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Michael J. Yelnosky

Michael J. Yelnosky
Professor of Law

J.D., University of Pennsylvania
B.S., University of Vermont


Michael J. Yelnosky became the dean of Roger Williams University School of Law on July 1, 2014.

Dean Yelnosky is a founding member of the RWU Law faculty. He served as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs for four years, and he was named Distinguished Service Professor in 2011. He has also taught as a visitor at Seton Hall University School of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law/IIT, and Villanova University School of Law.

Dean Yelnosky is an expert in employment and labor law, and much of his scholarship explores alternatives or adjuncts to traditional enforcement of employment discrimination law. He is a Research Fellow with NYU Law School’s Center for Labor and Employment Law. He has served as President of the Rhode Island chapter of the Labor and Employment Relations Association, and he was the neutral arbitrator in a major interest arbitration between the State of Rhode Island and the Rhode Island Brotherhood of Correctional Officers.

Another focus of Dean Yelnosky’s scholarship involves the judicial selection process, both in Rhode Island and nationally. He has written several articles and hosted a major symposium about Rhode Island’s merit selection system, and the major findings of his research into the role of the ABA in the federal judicial selection process were summarized in a Washington Post op-ed he wrote in 2013.  He is regularly quoted in the local and national media on these and other topics, and he has published several op-ed pieces in the Providence Journal.

In the classroom, Dean Yelnosky was a favorite with 1L students in Civil Procedure and with second and third year students in Employment Law, Labor Law, and Employment Discrimination.  He has also taught a course entitled Judicial Behavior and Social Change Litigation, with the Honorable William E. Smith, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

In his previous administrative role as associate dean, Yelnosky was instrumental in leading the law school’s successful effort to gain membership in the Association of American Law Schools. He also designed and conducted annual studies of the scholarly output of the faculties of most American law schools, studies that documented the achievements of the faculty at Roger Williams and that garnered the attention of a national audience, including influential bloggers Brian Leiter and Paul Caron.

Dean Yelnosky graduated cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law and magna cum laude from the University of Vermont. Before he began teaching he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Edmund V. Ludwig in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and worked for two law firms: Mellon, Webster & Mellon; and Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius.

Already, under Dean Yelnosky’s watch, the School of Law has launched a D.C. Semester in Practice program, a Veteran’s Disability Appeals Clinic, a dual J.D./M.S. in Cybersecurity, a Master’s Program in Law for non-lawyers, and a 3+3 Program with Johnson & Wales University.  The School of Law also helped launch the Rhode Island Center for Justice, a civil legal services office that represents indigent clients and is home to a fellowship program reserved exclusively for graduates of the School of Law.

Dean Yelnosky and his wife Laurie Barron are the parents of 15-year-old twins. Yelnosky has completed seven marathons, including Philadelphia, New York, and Boston.

Selected Publications


Harris v. Quinn: What We Talk About When We Talk About Right-To-Work Laws, 20 Roger Williams U.L. Rev. 119 (2015)

Who Rates Prospective Federal Judges for the American Bar Association?, 19 Roger Williams University Law Review 91 (2014)

Fully Federalizing the Federal Arbitration Act, 90 Oregon Law Review 729 (2012)

Employment Testers Revisited, 62 NYU ANN. CONF. ON LAB. 685 (2011)

The Impact of “Merit Selection” On the Characteristics of Rhode Island Judges, 15 Roger Williams U.L. Rev. 649 (2010) (symposium on “Judicial Selection in Rhode Island”)

What Do Unions Do About Appearance Codes?, 14 Duke Journal of Gender Law and Policy 521 (2007)

Ten Years (or so) After Gilmer: Arbitration of Employment Law Claims under the Federal Arbitration Act and the Role of Rhode Island Law, 9 Roger Williams U.L. Rev. 499 (2004) (10th Anniversary Edition) 

The Prevention Justification for Affirmative Action, 64 Ohio State Law Journal 1385 (2003)

Title VII, Mediation, and Collective Action, 1999 University of Illinois Law Review 583

What Does "Testing" Tell Us About the Incidence of Discrimination in Housing Markets?, 29 Seton Hall Law Review 1488 (1999)

The At-Will Rule and an Employer’s Duty to Investigate and Remedy Workplace Harassment: A Reasonable Regulatory Approach?, 51 NYU Ann. Conf. On Lab. 467 (1999)

Rhode Island's Judicial Nominating Commission: Can "Reform" Become Reality?, 1 Roger Williams U.L. Rev. 87 (1996)

If You Write It, (S)He Will Come: Judicial Opinions, Metaphors, Baseball, and "The Sex Stuff",28 Connecticut Law Review 815 (1996)

Salvaging the Opportunity: A Response to Professor Clark, 28 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 151 (1994)

Filling An Enforcement Void: Using Testers to Uncover Discrimination In Hiring for Lower-Skilled, Entry-Level Jobs, 26 University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform 403 (1993)


3 NYU Selected Essays on Labor and Employment Law: Behavioral Analyses of Workplace Discrimination (Mitu Gulati & Michael J. Yelnosky eds. 2007)

2 NYU Selected Essays on Labor and Employment Law (David Sherwyn & Michael J. Yelnosky eds., 2003)

NYU Working Papers on Labor and Employment Law: 1998-1999 (Michael J. Yelnosky ed., 2001)