Rory Little

Hon. Raymond L. Sullivan Professor of Law


Professor Little is the Emeritus Joseph W. Cotchett Professor of Law at UC Law SF. He joined the faculty in 1994, after a distinguished 12-year career as a practicing litigator, prosecutor, criminal defense and appellate lawyer. He is today a nationally recognized authority on constitutional issues, civil and criminal litigation ethics, federal criminal law and appellate litigation. He instituted and has chaired the Hastings Faculty Committee on Judicial Clerkships for many years; and on three occasions he has been awarded the “Best Professor” designation by the UC Law SF third-year class.

Professor Little regularly teaches Constitutional Law One and Two; first-year Criminal Law; Constitutional Criminal Procedure; Federal Criminal Procedure, and Professional Responsibility – although not all in the same academic year. His top priority – and favorite part of his job! — is counseling students in formulating career strategies and addressing varied professional and other issues. In addition, he does substantial pro bono work for the profession; and he appears regularly in print as well as radio, television, and other media. For example, he has been writing about U.S. Supreme Court criminal law cases for for over a decade. He has been very active in the American Bar Association and other Bar groups. For example, he annually publishes a “Review of the Supreme Court’s Term: Criminal Cases” for the ABA and runs their annual “showcase panel” on that topic. He has also served for over a decade as the Reporter to the ABA’s Task Force to Revise the Criminal Justice Standards, Prosecution and Defense Functions. He has in the past been appointed a member of the ABA’s national Committee on Professional Responsibility; the ABA’s national Amicus Briefing Committee; the Council of the ABA’s Criminal Justice Section; and the Executive Committee of the Federal Bar Association (N.D. Cal. chapter).

Professor Little is an active member of the California State Bar, and an inactive member of the Washington D.C. Bar.  He occasionally serves as an expert witness in litigation matters; and he does a small amount of paid litigation work as an Of Counsel to the international law firm of McDermott, Will & Emery.

In 1996-97, Professor Little took a leave from Hastings and served as an Associate Deputy Attorney General (“ADAG”) for Attorney General Janet Reno and Deputy Attorney General Jamie S. Gorelick. Before joining Hastings Professor Little served as the Appellate Chief for the Northern District of California U.S. Attorney’s office; he has orally argued over 60 federal (and a few state) appeals, and briefed hundreds more. He also served for 2½ years as a Trial Attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice’s Organized Crime and Racketeering Strike Force. Prior to joining the Department of Justice Professor Little worked on white collar criminal defense and complex civil litigation matters with the Washington D.C. law firm of Miller Cassidy Larroca & Lewin. He began his litigation career representing federal prisoners with the Yale Law School Prison Litigation Project and successfully won an unconditional habeas corpus release for an unlawfully imprisoned person after arguing the case in federal district court as a second-year law student (see 496 F.Supp. 1111). He was also honored to represent Georgia death row inmate Brandon Jones, whom the state executed (after a 6-5 vote in the Eleventh Circuit) in 2016.

After graduating from Yale Law School, Professor Little served as law clerk to U.S. District Judge Louis F. Oberdorfer (Washington DC); and then Justice Potter Stewart (ret.), working on matters before the First, Third and Sixth Circuit Courts of Appeal, as well as Justices William J. Brennan, Jr. and John Paul Stevens at the U.S. Supreme Court. In that same year (OT 1984) Professor Little also did work for Justices Powell and Chief Justice Burger—a unique, and hard-working, one-year experience. His published account of that unique year is here.

Professor Little was born and raised in New Jersey, holds a double B.A. from the University of Virginia, and raised three children in northern California with his wife who is a prominent white collar defense attorney. He used to run marathons and can occasionally be seen in running regalia, still staggering along.


  • Yale Law School
    J.D., Law

  • University of Virginia
    B.A. Political & Social Thought; B.A. Psychology

  • Rancocas Valley Regional High School, Mt. Holly, NJ


  • Criminal Law
  • Federal Criminal Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Constitiution Law I
  • Constitiution Law II
  • Professional Responsibility (Legal Ethics)

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