Ascanio Piomelli

Professor of Law


Professor Ascanio Piomelli’s scholarship centers on efforts by attorneys and other activists to foster progressive social change. He explores the models of lawyering and social change informing such work, the relationships between lawyers, clients, and communities, and the impact of race, class, and gender on those efforts. He is a leading exponent and analyst of a “collaborative,” “rebellious,” or what he and others label a “democratic” approach to social-change lawyering—in which lawyers work with, rather than on behalf of, clients and communities to collectively press for social change. His work has explored the participatory democratic vision, values, and practices that underlie such efforts.

He attended Stanford University, A.B. History (1982), and Stanford Law School, J.D. (1985). Before joining UC Law SF in 1992 to help launch the Civil Justice Clinic (now the Community Justice Clinics), he worked as a legal services attorney in Fresno, California, where he litigated on behalf of low-income workers and tenants. He also served as an attorney and later executive director of the East Palo Alto Community Law Project, then Stanford Law School’s primary clinical outplacement. There he worked to enforce the city’s rent stabilization law, improve housing conditions, and facilitate citizen participation in local land-use decisions—as part of community efforts to resist gentrification and residential displacement.

Professor Piomelli lives in San Francisco with his spouse, Joanne Lee, and their daughters. His passions include food, baseball, and jazz.


  • Stanford Law School
    J.D., Law

  • Stanford University
    A.B., History


  • UC Law SF 1066 Foundation Faculty Award
    for scholarly excellence


  • Community Group Advocacy & Social Change Lawyering Clinic
  • Individual Representation Clinic
  • Social Justice Lawyering Concentration Seminar