Southwestern Law School Los Angeles, CA

Faculty Profile

Rachel VanLandingham

Rachel VanLandingham

Associate Professor of Law

B.A., Political Science, 1992, U.S. Air Force Academy; M.P.M., MacArthur Scholar, National Security Emphasis, 1994, University of Maryland, College Park; J.D., with high honors, 2000, University of Texas, Austin; LL.M., Military Law - International and Operational Law Specialty, 2006, Judge Advocate General's School; Member, Texas State Bar

Courses    Publications

Phone: (213) 738-6864
Office: BW313

Rachel VanLandingham brings to Southwestern an extraordinary background in international and military law, having served in the U.S. Air Force for over 20 years, including more than a decade as a Judge Advocate. She also has several years of law teaching experience in military and private higher education settings. She was appointed to the Southwestern faculty in 2014 and teaches in the areas of criminal law and procedure. In future years, she also looks forward to teaching courses in national security law.

"I enjoy showing students the ways that they can make a meaningful difference in the world, one person at a time," Professor VanLandingham says. "The drive evident in Southwestern students to improve themselves and their community, as well as the amazing energy, intellect and collegiality of its faculty is what intrigued me the most about the law school."

Professor VanLandingham was most recently the Bruce R. Jacob Visiting Assistant Professor at Stetson University College of Law, where she taught legal ethics, criminal procedure, civil procedure and international law since 2012. Before joining the Stetson faculty, she was the Deputy Department Head of the Department of Law and Assistant Professor of Law at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she managed a legal department of 19 professors and taught international law and military law courses.

"I enjoy showing students the ways that they can make a meaningful difference in the world, one person at a time."

From 2000 to 2012, Professor VanLandingham served on active duty with the USAF Judge Advocate General's Corps. She was the legal advisor for international law at Headquarters, U.S. Central Command, where she advised on operational and international legal issues related to the armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. She also served as the Command's Chief Liaison to the International Committee of The Red Cross, and traveled throughout those countries in efforts to improve procedural safeguards and humane treatment standards for detainees in U.S. custody.

During Professor VanLandingham's military career, she served as a military prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, appellate defense attorney and nuclear surety inspector, stationed in the United States, South Korea, Italy and the Middle East. Professor VanLandingham testified in 2013 before the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel, a congressionally-mandated body chartered to examine sexual assault in the U.S. military. She is also the Vice-President of the National Institute of Military Justice.

One of the most exciting aspects of the law that Professor VanLandingham has pursued was her involvement in the implementation and development of the law of armed conflict, also known as the law of war or international humanitarian law. She explained, "In the midst of two unfortunate wars, I made a positive difference regarding humane treatment and improved procedural safeguards for detainees in U.S. custody, helping ensure accomplishment of national security goals while hewing to U.S. legal and moral requirements - despite pressure to abandon those foundational values."

Professor VanLandingham's recent scholarship explores the procedural and normative elements of decision-making and the development of norms in national security law, military criminal law and international law. Her work has appeared in the Cardozo Law Review, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy and Valparaiso University Law Review, with a forthcoming article in the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law. She is currently co-authoring an Oxford University text regarding the operationalization of law across the spectrum of U.S. military operations.


Books and Chapters

Military Justice in the Air Force in SERVICEMEMBER AND VETERANS' RIGHTS (J. Butler & B. Clauss eds.; LexisNexis, 2013)


Acoustic Separation in Military Justice: Filling the Decision Rule Vacuum with Ethical Standards, 11 OHIO STATE JOURNAL OF CRIMINAL LAW (forthcoming Spring 2014)

Meaningful Membership: Making War a Bit More Criminal, 35 CARDOZO LAW REVIEW 79 (2013)

Affirmative Sir! (And Ma'am!) The U.S. Military Needs Affirmative Action Now More Than Ever, THE NEW REPUBLIC (with R. Knowles; June 24, 2013)

The Stars Aligned: The Legality, Legitimacy, and Legacy of 2011's Humanitarian Intervention in Libya, 46 VALPARAISO UNIVERSITY LAW REVIEW 859 (2012)

Politics or Law? The Dual Nature of the Responsibility to Protect, 41 DENVER JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW & POLICY 63, (Fall/Winter 2012)