Sara Rankin

Professor of Lawyering Skills
Curriculum Vitae


Sullivan Hall 461
(206) 398-4393


J.D., New York University
M.Ed., Harvard Graduate School of Education


Legal Writing
Homeless Rights Advocacy


Professor Rankin currently teaches lawyering skills, including applied legal analysis, legal research and writing, general principles of trial and appellate procedure and advocacy, and homeless rights advocacy. She is proud to serve as Co-President of the Society of American Law Teachers (SALT). She is also the founder and Director of the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project (HRAP) at the Korematsu Center.

Through HRAP, Professor Rankin oversees various projects to advance the civil, constitutional, and human rights of visibly poor people. HRAP also builds partnerships across a broad range of disciplines with community members, advocates, academic institutions, and other stakeholders. Each year, HRAP releases a series of new reports that continue the group's groundbreaking research into laws that unfairly target the visibly poor. HRAP's reports examine the impacts of increasingly popular laws and policies that criminalize homelessness, such as prohibitions on sitting, standing and sleeping in public; living in vehicles; sweeps of tent encampments; pet ownership standards; and barriers to access at emergency shelters. HRAP's research not only identifies problematic laws and policies, but also offers effective, legally sound alternatives. HRAP's award-winning work has been praised by legal aid organizations, services providers, non-profits, city officials, and street activist organizations for its impact.

Professor Rankin has nearly a decade of experience in private practice at major law firms such as Kirkland & Ellis, LLP and Sidley Austin, LLP, where she specialized in complex litigation. She also gained an in-house perspective, serving as assistant general counsel for a national accounting firm.

Prior to her legal career, Professor Rankin received her M.Ed. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Currently, Professor Rankin continues to support innovation in legal education as a member of various boards and committees for entities such as the Legal Writing Institute (LWI). Professor Rankin's teaching and scholarship interests include the social and political aspects of legal education reform, lawyering skills, legal and policy issues relating to people experiencing homelessness, and policy advocacy.


The Influence of Exile, 76 MD. L. REV. 1 (2016) (reviewed in Jotwell, October 26, 2016; response piece from Professor Bill Quigley, The Influence of Exile: Three Stories, 76 Md. L. Rev. 47 (2017)).

A Homeless Bill of Rights (Revolution), 45 SETON HALL L. REV. 383 (2015).

Invidious Deliberation: The Problem of Congressional Bias in Federal Hate Crime Legislation, 66 RUTGERS L. REV. 563 (2014).


THE NEW 1L: TEACHING FIRST- YEAR STUDENTS TO BE LAWYERS THROUGH ACTUAL PRACTICE (Carolina Academic Press, April 2015) (co-editor and contributing author). Other contributors include Erwin Chemerinsky (Irvine), Michael Wishnie (Yale), Michael Millemann (Maryland), Stephen Schwinn (John Marshall), Nantiya Ruan (Denver).

Homeless Rights Advocacy Project Report Series (editor of annual reports). Available at

Homeless Bills of Rights: An Advocate's Guide (co-authored report with the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty) (released April 2014).

The Fully Formed Lawyer: Why Law Schools Should Require Public Service to Better Prepare Students for Private Practice, 17 CHAPMAN L. REV. 17 (2013) (invited symposium submission).

We Have a Dream: Integrating Skills Courses in the First Year of Law School (and Beyond), 17 CHAPMAN L. REV. 89 (2013) (with others) (invited symposium submission).

Tired of Talking: A Call for Clear Strategies for Legal Education Reform- Moving Beyond the Discussion of Good Ideas to the Real Transformation of Law Schools, 10 SEATTLE J. SOC. JUST. 11 (2011)

Rethinking Neutrality: Race and ADR, DISPUTE RES. J. 40 (August 1999).


Criminalizing Visual Poverty-the Effects of Making Homelessness a Crime, Jurist (November 21, 2016).

Should Homelessness Be a Crime? Our State Grapples with Its Answer, firesteel (August 27, 2004).

Recent Activity

In the News

Before camps are cleared, a Seattle team coaxes homeless toward shelter

November 30, 2017 | The Seattle Times

Low-barrier shelters are a crucial, and missing, element of Seattle's encampment removal strategy, says Professor Sara Rankin.

Court: Homeless have privacy rights

October 10, 2017 | The Columbian

HRAP named in ACLU's amicus brief addressing the constitutionality of entering and searching someone’s makeshift shelter

Outside City Hall: Ticketing of RVs not the solution to homeless woes, O’Brien has a plan forward

October 04, 2017 | Madison Park Times

Professor Sara Rankin comments on Seattle's response to the growing number of people who spend the night in their vehicles on city streets.

Another Dishonest Take from the Seattle Times Editorial Board on Homelessness

August 21, 2017 | The Stranger

Professor Sara Rankin offers insights on resistance to interim homelessness solutions.

NIMBYs Already Freaking Out Over Proposal to Help People Living in Cars

August 10, 2017 | The Stranger

Professor Sara Rankin explains how devastating tickets can be for poor and homeless people.

Debate: What if Seattle police stopped ticketing people who live in their cars?

August 09, 2017 | KUOW

Professor Sara Rankin defends merits of Seattle's proposed vehicle residency ordinance.

Vehicle Residency and Homelessness

June 21, 2017 | KUOW

Professor Sara Rankin spoke about laws criminalizing homelessness on The Record.

A new place for Seattle's homeless: In my backyard

May 11, 2017 | Crosscut

Professor Sara Rankin says backyard homes eliminate the problem of social distance from homelessness.

Murray opening Emergency Operations Center to combat homelessness in city

February 22, 2017 | KOMO News

Professor Sara Rankin says the mayor's action on homelessness is too little, too late. (Click "more video.")

Minneapolis needs its own Homeless Bill of Rights

December 22, 2016 | Twin Cities Daily Planet

An op-ed cites Professor Sara Rankin's 2015 Homeless Bill of Rights research.