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Scott Cummings

University of California Los Angeles, School of Law


Scott Cummings is Robert Henigson Professor of Legal Ethics and Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law, where he teaches and writes about the legal profession, public interest law, law and social movements, and community economic development. He is the faculty director of Legal Ethics and the Profession (LEAP), a program promoting research and programming on the challenges facing the contemporary legal profession. He is also a long-time member of the UCLA David J. Epstein Program in  Public  Interest  Law  and  Policy,  a  specialization  training  students  to  become  public interest lawyers.
Professor Cummings’s research is focused on economic development, law and social movements, and the legal profession. His most recent book, Blue and Green: The Drive for Justice at America’s Port (MIT University Press, 2018), examines the role of lawyers in a campaign by the labor and environmental movements to transform the trucking industry at the port of Los Angeles. An Equal Place: Lawyers in the Struggle for Los Angeles, a sweeping study of how lawyers have helped to challenge inequality in one of America’s most unequal cities, is scheduled for publication by Oxford University Press in 2020.

Professor Cummings is also the co-author of the first public interest law textbook, Public Interest Lawyering: A Contemporary Perspective (with Alan Chen) (Wolters Kluwer, 2012), and co-editor of a leading legal profession casebook, Legal Ethics (with Deborah Rhode, David Luban, and Nora Engstrom) (7th ed. Foundation Press, 2016). He also edited The Paradox of Professionalism: Lawyers and the Possibility of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2011). Professor Cummings is currently Co-Principal Investigator of a National Science Foundation funded study (with Richard Abel and Catherine Albiston), which examines the factors causing law students to enter and persevere in public interest careers. His key articles include: “The Social Movement Turn in Law,” Law & Social Inquiry (2018); “The Puzzle of Social Movements in American Legal Theory,” 64 UCLA Law Review 1554 (2017); “Preemptive Strike: Law in the Campaign for Clean Trucks,” 4 UC Irvine Law Review 939 (2014); “Privatizing Public Interest Law,” 25 Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 1 (2012); “The Internationalization of Public Interest Law,” 57 Duke Law Journal 891 (2008); “The Politics of Pro Bono,” 52 UCLA Law Review 1 (2004); and “Community Economic Development as Progressive Politics: Toward a Grassroots Movement for Economic Justice,” 54 Stanford Law Review 399 (2001).

Before joining the UCLA faculty in 2002, Professor Cummings clerked for Judge A. Wallace Tashima on the Ninth Circuit, and James Moran  on  the  district  court  in  Chicago.  He  began  his  legal career  in  Los  Angeles  building  economic  opportunity  in  low-income communities.  In 1998, after clerking in Chicago, he was awarded a Skadden Fellowship to work in the Community Development Project at Public Counsel in Los Angeles, where he provided transactional legal assistance to nonprofit organizations and small businesses engaged in community revitalization efforts. He earned a B.A. from the University of California-Berkely and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.