Julia L. Ernst joined the University of North Dakota School of Law in July 2011 as an Assistant Professor of Law. In 2015, she was promoted to Associate Professor, and in 2019 she became Associate Dean for Academic and Student Affairs. Her courses include Constitutional Law I, Legislation, International Human Rights Advocacy, Gender and the Law, and Professional Foundations. Professor Ernst’s legal research explores the intersections between religious and cultural rights with women’s human rights under the international human rights system, as well as various issues surrounding U.S. constitutional law. She also serves on the Executive Committee of the Women Lawyers Section of the State Bar Association of North Dakota.
Prior to her position with UND School of Law, Professor Ernst taught at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, DC, as a Visiting Associate Professor of Law and an Adjunct Professor. During that time, she was also the Executive Director of the Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship Program (WLPPFP) and the Leadership and Advocacy for Women in Africa (LAWA) Fellowship Program. She has served as an editorial board member of Perspectives Magazine published by the American Bar Association (ABA) Commission on Women in the Profession, as vice-chair of the Women’s Rights Committee of the ABA Section of Individual Rights and Responsibilities (now called the ABA Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice), and as a member of the U.S. State Department’s Advisory Commission on the African Judiciary.
Before joining Georgetown Law, Professor Ernst served as Legislative Counsel for Congresswoman Louise M. Slaughter, directing the bipartisan Congressional Caucus for Women’s Issues. Coordinating with the Pentagon and Senate colleagues, she spearheaded a successful initiative to add an amendment addressing sexual assault in the military to the National Defense Authorization Act. Prior to her position on the Hill, Professor Ernst worked as Legislative Counsel with the Washington, DC office of a public interest legal organization focusing on issues concerning women’s reproductive health globally such as female genital mutilation, child marriage, and safe motherhood. Before moving to the nation’s capital, she practiced environmental law with the law firm of Dickinson Wright, PLLC in Detroit, Michigan. Additionally, she was awarded a Clara Belfield and Henry Bates Overseas Fellowship to participate in the 1995 United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
Professor Ernst earned her Master of Laws and Certificate in International Human Rights Law from Georgetown in 2010, her Juris Doctorate (cum laude) and Master of Arts in world politics from the University of Michigan in 1994, and her Bachelor of Arts (magna cum laude) in political science from Yale University in 1991. She is a Girl Scout volunteer and a member of Sharon Lutheran Church in Grand Forks, ND, where she resides with her family.