Richard H. Sander

Jesse Dukeminier Professorship in Law

  • B.A. Harvard, 1978
  • M.A. Economics, Northwestern, 1985
  • J.D. Northwestern, 1988
  • Ph.D. Economics, Northwestern, 1990
  • UCLA Faculty Since 1989

Richard Sander has been working on questions of social and economic inequality for nearly all of his career.  He was born in Washington, D.C., but spent most of his childhood in small towns in northwest Indiana.  After earning a B.A. in Social Studies at Harvard, Sander in 1978 joined the federal Vista program and worked for a small neighborhood housing group on Chicago's south side.  While organizing tenant unions and building receiverships, he was deeply impressed with the work of the South Shore Bank, an experimental, community-development bank owned by churches and foundations.  Sander secured funding from three federal agencies and, with the Woodstock Institute, completed the first detailed study of the bank.  South Shore Bank was widely imitated as an instrument for community revitalization in other urban areas over the next two decades.

Sander attended graduate school at Northwestern University from 1983 to 1988, earning degrees in law (J.D., 1988) and economics (M.A. 1985, Ph.D., 1990). In his law review comment and dissertation, Sander sought to understand why fair housing laws had seemingly produced widespread integration in some American metropolitan areas, but very little integration in most.  During much of this period, Sander served on the board of the Rogers Park Tenants Committee, and worked on the election effort and subsequent transition team of Harold Washington, Chicago’s first black mayor.

In 1989, Sander joined the faculty of the UCLA School of Law. During this period, he continued his work on housing segregation, but also pursued two new interests:  the reasons behind the American legal profession’s explosive growth since the mid-1960s, and the structure and effects of law school admissions policies.  With Kris Knaplund, he published in 1995 the first comparative evaluation of academic support programs used in legal education.  After California voters approved Propostion 209 in 1996 – banning the use of race in various government programs, including admissions at the University of California – Sander successfully argued for the adoption of class-based preferences in the law school’s admissions, and published a study on the results of this experiment in 1997.

During the 1990s, Sander was involved in several Los Angeles civic initiatives.  He served as President of the Fair Housing Congress of Southern California from 1984 to 1996; founded the Fair Housing Institute in 1996, and helped the City of Los Angeles design and implement in 1997 what was, at the time, the nation's most ambitious living wage law.  Sander also persuaded regional authorities to develop outreach programs that sharply increased local usage of the Earned Income Tax Credit, generating tens of millions of dollars annually for LA's poorest working families.

Sander was one of seven UCLA faculty members and staff who launched the Program in Public Interest Law and Policy, which created a distinct curriculum aimed at public interest students.  From 1998 to 2004, Sander helped to steer the "After the JD" study, the first national panel study of law school graduates.  In 1998-99, Sander and others at the School of Law launched the Empirical Research Group (ERG), an entity designed to help faculty members undertake ambitious empirical projects and introduce more quantitative and methodological sophistication into their policy-related work. 

In 2004, Sander published a comprehensive study of affirmative action in American law schools, focusing particularly on the ways in which large preferences imposed unexpected but substantial costs on their intended beneficiaries.

Sander teaches courses in property, quantitative methods, urban housing, and policy analysis.  He is married to astrophysicist Fiona Harrison, and has a son, Robert.  He lives in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles.

New article by Richard Sander and Abraham Wyner, Studies Fail to Support Claims of New California Ethnic Studies Requirement, Tablet, March 28, 2022.


  • Books
    • Moving Toward Integration: The Past and Future of Fair Housing (with Yana Kucheva and Jonathan Zasloff). Harvard University Press (2018). Amazon
    • Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It (with Stuart Taylor, Jr.). Basic Books (2012).
    • After the JD: First Results of a National Study of Legal Careers (with Ronit Dinovitzer, Bryant Garth, Joyce Sterling and Gita Wilder). American Bar Foundation (2004).
  • Articles And Chapters
    • Fifteen Questions About Prop. 16 and Prop. 209, University of Chicago Law Review Online (2020). Full Text
    • A Brief Comment on the Symposium Articles (with Yana Kucheva), 70 Case Western Reserve Law Review 777 (2020).
    • Why We Wrote Moving Toward Integration (with Yana Kucheva), 70 Case Western Reserve Law Review 667 (2020).
    • Are Law Schools Engines of Inequality?, 48 Journal of Law and Education 243 (2019).
    • Replication of Mismatch Research: Ayres, Brooks, and Ho, 58 International Review of Law and Economics 75 (June 2019).
    • The Opportunity and the Danger of the New Urban Migration, 53 University of Richmond Law Review 871 (2019).
    • Start with the Micro, Move to the Macro, in The Dream Revisited: Contemporary Debates About Housing, Segregation, and Opportunity, 112 (Columbia University Press, 2019).
    • The Policy Lessons of Partial Desegregation, 83 University of Chicago Law Review Online 271 (2017). Full Text
    • Structure Versus Ethnic Dimensions of Housing Segregation (with Yana Kucheva), 10 Journal of Urban Affairs (2017).
    • Mismatch and Bar Passage: A School-Specific Analysis, UCLA School of Law, Public Law & Legal Theory Research Paper Series No. 17-40 (Oct. 2017). Full Text
    • College Major Peer Effects and Attrition from the Sciences (with Marc Luppino), 4 IZA Journal of Labor Economics (2015).
    • A Conversation on the Nature, Effects, and Future of Affirmative Action in Higher Education Admissions (with Peter Arcidiacono, Thomas Espenshade, and Stacy Hawkins), 17 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 683 (2015). Full Text
    • The Second Way: A Comment on Hawkins and a Cautionary Note, 17 University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law 911 (2015). Full Text
    • The Misunderstood Consequences of Shelley v. Kraemer (with Yana Kucheva), 48 Social Science Research 212 (2014).
    • Thinking Hard About "Race-Neutral" Admissions (with Aaron Danielson), 47 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 967 (2014). Full Text
    • Mismatch and the Empirical Scholars Brief, 48 Valparaiso University Law Review 555 (2014). Full Text
    • The Stylized Critique of Mismatch, 92 Texas Law Review 1637 (2014).
    • Affirmative Action Bans and the "Chilling Effect" (with Kate L. Antonovics), 15 American Law & Economics Review 252 (2013).
    • The Secret of My Success: How Status, Eliteness, and School Performance Shape Legal Careers (with Jane Bambauer), 2012 Journal of Empirical Legal Studies 893-930 (2012).
    • Why Strict Scrutiny Requires Transparency: The Practical Effects of Bakke, Gratz, and Grutter, Chapter 15 in New Directions in Judicial Politics (edited by Kevin T. McGuire, Taylor & Francis, 2012). Full Text
    • Revisiting Law School Mismatch: A Comment on Barnes (2007, 2011) (with Doug Williams, Marc Luppino and Roger Bolus), 105 (813) Northwestern University Law Review (2011).
    • Class in American Legal Education, 88 Denver University Law Review 631 (2011).
    • Listening to the Debate on Reforming Law School Admissions Preferences, 88 Denver University Law Review 889 (2011).
    • The Racial Paradox of the Corporate Law Firm, 84 North Carolina Law Review 1755-1822 (2006). Full Text
    • Mismeasuring the Mismatch: A Response to Ho, 114 Yale Law Journal 2005 (2005). Response to article by Daniel E. Ho in this issue, p. 1997.
    • A Reply to Critics, 57 Stanford Law Review 163 (2005). Response to articles by Ian Ayres and others in this issue, p. 1807, 1855, 1899, 1915.
    • Santa Monica’s Minimum Wage: Assessing the Living Wage Movement’s New Frontier (with E. Douglass Williams), Economic Development Quarterly (2004).
    • A Systemic Analysis of Affirmative Action in American Law Schools, 57 Stanford Law Review 367-483 (2004).
    • The Happy Charade: An Empirical Examination of the Third Year of Law School (with G. Mitu Gulati and Bob Sockloskie), 51 Journal of Legal Education 235-66 (2001). Reprinted (with extended footnotes) as Chapter 4 in NYU Selected Essays on Labor and Employment Law, Vol. 2 (edited by Sherwyn & Yelnosky, Kluwer Law International, 2003).
    • Housing Segregation and Housing Integration: The Diverging Paths of Urban America, 52 Miami Law Review 977-1010 (1998).
    • Experimenting with Class-Based Affirmative Action, 47 Journal of Legal Education 472-503 (1997). Full Text
    • The Art and Science of Academic Support (with Kristine S. Knaplund), 45 Journal of Legal Education 157-234 (1995).
    • The “Infusion” Method at UCLA: Teaching Ethics Pervasively (with Carrie Menkel-Meadow), 58 Law & Contemporary Problems 129-38 (1995).
    • The Prospects for “Putting America to Work” in the Inner City (with E. Douglass Williams), 81 Georgetown Law Journal 2003-72 (1993).
    • Elevating the Debate on Lawyers and Economic Growth, Law & Social Inquiry 659 (1992).
    • Why Are There so Many Lawyers? Perspectives on a Turbulent Market (with E. Douglass Williams), 14 Law & Social Inquiry 431-79 (1989).
    • Individual Rights and Demographic Realities: The Problem of Fair Housing, 82 Northwestern University Law Review 874-939 (1988).
  • Reports
    • Admissions Practices at Public Universities, A Draft Report (September 10, 2015). Full Text
    • (with E. Douglass Williams), in An Empirical Analysis of the Proposed Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance (Commissioned and published by the City of Los Angeles, January 1997).
    • Fair Housing in Los Angeles County: An Assessment of Progress and Challenges, 1970-1995 (Commissioned by the City and County of Los Angeles, 1996).
    • Evaluation of the Illinois Neighborhood Development Corporation (Woodstock Institute, 1982).
  • Works-In-Progress
    • Black Pioneers, Intermetropolitan Movers, and Housing Desegregation (with Yana Kucheva). Full Text