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Introducing California Western’s New Distinguished Professor in Residence

Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp

Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp is passionate about the field of international and comparative employment law.

A recognized scholar on the subject, who received the national 2019 Paul Miller Memorial Award for her published work, Bisom-Rapp was recently appointed California Western’s Distinguished Professor in Residence and will be teaching Torts II in the fall.

“I have long admired the way California Western stresses three pillars: best practices in teaching its students, engaged service to the community, and the creation of pathbreaking knowledge through scholarly inquiry,” said Bisom-Rapp. “The balance among these three guiding principles makes California Western a rich and exciting environment.”

Bisom-Rapp is a prolific writer on labor and employment law, particularly in the areas of age and gender discrimination, but also on the gig economy, rising job insecurity, and occupational safety and health. She is much in demand as a commentator in this field. Most recently she was quoted in an article published in Bloomberg's Daily Labor Report, on a Tenth Circuit decision approving sex-plus-age discrimination cases under Title VII.

“In ruling that older men and older women can bring ‘sex plus age’ discrimination cases, the Tenth Circuit became the first federal appeals court to approve this type of intersectional bias claim,” Bisom-Rapp noted. “Moreover, the court drew its reasoning from the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent landmark decision, Bostock v. Clayton County, which held that the federal ban on sex discrimination includes a prohibition on sexual orientation and gender identity discrimination.”

Bisom-Rapp has just published an essay on the implications of the Bostock decision in the Comparative Labor Law & Policy Journal.

After receiving her J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law in 1987, Bisom-Rapp joined Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in New York as a Labor and Employment Law Associate. While there, she represented employers in employment-related litigation such as employment discrimination and wrongful discharge cases. She also represented a plaintiff in a lengthy pro bono age discrimination case, kindling her interest in the challenges of an aging workforce in the U.S. and other countries.

“My experience in practice was so important to my teaching,” said Bisom-Rapp. “While in practice, I became fascinated by the way in which lawyers translate their client’s claims into stories and the potential of lawyers either to advance or undercut statutory and common law protections. This interest not only factors into the way I teach Torts and my Work Law electives, it was the basis of my doctoral dissertation.”

Bisom-Rapp went on after law practice to earn an LL.M. and a J.S.D. from Columbia University.

A member of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law faculty since 1996, Bisom-Rapp served as that law school’s Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Scholarship from 2016 to 2020 and has held the title Professor of Law since 2005. In 2020, the student body voted her Professor of the Year.

An elected member of the American Law Institute since 2007 and Chair Elect (2020) of the Association of American Law Schools, Section on Women in Legal Education, Bisom-Rapp serves on the academic advisory board of the Doctoral Research School in Labour, Development, and Innovation at the Marco Biagi Foundation, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy.

Bisom-Rapp’s latest book, Lifetime Disadvantage, Discrimination and the Gendered Workforce, (Cambridge University Press 2016) co-authored with Malcolm Sargeant, Middlesex University, London, has garnered favorable reviews and was released in paperback in 2018.

In her review of the book, published in the Employee Rights and Employment Policy Journal, Professor Nicole Porter wrote, “I … applaud the authors’ ambitious approach to exploring the disadvantages women experience in the workforce throughout their careers and the cumulative effects of those disadvantages over their lifetimes.”

In a post on PrawfsBlawg, Professor Orly Lobel said, “I highly recommend the book, and I loved its comparative lens.”

“Women are significantly more likely than men to fall into poverty during retirement,” said Bisom-Rapp. “The book illustrates how that problem unfolds over their working lives, and how law and policy at every stage falls short of enabling women to amass sufficient resources to guarantee a dignified retirement,” she added.

Bisom-Rapp is excited to be joining the California Western faculty, and to meeting her new students.

“An overarching passion in my life is my commitment to legal education and developing the next generation of legal professionals,” said Bisom-Rapp. “Our profession needs you.”

The California Western community welcomes Professor Susan Bisom-Rapp to the law school.

To learn more about Professor Bisom-Rapp’s scholarly papers, click here.