Michigan Law Professor Leah Litman, ’10, has won an Early Career Scholars Medal from the American Law Institute (ALI).

The award recognizes outstanding law professors whose work is relevant to public policy and has the potential to influence improvements in the law. Two medalists are selected every other year. Professor Crystal S. Yang of Harvard Law School is this year’s other recipient. The awards will be presented at The American Law Institute’s 2024 Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

“I am thrilled, on behalf of ALI, to award the Early Career Scholars Medal to these extraordinary professors,” said ALI Director Designate Judge Diane P. Wood of the US Court of Appeals for Seventh Circuit, who also serves as the chair of ALI’s Early Career Scholars Medal Selection Committee. 

“Leah and Crystal have produced notable pieces of legal scholarship that are already having an impact in the law. Leah’s work in areas such as federal habeas corpus law is thought-provoking, and I am incredibly impressed by her depth of knowledge and analysis of Supreme Court jurisprudence. Crystal’s empirically sophisticated research and writing in the important and timely area of criminal justice reform, in which she also has real-world experience, has the potential to improve the law and lives of real people.”

Litman teaches and writes on constitutional law, federal courts, and federal post-conviction review. Her research examines unidentified and implicit values that structure the legal system, the federal courts, and the legal profession.

“Leah is an exceptional legal scholar and is already among the most influential voices in the country on US constitutional law,” said Mark D. West, David A. Breach Dean of Law at Michigan Law. “Most of her work is in the fields of constitutional law; federal courts; criminal procedure, especially habeas; and reproductive rights and justice. When taken together, I believe that they establish her as one of the most prolific and interesting scholars of her generation.”

Litman’s recent work has appeared or will appear in several prominent law reviews and news outlets. In addition, she is one of the co-hosts and creators of Strict Scrutiny, a Crooked Media podcast about the US Supreme Court, and a co-creator, together with Emily Prifogle, of Women Also Know Law, a tool to promote the work of women and nonbinary academics.

The ALI honor is the third major award for Litman in recent weeks. The American Constitution Society named her this year’s winner of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Scholar Award, and Strict Scrutiny won an Ambie Award as Best Politics or Opinion Podcast.

In addition to teaching, Litman maintains an active pro bono practice. She was part of the litigation team in Garcia v. United States, one of the successful challenges to the rescission of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, for which the team was recognized as California Lawyers of the Year. In the US Supreme Court, she was on the merits briefs in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. And working with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, she argued and won a case in the Michigan Supreme Court last year.

The American Law Institute produces scholarly work to clarify, modernize, and improve the law. The ALI drafts, discusses, revises, and publishes Restatements of the Law, Model Codes, and Principles of Law that are used in the courts and legislatures, as well as in legal scholarship and education.