Michele R. Pistone

Professor of Law


Michele Pistone is a professor of law, is the founder and faculty director for the Strategic Initiative for Migrants + Refugees and is the founder and faculty director for VIISTA. She established the Law School’s in-house Clinical Program, which she built and directed for nine years and served as director of the Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES) from 1999-2019. Pistone has also taught at Georgetown University Law Center, twice as a Visiting Professor at American University Washington College of Law and as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Malta.

Pistone is an adjunct fellow with the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation, where she co-authored "Disrupting Law School: How Disruptive Innovation Will Revolutionize the Legal World." Founded by Harvard Business School Professor Christensen, the think tank applies Professor Christensen’s theory of disruptive innovation to education and health care. She is also a fellow at the Institute for the Advancement of American Legal System’s Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers. ETL partners with law schools seeking to align legal education with the needs of the evolving profession.

Pistone is a regular speaker on both refugee and immigration law, legal technology and legal education. Her research focuses on technological innovations in the practice of law and in legal education, asylum and refugee law, immigration law, migration, clinical education, and Catholic social thought. She is co-author of a groundbreaking book entitled Stepping Out of the Brain Drain: Applying Catholic Social Teaching in a New Era of Migration (Lexington Books 2007). She has also written numerous articles and book chapters.

Pistone is a leader in advocating for the incorporation of online technologies and learning sciences in law school teaching. She founded LegalED, an online community of legal scholars focused on enhancing legal education and learning. The website hosts hundreds of videos on law school teaching and also on legal topics. She is a regular speaker at conferences on these topics and has taught hundreds of legal scholars to use technology in their teaching. Pistone directed and produced an 11-video series for the Association of American Law Schools (AALS) and a series of videos on immigration law with FWD.us. She also hosted two Igniting Law teaching conferences at American University Washington College of Law, each of which brought together 35+ legal scholars from around the world to give TEDx-styled talks on topics related to law teaching. The teaching pedagogy series from those conferences is available on LegalEdWeb. Her TEDx on "The Future of Higher Education" has been viewed more than 12,000 times.

Pistone is the TEDxVillanovaU licensee and has organized three of these conferences on campus. She, on occasion, for Best Practices in Legal EducationLegal Technology Blog (part of the Law Professor Blogs Network) and the Christensen Institute.

Prior to joining the Villanova Law faculty in 1999, Pistone was a teaching fellow in the asylum clinic (Center for Applied Legal Studies) at Georgetown University Law Center. She received her BS, cum laude, from New York University, her JD, cum laude, from St. John's University School of Law and her LLM from the Georgetown University Law Center. At St. John's, she was a member of the St. John's Law Review. Before joining Villanova Law, she was an associate in the corporate and telecommunications departments at Willkie Farr & Gallagher in New York City and Washington, DC and the legal director of Human Rights First in Washington, DC, where she emerged as a leading advocate for justice in the immigration law system.


Practice Experience

  • Corporate Associate, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, NY Office, 1989-1991
  • Telecommunications Associate, Willkie Farr & Gallagher, DC Office, 1991-1997
  • Asylum, Refugee and Immigration Law Clinical Professor, 1997-2019

Office: Rm 324, John F. Scarpa Hall
Phone: 610-519-5286
Fax: 610-519-5173


Courses and Seminars

  • Clinic for Asylum, Refugee and Emigrant Services (CARES)
  • Advanced Clinic 


  • Georgetown University Law Center, LLM
  • St. John's University School of Law, JD
  • New York University, BS