Brenner M. Fissell

Associate Professor of Law


Brenner M. Fissell is associate professor of law at Villanova Law. Fissell's research focuses on the political theory of criminal law, especially as it relates to the criminal law of local governments. A secondary research interest is military criminal law. Fissell's scholarship has appeared in general law reviews such as the Fordham Law Review, as well as peer-reviewed journals such as Legal Theory.

Fissell is co-editor of Criminal Law & Criminal Justice Books – the only journal devoted to publishing book reviews of recent monographs in criminal law – and co-convener (with Dean Michael Cahill & Prof. Justin Murray) of the NYC Criminal Law Colloquium (the Markelloquium!).

Fissell's primary practice experience is in military justice. He first entered the legal academy in 2018 from the U.S. Dept. of Defense, where he was appellate defense counsel at the Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions. In this capacity, he served as a consultant on legal strategy and appellate issues to the defense teams representing detainees charged with war crimes. Prior to that he served as a law clerk to Chief Judge Scott Stucky of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces—the nation's highest military court. Fissell remains active in reform efforts and pro bono consultation relating to the military justice system. He is general counsel and director of the National Institute for Military Justice, a learned society dedicated to the fair administration of justice in the armed forces and improved public understanding of military justice. Fissell continues to actively represent military service members in military and federal courts. 

Practice Experience

  • Of Counsel, Cave & Freeburg, A Global Military Law Practice (current)
  • Appellate Defense Counsel, Office of the Chief Defense Counsel, Guantanamo Bay Military Commissions, U.S. Dept. of Defense (2017-2018)
  • Associate, Paul Hastings LLP (2015-2017)
  • Law Clerk, Chief Judge Scott Stucky, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (2014-2015)
  • Law Clerk, Judge Jerome Farris, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2013-2014)

Office: Rm 233, John F. Scarpa Hall
Phone: 610-519-5825
Fax: 610-519-6837


Courses and Seminars

  • Military Law
  • National Security Law
  • State and Local Government
  • Torts


  • Georgetown University Law Center, JD (magna cum laude)
  • University of Cambridge, MPhil (Political Thought & Intellectual History, First Honors)
  • Georgetown University, BA (Government; summa cum laude