Michael J. Yelnosky

Photo of Michael J. Yelnosky
Michael J. YelnoskyProfessor of Law


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

Michael 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 served as Dean of Roger Williams University School of Law from 2014 to 2020. He has also taught as a visiting professor at Seton Hall University School of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law/IIT, and Villanova University School of Law.

Professor Yelnosky is an expert in employment and labor law, and much of his scholarship explores alternatives or adjuncts to traditional enforcement of employment discrimination laws.  Another focus of his scholarship is judicial selection. 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.

Before becoming dean, Yelnosky regularly taught Civil Procedure, Employment Law, Labor Law, and Employment Discrimination.  He also collaborated with colleagues to teach Advanced Appellate Advocacy and with the Honorable William E. Smith, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, to teach Judicial Behavior and Social Change Litigation. Since becoming dean, he has directed the Judicial Clinical Externship Program, and he designed and teaches Introduction to the Study of Law for students in the Master of Studies in Law Program. 

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.

Professor 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 United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and worked for two law firms: Mellon, Webster & Mellon; and Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius.

Professor Yelnosky and his wife Laurie Barron are the parents of twins. Yelnosky has completed eight marathons, including Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.


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)

Using Mediation to Resolve Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Discrimination Charges, 1995 Wiley Employment Law Update 21


Labor Law Illiteracy: Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis and Janus v. AFSCME, 24 Roger Williams University Law Review 104 (2019)

DIRECTV, Inc. v. Imburgia and the Continued Ascendance of Federal Common Law: Class-Action Waivers and Mandatory Arbitration Under the Federal Arbitration Act22 Roger Williams U.L. Rev. 287 (2017)

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 U.L. Rev.  91 (2014)

Fully Federalizing the Federal Arbitration Act, 90 Or. L. Rev. 729 (2012)

The Impact of “Merit Selection” On the Characteristics of Rhode Island Judges15 Roger Williams U.L. Rev. 649 (2010) (symposium on “Judicial Selection in Rhode Island”)

What Do Unions Do About Appearance Codes?, 14 Duke J. Gender L. & Pol’y 521 (2007) (symposium on “Makeup, Identity Performance, and Discrimination”)

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) 

Mediation?, 53 NYU Ann. Conf. on Lab. 901 (2004)

The Prevention Justification for Affirmative Action, 64 Ohio St. L.J. 1385 (2003)

Title VII, Mediation, and Collective Action, 1999 U. Ill. L. Rev. 583       

What Does “Testing” Tell Us About the Incidence of Discrimination in Housing Markets?  29 Seton Hall L. Rev. 1488 (1999) (symposium on “Housing and Hope: An Agenda for Reform”)

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)

Whither Weber?, 4 Roger Williams U.L. Rev. 205 (1998) (symposium on Board of Education v. Taxman)

If You Write It, (S)He Will Come: Judicial Opinions, Metaphors, Baseball, and "The Sex Stuff", 28 Conn. L. Rev. 815 (1996)

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

Salvaging the Opportunity: A Response to Professor Clark, 28 U. Mich. J. L. Ref. 151 (1994)           

Filling an Enforcement Void: Using Testers to Uncover Discrimination In Hiring for Lower-Skilled, Entry-Level Jobs, 26 U. Mich. J.L. Ref. 403 (1993)

Close Course Type Descriptions

Course Types

We have classified RWU Law classes under the following headers. One of the following course types will be attached to each course which will allow students to narrow down their search while looking for classes.

Core Course

Students in the first and second year are required to take classes covering the following aspects of the law—contracts, torts, property, criminal law, civil procedure, and constitutional law, evidence, and professional responsibility.  Along with these aspects, the core curriculum will develop legal reasoning skills.


After finishing the core curriculum the remaining coursework toward the degree is completed through upper level elective courses.  Students can choose courses that peak their interests or courses that go along with the track they are following.


Seminars are classes where teachers and small groups of students focus on a specific topic and the students complete a substantial research paper.


Inhouse Clinics and Clinical Externships legal education is law school training in which students participate in client representation under the supervision of a practicing attorney or law professor.  RWU Law's Clinical Programs offer unique and effective learning opportunities and the opportunity for practical experience while still in law school.