Photo: Sonia M.  Gipson Rankin

Sonia M.  Gipson Rankin

      Assistant Professor of Law


      • J.D. University of Illinois College of Law
      • B.S. Morgan State University
      • Member of the New Mexico Bar

      Contact Information

       Ph.: 505-277-1266
       Office: 3213


      Sonia Gipson Rankin teaches in the fields of Torts, Constitutional Law, Family Law, and Race and the Law. Gipson Rankin’s research is centered on the law and its impact on the Black American community, particularly in the areas of technology, family dynamics, and race.

      Before joining the UNM School of Law faculty, Gipson Rankin served as the Associate Dean for Curriculum and Program Development in University College and as a Senior Lecturer in Africana Studies, both at the University of New Mexico. In 2016, Gipson Rankin was named one of 10 Outstanding First-Year Advocates by the National Resource Center for her work related to first year college students. In 2018, she was honored as a Woman of Influence Award by the Albuquerque Business Journal.

      Gipson Rankin has served as a family mediator, legal advisor, and as a charter school trustee and has served on state-wide higher education committees and regularly presents on kinship care, mass incarceration, microaggressions, gender equity, and issues related to the Black American community before universities, civil rights and public policy conferences. Gipson Rankin has been committed to her community, serving in the past as Vice-President of her children’s elementary school PTA and as a pre-teen volleyball coach through the YMCA. She has taught lessons on Black New Mexico history, the constitution, and ethics throughout Albuquerque public schools and instructed at continuing legal education programs through the New Mexico State Bar. She is a former President of the New Mexico Black Lawyers Association, and a member of the State Bar of New Mexico Committee on Diversity.

      In the News



      Please see instructor for description.


      Torts introduces the law of civil liability, where private parties bring actions against other private parties for the breach of a particular duty. This is a far reaching range of human conduct that the law attempts to address. Punch in the nose. Car accidents. Environmental pollution. Defective products. Medical malpractice. School shootings. Cyberbullying. Tort law must unpack not only a multitude of potential harmful behaviors, but must sort through limitless varieties in fact patterns.

      Through tort law, we never diminish loss, we only shift it. Determining how this shift occurs and when is decided daily by judges and policymakers. Course coverage will focus on the tort of negligence, where we will consider: general and specific duty categories; standard of care; causation, both proximate and legal; damages; and defenses. We will also explore intentional torts, such as assault, battery, false imprisonment, and infliction of emotional distress, harms to property interests, and lay the foundation for strict liability and products liability. In this course, you will receive an introduction to the legal method, the tort litigation process and the social, economic, and political policy considerations and implications underlying tort law.

      Family Law

      The aim of this course is to introduce students to a dynamic field of law that concerns a foundational social institution: the family. Topics include defining and regulating marriage (including the evolving landscape concerning marriage, parenting, and adoption by same-sex couples); formal and informal marriage; cohabitation and alternatives to marriage; common law incidents of marriage and transformation of the common law; traditional and “no fault” divorce; property division; spousal support; child support; child custody; regulating parenthood; advanced reproductive technologies; changing structures of family life; and issues of federal and state jurisdiction over and recognition of marriage. In the course, we consider some of the most interesting and challenging questions in our society from the perspective of law, policy, and morality, examining how family law is situated within the United States’ social, economic, cultural, and political constructions.

      Students will also be introduced to the role of negotiation, mediation, and other forms of dispute resolution in the practice of family law. Our readings and discussions will encourage you to look beyond doctrine and consider what role the law should play in defining and regulating our most intimate relationships, and what policies the law should effectuate.

      By the end of this semester, you should be able to address and answer complex issues and important questions such as:

      • What is a "family"?
      • How does and how should family law address the evolving structure of families?
      • What is the appropriate balance between family autonomy and state regulation?
      • How do race, gender, and class affect family law?

      Lawyering in the Digital Age

      Please see instructor for description.

      Race and the Law

      This course has been developed to explore the controversial and complex topic of race through a legal lens. We will consider the historical and contemporary relationship between law and society, analyzing law as an expression of cultural values, a reflection of social, economic, and political structure, and an ideological instrument of social control and social change. We will examine the legal construction of race as it relates to individual, institutional, and structural racism. Complimenting this general perspective will be an examination of selected legal institutions, such as the court system, the police, regulatory agencies, and the legal profession.



      Technological Tethereds: Potential Impact of Untrustworthy Artificial Intelligence in Criminal Justice Risk Assessment Instruments, WASH & LEE L. REV. (forthcoming 2021).
      Available at: SSRN

      Black Kinship Circles in the 21st Century: Survey of Recent Child Welfare Reforms and How It Impacts Black Kinship Care Families, 12 J. CHILD & FAM. ADVOC. 1 (2013).
      Available at: UNM-DR

      Why They Won’t Take the Money: Black Grandparents and the Success of Informal Kinship Care, 10 ELDER LAW JOURNAL 153 (2002).
      Available at: UNM-DR


      Regarding Docket No. FR-6111-P-02, HUD’s Implementation of the Fair Housing Act’s Disparate Impact Standard (Federal Register HUD-2019-0067-2823, October 18, 2019) (co-authored with Alfred D. Mathewson et al.).
      Available at: Federal Register & UNM-DR


      Who is Caught up in New Mexico's Criminal Justice System? Considering Race, Ethnicity, Class, Gender, University of New Mexico Libraries (March 2020).

      Arcing Towards Justice: Dr. King’s 2020 Vision, Sandia National Laboratories and Kirtland AFB Martin Luther King Jr. Observance (January 2020).
      Available at: UNM-DR

      Improving Retention and Graduation Rates in a Hispanic-Serving Institution, Reinvention Collaborative RC20/20 Higher Education Conference (2018).
      Available at: UNM-DR

      Law School News