David B. Thronson

David B. Thronson
[Hi-Res Photo]
Alan S. Zekelman Professor of International Human Rights Law and Director, Talsky Center for Human Rights of Women and Children
Law College Building
648 N. Shaw Lane Rm 422
East Lansing, MI 48824-1300

  • Biography

    David Thronson joined the Michigan State University College of Law faculty in 2010 and currently is the Alan S. Zekelman Professor of International Human Rights Law and Director of the Talsky Center for Human Rights of Women and Children. He previously served as MSU Law’s Associate Dean for Experiential Education and twice as MSU Law’s Associate Dean for Academic Affairs. His research focuses on the intersection of family law and immigration law, in particular on the impact of immigration law on children.

    Thronson graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in mathematics and education, then taught mathematics and science in Nepal as a Peace Corps volunteer. He completed a master's degree at Teachers College, Columbia University and served as a teacher and administrator in three public high schools in New York City.

    In 1994, Thronson earned a JD from Harvard Law School, where he was Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Human Rights Journal. After clerking for the Hon. A. Wallace Tashima of the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, he returned to New York City as a Skadden Fellow at The Door's Legal Services Center where he provided direct legal services to at-risk young people primarily in the areas of immigration, housing, public benefits and family law. He then worked as a Gibbons Fellow in Public Interest and Constitutional Law, litigating cases involving a wide range of issues including the scope of federal habeas jurisdiction to review immigration matters, the application of the Convention Against Torture, the constitutional adequacy of educational opportunities provided to children in urban school districts in New Jersey, and discrimination in New Jersey State Police hiring practices.

    From 1999 to 2002, Thronson taught in the Lawyering Program of New York University School of Law as he also taught courses in immigration law, public international law, and international human rights at Seton Hall University School of Law and Hofstra University School of Law. He subsequently served as Professor and Associate Dean for Clinical Studies at the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada Las Vegas. Thronson has taught immigration law as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School since 2017 and he was a visiting professor at the University of Iowa College of Law in 2020.

    Thronson is an elected member of the American Law Institute, a fellow of the American Bar Foundation, and a member of the Board of Governors of the Society of American Law Teachers. In 2021, the American Immigration Lawyers Association selected him to receive its Elmer Fried Excellence in Teaching Award and the Michigan State University College of Law honored him with its Donald F. Campbell Outstanding Teaching Award.

  • Degrees

    J.D. 1994, cum laude, Harvard Law School; M.A. 1990, Columbia University, Teachers College; B.S. 1985, University of Kansas; B.G.S. 1985, University of Kansas

  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Courses

    Civil Procedure
    (Formerly Civil Procedure I) A survey of civil procedure, primarily addressing jurisdiction, venue, the Erie doctrine, pleadings, simple joinder, discovery, sanctions, summary judgment, judgment as a matter of law, and former adjudication (claim preclusion and issue preclusion). Primary emphasis is placed on the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with some potential discussion of state deviations from the federal model.

    Family Law: Child, Family and the State
    (Formerly Family Law II; Child, Family and the State) This course examines a host of issues confronting today's modern families. For example, we will discuss how to define family - including marriage and parenthood - in the 21st century. Some specific topics include: defining family for distribution of "family" benefits; balancing work and family; paternity; domestic violence; child abuse and neglect; surrogacy; adoption; and artificial insemination. Students may take Family Law: Child, Family, and State and Family Law: Marriage & Divorce in any order or at the same time.

    Immigration Law
    (Formerly DCL 353) This course provides a general overview of U.S. immigration law and policy. The course will examine the admission, exclusion, deportation and naturalization of noncitizens in the United States, from constitutional foundations to daily practice issues. The course also will explore the rights of immigrants in employment, education, and public benefits, and will analyze the interaction of immigration law with other areas of law such as criminal law.

    Immigration Law Clinic I
    Students engage with immigrant communities through direct client representation and systemic advocacy. The Immigration Law Clinic provides opportunities for students to experience the practice of law in a well-supervised and academically rigorous program that both prepares them for the practice of law and enables them to critically assess social justice issues. In addition to client representation and advocacy, students participate in a clinic seminar. Students are required to work an average of 20 hours per week. Enrollment is by application only (please see student announcements for details of application process).

    Immigration Law Clinic II
    A supplement to Immigration Law Clinic I, open to students who have successfully completed Immigration Law Clinic I, and who have been invited to participate for a second semester. Students work on a clinic-based project developed in consultation with the professor. Credits for this course will be accorded on a sliding scale of one to three credits. Prerequisite(s): Immigration Law Clinic I

    Perspectives on U.S. Immigration Law
    This interdisciplinary course will examine immigration law and policy from a variety of perspectives such as historical, social, public policy, economic, human rights, and legal perspectives. This approach allows students to explore the development and frameworks that underpin contemporary legal and social issues for more engaged analysis.

    Refugee and Asylum Law Seminar
    This course will provide an overview of refugee and asylum law in the United States. It will explore the contours of the refugee definition and each element of an asylum claim by looking at statutes, regulations, treaties, and relevant case law. The course will compare the related protections of withholding of removal and relief under the Convention Against Torture. Finally, the course will discuss U.S. asylum procedure generally, and bars to asylum, both substantive and procedural. 

  • Bar Admission(s)

    Massachusetts; Michigan; New York; U.S. District Courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, District of New Jersey; U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, Sixth Circuit and Ninth Circuit; U.S. Supreme Court