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Lois Weithorn - UC Hastings College of the Law. San Francisco, CA, US

Lois Weithorn Lois Weithorn

Professor of Law, Harry & Lillian Hastings Research Chair | UC Hastings College of the Law

San Francisco, CA, UNITED STATES

Contacts: weithorn@uchastings.edu / 415-565-4660 / Office 366-200


Professor Weithorn joined the full-time UC Hastings faculty in 2001. She received the UC Hastings Foundation Faculty Scholarship Award in 2002, and the Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence in 2007. Professor Weithorn received her J.D. from Stanford Law School where she served as President of the Stanford Law Review and was elected to the Order of the Coif. After graduating, she clerked for the Honorable Joseph T. Sneed III of the U.S. Court of Appeals of the Ninth Circuit.

Professor Weithorn also has a Ph.D. in Psychology (University of Pittsburgh). Her work integrates perspectives in law and science, with special emphasis on legal policies affecting family relationships or vulnerable or underserved groups (such as children and persons with mental and emotional disabilities). Professor Weithorn’s scholarship includes topics such as the law and ethics of informed consent for treatment and research; legal responses to parental vaccine refusal; policies affecting youth crossing child welfare, juvenile justice and/or mental health system boundaries; developmental neuroscience and child protection policy reform; intellectual disability and the death penalty; California’s Proposition 8 and same-sex marriage. She also serves as a consultant to the Ethics and Policy Core at the Center for AIDS Prevention, UCSF Medical Center.

Prior to joining the faculty at UC Hastings, Professor Weithorn held positions at the University of Virginia (Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy and Department of Psychology). She served as a fellow at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, worked on federal mental health policy at the National Mental Health Association in Washington, D.C., and consulted with the Judicial Council of California and other agencies on child and family policy issues. Professor Weithorn also served on the Ethics Committee of the American Psychological Association and chaired several APA divisional committees relating to children and the law.



Lois Weithorn Publication Lois Weithorn Publication Lois Weithorn Publication





Areas of Expertise (6)

Bioethics and the Law

Criminal Law

Family Law

Mental Health Law

Social Science and Law

Children and the Law

Accomplishments (3)

President (Editor-in-Chief) (professional)

Served as President of the Stanford Law Review

Rutter Award for Teaching Excellence (professional)


Awarded by University of California - Hastings College of the Law.

Faculty Scholarship Award (professional)


Awarded by UC Hastings Foundation.

Education (3)

Stanford Law School: J.D., Law 1989

University of Pittsburgh: Ph.D., Psychology 1980

Hamilton (Kirkland) College: B.A., Psychology 1974

Affiliations (3)

  • American Journal of Orthopsychiatry : Editorial Board
  • Psychology Public Policy and Law (Journal) : Editorial Board
  • American Psychological Association : Fellow

Media Appearances (1)

CALIFORNIA / Spank a little kid, go to jail, if bill becomes law / Critics blast effort as intrusive and difficult to enforce

SFGate  online


Lois Weithorn, who teaches family law at UC's Hastings College of the Law, said while there are both civil and criminal statutes addressing child abuse, there is room for subjectivity on what constitutes abuse. "There are laws on the books, but corporal punishment has always been a challenge to deal with," she said. "Most jurisdictions do not sanction parents (for) corporal punishment that doesn't result in physical injury." That's the reason we need a law that clearly delineates what is legal or not, Lieber said. "Under current law, parents can beat their children to a reasonable degree," Lieber said. Leiber continued "I just think that that's plain wrong and we ought to ban any sort of physical attack on children who are not old enough to defend themselves." But Weithorn said even Lieber's bill could potentially be open to interpretation, such as what is spanking versus a pat on the bottom. "We're dealing with the challenge of drawing lines," the law professor said...

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Event Appearances (5)

Mandatory Vaccination Policies: Legal Justifications and Challenges

San Francisco, CA  Health Law Professors Conference, American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics


The Evolution of Legal Policies Governing Vaccination of Children: Controversies and Challenges

Conference on Children's Health, Mental Health and the Law  San Francisco, CA


Children’s Mental Health and the Mental Health “Non-System”

Conference on Children's Health, Mental Health and the Law  San Francisco, CA


Same-Sex Marriage and US Supreme Court: Oral Argument and Panel Discussion

UCSF-UC Hastings Consortium  San Francisco, CA


Parental Refusal of Childhood Vaccinations: Trends, Consequences and Legal Policy Reponses,

UCSF-UC Hastings Consortium  San Francisco, CA


Selected Articles (5)

Responding to the Childhood Vaccination Crisis: Legal Frameworks and Tools in the Context of Parental Vaccine Refusal

Buffalo Law Review


In spite of vaccines' impressive record of safety and effectiveness, some families have failed to immunize their children, denying those children protection against vaccine-preventable diseases. In the last years, rates of nonvaccination, as well as rates of partial ...

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Developmental Neuroscience, Children's Relationships with Primary Caregivers, and Child Protection Policy Reform

Children's Relationships with Primary Caregivers, and Child Protection Policy Reform


Empirical research has confirmed that the harms of child maltreatment can affect almost every area of an individual's functioning and can reverberate across relationships, generations, and communities. Most recently, investigators at the US Centers for Disease ...

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Conceptual Hurdles to the Application of Atkins v. Virgina

Hastings Law Journal


In its 2002 decision, Atkins v. Virginia, the United States Supreme Court held that the Eighth Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment precludes the execution of "mentally retarded offender [s]."'Writing for a six-member majority, Justice Stevens ...

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Envisioning second-order change in America's responses to troubled and troublesome youth

Hofstra Law Review


Every year hundreds of thousands of troubled and troublesome children experience out-of-home placements under the auspices of the mental health, juvenile justice, and child welfare systems. The annual rates of such placements were higher at the ...

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Protecting children from exposure to domestic violence: The use and abuse of child maltreatment statutes

Hastings Law Journal


In the past two decades, researchers have amassed an impressive body of empirical data demonstrating the deleterious impact of exposure to interparental violence on children. Policymakers are now confronted with the question of how society can best ...

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Courses (5)

Family Law

Spring '14 and Spring '15

Bioethics, Law & Healthcare Decisionmaking Seminar

Spring '13 and Spring '16

Children and the Law

Fall '14

Mental Health Law & Policy Course

Fall '14

Criminal Law

Fall '15