About Me

Area of Expertise

Corporate Law, Commercial Law, Professional Responsibility


JD, University of Texas School of Law

BA, Duke University


Carliss Chatman is an Associate Professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law specializing in corporate and commercial law. Her 11 years of legal practice before entering the academy lends a common sense approach to her teaching and scholarship. She specializes in bringing practical experience to all of her classes, making complex legal concepts within reach for students of all backgrounds. Through service on the Advisory Board of Compliance.ai, she has worked on the cutting edge of legal regulatory technology, helping to train the machine learning platform to anticipate the research needs of those in the compliance and regulatory legal space. Her experience in leadership of non-profit boards and over two decades of social activism has allowed Professor Chatman to develop expertise on matters involving race, women’s rights, and educational access. Her scholarship, teaching and service have been celebrated and awarded by her faculty and peers.  She is the 2021 Recipient of Derrick A. Bell, Jr. Award, presented by the Association of American Law Schools Section on Minority Groups; the 2020 Recipient Jessine A. Monaghan Fellowship, an award for experiential education, given in recognition of contributions to the transactional component of the Law School’s experiential program; and the 2020 Recipient Lewis Prize for Excellence in Legal Scholarship, an award given to recognize outstanding legal scholarship supported by summer grants.

Professor Chatman is prolific on social media, lending the same practical and legally reasoned approach to public discourse that she provides in the classroom on a broad spectrum of issues. Her primary scholarly focuses are legal personhood (including corporate personhood and fetal personhood), and corporate governance. She uses legal realism, critical race theory, and feminist legal theory to reimagine and reframe thinking on corporations and contract law, giving consideration to the racialized and gendered impact of business decisions, and the limits on the freedom to contract experienced by marginalized groups. Professor Chatman is the Amazon Best-Selling author of Companies are People Too, a children’s book on corporate personhood. 

Professor Chatman has appeared on CBS News and CBS Radio, and has written for the Washington Post, CNN.com and Slate. She has given academic lectures on corporate governance, corporate personhood, and legal ethics at universities internationally, including the University of Surrey in London. She has spoken on teaching diverse groups of students at the American Association of Law Schools Annual Meeting, Stetson University College of Law, and at UC Berkeley School of Law. 


Corporate Family Matters, (in progress).

The Slippery Slope of Fetal Personhood, (in progress).

Teaching Slavery in Commercial Law, (in progress).

Citizens United Chapter in Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Corporate Law (projected Fall 2021).

Co-Author, Business Entities: A Systems Approach, Carolina Academic Press (projected Summer 2021).

Co-Author, Mergers and Acquisitions: Documenting the Deal, West Academic (projected Fall 2022).

Companies are People Too, Illustrated by Winsome Reed (A children’s book on corporate personhood) (December 31, 2020).

Co-Author, The Disregarded Canary: On the Plight of Black Women Voters, Northwestern L. Rev. of Note, October 29, 2020.

If a Fetus is a Person, It Should get Child Support, Due Process and Citizenship, 76 Wash. & Lee. L. Rev. No. 1, 2020. 

The Trump Administration Should Have Attorney Whistleblowers,  73 SMU L. Rev. F. 196 (2020).

The Myth of the Attorney Whistleblower, 72 SMU L. REV. 669 (2019).

The Corporate Personhood Two-Step, 18 Nev. L. J. 811 (2018).

Judgment Without Notice: The Unconstitutionality of Constructive Notice Following Citizens United, 105 KY. L. J. 49 (2016).

HOLA Preemption and the Original Intent of Congress: Are Federal Thrifts Necessary to Stabilize the Housing Market?, 18 FORDHAM J. CORP. & FIN. L. 565 (2013).

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