Felice Batlan

Professor Felice Batlan
Professor of Law
Director of the Institute for Compliance
Co-Director of the Institute for Law and the Humanities
565 W. Adams St., Room 833
Chicago, IL 60661


  • Ph.D., New York University
  • J.D., Harvard Law School
  • B.A., Smith College


In the field of women's legal history, Felice Batlan is both subject and scholar. Her nine years of practical legal experience supplement her rigorous academic career, in which she has published and presented extensively on the topics of legal history, women in the legal profession, and feminist legal theory—occasionally appearing alongside such prominent feminist figures as Gloria Steinem. She has also provided expert commentary on numerous radio and television programs. Her new book, Women and Justice for the Poor: A History of Legal Aid, 1863–1945 (Cambridge University Press 2015), which won the prestigious 2016 Hurst Award for the best book in socio-legal history, explores the history of the development of legal aid in the United States and the significant and unknown role that women played as both providers and clients of legal aid.

After graduating summa cum laude in history from Smith College, Professor Batlan received her J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she served as executive editor for the Harvard Women's Law Journal. She clerked for the Honorable Constance Baker Motley of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and then worked as a law firm associate specializing in securities law and financial markets.  She then joined Greenwich NatWest as associate general counsel and head of global compliance. Eventually she returned to the academic world, completing a Ph.D. in U.S. history from New York University.

Since coming to Chicago-Kent from Tulane Law School in 2006, Professor Batlan has immersed herself in a wide variety of subjects spanning law, financial regulation, and the humanities, serving as both director of the Institute for Compliance and co-director of the Institute for Law and the Humanities. Her teaching areas include U.S. legal history, gender and the law, feminist jurisprudence, corporations, business organizations, securities regulation, and contracts. She has taught courses internationally in Sienna, Paris, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Beijing, and Bangkok. She received Chicago-Kent's Excellence in Teaching Award in 2009 and IIT's Julia Beveridge Award for service to women students in 2008.

Professor Batlan was recently appointed as an associate editor and book review editor for the prestigious Law and History Review.  Previously she has performed editorial duties for Continuity and Change,  and for the Macmillan-Gale Encyclopedia of the Supreme Court of the United States, with responsibility for sections on women, gender and sexuality, and corporations. As a historian, she has served as both a consultant and a member of the Accession Committee for the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Historical Society.

As the first director of the Chicago-Kent Institute for Compliance, Professor Batlan has established a series of courses on compliance and financial markets, externships for students, and a lecture series open to the wider Chicago community of lawyers and compliance professionals. She is currently working on a compliance casebook to be used by law students, business students, and the industry.

Professor Batlan blogs at Thoughts on Women, Media, and the Law.

Selected Publications


Winner of the James Willard Hurst Jr. Award for the best book in socio-legal history.


The Golden Years of Legal Aid and the Myth of Community Participation, Texas A&M Law Review (forthcoming).

The "Rabbi's Daughter" and the "Jewish Jane Addams": Jewish Women, Legal Aid, and the Fluidity of Identity, 1890-1930, 4 Indiana Journal of Law and Social Equality 135 (2016).

Introduction: The Making of a Canonical Legal Historian, 89 Chicago-Kent Law Review 907 (2014) (symposium editor with R.B. Bernstein).

Women's Legal History Symposium Introduction: Making History, 87 Chicago-Kent Law Review 335 (2012) (symposium editor).

The Birth of Legal Aid: Gender Ideologies, Women, and the Bar in New York City, 1863-1910, 28 Law and History Review 931 (2010).

‘If You Become His Second Wife, You are a Fool’: Shifting Paradigms of the Roles, Perceptions, and Working Conditions of Legal Secretaries in Large Law Firms, 52 Studies in Law, Politics, and Society 169 (2010).

Not Our Mother's Law School?: A Third-Wave Feminist Study of Women's Experiences in Law School, 39 University of Baltimore Law Forum 124 (2008) (symposium) (with Kelly Hradsky, Kristen Jeschke, LaVonne Meyer & Jill Roberts).

Weathering the Storm Together (Torn Apart by Race, Gender, and Class), 20 National Women’s Studies Association Journal 163 (2008).

The Ladies’ Health Protective Association: Lay Lawyers and Urban Cause Lawyering in Fin-deSiècle New York, 41 Akron Law Review 701 (2008) (symposium).

Law in the Time of Cholera: State Power and Quarantines Past and Future, 80 Temple Law Review 53 (2007).

Law and the Fabric of the Everyday: Settlement Houses, Sociological Jurisprudence, and the Gendering of Urban Legal Culture, 15 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 235 (2005).

Engendering Legal History, 30 Law and Social Inquiry 823 (2005).

A Journal of One’s Own? Beginning the Project of Historicizing the Development of Women’s Law Journals, 12 Columbia Journal of Gender and Law 430 (2003).

A Reevaluation of the New York Court of Appeals: the Home, the Market, and Labor, 1885- 1905, 27 Law and Social Inquiry 489 (2002).

Book Chapters

Inventing Legal Aid: Women and Lay Lawyering, in Then & Now: Stories of Law and Progress (Lori Andrews & Sarah Harding eds., 2013).

Women's Legal History, in A Companion to American Legal History (S. Hadden & A. Brophy eds., 2013).

Legal Aid, Women Lay Lawyers, and the Rewriting of History, 1863-1930, in Feminist Legal History: Essays on Women and Law (T. Thomas & T. Boisseau eds., 2011).

Gender and the Rise of the Welfare State in Fin-de-Siècle New York City: The Case of Tenement Regulation, in The Legal Tender of Gender: Welfare in Comparative Perspective (Mimi Abramovitz & Shelley Gavigan, eds., 2010).

Notes from the Margins: Florence Kelley and the Making of Sociological Jurisprudence, in Transformations in American Legal History, II: Law, Ideology, and Methods (Daniel Hamilton & Alfred Brophy, eds., 2010).

Book Reviews

Legal History and the Politics of Inclusion, 26 Journal of Women’s History 155 (2014) (reviewing Barbara Young Welke, Law and the Borders of Belonging in the Long Nineteenth Century United States (2010), Kenneth W. Mack, Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer (2011), Jill Norgren, Rebels at the Bar: The Fascinating, Forgotten Stories of America’s First Women Lawyers (2013) and Serena Mayeri, Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law and the Civil Rights Revolution (2011)).

Book Review, 86 Social Service Review 182 (2012) (reviewing Patricia Susan Hart, A Home for Every Child: The Washington Children’s Home Society in the Progressive Era (2010)).

Race, Gender, and Feminist Legal Advocacy During the Long Civil Rights Movement, Jotwell (November 26, 2012) (reviewing Serena Mayeri, Reasoning from Race: Feminism, Law, and the Civil Rights Revolution (2011)).

Search Professor Batlan's publications on works.bepress.com.