Claudia L. Peña

Lecturer in Law

  • B.A. Mills College, 2003
  • J.D. UCLA, 2008

Claudia Peña teaches Disability Rights Law and Re-envisioning the Lawyer’s Role: Trauma Informed Lawyering and Restorative/Transformative Justice and is a practitioner of transformative justice. Her research interests include civil, human, and disability rights, race and gender, as well as social movements, decarceration, and trauma + resilience-informed lawyering. Peña serves as founding  Co-Director of the Center for Justice at UCLA which works to dismantle the prison industrial complex and racialized mass incarceration by expanding higher education, facilitating creative spaces, transformative practices, and movement building on university campuses, in system-impacted communities and correctional facilities. She teaches classes with the Prison Education Program where UCLA students learn from, and alongside, participants who are currently and formerly incarcerated. She also serves as Executive Director of For Freedoms, a national arts organization working to model and inspire civic engagement.

Peña is a co-founder of Repair, an organization based in Los Angeles that considers how systems of oppression and exploitation, such as racism or transphobia, make people sick and disable communities. She conducts CLE and other trainings for non-profits, government agencies, law schools and private firms addressing how advocates are impacted by both primary and secondary trauma, and how to approach the trauma experienced by their clients. She has testified at Senate hearings with regard to sex trafficking and previously directed the California Civil Rights Coalition (CCRC) for 5 years where she focused on equal opportunity, voting rights and progressive taxation. Prior to CCRC, Peña was the Constance Baker Motley Fellow at the Equal Justice Society, a national civil rights organization in the SF Bay Area working to overturn the 'intent doctrine.' She also teaches in the Gender Studies Department at UCLA.

Peña earned her B.A. at Mills College in Sociology and her J.D. at UCLA School of Law where she specialized in Critical Race Studies and the Epstein Program in Public Interest Law and Policy. Her work has been published in the California Lawyer, Non-Profit Quarterly, and Georgetown Journal of Modern Critical Race Perspectives, and she most recently published “Trauma Abounds: A Case for Trauma Informed Lawyering" in the UCLA Women’s Law Journal.