Eric Mitnick


Eric Mitnick


Law School





UMass School of Law 113


Princeton UniversityPhD
Princeton UniversityMA
University of Michigan Law SchoolJD
Cornell UniversityBA


  • Torts and Administrative Law



A study of the law, policy, and theory of civil wrongs not arising from contract, including intentional assault, battery, false imprisonment, infliction of emotional distress, trespass, and conversion; negligence concepts, including duty, fault, causation, and injury; defenses, such as consent, assumption of risk, and comparative fault; strict and product liability; and other liability theories, such as nuisance, defamation, invasion of privacy, misrepresentation, and interference with economic relations.

The history of U.S. Constitutional interpretation and current doctrine concerning judicial review, the federal-state system, the Commerce Clause, separation of powers, freedoms of speech and religion, due process and equal protection. Special attention is given to current controversies regarding the "Right of Privacy" and affirmative action.


Research awards

  • $ 75,000 awarded by Executive Office of the Trial Court for Justice Bridge Trial Court FY2023
  • $ 75,000 awarded by Executive Office of the Trial Court for Justice Bridge Trial Court FY2022
  • $ 75,000 awarded by Executive Office of the Trial Court for Community Outreach Clinics – Tenants’ Rights
  • $ 100,000 awarded by Executive Office of the Trial Court for Community Outreach Clinics


Research interests

  • Rights
  • Liberalism
  • Sociolegal and multicultural theory
  • Procedural due process

Professional background

Eric Mitnick served as dean of the law school from 2016-2023. During that time, due to the collective efforts of the university’s and law school’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni, the law school received full ABA accreditation; enrollment increased for six consecutive years, ultimately more than doubling; the median LSAT and undergraduate grade point average increased substantially; student employment outcomes more than doubled; bar pass rates improved; the law school established nine new 3+3 joint degree programs with undergraduate colleges and universities across Massachusetts and Rhode Island; UMass Law became the first law school in the country to partner with the Truman Foundation, established its first semester abroad program with Limerick University in Ireland, and created a joint JD/MSW degree program with Bridgewater State University; several endowed public interest scholarships and fellowships were created, while annual fundraising support for the law school increased by 160%, and multiple capital projects were completed, including the Arc of Justice Atrium and art installation in the law school’s lobby and the law school’s first high-tech audio-visual seminar classroom. As dean, Professor Mitnick was recognized with the "Excellence in Academia" award from the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association; the Red Mass "St. Thomas More Ecumenical Award" from Bishop Edgar Da Cunha, Diocese of Fall River; and the “President’s Leadership Award” from the Bristol County Bar Association.

Professor Mitnick studied history and government as an undergraduate at Cornell University, law at the University of Michigan Law School, from which he graduated with honors, and American politics, public law, and political theory in the Department of Politics at Princeton University, from which he earned master's and doctoral degrees. Dean Mitnick practiced law as an associate with Willkie Farr & Gallagher, a large law firm in New York City, focusing especially on mergers and acquisitions, securities law, directors’ liability, and financial litigation, while performing pro bono work in political asylum cases and constitutional law matters.

Prior to joining UMass Law as associate dean for academic affairs in 2014, Professor Mitnick taught Torts, Administrative Law, Professional Responsibility, and Scholarly Legal Writing at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law, where he also served as associate dean for academic affairs for six years and was twice recognized as Teacher of the Year by the student body. He has also taught Legal Research and Writing at the University of Wisconsin Law School and Constitutional Interpretation and Civil Liberties as a graduate student at Princeton University. At UMass Law, Professor Mitnick was voted Teacher of the Year in 2015 and Staff/Administrator of the Year in 2017 by the student body.

Professor Mitnick has also served as an outside reviewer for the American Political Science Review, as a member of the Law & Society Dissertation Prize Committee, been named a Top Attorney by the San Diego Daily Transcript, and received research fellowships from Princeton University and the Mellon Foundation. His doctoral dissertation was published in book form as Rights, Groups, and Self-Invention: Group-Differentiated Rights in Liberal Theory. Professor Mitnick is also the author of several peer-reviewed journal and student-edited law review articles, including “Three Models of Group-Differentiated Rights,” which was selected for inclusion in the Columbia, Georgetown, UCLA and USC Law & Humanities Junior Scholars Workshop. His article on procedural due process and reputational harm has been cited by the New Hampshire and Vermont Supreme Courts.



Rights, Groups, and Self-Invention: Group-Differentiated Rights in Liberal Theory (Ashgate Publishing Ltd., 2006).


Rights, in Encyclopedia of Political Thought (Michael Gibbons, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.) (2015).

Procedural Due Process and Reputational Harm: Liberty as Self-Invention, 43 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 79 (2009).

Law, Cognition, and Identity, 67 La. L. Rev. 823 (2007).

Differentiated Citizenship and Contextualized Morality, 7 Eth. Theory and Moral Prac. 163 (2004).

Three Models of Group-Differentiated Rights, 35 Columbia Hum. Rts. L. Rev. 215 (2004).

Individual Vulnerability and Cultural Transformation, 101 Michigan L. Rev. 1635 (2003) (reviewing Ayelet Shachar, Multicultural Jurisdictions: Cultural Differences and Women’s Rights (Cambridge, 2001)).

Liberalism and Membership, 4 Univ. of Penn. J. of Const. L. 533 (2002) (reviewing Brian Barry, Culture & Equality (Harvard, 2001)).

Constitutive Rights, 20 Oxford J. of Legal Studies 185 (2000).

Taking Rights Spherically: Formal and Collective Aspects of Legal Rights, 34 Wake Forest L. Rev. 409 (1999).