Allison Orr Larsen
Associate Professor of Law
College of William and Mary
Rising Star Recipient
Allison Orr Larsen, Associate Professor of Law, has taught at the College of William and Mary since fall of 2010. Growing up on a small farm near Charlottesville, and earning her undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary in 1999, her Virginia roots run deep. She graduated first in her class from the University of Virginia School of Law in 2004 where she was the recipient of the Margaret Hyde Award given annually by the faculty. After law school, she clerked for Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and for Justice David Souter on the U.S. Supreme Court. Mrs. Larsen practiced law for several years in the appellate practice group of O’Melveny & Myers in Washington D.C. before becoming a professor.
Professor Larsen researches the informational dynamics of legal decision-making – how judges, juries, and other legal institutions access and use the information upon which they rely to make their decisions. She has written several articles on these issues published in the nation’s top law journals. One such article, Confronting Supreme Court Fact Finding, identified and analyzed the tendency of Supreme Court Justices to find facts off the record and without the help of the parties (a temptation greatly enhanced in the digital age). This article has been cited by courts, scholars, and was featured in several national newspapers including The New York Times and The Washington Post.
Professor Larsen teaches constitutional law, administrative law, and statutory interpretation. In 2012 the William & Mary Alumni Association honored her with a college-wide teaching award. In 2013, she also received the annual teaching award from the graduating class in recognition of her contributions in the classroom. Professor Larsen loves legal discussions outside of the classroom as well, and participates in many community events including recent speaking engagements at the Virginia Judicial Conference and the Fourth Circuit Judicial Conference.
Professor Larsen lives in Williamsburg with her husband, Drew, and their two small children.
"The beauty of law...is that it really does assemble like a puzzle. Contradictions and tensions start to form patterns…Themes emerge from what seems like a broken, tangled mess. This approach to the law has served me well in three ways: as a teacher, as a scholar, and as a public commentator."