Robin Fretwell Wilson

Robin Wilson

Director of IGPA; Mildred Van Voorhis Jones Chair in Law

Director; Group Chair: Working Group on Substance Use Disorders

College of Law

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Robin Fretwell Wilson is the Mildred Van Voorhis Jones Chair in Law at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign College of Law, and is the leader of IGPA's Working Group on Substance Use Disorders. She also directs the College of Law’s Family Law and Policy Program and the Epstein Health Law and Policy Program. She specializes in family law and health law, and her research and teaching interests also include biomedical ethics, law and religion, children and violence, and law and science.

Professor Wilson is the author of 13 books, including The Contested Place of Religion in Family Law (Cambridge University Press, 2018, ed.) (in press), Reconceiving the Family:  Critical Reflections on the American Law Institute’s Principles of the Law of Family Dissolution (Cambridge University Press, 2006, ed.); The Handbook of Children, Culture & Violence (Sage Publications, 2006, with Nancy Dowd and Dorothy Singer, eds.); Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008, with Douglas Laycock and Anthony Picarello, eds.); Health Law and Bioethics:  Cases in Context (Aspen, 2008, with Joan Krause, Sandra Johnson, and Richard Saver, eds.); Domestic Relations: Cases and Materials, 8th edition (Foundation Press, 2017, with Walter Wadlington and Raymond C. O’Brien); and Understanding Family Law, 4th edition (LexisNexis, 2013, with John DeWitt Gregory and Peter N. Swisher). Professor Wilson’s latest book, Faith, Sexuality and the Meaning of Freedom, with Yale University Professor William Eskridge, Jr., is under consideration with Cambridge University Press.  Her articles have appeared in the Boston College Law ReviewCornell Law ReviewEmory Law JournalIllinois Law ReviewNorth Carolina Law ReviewSan Diego Law ReviewU.C. Davis Law Review, and Washington and Lee Law Review, as well as in numerous peer-reviewed journals.

Professor Wilson’s work has been featured in the New York TimesWall Street JournalNational Public Radio’s All Things ConsideredWashington PostLos Angeles TimesThe Atlantic MonthlyU.S. News and World ReportABA JournalChronicle of Higher EducationChicago TribuneCNN Headline NewsGood Morning AmericaABC NewsCBS NewsPhiladelphia InquirerEssence MagazineThe American ProspectPeople MagazineThe American ConservativeThe Australian, and Al Jazeera, among others. She has presented her research across the world, including the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, as well as in Peru, China, Israel, Qatar, the Netherlands, Italy, England, Wales, Poland, Spain, Serbia, Japan, Canada, Norway, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Turkey, and France.

A member of the American Law Institute, Professor Wilson was elected in 2014 to the Executive Council of the International Society of Family Law. Professor Wilson is a consultant to the United Arab Emirates’ Judicial Department and is assisting them to create a parallel court system for the adjudication by expatriates of family law matters using the laws of their home country or of their faith traditions.

In 2010 and again in 2016, Professor Wilson was ranked among the Top Ten Family Law Scholars in the United States for scholarly impact. She ranks among the Top 10% of Authors in all time downloads on the Social Science Research Network. Professor Wilson’s scholarship has been cited by the Fifth, Seventh and Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Minnesota Court of Appeals, lower federal courts, and the Supreme Courts of Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, and Washington. In 2018, Professor Wilson was honored as one of  the 150 for 150: Celebrating the Accomplishments of Women at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for its sesquicentennial celebration.

Professor Wilson has worked extensively on behalf of state law reform efforts, recently helping Utah state lawmakers to pass anti-discrimination legislation that balances religious liberty and LGBT rights. In 2007, she received the Citizen’s Legislative Award for her work on changing Virginia’s informed consent law. In 2018, Professor Wilson received the Thomas L. Kane Religious Freedom Award from the J. Reuben Clark Law Society, which is presented annually to an individual who exemplifies the spirit of religious liberty for all and who has contributed in significant ways to the defense of religious freedom in the public square.


Former Experience

Class of 1958 Law Alumni Professor of Law at Washington & Lee School of Law, where she was named Professor of the Year by the Women Law Students Organization.
Clerk, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
Lawyer, Fulbright & Jaworski, LLP and Mayor, Day, Caldwell & Keeton, LLP

Professional Appointments

Chair, Law and Religion section of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS)
Past Chair, AALS’ Section on Family and Juvenile Law and the AALS’ Section on Law, Medicine & Healthcare.


BA, JD, University of Virginia