Chi Adanna Mgbako
Research and Teaching Areas
Human Rights and the Carceral State; Sex Workers' Rights; Access to Justice; Women's Rights and Gender Justice
Chi Adanna Mgbako is clinical professor of law and director of the Walter Leitner International Human Rights Clinic at Fordham Law School. In partnership with grassroots organizations, she and her students work on human rights projects focusing on sex workers’ rights, women’s rights and gender justice, criminal justice reform, and access to justice. She has conducted human rights fieldwork in many countries, among them Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Malawi, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Uganda, and the United States.
Under Mgbako’s direction, the clinic has worked on numerous projects, including human rights trainings on women and HIV/AIDS, female genital cutting, and LGBT refugee rights; human rights reports on access to safe abortion, police abuse of marginalized communities, and employment discrimination against transgender people; mobile legal aid clinics in rural communities; legal research for public interest lawsuits challenging the forced HIV testing of sex workers; claims to the United Nations on behalf of arbitrarily detained prisoners; shadow reports to international human rights bodies documenting abuses against African sex workers; and consultancy work for community-based paralegal programs.
She has published widely in academic journals and the popular press, including the Harvard Human Rights Journal, Yale Journal of International Affairs, Georgetown Journal of International Law, Human Rights Quarterly, International New York Times, The Guardian, and Huffington Post. She is the author of To Live Freely in This World: Sex Worker Activism in Africa (New York University Press, 2016), which was profiled by BBC News Focus on Africa and Washington Post’s “Monkey Cage” politics blog.
Mgbako earned her JD from Harvard Law School, where she received the Gary Bellow Public Service Award, and her BA, magna cum laude, from Columbia University. Before joining the Fordham law faculty in 2007, she served as the Harvard Henigson Human Rights Fellow in the West Africa Project of the International Crisis Group, where she focused on justice sector reform in Liberia and political reform in Nigeria, and as the Crowley Fellow in International Human Rights at Fordham Law School, where she co-produced a documentary on the feminization of HIV/AIDS in Malawi.
In recognition of Mgbako’s teaching, writing, and human rights advocacy, she has been honored as a New York Law Journal Rising Star, National Law Journal Top 40 Lawyer of Color Under 40, Fordham Law School’s Public Interest Faculty Member of the Year, and a recipient of the Police Reform Organizing Project’s Citizen of the City Award. In 2017, she received the Association of American Law Schools’ Section on Clinical Legal Education’s M. Shanara Gilbert Award, one of the highest honors in clinical legal education.
- Harvard Law School, JD, 2005
- Columbia University, BA, magna cum laude, 2001