Karla McKanders

Visiting Associate Professor

J.D. Duke University, 2003
Spelman College, 2000


Karla McKanders is a Visiting Associate Professor for the 2016 – 2017 academic year where she teaches in the Civil Rights Clinic and Refugee Law. She is a tenured professor at the University of Tennessee, College of Law where she has been teaching since 2008. Prior to teaching at the University of Tennessee, she was a clinical teaching fellow at Villanova University School of Law and a law clerk for the Honorable Damon J. Keith with the U.S. Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. From 2003 to 2005, she was an associate with Miller, Canfield, Paddock, and Stone P.L.C. in their Labor and Employment practice group.

Professor McKanders’ scholarship addresses issues of access to justice, civil rights, immigration federalism and new ways of approaching legislative and executive reforms to the immigration system. Her work also explores the constitutionality of state and local laws targeting immigrants as well as the legal connections between past discriminatory laws and current anti-immigrant legislation. Her articles have been published in the Harvard Journal on Racial and Ethnic Justice, University of Iowa’s Gender Race and Social Justice Law Journal, and Catholic Law Review, among other law journals. Her publications are available through the Social Science Research Network (SSRN).

She has been cited as an authority on immigration and refugee law in Reuters, Mother Jones, ABC News, and Al-Jazeera. She also currently serves as a legal consultant to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (“UNICEF”) for Morocco and Slovenia. In 2011, she received a Fulbright award to lecture at the University of Mohammad V in Rabat, Morocco. After her Fulbright, she played an instrumental role in establishing Morocco’s first pro bono Refugee Legal Aid Clinic with the organization, Droit et Justice (“Law and Justice”).

In addition, McKanders has received awards for her teaching, scholarship and service, including selection by University of Tennessee’s Chancellor for the Jefferson Prize, the Bass, Berry & Sims Award for Outstanding Service to the Bench and Bar and the Gardner of Change Award for her teaching. McKanders received her J.D. Duke University in 2003, and her B.A. in Political Science with a minor in French from Spelman College in 2000.