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Herma Hill Kay

Herma Hill Kay (August 18, 1934 – June 10, 2017) was the Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong Professor of Law at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall). She previously served as dean of Boalt from 1992 to 2000.[1] She specialized in family law and conflict of laws.

Herma Hill Kay
9th Dean of UC Berkeley School of Law
In office
Preceded by Jesse Choper
Succeeded by John P. Dwyer
Personal details
Born (1934-08-18)August 18, 1934
Orangeburg, South Carolina
Died June 10, 2017(2017-06-10) (aged 82)
San Francisco, California
Nationality American
Alma mater Southern Methodist University B.A. 1956
University of Chicago J.D. 1959
Occupation Professor



Kay was born in Orangeburg, South Carolina in 1934[2][3] to a third-grade teacher mother, Herma Lee Crawford, and an Army chaplain father, Charles Esdorn Hill.[3][4] She studied English at Southern Methodist University and graduated magna cum laude in 1956. At SMU, she was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa.[5] She then attended law school at the University of Chicago, graduating third in her class in 1959. After law school, she clerked for one year for Justice Roger Traynor of the California Supreme Court. She joined the faculty at Boalt Hall in 1960[5] and became dean of that faculty in 1992.[6] Kay died on June 10, 2017, at the age of 82.[7]

Works, honors, and recognitionEdit

In 1966, Kay served on the California Governor's Commission on the Family, which proposed that California adopt a no-fault regime for divorce. The state of California adopted a law based on that recommendation, the first of its kind in the United States, in 1970.[8] Along with Robert Levy, she was co-reporter of the committee that prepared the Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act.[9][10]

In 1985, Kay was elected to the Council of the American Law Institute.[11] Kay was president of the Association of American Law Schools in 1989 and secretary of the American Bar Association Section on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar from 1999 to 2001. She received 1992 Margaret Brent Award to Women Lawyers of Distinction and the 2003 Boalt Hall Alumni Association Faculty Lifetime Achievement Award.[1]

Kay has also been recognized for her teaching, receiving the UC Berkeley Distinguished Teaching Award, in 1962,[11] and the Society of American Law Teachers Teaching Award.[1]

In 1999, the Boalt Hall Women's Association created a fellowship in Kay's name to support students pursuing "public interest work benefiting women."[12]

Selected worksEdit

  • "Same-Sex Divorce in the Conflict of Laws," 15 Kings College L.J. 63 (2004).
  • "'Making Marriage and Divorce Safe for Women' Revisited," 32 Hofstra L. Rev. 71 (2003).
  • "U.C.'s Women Law Faculty," 36 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 331 (2003).
  • "Women Law School Deans: A Different Breed, Or Just One Of The Boys?" 14 Yale J. L. & Feminism 219 (2002).
  • "No-Fault Divorce and Child Custody: Chilling Out the Gender Wars," 36 Fam. L. Q. 27 (2002).
  • "The Challenge to Diversity in Legal Education," 34 Ind. L. Rev. 55 (2000).
  • "From the Second Sex to the Joint Venture: An Overview of Women's Rights and Family Law in the United States During the Twentieth Century," 88 Calif.L.Rev. 2017 (December 2000).
  • "Adoption in the Conflict of Laws: The UAA, Not the UCCJA, Is the Answer," 84 Calif.L.Rev. 703 (1996).
  • "Beyond No-Fault: New Directions in Divorce Reform," in (S. Sugarman & H.H. Kay, eds.) Divorce Reform at the Crossroads 6–36 (Yale Univ. Press, 1990).
  • "An Appraisal of California's No-Fault Divorce Law," 75 Calif.L.Rev. 291 (1987).
  • "Equality and Difference: The Case of Pregnancy," 1 Berkeley Women's L.J. 1 (1985).
  • "Marvin v. Marvin: Preserving the Options," 65 Calif.L.Rev. 937 (1977) (with Carol Amyx).
  • "Making Marriage and Divorce Safe for Women" — review of M. Rheinstein, Marriage Stability, Divorce and the Law in 60 Calif.L.Rev. 1683 (1972).


  1. ^ a b c "Berkeley Law - Faculty Profiles". Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ a b "Oral History of Herma Hill Kay" (PDF). California Legal History. 8. 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2015. 
  4. ^ Quade, Vicki (October 1983). "Women in the Law: Twelve success stories". ABA Journal. 69: 1410. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  5. ^ a b "Herma Hill Kay" (PDF). Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  6. ^ "Former Deans". Berkeley Law. Archived from the original on 18 December 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Iconic Professor and Former Berkeley Law Dean Herma Hill Kay Dies at 82". Retrieved 13 June 2017. 
  8. ^ Hill Kay, Herma (January 1987). "An Appraisal of California's No-Fault Divorce Law". California Law Review. 75 (1). Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  9. ^ Swift, Eleanor. Oral History of Herma Hill Kay: Introduction (PDF). 
  10. ^ Uniform Marriage and Divorce Act (PDF). American Bar Association. 1974. 
  11. ^ a b "Biography: Herma Hill Kay". American Law Institute. Archived from the original on 16 April 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 
  12. ^ "Herma Hill Kay Fellowship". Boalt Hall Women's Association. Retrieved 16 April 2015. 

External linksEdit