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, and community economic development. He is the faculty director of a new program, Legal Ethics and the Profession (LEAP), which promotes 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 is 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).
Professor Cummings 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.
After clerking for Judge A. Wallace Tashima on the Ninth Circuit, Professor Cummings joined the faculty at UCLA in 2002 to pursue research focused on law and social change, and access to justice. His law and social change scholarship has explored the opportunities for and challenges to mobilizing law in support of different movements, with major works including “Community Economic Development as Progressive Politics: Toward a Grassroots Movement for Economic Justice,” 54 Stanford Law Review 399 (2001); “Public Interest Litigation: Insights from Theory and Practice” (with Deborah Rhode), 36 Fordham Urban Law Journal 603 (2009); and “Lawyering for Marriage Equality” (with Douglas NeJaime), 57 UCLA Law Review 1235 (2010). On the access to justice side, his research has focused on the organization and practice of public interest law and pro bono, and the role of public interest lawyers in the contemporary legal profession. Key works in this area include: “The Politics of Pro Bono,” 52 UCLA Law Review 1 (2004); “The Internationalization of Public Interest Law,” 57 Duke Law Journal 891 (2008); and “Privatizing Public Interest Law, 25 Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics 1 (2012). He also edited The Paradox of Professionalism: Lawyers and the Possibility of Justice (Cambridge University Press, 2011).
Building upon this research, 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. He is also writing a book on the role of lawyers in the labor movement’s challenge to low-wage work in Los Angeles, under contract with Oxford University Press.