Headshot of John Bliss

John Bliss


Assistant Professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law; Affiliate Faculty, HLS Center on the Legal Profession

John Bliss is an assistant professor at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and an affiliate faculty member at the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession. His research empirically examines the relationship between lawyers’ professional identities and their public-interest values. Drawing on a longitudinal qualitative analysis, he has studied how law students adopt professional selves while “drifting” away from initial aspirations to work in public-interest practice settings. He also takes this inquiry further into lawyers’ careers, examining civic professionalism among young lawyers in the U.S. and China, pro bono in large law firms, and movement lawyering in the contexts of fair housing, animal rights, and the protection of future generations. His work is published or forthcoming in leading legal and interdisciplinary outlets, including Law & Social InquiryLaw & Society Review, Wisconsin Law ReviewUC Davis Law ReviewThe Georgetown Journal of Legal Ethics, and edited volumes on global pro bono and the emerging Chinese bar.

Professor Bliss teaches primarily in the areas of legal profession, property, and socio-legal studies. Along with Associate Dean Alexi Freeman, he co-founded and co-directs the 1L Public Good Program at Denver Law, an evidence-based curriculum and practicum designed to support first-year students who aspire to careers in public interest law. His teaching is deeply informed by his research on legal education, including his forthcoming study of how law school grading practices impact learning, well-being, and inequality among students.

Before joining the Denver Law faculty, he completed his J.D. and Ph.D. at UC Berkeley and then spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Law School Center on the Legal Profession. He belongs to several academic associations relating to the interdisciplinary study of law and the legal profession, including serving as co-director of the Legal Education Collaborative Research Network with the Law and Society Association.