Cynthia Lee

Professor Cynthia Lee

Cynthia Lee

Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law


Office Phone: (202) 994-4768
Fax: (202) 994-9817
2000 H Street, NW Washington DC 20052

Professor Cynthia Lee is the Edward F. Howrey Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School where she teaches Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, Adjudicatory Criminal Procedure, and Professional Responsibility. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Stanford University and a JD from UC Berkeley Law School. Upon graduating from law school, she clerked for Judge Harold M. Fong, then Chief Judge for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii. She then served as an associate with Cooper, White & Cooper in San Francisco, California, where she was a member of the firm's criminal defense practice group. Professor Lee started teaching at the University of San Diego School of Law in 1993, where she received the Thorsness Prize for Excellence in Teaching. She joined the GW Law faculty in August 2001.

Professor Lee has published in the California Law Review, the University of Illinois Law Review, the UCLA Law Review, the North Carolina Law Review, and the Minnesota Law Review, among other journals. She is the author or editor of four books, including Criminal Procedure: Cases and Materials (West 2023) (with L. Song Richardson); Criminal Law: Cases and Materials (West 2019) (with Angela Harris); Searches and Seizures: The Fourth Amendment, Its Constitutional History and the Contemporary Debate (Prometheus Books 2011); and Murder and the Reasonable Man: Passion and Fear in the Criminal Courtroom (NYU Press 2003). Professor Lee served as chair of the AALS Criminal Justice Section in 2008. Key provisions from a model statute on police use of deadly force she proposed in an article published in 2018 in the Illinois Law Review were incorporated into police reform legislation enacted by Connecticut, Virginia, and the District of Columbia in 2020. Her article, "Firearms and Initial Aggressors", was the subject of a Scholarship Highlight: A New Perspective on the Initial Aggressor Doctrine by Andrew Willinger of the Duke Center for Firearms Law on January 5, 2023.

In the News

"'Breonna's Law' wouldn't do enough to stop future tragedies"

The Hill featured an opinion piece authored by Cynthia Lee about the importance of policing laws to prevent avoidable accidents.

"The Initial-Aggressor Rule and the Shooting of Karon Blake"

Cynthia Lee wrote for the National Law Journal about the initial aggressor rule and the DC shooting death of Karon Black.

"The “Angry Black Woman” Stereotype at Work"

Cynthia Lee’s research in overcoming implicit bias was cited by Harvard Business News about...

BA, Stanford University; JD, University of California, Berkeley