Rachel E. VanLandingham

Irwin R. Buchalter Professor of Law

Rachel Van Landingham

B.S., Political Science, 1992, U.S. Air Force Academy
M.P.M., MacArthur Scholar, National Security Emphasis, 1994, University of Maryland, College Park
J.D., with high honors, 2000, University of Texas, Austin
LL.M., Military Law - International and Operational Law Specialty, 2006, U.S. Army Judge Advocate General's School, Charlottesville, Virginia

Member, Texas State Bar


Rachel E. VanLandingham, Lt Col. (ret.), is a national security law expert and former judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force (USAF) who was appointed to the Southwestern Law School full-time faculty in Fall 2014 and was awarded tenure as a full professor in 2018.

During Professor VanLandingham's military career, she served as a senior legal advisor on the international law of armed conflict, military prosecutor, criminal defense attorney, appellate defense attorney, and nuclear surety inspector, stationed in the United States, South Korea, and Italy with deployments to the Middle East. She was the legal advisor for international law at Headquarters, U.S. Central Command, where she advised on operational and international legal issues related to the armed conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. She also served as the Command's Chief Liaison to the International Committee of the Red Cross and traveled throughout those countries in efforts to improve procedural safeguards and humane treatment standards for detainees in U.S. custody, as well as providing advice to the Department of Justice regarding habeas cases brought on behalf of detainees in Afghanistan.

Immediately prior to coming to Southwestern, Professor VanLandingham was the Bruce R. Jacob Visiting Assistant Professor at Stetson University College of Law, where she taught legal ethics, criminal procedure, civil procedure, and international law from 2012 to 2014. Before joining the Stetson faculty, she was the Deputy Department Head of the Department of Law and Assistant Professor of Law at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she managed a legal department of 19 professors and taught international law and military law courses.

"I enjoy showing students the ways that they can make a meaningful difference in the world, one person at a time."

Professor VanLandingham is a frequent commentator in the national media particularly regarding military justice and law of war issues; she has also provided expert advice to policymakers on issues related to sexual assault in the military as well as regarding international humanitarian law. In 2013, she testified before the Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel, a congressionally-mandated body chartered to examine sexual assault in the U.S. military, and did the same in 2014 before a similarly-constituted Judicial Proceedings Panel. In September 2016 she commented on law of war matters at a briefing organized by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She has published Op Eds in the Washington Post, USA Today, and other media, and has been interviewed on CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and Democracy Now.

Professor VanLandingham's award-winning scholarship explores the procedural and normative elements of decision-making and the development of norms in national security law, military criminal law and international law. In 2015 she won the second edition of the Benjamin B. Ferencz Essay Competition, hosted by the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center, for her article, “Criminally Disproportionate Warfare:  Aggression as a Contextual War Crime” for which she received a $10,000 prize and publication of her work.

Her work has appeared in the Cardozo Law Review, the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, the Case Western Journal of International Law, the Pepperdine Law Review, the Southwestern Law Review, the Denver Journal of International Law and Policy and the Valparaiso University Law Review. She is the co-author of the 2015 Oxford University Press book, U.S. Military Operations: Law, Policy and Practice along with Professors Geoffrey Corn and Shane Reeves.

A 1992 graduate of the U.S. Air Force Academy, where she earned her B.S. in Political Science, Professor VanLandingham completed her Master of Public Management, emphasis in national security, from the University of Maryland, College Park as a MacArthur Scholar in 1994. She received her J.D. with high honors in 2000 from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was inducted into the Chancellor's Society, and her LL.M. in Military Law (International and Operational Law Specialty) in 2006 from the Judge Advocate General's School, where she was named to the Commandant's List.

Selected Achievements

President of the National Institute of Military Justice

Chair (outgoing) of the Association of American Law Schools' Section on National Security Law

Secretary of American Society of International Law’s Lieber Society

Award-Winning Scholar, Benjamin B. Ferencz Essay Competition, hosted by the Frederick K. Cox International Law Center

Chief, International Law, U.S. Central Command

Deputy Department Head of the Department of Law & Assistant Professor of Law, U.S. Air Force Academy

Bruce R. Jacob Visiting Assistant Professor, Stetson University College of Law