Maxine Eichner

Graham Kenan Distinguished Professor of Law

Areas of Expertise

  • Critical Legal Theory
  • Economics and the Law
  • Family Law
  • Feminist Legal Theory
  • Gender and the Law
  • Political Economy and the Law
  • Public Law and Legal Theory
  • Queer Theory
  • Sexuality and the Law
  • Women and the Law


Maxine Eichner, who joined the faculty in 2003, writes on issues at the intersection of law and political theory, focusing particularly on family relationships, social welfare law and policy; feminist theory; sexuality; and the relationship of the family, the workplace, and market forces. Professor Eichner is the author of The Free-Market Family: How the Market Crushed the American Dream (and How It Can Be Restored) (OUP, 2020), winner of the 2021 PROSE award for best scholarly work on economics, which considers the harsh effects that market forces are having on American families today, as well as The Supportive State: Families, Government, and America’s Political Ideals (OUP, 2010). In addition, she has written numerous articles and chapters for law reviews, peer-reviewed journals, and edited volumes on law and political theory, and was an editor of a family law casebook.

Eichner was appointed by Governor Roy Cooper as a commissioner to the Uniform Law Commission in 2022 and currently serves in that capacity. She is a member of the American Law Institute and an advisor on the ALI’s Restatement of the Law: Children and the Law project. She coordinates research to protect reproductive rights for the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. She is also working to prevent unjust charges of medical child abuse from being filed against parents through the UNC School of Law Medical Child Abuse Initiative and MitoAction’s Medical Child Abuse Task Force. Read her New York Times op-ed on this issue. She has been recognized for her service work through being named Professor of the Year by the law school’s Pro Bono Program, and receiving an Equality Champion Award from Equality North Carolina.

Before joining UNC School of Law, Eichner attended Yale College and Yale Law School, where she was an articles editor of the Yale Law Journal. After law school, she held a Women’s Law and Public Policy Fellowship through Georgetown Law School, clerked for Judge Louis Oberdorfer in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, and then clerked for Judge Betty Fletcher in the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. She subsequently practiced civil rights, women’s rights, and employment law for several years at the law firm of Patterson, Harkavy, and Lawrence in Raleigh, N.C. She then entered graduate school in the political science department at UNC, eventually earning a Ph.D. in political theory while on the law school’s faculty. In the course of her Ph.D. study, she held a fellowship in public affairs at the Miller Center of the University of Virginia.


  • Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2006)
  • M.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1997)
  • J.D., Yale University (1988)
  • B.A. (magna cum laude), Yale University (1984)

Selected Publications

COVID-19 and the Perils of Free-Market Parenting: Why it is Past Time for the United States to Install Government Supports for Families, 90 FORDHAM L. REV. 2509 (2022).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | Hein | BEPress

When the Helping Hand Hurts: How Medical Child Abuse Charges Are Undermining Parents' Decision-Making Rights Over Children's Medical Care, 35 J. AM. ACAD. MATRIM. LAW. 123 (2022).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

The Free-Market Family: Liberalism, Families, and Government’s Responsibility to Regulate the Market, in CARING FOR LIBERALISM: DEPENDENCY AND LIBERAL POLITICAL THEORY (Asha Bhandary & Amy Baehr eds., 2021).
SSRN | HQ1236 .C3727 2021

The Road to Free-Market Family Policy, 1 J.L. & POL. ECON. 239 (2021).
SSRN | BEPress | Document Link

HQ536 .E349 2020

Pluralization of Families, in International Panel on Social Progress, Report on Rethinking Society for the Twenty-First Century (Cambridge Univ. Press 2018).
HN18.3 .I568 2018

The Privatized American Family, 93 NOTRE DAME L. REV. 213 (2017).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein | BEPress | Document Link

Bad Medicine: Parents, the State, and the Charge of "Medical Child Abuse," 50 U.C. DAVIS L. REV. 205 (2016).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | SSRN | Hein

Market-Cautious Feminism, 69 STUDIES IN LAW, POLITICS, AND SOCIETY 141, SPECIAL ISSUE: FEMINIST LEGAL THEORY (Austin Sarat, ed., 2016).
SSRN | Hein

Review Essay, The Family in Context, 128 HARV. L. REV. 1980 (2015).
Westlaw | Lexis/Nexis | Hein

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