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Karen Tokarz

Charles Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law & Policy; Professor of African & African-American Studies (courtesy appointment); Director, Negotiation & Dispute Resolution Program; and Director, Civil Rights, Community Development & Mediation Clinic

Professor of law in the Washington University School of Law since 1987, Karen Tokarz is an internationally recognized expert in dispute resolution and clinical legal education. In 2008, she was named the inaugural Charles Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law and Policy at the law school.

Professor Tokarz’s scholarship addresses a broad range of public interest law and policy issues, including civil rights, international human rights, mediation, and women’s legal history. Director of the law school’s Negotiation & Dispute Resolution Program, Professor Tokarz has been named to Best Lawyers in America in the field of Mediation every year since 2010. In fall 2019, she was inducted as a Distinguished Fellow in the International Academy of Mediators. Past director of the school’s highly ranked Clinical Education Program, she currently serves as director of the Civil Rights, Community Justice & Mediation Clinic.

Professor Tokarz was instrumental in the development of the law school’s Public Interest Law & Policy Speakers Series and the reincarnation of the Washington University Journal of Law & Policy, both in 1999. She continues to serve as the coordinator for the speaker series and the faculty advisor for the Journal.

Founder of the law school’s Global Public Interest Law Fellows Program, Professor Tokarz has coordinated field placements for more than 200 law students with legal aid offices, human rights organizations, and tribunals in countries in Africa, South America, Europe, and Asia for more than 15 years. She has served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist at the University of Kwa Zulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa, consulting on international dispute resolution.

Professor Tokarz has received several teaching and client advocacy awards, including Washington University’s Distinguished Faculty Award at Founders Day 2005, the Student Bar Association Experiential Professor of the Year, and the Black Law Student Association Instructor of the Year.

Professor Tokarz served on the Ferguson Commission Municipal Courts & Governance Working Group and co-chairs the Municipal Justice subcommittee of the Missouri Supreme Court Commission on Racial & Ethnic Fairness. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for the National Center for State Courts National Task Force on Fines, Fees, and Bail Practices.

A 1970 graduate of Webster University in St. Louis with a major in social and behavioral science, Professor Tokarz received her Juris Doctor degree from Saint Louis University in 1976 and a graduate law degree from the University of California, Berkeley in 1985.

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Negotiation & Dispute Resolution Program

Tokarz Named Nagel Professor of Public Interest Law and Public Service

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  • Education
    • B.A., Webster University, 1970
    • J.D., St. Louis University, 1976
    • LL.M., University of California, Berkeley, 1985
  • Courses
    • Negotiation
    • Mediation Theory & Practice
    • Employment/Civil Rights Mediation Theory & Practice
    • Civil Rights, Community Justice & Mediation Clinic
    • International Justice & Conflict Resolution Externship
    • Human Trafficking & Labor Migration Seminar
    • Comparative Employment Law Seminar
    • Public Interest Law & Policy Seminar
    • Employment Discrimination
    • Pretrial Practice & Settlement
    • Faculty Advisor for:
  • Publications

    SSRN Author’s Page:


    • Grillo’s Path to Intentional, Mindful Mediation, in DISCUSSIONS IN DISPUTE RESOLUTION: THE FORMATIVE ARTICLES (Art Hinshaw, et al, eds.) (Oxford Univ. Press, 2021).
    • A Three-Year Curriculum That Engages Law Students and Prepares Them for Practice, in BUILDING ON BEST PRACTICES: TRANSFORMING LEGAL EDUCATION IN A CHANGING WORLD (Deborah Maranville, et al, eds. 2015).
    • Advancing Social Justice Through ADR and Clinical Legal Education in India, South Africa, and the United States, in THE GLOBAL CLINICAL MOVEMENT: EDUCATING LAWYERS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE (Oxford University Press, 2011) (with V. Nagaraj).
    • ELDERLAW: ADVOCACY FOR THE AGING (2 vols.), with Joan Krauskopf, Robert Brown, and Alan Bogutz (Thomson West, 2nd ed. 1993, Supp. 1994-2021).


    • Addressing the COVID-19 Eviction Crisis Through Court and Community Mediation, 67 St. Louis Bar Journal 26 (Spring 2021) (with Elad Gross).
    • Addressing the Eviction Crisis and Housing Instability Through Mediation, 63 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 243 (2020) (with Sam Stragand, et al).
    • Introduction, New Directions in Domestic and International Dispute Resolution, 63 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 1 (2020).
    • Pioneering Women Lawyers Who Changed the Legal Profession and Influenced the Practice of Law, Including Mediation Practice: From Barkeloo and Couzins to the Present, 62 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 15 (2020).
    • Advancing the Remedy of Implied Warranty of Habitability in Missouri, 53 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 169 (2017) (with Zachary Schmook).
    • Legal Education at a Crossroads: Innovation, Integration, and Pluralism Required! 43 Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 11 (2013) (with Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, Peggy Maisel, Robert Seibel).
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