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Michelle Madden Dempsey

Professor of Law
Harold Reuschlein Scholar Chair


Michelle Madden Dempsey joined Villanova in 2009 , after teaching at the University of Oxford, where she was a University Lecturer (CUF) in Law and Tutorial Fellow.  Professor Dempsey teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, feminist legal theory, and jurisprudence. She has served as Chair of the American Association of Law School’s Section on Scholarship and Section on Jurisprudence, and was elected to the American Law Institute in 2015.

Her book, Prosecuting Domestic Violence: A Philosophical Analysis, published by Oxford University Press, was awarded second prize in the UK’s Society of Legal Scholars Peter Birks Award for Outstanding Legal Scholarship. Her articles have been published in University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, Modern Law Review, Criminal Law & Philosophy, William & Mary Journal of Women & the Law, Theoretical Criminology, Transnational Law Review, Emory International Law Review, Social & Legal Studies, Criminal Law Review (UK), Law & Philosophy and American Criminal Law Review. 

Professor Dempsey received her D. Phil. (Ph.D.) from the University of Oxford, her LL.M. from the London School of Economics,  J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and her B.A. from the University of Illinois .  She is an editor of the multidisciplinary, international journal, Criminal Law & Philosophy and served as the co-director of the Criminal Law Theory Program at the Robina Institute for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Minnesota Law School from 2009-2016.

Following law school, she worked as a domestic violence prosecutor in the Champaign (Illinois) County State's Attorney's Office and later as a plaintiff's tort litigator in one of Chicago's premiere personal injury law firms. As a civil litigator, she obtained a record-setting jury verdict of $10.62 million in a medical malpractice trial and a $3.5 million jury verdict in a wrongful death case involving a shooting death by Chicago Police officers.  

She was a tutor in law at University College London and served as an expert consultant on domestic violence prosecutions to the Crown Prosecution Service of England and Wales prior to joining the Oxford Law faculty in 2005.  At Villanova, she teaches Criminal Law, Evidence, Jurisprudence, Feminist Legal Theory, and Sexuality & Law. In 2014, she co-founded the Villanova Law Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation.


Practice Experience

  • Champaign County State's Attorney's Office (Urbana, Illinois)
  • First Health Group Corp. (Downers Grove, Illinois)
  • Paul B. Episcope, Ltd. (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Joined the faculty in 2009
Professor Michelle Madden Dempsey

Office: Rm 335, John F. Scarpa Hall
Phone: 610-519-8011


Courses and Seminars

  • Advanced Issues in Criminal Law
  • Criminal Law
  • Evidence
  • Jurisprudence
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Sexuality and Law


University of Oxford, DPhil (PhD)

London School of Economics, LLM

University of Michigan, JD

University of Illinois, BA