Anne Joseph O’Connell is a lawyer and social scientist (with graduate training in economics and political science) whose research and teaching focus on administrative law and the federal bureaucracy. Outside of the law school, she is a presidentially appointed member of the Council of the Administrative Conference of the United States, an independent federal agency dedicated to improving regulatory procedures, and a contributor to the Center on Regulation and Markets at the Brookings Institution. She is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Public Administration and an elected member of the American Law Institute. She frequently consults with congressional staff, nonprofit organizations, and others, and has testified in front of Congress.
O’Connell has written on many topics, including agency rulemaking, the selection of agency leaders, and bureaucratic organization (and reorganization). Her publications have appeared in leading law and political science journals. She has co-edited a book (with Daniel A. Farber), Research Handbook on Public Choice and Public Law. She joined the Gellhorn and Byse’s Administrative Law: Cases and Comments casebook as a co-editor with the twelfth edition. In addition to empirical reports for the Brookings Institution, she has issued several studies with the Center for American Progress. O’Connell is currently working on a book, Stand-Ins, on temporary leadership in government, business, religion, and sports.
O’Connell’s research has received a number of awards. She is a three-time recipient of the American Bar Association’s Scholarship Award in Administrative Law for the best article or book published in the preceding year—for her 2020 article “Actings” (co-winner), her 2014 article “Bureaucracy at the Boundary,” and her 2009 article “Vacant Offices: Delays in Staffing Top Agency Positions.” She is also a two-time winner of the Richard D. Cudahy Writing Competition on Regulatory and Administrative Law from the American Constitution Society—for her article “Actings” (co-winner in 2020) and for her co-authored article (with Farber) “The Lost World of Administrative Law” (2014). Her article “Political Cycles of Rulemaking” was the top paper selected by the Association of American Law Schools’ 2007-2008 Scholarly Papers Competition for early career faculty members. In addition, her research has been cited by Congress, the Supreme Court, the D.C. Circuit, and five other courts of appeals, and featured in the Washington Post and other national media.
At Stanford Law School, O’Connell teaches administrative law, advanced administrative law, and constitutional law. The class of 2020 chose her to receive the Hurlbut Award, which is given to one professor “who strives to make teaching an art.” She currently co-chairs the school’s efforts to improve teaching and classroom climate in light of disturbing classroom incidents and co-chairs the steering committee for Stanford University’s Faculty Women’s Forum, which works to enable all women faculty to thrive. Prior to joining Stanford University in 2018, O’Connell was the George Johnson Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. While there, she received the Distinguished Teaching Award (the campus’s most prestigious honor for teaching) in 2016 and Berkeley Law’s Rutter Award for Teaching Distinction in 2012. From April 2013 to July 2015, she served as associate dean for faculty development and research under three different deans. In 2013-2014, O’Connell was co-president of the Society for Empirical Legal Studies (co-organizing the 2014 Conference on Empirical Legal Studies).
Before joining the Berkeley Law faculty in 2004, O’Connell clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the U.S. Supreme Court during the October 2003 term. From 2001 to 2003, she was a trial attorney for the Federal Programs Branch of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Division, receiving commendations for her work. She clerked for Judge Stephen F. Williams of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 2000 to 2001. A Truman Scholar, O’Connell worked for a number of federal agencies in earlier years, including the Department of Defense (Offices of the General Counsel and Inspector General), Federal Trade Commission (Bureau of Competition), Department of Justice (Office of Legal Counsel), and U.S. Army (RDE). She is a member of the New York bar and served as a volunteer for the Biden-Harris Campaign’s policy team.