legislation, 66 Rutgers L. Rev. (lead article, forthcoming 2014). Available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2350591.

        Prime Suspects (working paper on file with the author). Critiques conventional interpretations of suspect classification factors, proposes a new, principled suspect classification analysis. Argues that pursuant to such an analysis, homeless people should be considered a suspect class.

        The Crime of Homelessness (working paper on file with the author). Critically assesses the increasing prevalence of ordinances that criminalize homelessness.

        Symposia, Professional Publications & Other Works

        Homeless Bills of Rights: An Advocate’s Guide (co-authored report with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty) (released April 2014).

        The New 1L: Teaching First-Year Students To Be Lawyers Through Actual Practice (Carolina Academic Press, forthcoming April 2015) (co-editor and contributing author). Other contributors include Erwin Chemerinsky (Irvine), Michael Wishnie (Yale), Michael Millemann (Maryland), Stephen Schwinn (John Marshall), Nantiya Ruan (Denver).

        The Fully Formed Lawyer: Why Law Schools Should Require Public Service to Better Prepare Students for Private Practice, 17 Chapman L. Rev. 17 (2013) (invited symposium submission).

        We Have a Dream: Integrating Skills Courses in the First Year of Law School (and Beyond), 17 Chapman L. Rev. 89 (2013) (with others) (invited symposium submission).

        Tired of Talking: A Call for Clear Strategies for Legal Education Reform- Moving Beyond the Discussion of Good Ideas to the Real Transformation of Law Schools, 10 Seattle J. Soc. Just. 11 (2011)

        Rethinking Neutrality: Race and ADR, Dispute Res. J. 40 (August 1999).

        Online Publications

        Legislation Law Profs Blog, Co-editor (launched 2014). Blog focuses on legislative and administrative advocacy and policymaking. Other co-editors are Professors Joel Rogers (Wisconsin), Emily Benfer (Loyola Chicago), and Kevin Barry (Quinnipiac). http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/legislation_law/

        Should Homelessness Be a Crime? Our State Grapples With Its Answer, available at http://firesteelwa.org/2014/08/is-homelessness-a-crime-should-it-be-washington-grapples-with-its-answer/ (August 2014) (invited guest editorial)

        Recent Activity

        Homeless Rights Project welcomes state of emergency for homelessness

        November 02, 2015
        Professor Sara Rankin responds to declaration of state of emergency for homelessness in Seattle, King County.

        Everett passes measure against 'aggressive panhandling'

        October 28, 2015
        Despite opposition from the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, Everett has passed an ordinance to criminalize "aggressive panhandling."

        Boise Homeless Case Dismissed, What Happens Next?

        October 02, 2015
        Professor Sara Rankin says the city must protect the constitutional rights of its homeless citizens.

        Homeless advocates praise action by HUD

        September 18, 2015
        For the first time, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development is asking public and private agencies that receive federal homelessness grants to describe how their efforts help combat the criminalization of homelessness.

        DoJ Joins Homeless Advocates Against Anti-Camping Laws

        August 20, 2015
        The Department of Justice is a new ally in the fight against municipal laws that unfairly punish the homeless.

        Homeless Bus Ticket Programs Across The Nation Offer Little Accountability, Poor Housing Solutions, Activists Say

        July 24, 2015
        One-way bus tickets are just another way for cities to avoid meaningful solutions to the problem of homelessness, Professor Sara Rankin told International Business Times.

        Supreme Court will hear case on public sector union fees

        July 01, 2015
        A pending case against the California Teachers Association could impact public sector unions across the country. Professor Charlotte Garden offers her thoughts and analysis.

        Why A New Supreme Court Case Is An Existential Threat To Unions

        July 01, 2015
        Professor Charlotte Garden explains that a pending Supreme Court case could curtail unions' efforts to get out the vote.

        Helping homeless less costly than criminalizing them

        June 28, 2015
        In an op-ed column, Kristina Jorgensen discusses our report on criminalization of the homeless from the perspective of someone who used to be homeless.

        Tent cities: Seattle's unique approach to homelessness

        June 10, 2015
        Tent cities are one way to protect homeless people from criminalized activities but they don't solve homelessness, Professor Sara Rankin says.

        Dealing with Homelessness: Criminalizing It Is Not the Answer, Says Law School Prof. Sara Rankin

        May 27, 2015
        Professor Sara Rankin describes the research work done by our Homeless Rights Advocacy Project.

        Are We Hiding the Homeless When We Should Be Housing Them?

        May 26, 2015
        "When it costs money to obey the law, the poorest among us necessarily become criminals." More great coverage of our Homeless Rights Advocacy Project.

        SU report shows Seattle criminalizing life-sustaining behaviors

        May 20, 2015
        This follow-up Real Change story on our Homeless Rights Advocacy Project describes how the work has been received in the community and how our students are motivated to keep up the fight.

        A New Study Shows Exactly How Washington Cities Have Turned Being Homeless Into a Crime

        May 06, 2015
        "Cities are relying on criminalization to make this uncomfortable, visible poverty go away." Our students' homeless rights advocacy work is featured.

        When Survival Becomes A Crime: How City Laws Affect The Homeless

        May 06, 2015
        Marcie Sillman talks to Professor Sara Rankin about how city ordinances and laws affect the homeless in Washington cities.

        Parks’ smoking ban: Will homeless be the targets?

        April 15, 2015
        Homeless rights advocate Professor Sara Rankin expresses concern that smoking bans will be used as a way to prosecute the homeless in Seattle city parks.

        Seattle U law students target anti-homeless laws

        March 06, 2015
        In an effort to protect the rights of homeless people, a group of Seattle University School of Law students are creating a comprehensive analysis of nuisance laws and other municipal measures that effectively make it a crime to be homeless.