Issa Kohler-Hausmann

Professor of Law and Associate Professor of Sociology

Ph.D. (Sociology), New York University, 2014

J.D., Yale Law School, 2008

M.A., Northwestern University, 2006

B.A., University of Wisconsin, 2000

Courses Taught
  • Sociology of Law: Law and Bureaucracy

Issa Kohler-Hausmann is Professor of Law at Yale Law School and Associate Professor of Sociology at Yale. Her primary research interests are in criminal law, sociology of law, empirical legal studies, social and legal theory.

Her book Misdemeanorland: Criminal Courts and Social Control in an Age of Broken Windows Policing (Princeton, 2018) is a mixed method multi-year study of New York City’s lower criminal courts in the era of mass misdemeanor arrests. It exposes how New York City’s signature policing initiative imposed underappreciated forms of social control upon hundreds of thousands of people arrested for low-level crimes. The book was awarded the Law and Society Association 2019 Herbert Jacob Book Prize recognizing new, outstanding work in law and society scholarship; the 2019 Mirra Komarovsky Book Award from the Eastern Sociological Society; the 2019 Albert J. Reiss Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award, Crime, Law, and Deviance Section of the American Sociological Association; and was one of five finalists for the 2018 C. Wright Mills Award from the Society for the Study of Social Problems. Her research in this area has also appeared in the Stanford Law Review, the American Journal of Sociology, and Demography.

Kohler-Hausmann’s current research explores the nature and meaning of social categories in legal doctrine and social science explanations, specifically how these categories are conceptualized for purposes of defining and detecting discrimination. Her work investigates the meaning of causal and constitutive claims involving social kinds, such as race, gender, and sexual orientation. Her initial writing on this topic has appeared in the Northwestern Law Review’s 2019 inaugural issue on empirical legal scholarship. 

Admitted to practice in New York State, Eastern and Southern Districts of New York, and the Western District of Wisconsin, Kohler-Hausmann maintains an active pro bono legal practice. Among other projects, Kohler-Hausmann serves as co-lead counsel in two putative class action suits on behalf of persons serving indeterminate life sentences for crimes committed as juveniles. She previously worked in solo practice in felony and misdemeanor criminal defense, New York State freedom of information litigation, and has been an associate with Ilissa Brownstein & Associates.

Before coming to Yale, she was a Law Research Fellow at the Georgetown University Law Center. Kohler-Hausmann was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation for the 2017–18 academic year. Born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she holds a Ph.D. from New York University in sociology, a J.D. from Yale Law School, and a M.A. from Northwestern University.