Alistair E. Newbern

Associate Clinical Professor of Law

Alistair Newbern runs the Vanderbilt Law School Appellate Litigation Clinic, in which third-year law students practice before appellate courts on behalf of clients who could not otherwise afford representation. Professor Newbern’s research focuses on access to the courts for underrepresented litigants. After earning her J.D. at the University of California at Berkeley, where she served as Senior Notes and Comments Editor of the California Law Review, Professor Newbern was a law clerk for Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey '68 (BA'63) of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and for Judge Aleta A. Trauger '76 (MAT'72) of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Before joining Vanderbilt, Professor Newbern taught at the University of North Carolina School of Law, where she directed the school’s Civil Legal Assistance Clinic. She also held a teaching fellowship in Georgetown University Law Center’s Appellate Litigation Program and practiced in the Nashville, Tennessee, office of Lieff Cabraser Heimann and Bernstein.


Representative Cases

LaFountain v. Harry, 716F.3d 944 (6th Cir. 2013) (invalidating prior circuit precedent holding that Prison Litigation Reform Act prevented indigent plaintiffs from amending their complaints under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15)

Jones v. United States, 698 F.3d 621 (6th Cir. 2012) (Establishing retroactivity of Begay v. United States in Sixth Circuit, determining that petitioner had not committed a violent felony within the meaning of the Armed Career Criminal Act, and finding that circumstances of his incarceration warranted equitable tolling of one-year filing period for relief under the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act)

McPhearson v. United States, 675 F.3d 553 (6th Cir., 2012) (Reversing denial of ineffective assistance of counsel claim where petitioner’s counsel failed to raise argument at sentencing that some quantity of drugs attributed to McPhearson were for personal use)

In re P-M-O-O- (Board of Immigration Appeals, May 17, 2012) (unpublished decision) (Affirming grant of withholding of removal for petitioner who had been victim of violent abuse by police in his native Kenya because of his sexual orientation)

In re P-N- (Board of Immigration Appeals, April 9, 2010) (unpublished decision) (affirming grant of withholding of removal for petitioner who, with his politically prominent family, had been a victim of ongoing ethnic violence in Burundi)

Research Interests

Appellate procedure, civil rights litigation, poverty law, advocacy

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Contact Information

(615) 322-4964 (voice)
(615) 322-6562 (fax)
Room 117 (office)

Curriculum Vitae


LL.M. Georgetown University Law Center (Advocacy)
J.D. University of California at Berkeley
A.B. Brown University