Cynthia Nicoletti


Assistant Professor of Law





  • Harvard Law School, J.D.
  • University of Virginia, B.A., with highest distinction, M.A., Ph.D. (history)





  • Book Manuscript, The Great Question of the War:  The Legal Status of Secession in the Aftermath of the American Civil War, 1865-1869 (in progress). 
  • “The Emancipation Proclamation in International and Constitutional Law,” (in progress). 
  • Erie and the Alien Tort Statute: How Legal Realism Changed Customary International Law in the United States,” (in progress). 
  • “Strategic Litigation and the Death of Reconstruction,” in Signposts: New Directions in Southern Legal History, eds. Sally Hadden and Patricia Minter (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2013) (forthcoming).
  • “The American Civil War as a Trial by Battle,” Law and History Review 28 (February 2010): 71-110 (winner of the Kathryn T. Preyer Prize, American Society for Legal History, 2008). 
  • “Did Secession Really Die at Appomattox?: The Strange Case of U.S. v. Jefferson Davis,” University of Toledo Law Review  41 (2010): 587.
  • Review of Jonathan W. White, Abraham Lincoln and Treason in the Civil War and Brian McGinty, The Body of John Merryman, in Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association (in progress). 
  • Review of Lynda Crist and Suzanne Gibbs, eds., The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 13: 1871-1879, in Journal of Southern History (in progress). 
  • Review of Brian McGinty, John Brown’s Trial, in Law and History Review 29 (February 2011): 322-24.



Awards and Fellowships:


  • William Nelson Cromwell Prize for the best dissertation in legal history, American Society for Legal History, 2011
  • J. Willard Hurst Summer Institute in Legal History, University of Wisconsin, June 2009
  • Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars Award for the best paper in legal history by a young scholar, American Society for Legal History, 2008, for "The American Civil War as a Trial by Battle"
  • Quinn Dissertation Fellowship, University of Virginia, 2008-2009
  • Raoul Berger-Mark DeWolfe Howe Visiting Fellowship in Legal History, Harvard Law School, 2007-2008
  • Huntington Library Research Fellowship, San Marino, California, 2008
  • Hibernian Research Award, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, University of Notre Dame, 2008
  • Filson Historical Society Travel Grant, Louisville Kentucky, 2008
  • Semi-Finalist for 7 Society Award for Teaching Excellence, University of Virginia, Spring 2006
  • Jefferson Graduate Fellowship, University of Virginia, 2003-2007





  • “Author Meets Readers:  James Q. Whitman’s Verdict of Battle,” American Society for Legal History, St. Louis, MO, November 2012. 
  • “The Problem of Proving Treason in the Aftermath of the American Civil War,” University of Mississippi Law School, Oxford, MS, April 2012. 
  • “Did Secession Really Die at Appomattox?,” Constitution Day Lecture, Mississippi College, Clinton, MS, September 2011. 
  • “Strategic Lawyering and the Early Death of Reconstruction,” Law and Society Association Conference, San Francisco, CA, June 2011.
  • "Did Secession Really Die at Appomattox?," History of American Rights Conference, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, California, September 2009
  • "Did Secession Really Die at Appomattox?,: The Strange Case of U.S. v. Jefferson Davis," Organization of American Historians Conference, Seattle, Washington, March 2009
  • "The American Civil War as a Trial by Battle," Kathryn T. Preyer Scholars Panel, American Society for Legal History, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, November 2008
  • "The Treason Trial of Jefferson Davis," Invited Lecturer, Elizabeth Roller Bottimore Lecture on Civil War History, Museum of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia, September 2008
  • "The American Civil War as a Trial by Battle: Federal Supremacy and Secession Ideology among Ex-Confederates." Law and Society Association Conference, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, May 2008
  • "The American Civil War as a Trial by Battle," Harvard Law School Legal History Colloquium, Cambridge, Massachusetts, April 2008



Work Experience:


  • Instructor, University of Virginia, 2010
  • Adjunct Professor, Randolph College, 2009
  • Contract Attorney, McGuire Woods, 2004
  • Summer Associate, Latham & Watkins, 2002
  • Summer Associate, Becket Fund for Religious Liberties, 2001





  • American Society for Legal History
  • American Historical Society
  • Southern Historical Society
  • Organization of American Historians 
  • Virginia State Bar (inactive status)