Portrait of Sarah Seo in black against a white background.

Sarah A. Seo

  • Professor of Law
Education

Princeton University, Ph.D., History, 2016
Columbia Law School, J.D., 2007 
Princeton University, A.B., 2002 

Areas of Specialty

Criminal Law
Criminal Procedure
U.S. Legal History

Sarah A. Seo is a legal historian of criminal law and procedure in the 20th-century United States. Her recent book, Policing the Open Road: How Cars Transformed American Freedom, examines the history of the automobile to explain the evolution of the Fourth Amendment and to explore the problem of police discretion in a society committed to the rule of law. The book was named one of the 10 best history books of 2019 by Smithsonian Magazine and received several prizes, including the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize and an honorable mention for the Law & Society Association’s J. Willard Hurst Book Prize. In addition to publishing in academic journals, Seo has written for The Atlantic, Boston Review, Lapham’s Quarterly, Le Monde Diplomatique, The New York Review of Books, and The Washington Post.

After earning her J.D. at Columbia Law School in 2007, Seo clerked for Judge Denny Chin, then of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, and Judge Reena Raggi of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit. Seo taught at Iowa Law School before joining the Columbia Law School faculty in 2020.

Publications

Honors and Awards

David J. Langum, Sr. Prize in American Legal History

2020

Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Book Prize

2020

Honorable Mention, J. Willard Hurst Book Prize, Law and Society Association

2020

Dissertation Prize, Law and Society Association

2017

Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society

2017

Beach Law Faculty Opportunity Fund, University of Iowa College of Law

2016–2020

Professor Eric K. Yamamoto Emerging Scholar Award, Conference of Asian Pacific American Law Faculty

2017

William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Grant

2016–2017

Charles W. McCurdy Legal History Fellowship, University of Virginia School of Law and Miller Center of Public Affairs

2015–2016

Emerging Alumni Scholars Award, Princeton University

2015

Fellow, J. Willard Hurst Institute in Legal History, American Society for Legal History and University of Wisconsin Law School

2015

Samuel I. Golieb Fellowship, New York University School of Law

2014–2015

Richard Scharchburg Student Paper Award, Society of Automotive Historians

2014

Laurance S. Rockefeller Graduate Prize Fellowship, University Center for Human Values, Princeton University

2013–2014

William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Fellowship

2013

News and Press

Activities and Affiliations

  • Reviewer, The University of Wisconsin Press, Oxford University Press, Journal of Urban History, and Green Bag’s Exemplary Legal Writing Honors 
  • 2019–present Cromwell Prize Committee, American Society for Legal History 
  • 2017–2018 J. Willard Hurst Book Prize Committee, Law and Society Association 
  • 2015–present Founding Member, Steering Committee, Lincoln Center Young Patrons, New York, NY 
  • 2014–2015 Pro Bono Attorney, Legal Services NYC 
  • 2013–2015 Chair, Academic Committee, Asian American Bar Association of New York

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