Caroline Bettinger-López

Professor of Clinical Legal Education & Director, Human Rights Clinic

J.D. 2003, Columbia Law School
B.A. 1997, University of Michigan

Phone: 305-284-5923
Office: E256

Caroline Bettinger-López is a Professor of Clinical Legal Education and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law. She also serves as an Adjunct Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. Professor Bettinger-López recently completed a two-year term in the Obama Administration, where she served as the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, a senior advisor to Vice President Joe Biden, and a member of the White House Council on Women and Girls. At the White House, her responsibilities included co-chairing the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault, chairing the U.S. Government Inter-Agency Working Group on Violence Against Women, co-coordinating the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, and developing the cabinet-level North American Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls (whose inaugural meeting in October 2016 included the participation of all attorneys general and indigenous affairs cabinet members from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico).

Professor Bettinger-López’s scholarship, practice, and teaching concern international human rights law and policy advocacy, violence against women, gender and race discrimination, immigrants’ rights, and clinical legal education. She focuses on the implementation of human rights norms at the domestic level, principally in the United States and Latin America. Professor Bettinger-López regularly litigates and engages in other forms of advocacy before the Inter-American Human Rights system, the United Nations, federal and state courts, and legislative bodies.

Professor Bettinger-López is lead counsel on Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, 2011), the first international human rights case brought by a domestic violence victim against the U.S. She has worked extensively with advocates and government officials in Canada on issues of violence against Indigenous women and girls, challenged Stand Your Ground laws before the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, collaborated with advocates in Miami and Haiti to stop U.S. deportations to post-earthquake Haiti, and litigated against the Dominican Republic for its mass expulsions of Haitian nationals and Dominicans of Haitian descent.

Her work has appeared in numerous journals, law reviews, and online and traditional media, including: Harvard Human Rights Law Journal, Columbia Human Rights Law Review, American Journal of International Law, the New York Times, the Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, Clearinghouse Review: Journal of Poverty Law and Policy, and Jotwell.

Prior to joining the Obama-Biden White House, Professor Bettinger-López was the founding Director of Miami Law’s Human Rights Clinic (2010-2015). Before that, she was Deputy Director of the Human Rights Institute and Lecturer-in-Law and Acting Director of the Human Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School (2006-2010). There, she helped to coordinate the Human Rights in the U.S. Project and the Bringing Human Rights Home Lawyers' Network, a network of over 900 lawyers who are actively involved in domestic human rights strategies in the U.S. In fall 2014, she was a Visiting Associate Clinical Professor at the University of Chicago Law School, where she taught and directed the International Human Rights Clinic. Earlier, she was a Skadden Fellow at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) Women’s Rights Project, where she focused on housing, employment, civil, and human rights of domestic violence survivors (2004-2006). From 2003-2004, she served as a law clerk for Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr. in the Eastern District of New York.

Prior to her legal career, Professor Bettinger-López worked as an AmeriCorps member in the Miami Beach public schools, where she engaged in social services advocacy and youth education centered on women and girls’ empowerment, as well as anti-violence programming. She also lived and worked in and Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti as a secondary school teacher.

Professor Bettinger-López earned a J.D. from Columbia Law School, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone scholar; and a B.A. from the University of Michigan, where she studied cultural anthropology and earned Highest Honors for her senior thesis, which was later published as a book, Cuban-Jewish Journeys: Searching for Identity, Home, and History in Miami (Univ. of Tennessee Press, 2000). She is a Miami native, and a proud alumnus of Palmetto High School, Palmetto Middle School, and Pinecrest Elementary School.




Doctrine, Practice, and Advocacy in the Inter-American System (ed. with James Cavallaro, Bernard Duhaime, Ariel Dulitzky, Clara Sandoval, and Claret Vargas), Oxford Univ. Press (UK) (forthcoming).



CONVERGE! Plenary 4—Reimagining Mobilization, Action, and Pedagogy (Transcript), 5 U. Miami Race & Soc. Just. L. Rev. 487 (2015).

VAWA@20: The Duty to Protect from State-Created Dangers: An International Law Perspective, Cuny L. Rev. Footnote Forum (2014).

“Stand Your Ground” Laws” International Human Rights Law Implications, 68 U. MIAMI L. REV. 1129 (2014).

Introduction: Jessica Lenahan (Gonzales) v. United States: Implementation, Litigation, and Mobilization Strategies, 21 AM. U. J. GENDER SOC. POL’Y & L. 207 (2012) (Keynote address at Symposium on the Jessica Lenahan case).

The Challenge of Domestic Implementation of the International Human Rights Law in The 'Cotton Field' Case 15 CUNY L. REV. 315-334 (2012).

Implementing the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights' Domestic-Violence Ruling, (with Elizabeth M. Schneider, Julie Goldscheid, Sandra S. Park, Ejim Dike, Lisalyn Jacobs, Margaret Drew, Mary Haviland), 46 CLEARINGHOUSE REV.: J. POVERTY L. AND POL’Y 113 (July-Aug. 2012).

Foreword: Gender Justice in the Americas: A Transnational Dialogue on Violence, Sexuality, Reproduction, and Human Rights (with Alma Beltran y Puga, Jorge Contesse, Paola Garcia-Rey, Diana Hortsch, Risa Kaufman, Nicole Tuszynski), 65 U. MIAMI L. REV. 501 (May 2011).

Redefining Human Rights Lawyering Through the Lens of Critical Theory: Lessons for Pedagogy and Practice (with Deborah Weissman, Davida Finger, Sarah Paoletti, JoNel Newman, and Meetali Jain), 18 GEO. J. POVERTY L. & POL’Y 337 (Feb. 2011).

The Inter-American Human Rights System: A Primer, 42 CLEARINGHOUSE REV.: J. POVERTY L. AND POL’Y 581 (March-April 2009).

Human Rights at Home: Domestic Violence as a Human Rights Violation, 40 COLUM. HUM. RTS. L. REV. 19 (Fall 2008).

Jessica Gonzales v. United States: An Emerging Model for Domestic Violence and Human Rights Advocacy in the United States, 21 HARV. HUM. RTS. L. J. 183 (Summer 2008).

Castle Rock v. Gonzales and the Future of Police Protection for Victims of Domestic Violence (with Emily J. Martin), Domestic Violence Report at 1 (Oct.-Nov. 2005).

Book Chapters

Developing a National Plan of Action on Violence Against Women and Gender-Based Violence: A Human Rights Approach in The Politicization of Safety, ed. Jane Stoever, New York University Press (forthcoming).

The Inter-American system: Organisation of American States Charter and Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belém do Pará) in The Normative Gaps in the Legal Protection of Women and Girls from Violence: Pushing the Frontiers of International Law, eds. Rashida Manjoo and Jackie Jones, Routledge Press (forthcoming).

International Union, U.A.W. v. Johnson Controls: The History of Litigation Alliances and Mobilization to Challenge Fetal Protection Policies (with Susan Sturm) in CIVIL RIGHTS STORIES, eds. Myriam Gilles and Risa Goluboff, Foundation Press (2008).

Hebrew with a Cuban Accent, in CUBA: THE IDEA OF A NATION DISPLACED, State Univ. of New York Press (2007).


Representing Child Migrants (in the Midst of Our Border Crisis), JOTWELL (The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)), Nov. 2014 (reviewing Shani M. King, Alone and Unrepresented: A Call to Congress to Provide Counsel for Unaccompanied Minors, 50 Harv. J. Legis. 331 (Summer 2013)).

Comparative Pragmatism versus Comparative Formalism in the Abortion Context, JOTWELL (The Journal of Things We Like (Lots)), Apr. 22, 2013, (reviewing Rachel Rebouché, Comparative Pragmatism, 72 MD. L. REV. 85 (2012)).

The Human Rights of Non-Citizens: A New Unified Domain? Book Review of David Weissbrodt’s THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF NONCITIZENS (with Bassina Farbenblum), AM. J. INT’L L. (Oct. 2010).


Child Migrants in the Midst of Our Border Crisis, LAW PROFESSOR BLOG NETWORK: HUMAN RIGHTS AT HOME BLOG (Aug. 25, 2014).

Implementation of Lenahan v. U.S. and a Tribute to Jessica Lenahan, LAW PROFESSOR BLOG NETWORK: HUMAN RIGHTS AT HOME BLOG (July 25, 2014).

VAWA Is Not Enough: Academics Speak Out About VAWA, Statement by Caroline Bettinger-López, Donna Coker, Julie Goldscheid, Leigh Goodmark, Valli Kalei Kanuha, James Ptacek, Deborah Weissman, various websites (American Constitution Society, The Faculty Lounge, Columbia Gender & Sexuality Law Blog, IntLawGrrls, Family Law Profs, Feminist Law Professors,, law), Crim Law Profs, Sentencing Law and Policy, (progressive crime blog)), (Feb.-March 2012).

Inter-American Ruling Invites Global Rethink of State Protection Against Domestic Violence, INTLAWGRLS BLOG POST (Sept. 4, 2011).

Inter-American Court Rules Against Mexico on Gender Violence in Ciudad Juárez, INTLLAWGRLS BLOG POST (Jan. 18, 2010).

Other Publications

Aftershocks: The Human Impact of U.S. Deportations to Post-Earthquake Haiti (with Rebecca Sharpless, Romy Lerner and Kelleen Corrigan) (2015).

Violence Against Women in the United States and the State’s Obligation to Protect, (with various authors), Civil Society Briefing Papers on Community, Military and Custody, Submitted to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences, Rashida Manjoo (2011).

Domestic Violence is a Human Rights Violation (with students Farrah Elchahal and Rachel Oostendorp), New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, OPDV Bulletin (Fall 2011).

Protection from Domestic Violence: Time To Set a New Standard, Nat’l L. J. (Oct. 22, 2007).

The Dominican Republic: Grant Full Citizenship to All Born in the Country (with Indira Goris), THE MIAMI HERALD AND EL NUEVO HERALD, at 19A (June 9, 2007).

White House Work Products & Public Engagement (2015-2017)

White Announcement

Vice President Biden Announces New White House Advisor on Violence Against Women (The White House, March 4, 2015).


Improving the Law Enforcement Response to LGBT-Identified Individuals (Nov. 4, 2016).

Honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month (Oct. 31, 2016).

Identifying and Preventing Gender Bias in Law Enforcement Response to Sexual and Domestic Violence (Oct. 28, 2016).

Inaugural Meeting of the North American Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls (Oct. 26, 2016).

Prioritizing School Safety: A New Curriculum for Colleges and Universities to Address Sexual Assault (Aug. 12, 2016).

The United State of Women: Mobilizing to End Violence Against Women (and More) (July 29, 2016).

Violence Against Indigenous Women and Girls: Commitments from the North American Leaders Summit (July 28, 2016).

The Sexual Assault Kit Initiative: An Important Step Toward Ending the Rape Kit Backlog (March 15, 2016).

Two Years Later: Assessing Campus Climate Remains a Key Part of Changing Campus Culture (Jan. 28. 2016).

Read the Vice President’s Human Rights Day Statement on Gender Violence (Dec. 16, 2015).

Supporting Survivors Across the Lifespan: World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, 2015 (June 15, 2015).

Don’t Look to Your Left, Don’t Look to Your Right – It’s on You (April 29, 2015).

Stepping out of the Shadows, Together for Women and Girls (March 10, 2015).

Presidential Proclamations, Statements & Remarks 

National Stalking Awareness Month (Jan. 2016, Jan. 2017).

National Teen Dating Violence Awareness And Prevention Month (Feb. 2016).

Statement by the President on International Women’s Day (March 8, 2016).

National Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April 2015, April 2016).

Women’s Equality Day (Aug. 2015, Aug. 2016).

Remarks by the President at the Congressional Black Caucus 45th Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner (Sept. 20, 2015).

National Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month (Oct. 2015, Oct. 2016).

International Day of the Girl (Oct. 2015, Oct. 2016).

National Native American Heritage Month (Nov. 2016).

White House Fact Sheets, Reports, & Other Publications

The Second Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (Jan. 2017).

Preventing and Addressing Campus Sexual Misconduct: A Guide for University and College Presidents, Chancellors, and Senior Administrators (Jan. 2017).

In Letter to College Presidents, Biden Urges Continued Fight Against Sexual Assault, Chronicle of Higher Education (Jan. 5, 2017).

Final It’s On Us Summit and Report of the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (Jan. 2017).

Accomplishments of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, January 2009 to January 2017 (Jan. 2017).

North American Working Group on Violence against Indigenous Women and Girls, New Commitments & Accomplishments from the Obama Administration (Oct. 2016).

The Opportunity Project – Unleashing the power of open data to build stronger ladders of opportunity for all Americans (Oct. 2016).

Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for All Students (Sept. 2016).

United States Key Deliverables for the 2016 North American Leaders’ Summit (June 2016).

Joe Biden Writes An Open Letter to Stanford [sexual assault] Survivor, Buzzfeed News (June 9, 2016).

White House United State of Women Summit (June 2016).

White House Police Data Initiative Highlights New Commitments (April 2016).

Valerie Jarrett, Four Critical Questions for the College Search, Yahoo Parenting (Oct. 9, 2015).

Resource Guide and Recent Efforts to Combat Sexual Violence on College and University Campuses (Sept. 2015).

Investments to Reduce the National Rape Kit Backlog and Combat Violence Against Women (March 2015).

Public Engagement/Media Appearances (Select)

White House to Host Inaugural North American Working Group on Violence Against Indigenous Women & Girls Meeting, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary (Oct. 13, 2016).

White House Hosts Meeting on Violence Against Indigenous Women, Indianz.Com (Oct. 13, 2016).

Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Treatment Board Meeting Minutes, Michigan Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention and Treatment (Oct. 7, 2016).

Open Data Helps Police, Victims in Violence Against Women Cases, MeriTalk (Oct. 6, 2016).

Campuses that Handle Sexual Assaults Must Balance Victims’ Rights, Due Process, ABA Journal (Oct. 1, 2016).

NIJ’s Research for the Real World Seminar Series: National Institute of Justice, US Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice (July 29, 2016).

Lessons learned from a year of opening police data, Sunlight Foundation (May 4, 2016).

Voices Against Violence Press Release, DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (April 22, 2016).

Shelter for Abused Women & Children: Day 13 - Shelter for Abused Women & Child, (April 16, 2016).

Documentary Screening and Panel About Sexual Assault Held as Part of ‘It’s On Us’ National Week of Action, The Daily Orange (April 2016).

Breaking Barriers to Justice: Ending Violence Against Women in the Americas, Organization of American States (March 8, 2016).

Assessing Campus Climate to Change Campus Culture, (Feb. 9, 2016).

OPD [Orlando Police Dept.] to Make Public Data on Sexual Assaults And Other Crimes, Local News – 90.7 WMFE (Jan 27, 2016).

The City of Orlando Previews Open Data Website with Representatives from the White House, City of Orlando (Jan. 26, 2016).

Experts point to progress, challenges in ending the global epidemic of violence against women, PAHO WHO (Dec. 2, 2015).

Columbia Law School Human Rights Institute Celebrates Human Rights at Home, Columbia Law School (Oct. 19, 2015).

First Anniversary Advocating for the Lives of Women and Families in Communities of Color, The Women of Color Network (WOCN) (Sept. 1, 2015).

Building a Trauma-Informed Nation Moving the Conversation into Action, Federal Partners Committee on Women and Trauma (Sept. 2015).

Violence, Health, and Sexual and Reproductive Rights, Hall of Americas - Organization of American States (June 19, 2015).

President Obama Designates June 15th Elder Abuse Day, Convo Labs (June 16, 2015).

Impressions on the 2015 Women of Color Network National Call to Action Summit and Conference, California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (June 3, 2015).

Letter to White House - VAW Advisor Carrie Bettinger-Lopez - Women's Rights, War on Domestic Terrorism (May 27, 2015).

Carrie Bettinger-Lopez is White House Adviser on Violence Against Women in the Office of the Vice President, The Atlantic (May 15, 2015).

Bettinger-Lopez named White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, (May 4, 2015).

Open Square Summit, Futures Without Violence (April 28, 2015).

New White House Advisor on Violence Against Women Sits Down with McCaskill to Talk Policy, U S Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri (April 23, 2015).

UM Associate Professor Appointed White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, The Miami Herald (March 4, 2015).

Human Rights Lawyer to Serve as White House Advisor on Violence Against Women, Human Rights at Home Blog (Feb. 17, 2015).


Phone: 305-284-5923
Office: E256

Websites and Blogs

Human Rights Clinic

White House Blogs