Northwestern Pritzker School of Law Names Inaugural Director of LGBTQI+ Rights Clinic


Faculty Bluhm Legal Clinic Diversity and Inclusion
Headshot of Kara Ingelhart

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law is excited to announce that after an extensive national search, Kara Ingelhart (she/her) joins the Northwestern Pritzker Law faculty as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and the inaugural director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s new LGBTQI+ Rights Clinic. At a time when harassment, discrimination, and violence targeted against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and intersex (LGBTQI+) people continues to increase across the country, Northwestern Pritzker School of Law is launching an LGBTQI+ Rights Clinic within the Bluhm Legal Clinic to advance litigation and advocacy in support of LGBTQI+ rights. 

“We are extremely excited to welcome Professor Kara Ingelhart as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Law and the inaugural director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic’s new LGBTQI+ Rights Clinic. She is an outstanding attorney and advocate for LGBTQI+ rights, and her leadership will be crucial as we launch the LGBTQI+ Rights Clinic” said Dean Hari Osofsky. “Our Law School is committed to contributing to efforts to uphold LGBTQI+ rights locally, regionally, and nationally in collaboration with stakeholders and advocates. Thank you to our OUTLaw student leaders, alumni leaders, and faculty and staff leaders for their important work and generosity in developing this critically important new clinic and recruiting an amazing first leader for it.”   

As the LGBTQI+ Rights Clinic’s first director, Ingelhart will be responsible for the overall success and sustainability of the clinic as well as the types of cases and projects selected, with the objective of shaping an intersectional and inclusive LGBTQI+ Rights Clinic now and well into the future.

“With more people identifying as a member of the LGBTQI+ community than ever before and the intense public attention on our rights, now is the right time to present Northwestern Pritzker Law students with opportunities to engage in legal advocacy on behalf of LGBTQI+ community members,” said Ingelhart, who stressed that centering diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging at the community level, for clients, and for the clinic’s team members will be a driving force of the clinic’s vision. “I am thrilled for the chance to engage with students who are looking for opportunities to serve historically marginalized communities, develop an understanding of the strategies that have shaped our nation’s LGBTQI+ rights movement history, and immerse themselves in the interdisciplinary nature of the law.”

“Given the unprecedented number of anti-LGBTQI+ bills introduced across the country, it is more important than ever for institutions such as the Bluhm Legal Clinic to expand its advocacy efforts for LGBTQI+ individuals,” said Robin Gale Walker Sterling, associate dean and director of the Bluhm Legal Clinic. “Kara Ingelhart’s experience reflects the clinic’s commitment to legal reform and education, and we are so pleased to work with her in launching this new clinic devoted to the advancement and protection of LGBTQI+ rights.” 

Ingelhart has extensive litigation and advocacy experience and deep knowledge of the needs of LGBTQI+ clients and communities. Prior to joining Northwestern Pritzker Law, she was a Senior Attorney in the Midwest Regional Office of Lambda Legal, the oldest and largest organization dedicated to advancing the civil rights of LGBT people and individuals living with HIV. She has played an instrumental role in advancing the rights of LGBTQI+ people under federal civil rights laws. Most recently, she was lead counsel in Wilkins v. Austin, a federal lawsuit brought on behalf of three civilians living with HIV and an organizational plaintiff Minority Veterans of America that challenged the U.S. military’s policy barring enlistment and appointment of civilians living with HIV to military service. This follows Ingelhart’s role as co-counsel in Harrison v. Austin and Roe v. Austin, two successful federal lawsuits brought on behalf of service members living with HIV, as well as in Karnoski v. Trump, a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Trump administration’s ban on military service by transgender people. She has also served as co-counsel in Lambda Legal’s litigation to ensure access to accurate birth certificates for transgender people in all 50 states.

Ingelhart was also co-counsel in multiple lawsuits seeking to advance and protect the rights of LGBTQI+ young people, including Evancho v. Pine-Richland School District, where a court held that the equal protection guarantee protects transgender students from discrimination (including access to sex-segregated bathrooms). In addition to her work as a litigator, Ingelhart has contributed to federal, state, and municipal legislative and policy efforts concerning the inclusion of protections for LGBTQI+ people and people living with HIV who are involved in the federal criminal legal system.

Recognized as an emerging leader and passionate advocate for the civil rights of LGBTQI+ people, Ingelhart has spoken at some of America’s leading law schools, including University of Chicago, Northwestern, Indiana University, and Notre Dame, as well as national advocacy conferences on criminalization of LGBTQI+ people and people living with HIV as well as the intersectionality of race, poverty, HIV, and LGBTQI+ issues. In addition to Ingelhart’s work as a LGBTQI+ and HIV movement lawyer, she is also an adjunct professor at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law and The Law School at the University of Chicago Law School, where she developed a curriculum and instructs a seminar course examining the treatment of gender identity, studying significant legal issues and cases involving transgender, nonbinary, and intersex litigants, and exploring criminalization and non-discrimination protections, as well as constitutional jurisprudence and theory. She has been recognized as one of the Best LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association (2020) and as one of Chicago’s LGBTQ Community’s Best and Brightest Individuals Under 30 by the Windy City Times (2016).

Ingelhart graduated from The University of Chicago Law School, and she received her bachelor’s degree in biology and gender studies from Indiana University. Ingelhart is a member of the Illinois bar.