Rule of Law Impact Lab

Our Mission

The Stanford Law School Rule of Law Impact Lab studies and deploys legal tools–litigation and legal research, documentation, and advocacy–in close collaboration with local practitioners and academics to combat democratic decline around the world, including in the U.S.

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Confronting a Global Challenge

Recent years have witnessed a stark rise in authoritarianism around the world, eroding decades’ worth of post-Cold War democratic advances. In the absence of effective countervailing forces, the associated evisceration of the rule of law will only deepen and spread over time. The sheer scale of the problem–as well as significant collaboration amongst autocrats around the world to sustain their repressive agendas—illustrates the significant need for global leadership to address democratic backslide.

Our Focus

  • Developing and deploying legal strategies (litigation and legal research, documentation, and advocacy) in collaboration with local legal practitioners and academics to combat democratic decline.
  • Engaging students in experiential learning on using legal tools to combat democratic decline.
  • Disseminating and sharing knowledge on the subject of how best to combat democratic decline in varying contexts.
Letter From The Dean 2

Interdisciplinary Approach

Stanford University is known as a hub of learning and innovation across traditional academic boundaries. The Rule of Law Impact Lab leverages resources across campus, creating a force multiplier effect by drawing on the university’s expertise across a broad range of disciplines, including at the Neukom Center for the Rule of Law, the School of Humanities and Sciences and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies. Further, Stanford Law School’s expertise in experiential learning provides a ready model for preparing future leaders to employ legal tools to resist authoritarianism. By training students in this work, the Impact Lab is positioned to uphold and defend the principles of democracy at home and abroad.

The Rule of Law Impact Lab is inspired by the university-wide Stanford Impact Labs model, which focuses on tackling some of the world’s most pressing challenges through the combined efforts of researchers and policymakers working across a range of disciplines.