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Hannah Brenner Johnson

Hannah Brenner Johnson

Vice Dean for Academic Affairs
Professor of Law

(619) 525-1413
225 Cedar Street, 2nd Floor
Dean's Office
Vice Dean's Office


Hannah Brenner Johnson is a Professor of Law at California Western School of Law, where she has taught since 2016. She served as the Vice Dean for Academic Affairs from 2019-2022 and has recently returned to this position after a research sabbatical. 

Dean Brenner Johnson is a leading scholar on law and gender. She studies institutions and systems (i.e., colleges/universities, prisons, the legal profession, and the courts) and the disparate power dynamics that often exist within.

Specifically, her research focuses on the perpetration of sexual violence and the related reporting, investigation, and adjudication in closed and quasi-closed institutional settings. Her work in this space is informed by her experience as a co-principal investigator on a National Science Foundation grant, Using an Ecological Framework to Examine Reporting of Abuse During Incarceration, which explored the reporting of sexual violence by women in carceral settings.

Dean Brenner Johnson is a recognized expert on issues of inequality in the legal profession. Her early work in this area empirically considered how the media portrays nominees to the United States Supreme Court through a gendered lens. Her co-authored article that emerged from this research, “Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession's Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees," was selected as a winner of the 2012 AALS New Voices in Gender paper competition. Her subsequent work calls for innovative, systemic strategies to address the rampant inequality that continues to plague women lawyers.

More recently, she has been engaged in research surrounding the stories of women who were shortlisted but never selected to the United States Supreme Court. Her co-authored book on this subject, Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court, was first published by New York University Press in 2020 and came out in paperback in 2022. The book has received high praise from scholars and practitioners alike. Named 2020 Exemplary Legal Writing by the Green Bag Almanac, the book was described by the Library Journal as “An excellent contribution...and essential for anyone who values diversity.”

Dean Brenner Johnson is also the co-author of the casebook Gender, Power, Law & Leadership (West Academic 2019). The book originates in a seminar she designed over a decade ago and continues to teach at California Western. The book's second edition, bearing a new title—Leadership, Law, and Pipelines to Power—is forthcoming in Fall 2023.

Her work has been cited by the Delaware Supreme Court, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in briefs before the United States Circuit Courts, by numerous scholars in law and other disciplines, as well as in popular media like CNN, Forbes, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Ms. Magazine, Los Angeles Times, and the Detroit Free Press.

Dean Brenner Johnson teaches across the law school curriculum, and her courses intersect with her research interests: Torts I, Gender, Power, Law & Leadership, and the Clinical Externship Seminar. She has previously taught undergraduate courses in Political Science and Women’s Studies departments.

Before coming to California Western in 2016, Professor Brenner Johnson was on the faculty at Michigan State University College of Law, where she served as director of externship programs and co-director of the Frank J. Kelley Institute of Ethics and the Legal Profession. At Michigan State, she was also a core faculty member of the Center for Gender in the Global Context and a member of the Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. Professor Brenner Johnson also served as the first executive director of the Center for Women in Law at the University of Texas School of Law.

  • JD, University of Iowa College of Law
  • BA, University of Iowa
  • Torts I
  • Gender Power Law & Leadership
  • Clinical Externship Seminar

Visit Dean Brenner Johnson's SSRN Author Page.

Law Review Publications

  • Kathleen Darcy & Hannah Brenner Johnson, Prison Rape: An Endless Epidemic? 55 Memphis Law Review XX (forthcoming, 2024).
  • Hannah Brenner Johnson, Standing in Between Sexual Violence Victims and Access to Justice: The Limits of Title IX, 73 Oklahoma Law Review 15 (2020) (invited symposium submission).
  • Hannah Brenner, A Title IX Conundrum: Are Campus Visitors Protected From Sexual Assault?, 104 Iowa L. Rev. 101 (2018).
  • Hannah Brenner & Kathleen Darcy, Toward a Civilized System of Justice: Reconceptualizing the Response to Sexual Violence in Higher Education, 102 Cornell L. Rev. Online 127 (2017).
  • Hannah Brenner & Renee Knake, Shortlisted, 24 UCLA Women's L.J. 67 (2017).
  • Hannah Brenner, Kathleen Darcy & Sheryl Kubiak, Occupational Hazards and Conditions of Confinement in the Closed Institutional Systems of the Military and Detention, 44 Pepp. L. Rev. 881 (2017).
  • Hannah Brenner, Kathleen Darcy, Gina Fedock & Sheryl Kubiak, Bars to Justice: The Impact of Rape Myths on Women in Prison, 17 Geo. J. Gender & L. 521 (2016).
  • Hannah Brenner, Expanding the Pathways to Gender Equality in the Legal Profession, 17 Legal Ethics 261 (2014).
  • Hannah Brenner, Beyond Seduction: Lessons Learned About Rape, Politics, and Power From Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Moshe Katsav, 20 Mich. J. Gender & L. 225 (2013).
  • Hannah Brenner, Transcending the Criminal Law's "One Size Fits All" Response to Domestic Violence, 19 Wm. & Mary J. Women & L. 301 (2013).
  • Hannah Brenner & Renee Knake, Rethinking Gender Equality in the Legal Profession's Pipeline to Power: A Study on Media Coverage of Supreme Court Nominees (Phase I, The Introduction Week) 84 Temp. L. Rev. 325 (2012).


  • Hannah Brenner Johnson and Renee Knake Jefferson, Leadership, Law, and Pipelines to Power (West Academic 2023).
  • Hannah Brenner Johnson & Renee Knake Jefferson, Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court (NYU Press 2022)
  • Hannah Brenner Johnson & Renee Knake Jefferson, Shortlisted: Women in the Shadows of the Supreme Court (NYU Press 2020)
  • Hannah Brenner & Renee Knake, Gender, Power, Law & Leadership (West Academic 2019) eds.) 

Book Chapters

  • Hannah Brenner Johnson, Shortlisted and Selected: The Path of Minority Women to the United States Supreme Court, in RESEARCH HANDBOOK ON GENDER AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION (Bourne ed., forthcoming 2024).
  • Hannah Brenner Johnson, McCarty v. Pheasant Run Rewritten, in Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Torts Opinions (Chamallas & Finley, eds.) (Cambridge University Press 2021).
  • Hannah Brenner Johnson, Incorporating Feminist Perspectives Throughout Law School Curriculum, in Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Property Opinions (Marty-Nelson & Rodriguez-Dob, eds.) (Cambridge University Press 2021).

Other Publications

  • April M. Zeoli, Rebecca Malinski, Hannah Brenner, The Intersection of Firearms and Intimate Partner Homicide in 15 Nations, Trauma, Violence, & Abuse (2017).
  • Sheryl Pimlott Kubiak, Hannah Brenner, Deborah Bybee, et al, Sexual Misconduct in Prison: What Factors Affect Whether Incarcerated Women Will Report Abuses Committed by Prison Staff?, 41 Law Hum Behav. 361 (2017).
  • Sheryl Pimlott Kubiak, Hannah Brenner, Deborah Bybee, Rebecca Campbell & Gina Fedock, Reporting Sexual Victimization During Incarceration: Using Ecological Theory as a Framework to Inform and Guide Future Research, 17 Trauma, Violence, and Abuse (2016) (published in advance online,
  • April Zeoli, Alexis Norris & Hannah Brenner, A Summary and Analysis of Warrantless Arrest Statutes for Domestic Violence in the United States, 26 J. Interpersonal Violence 2811 (2011).
  • Hannah Brenner, Film Reviews: Courting Justice, 6 Yale J. Int'l Aff. 118 (2011).