Professor of Law
About Professor Kiel
Professor Kiel has been a member of the faculty since 2008. He teaches Property, Constitutional Law, and Education & Civil Rights, and was awarded the University's Distinguished Teaching Award in 2017. Professor Kiel's scholarly work centers on inequality in the education system, particularly along lines of race, as well as constitutional questions of citizenship and justice.
In 2011, Prof. Kiel built upon his work on school desegregation in Memphis through an oral history project that culminated in The Memphis 13, a documentary film he wrote and directed sharing the stories of the first students to desegregate public schools in Memphis. The award-winning film premiered at the National Civil Rights Museum on desegregation’s 50th anniversary and it has been featured at film festivals, universities, and museums across the country.
Prof. Kiel is the author of The Transition: Interpreting Justice from Thurgood Marshall to Clarence Thomas (2023) and has published in a variety of scholarly journals as well as the Washington Post, USA Today, and various other outlets. In 2015, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to undertake comparative research on educational disparities in South Africa and was hosted during his months there at the University of the Free State.
Beyond the walls of the law school, Prof. Kiel has given numerous scholarly and media presentation on issues of race and education, both locally and nationally. In 2010, he was appointed to the Shelby County Transition Planning Commission, which was charged with coordinating the largest school district merger in American history. For his work on schooling in Memphis, he has been cited in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and Education Week and was awarded the 2013 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Human Rights Award by the University of Memphis.
Prior to entering teaching, Prof. Kiel worked in private practice doing civil litigation at firms in Boston and Memphis. While in practice, he also represented criminal defendants in post-conviction matters at both the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals and the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals. Prof. Kiel serves on the boards of Facing History and Ourselves and Just City, and was a founding steering committee member of Common Ground Memphis. On campus, he has served as an associate director of the Benjamin Hooks Institute of Social Change.
J.D., Harvard Law School, 2004; B.A., University of Texas at Austin, 2001
Massachusetts (inactive), Tennessee
Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (2008-present); Fulbright Scholar, The University of the Free State (South Africa) (2015); Adjunct Professor of Legal Methods, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law (2006-2008); Associate, Burch, Porter & Johnson (2005-2008); Associate, Bingham McCutchen (2004-2005).
Education Law & Policy, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, Property, Remedies, Law & Documentary Studies
Research & Publications
- The Transition: Interpreting Justice from Thurgood Marshall to Clarence Thomas - https://www.sup.org/books/title/?id=35050
- The Memphis 13, documentary film (2011)
- The Endangered School District: The Promise and Challenge of Redistributing Control of Public Education, Boston University Public Interest Law Journal (2013)
- The Enduring Power of Milliken's Fences, The Urban Lawyer (2013)
- A Memphis Dilemma: A Half-Century of Education Reform from Desegregation to Consolidation, Univ. of Memphis Law Review (2011)
- An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure: Reframing the Debate About Law School Affirmative Action, Denver Law Review (2011)
- It Takes a Hurricane: Might Hurricane Katrina Produce for New Orleans Students What Brown Once Promised?, Journal of Law & Education (2011)
- Accepting Justice Kennedy's Dare: The Future of Integration in a Post-PICS World, Fordham Law Review (2010)
- Exploded Dream: Desegregation in the Memphis City Schools, Law & Inequality (2008)
- Lessons from the Memphis 13: What 13 First Graders Have to Teach About Life, Law, and the Legacy of Brown, Thurgood Marshall Law Review (2013)
- No Caste Here? Toward a Structural Critique of American Education, Penn State Law Review (2015)