• Janis L. McDonald
  • Professor of Law
  • Co-Director, Cold Case Justice Initiative
  • Education
    • George Washington University
    • Hofstra University School of Law
    • Yale Law School
Janis L.  McDonald

Professor McDonald is a Professor of Law and the Co-Director of the Cold Case Justice Initiative (“CCJI”). The CCJI was established in early 2007 by Professor McDonald and Professor Paula C. Johnson to assist the families of those killed by acts of racial hatred and violence in the civil rights era of the 1950s and 1960s. Over fifty law students have volunteered to investigate long buried information that might help persuade the FBI, The U.S. Department of Justice or local law enforcement officials to prosecute these long neglected murders. She and Professor Johnson also co-teach a unique new interdisciplinary course, “Investigating and Reopening Civil Rights Era Murders,” with graduate students from the SUCOL and other graduate schools at S.U. The course received the 2008 Syracuse University Chancellor’s Award for Public Engagement and Scholarship in Action. Professor Johnson and McDonald work to help other law schools adopt the model of the CCJI to assist other families who seek justice.

Professor McDonald is editor and co-author of Employment Discrimination: Problems, Cases and Critical Perspectives, published by Pearson/Prentice Hall in 2006. Her current book, Love Is Not Colorblind: Raising a Black Child in a Not So Polite White World, is under submission. She is also working on another book, Henry Orne: Judge on the Underground Railroad or Slave Master in 1840 Maine? She is the co-author with Professor Kevin Maillard of The Anatomy of Grey: A Theory of Interracial Convergence,” recently published by the University of Minnesota Journal of Law & Inequality. Her article, Heroes Or Spoilers: The Role of the Media in the Trials of Unsolved Civil Rights Era Murders, was published by Ohio Northern University Law Review in the fall of 2008.

Before joining the law faculty, Professor McDonald was a member of the law firm of Hirschkop & Grad, P.C. in Alexandria Virginia where she litigated cases in the federal and local courts in the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Several of her cases established new sexual harassment and medical malpractice laws. She taught at Ohio Northern University College of Law and Yale Law School. She was a Ford Foundation Fellow in Public and International Law and wrote several articles on civil rights litigation and American legal history. Several federal courts have cited her civil rights article. Professor McDonald served as president of the National Conference of Women’s Bar Associations, a national organization representing more than 80,000 women attorneys and was one of the two founders of the Virginia Women Attorneys Association. She teaches Constitutional Law, Investigating and Reopening Civil Rights Era Murders, Criminal Law, Employment Discrimination and American Legal History. She also participates in the emerging field of Critical White Racial Studies.