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About Kim D. Ricardo

June 14, 2020

I am a tenured, full professor of law.  I write this statement to communicate my teaching philosophy and, by doing so, to share with my students some of who I am, what I believe, and what motivates the choices I make with respect to the classroom.
I have been a full-time law teacher since 2006.  As a teacher, I have always endeavored to find successful ways to teach students the rules and concepts that will be tested on the bar exam and to balance that mandate with teaching them how to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that will help them be good lawyers for their clients.
I believe that it is possible to simultaneously teach both the black letter law and how to be a good lawyer.  I do not believe in a zero-sum calculus of learning or life.  I believe that law students need to learn how to articulate their own visions of justice by unraveling how legal arguments are developed and organized.  I believe that students also need to listen and understand the arguments raised by classmates who have different perspectives and may disagree with them.  Practice is the best training.  The robust exchange of ideas in the classroom that spills over into the halls is the primary way that students sharpen their minds and hone their lawyering skills for use in the future service of their clients.
I believe that law is a service profession and that lawyers are successful when they attend to the needs of their clients.  Although the law is by nature conservative (in the sense that it conserves power), representing clients will inevitably require good lawyers to challenge the limits of the law.  I believe that those challenges should always push the legal system towards justice.
I believe that justice means equitable treatment of all people in ways that recognize our common humanity and honor our differences.  I believe that the abstract principles of democracy contain the seeds for growing a just society, but I am certain that the United States of America has never been a true democracy.  
White supremacy has always been the core ideology of our American democracy.  To build this country, White colonists and pioneers tried to exterminate the Native nations.  White generational wealth was built on the backs of Black slave labor.  Women were banned from voting and therefore from full participation in civic society.  Like a virus, White supremacy has survived for 400 years because every time we try to cure it, it mutates into a new, more robust, more insidious version of itself.   
The Law has tried to be that cure, but it first has to reckon with the fact that it is the major tool that White supremacy has used to implement and justify the oppression and brutalization of Others.  The ideology of White supremacy is endemic to law, and therefore, to legal education.  I cannot adequately teach law without addressing the evils of racism, patriarchy, heteronormativity, etc.  All of these systems of subordination seek to dehumanize people; they are all related; they must all be defeated.  
It is my duty as a law professor to unveil these embedded structures of power to my students in order to dismantle them.  It is my responsibility to encourage and to respectfully manage difficult conversations about these topics in the classroom.  This means holding myself accountable to my own biases and demanding the same from my students.  In my classroom, ideas can be debated; the humanity of another person, never.  It is not dehumanizing to call a system or an individual operating within that system, racist.  Although exposing truths can be painful, it is a necessary step towards justice.
I am a queer Pinay.  I am a survivor of sexual violence and racist abuse.  I claim the privilege and the power of having been born a Filipina.  I, too (echoing the words of my kumare Faith Santilla), carry the mud of over 500 years of resistance and survival.  The law is implicated in so many aspects of my personal history.  I am my immigrant parents’ anchor baby.  I have personal experience dealing with public institutions of mental health and criminal justice.  My own marriage would not be allowed but for the lawyers and the movements that pushed the Supreme Court to writing its opinions in Loving v. Virginia and Obergefell v. Hodges.
White supremacy terrorizes all people of color but is articulated most cunningly in the form of anti-Black racism because anti-Black racism invites all non-Black people to dehumanize Black people with the promise of some vaguely better status in the White supremacist hierarchy that is simply not-Black.  White supremacy relies on a zero-sum game narrative that lures non-Black people of color into thinking that conserving their wealth and status depends on minimizing the status and wealth of the Black community.  Anti-Black racism twists genuine and righteous concerns about the lack access to resources for communities in need into hatred for Black people. 
The care and concern that I voice here for the Black community does not mean that I lack care and concern for my non-Black students or colleagues.  I reject a zero-sum approach to caring and love.  The too-frequent killings of Black women, men, and even children—consequences of the racist associations of Blackness with danger and criminality, and the legal system that grants impunity to their killers—require that I make my values, principles, and intentions clear.  Black lives matter.  Black lives are precious.  Black lives are radiant.  Black lives are beloved.  Dr. Cornel West reminds us, “justice is what love looks like in public” and I want to teach law students how to advocate for a more just society.
Courses I’ve taught
·      Criminal Law
·      Criminal Procedure: Adjudication (at UNLV)
·      Criminal Procedure: Investigation
·      LS1
·      LS2 (at UNLV)
·      LS3 (at Loyola New Orleans)
·      Independent Research Study 
·      National Security Law
·      Race, Gender, & Class
·      Race, Racism, & U.S. Law (at DePaul, part of the Chicago Consortium)
·      Anti-subordination
·      Colorism
·      Criminal Law
·      Environmental Justice
·      Hip hop
·      Law school pedagogy
·      Police torture
·      Reparations
·      Restorative Justice
·      Sexual orientation, gender identity, and queerness
·      Torture
My favorite podcasts
·      The Read
·      Still Processing
Law-related reading recommendations
Steve Bogira, Courtroom 302
·      An investigative journalist’s year-long study of Courtroom 302 at 26th and Cal right here in Chicago.  If you are interested in what criminal law looks like on the ground, this will provide an ample perspective that does not deny, but rather exposes, how race, gender, and class impact an individual’s ability to access justice.
Angela J. Davis, Arbitrary Justice
·      Before joining the legal academy, Prof. Davis was a public defender in Washington, D.C. for twelve years.  She draws on her practice experience to pen this critique of the discretionary powers that prosecutors have in the criminal justice system.  The book demonstrates how exercising this prosecutorial discretion frequently results in race- and class- based inequalities.
·      A must-read history of White supremacy in the United States; law students should pay attention, in particular, to how racist ideas became ideology and inscribed into the Constitution, legal structure, and laws of the United States.
Jesmyn Ward, Men We Reaped
·      I strongly recommend reading this memoir alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Between the World and Me.  They are strong and beautiful companions.  In Men We Reaped, Ward’s (two-time National Book Award winner for her novels) memoir tells the stories of the five young Black men that she lost in as many years.  It is a powerful and personal revelation of the many ways in which racism, poverty, and rurality rob opportunities from the least powerful in our society. 


September 2022 - Present Associate Dean of Experiential Education (Interim), UIC School of Law
Present Director, Lawyering Skills Program, UIC School of Law
Present Professor, UIC School of Law
2022 - 2022 U.S. Scholar, Fulbright Program, Universidad de Buenos Aires (UBA) ‐ Facultad de Derecho
2016 - 2018 President, Legal Writing Institute

Curriculum Vitae

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Honors and Awards

  • Dedicated Service Award


  • Race & Racism in U.S. Law
  • Criminal Procedure
  • Criminal Law
  • Lawyering Skills I
  • Torts
  • Race Gender & Class
  • National Security Law

Contact Information

UIC School of Law
300 S. State St.
Chicago, IL 60604
Office: Room 922 (CBA Building)
Office hours: by appointment,


Recent Works (4)

Articles (31)