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Meet Dehlia Umunna, Harvard Law School’s First Nigerian Professor

Posted 8/13/2020

DEHLIA UMUNNADEHLIA UMUNNA

Dehlia Umunna made history as Harvard’s first Nigerian Law professor in 2015, according to Harvard Law Today. Umunna serves as deputy director and clinical instructor at Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute (CJI).

Umunna’s duties as a Harvard Law Professor consists of governing third-year law students as they represent adult and juvenile clients in criminal and juvenile proceedings before the Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court and Appeals court.

“I relish this extraordinary opportunity to continue work that I am truly passionate about, and I am grateful for the deep interest and commitment of the school to issues of criminal justice, mass incarceration, indigent defense, and social justice,” Umunna told Harvard Law Today when first taking on the position.

Umunna has had an extensive resume with Harvard as a lecturer since 2007. Plus, she has also had several articles published in the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law such as “Rethinking the Neighborhood Watch: How Lessons from the Nigerian Village Can Creatively Empower the Community to Assist Poor, Single Mothers in America.”

Umunna holds a master’s degree from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government in Public Administration, a B.A. in communications from California State University, San Bernardino, and a law degree from George Washington University Law Center.

Not only does Umunna sport an impressive resume, but she is also held in high esteem by her peers.

“Dehlia’s students revere her; her colleagues at HLS and nationally look to her as an exemplary advocate, teacher, and mentor,” Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School told Harvard Law Today.

Before Harvard, Umunna served on the District of Columbia Law Students in Court Clinic board and as an Adjunct Professor of Law and Practitioner in Residence at American University and Washington College of Law. She also spent several years as a Public Defender, where she served as a trial attorney.

Congratulations to Professor Umunna being the first Nigerian to hold the position.

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