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Lucie E White

Louis A. Horvitz Professor of Law

Lucie E. White
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Lucie White is the Louis A. Horvitz Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. After working for two decades on US social welfare law, she turned to the issue of extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. Thus, in 1999 she launched the Harvard Law School’s Ghana project, which is on-going. The project brings together Ghanaian partners and student teams to work on the realization of economic and social rights for Ghana’s least advantaged groups. After working on health finance and mental health, the group turned to the oil industry’s economic and human impacts and geographical inequities in primary education grounded in histories of northern Ghanians’ enslavement and colonial exploitation. In 2010 she built on this work to found the “Stones of Hope” project. This is a collaboration among African human rights activists and global rights scholars to examine African innovations in Economic and Social Rights advocacy. The project culminated in L. White and J. Perelman eds., Stones of Hope: African Lawyers Use Human Rights to Challenge Global Poverty (Stanford University Press, 2010). Subsequently she worked extensively with HLS and Ghanaian students on the human rights dimensions of West Africa’s petroleum policies as. With an Open Society grant she worked with South African activists to envision a “new South African constitutionalism” and has participated in a number of Harvard Institute of Global Law and Policy initiatives, including a long term research project on human rights and heterodox development. She is currently working on a series of personal essays about growing up as a white girl in the Jim Crow South, as well as a collaborative initiative which, in the face of the current global climate crisis, considers “sustainable regions” as pathways toward post-developmentalist futures. She teaches in the areas of Global Poverty; Social Welfare/Economic and Social Rights with a focus on sub-Saharan Arfrica; Law and Inequality; Economic Development and its Alternatives, Reparation for Africans’ Enslavement.  She has been admitted to the Bar in DC, North Carolina, and California, and has worked as a Legal Aid lawyer in North Carolina andd an advocate for unhoused persons in Los Angeles.  She clerked for District Judge James McMillan of the Western District of North Carolina, who presided over several significant race discrimination, welfare justice, and prison reform cases before and during her clerkship.  She has received numerous fellowships, grants, and awards and written widely about everyday life, law, and social movement among marginalized groups, particularly those with histories of race subordination, enslavement, and colonization.


  • J.D. Harvard Law School, 1981
  • B.A. Linguistics Radcliffe College, 1972

Bar Admissions

  • District of Columbia, United States (1981)
  • North Carolina, United States (1982, inactive)
  • California, United States (1987)

Representative Publications

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