Kevin Cope

  • Research Assistant Professor of Law, General Faculty

Kevin Cope is a research assistant professor of law at the Law School and faculty affiliate at the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics. Cope’s research focuses on law and economics, international relations and international law. He is especially interested in the law and politics of international institutions, migration, and relationships between domestic institutional structure and international behavior.

Cope's work is published or forthcoming in law reviews such as the Michigan Law Review, American Journal of International Law, Law and Contemporary Problems and Virginia Journal of International Law, and in books published by Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press and others. His short articles have been published in FiveThirtyEight and Slate.

Cope is currently pursuing two primary research initiatives. In a series of papers (co-authored with James D. Morrow), he and his co-author develop a formal model of multilateral treaty-making. Guided by this theory, they develop an empirical model based on negotiating data collected from the archived records of a dozen of the last few decades’ most significant international conventions. Their goal is to use the models to assist negotiators in finding sets of treaty terms that will appeal to a critical mass of key states, thereby improving prospects for effective global cooperation in areas such as trade, disarmament, migration and environmental. A second initiative (with co-author Adam Feldman) develops the first judicial ideology measure covering nearly the entire federal judiciary. The measure is derived from text analysis of tens of thousands of qualitative judicial evaluations from legal experts familiar with judges' decisions. The data will allow researchers to address important questions about judging and judicial behavior that were previously intractable due to data limitations.

Before coming to the Law School, Cope served as a federal judicial clerk for judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the Northern District of Ohio and the Court of Federal Claims. He also practiced government enforcement litigation law in Washington, D.C., with Skadden, Arps, where he handled matters involving treaties, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, immigration law, the World Bank and the U.S. Constitution. In law school, he served as an editor of the Northwestern University Law Review.


  • Ph.D.
    University of Michigan, expected
  • LL.M.
    Georgetown University Law Center
  • J.D.
    Northwestern University School of Law
  • B.A.
    Ohio State University

Working Papers

"The Limits of Information Revelation in Multilateral Negotiations: A Theory of Treatymaking" (with James D. Morrow) (2018).

"Alliance-Forming in Treaty Negotiations" (with James D. Morrow).

“Conceptualizing and Measuring Repression” (with Charles Crabtree), 81 Law & Contemp. Probs. (forthcoming 2018). 

"Estimating Judicial Traits Using Text Analysis of Expert Evaluations" (with Adam Feldman).

"International Law and Attitudes Toward Refugees: A Field Experiment" (with Charles Crabtree)

Works in Progress

"Non-immigrant Visas as Foreign Policy" ( with David Leblang).

"The Empirical Study of Rights and Institutions " (with Cosette D. Creamer and Mila Versteeg), 14 Ann. Rev. L. & Soc. Sci. (forthcoming 2018).

“What’s Next? Cross-disciplinary Possibilities for Rights Research” (with Yonatan Lupu), 81 Law. & Contemp. Probs. (forthcoming 2018).

"Estimating State Interest From Treaty Negotiations " (with Charles Crabtree and James D. Morrow).

Articles and Essays

Exploring Disagreement in Indicators of State Repression” (with Charles Crabtree & Christopher J. Fariss) (Conditional Acceptance at Political Science Research and Methods)

Book Review of The Interpretation of International Law by Domestic Courts (Helmut Philipp Aust & Georg Nolte, eds. (Oxford University Press 2016)) (with Mila Versteeg), 111 Am. J. Int'l L. (2017)

"Disaggregating the Human Rights Treaty Regime" (with Cosette D. Creamer) 56 Va. J. Int’l L. 463 (2017).
HeinOnline (PDF)

"Congress’s International Legal Discourse," 113 Mich. L. Rev. 1115 (2015).

  • Excerpted in Curtis A. Bradley & Jack L. Goldsmith, Foreign Relations Law: Cases and Materials (5th ed. 2014) (Dec. 2016 supplement).
  • Reprinted as O Discurso Jurídico Internacional do Congresso Estadunidense, Seqüência: Estudos Jurídicos e Políticos 37 (74), 19–96.

"Lost in Translation: The Accidental Origins of Bond v. United States," 112 Mich. L. Rev. (First Impressions) 133 (2014).

"The Intermestic Constitution: Lessons From the World’s Newest Nation," 53 Va. J. Int’l L. 667 (2013).

Book Chapters

"Treaty Law and National Legislative Politics," in Research Handbook on the Politics of International Law (Wayne Sandholtz & Christopher Whytock, eds., Edward Elgar, 2017).

"Comparative International Law in National Legislatures" (with Hooman Movassagh) in Comparative International Law (Anthea Roberts et al., eds., Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2017).

"Reconceptualizing Recognition Uniformity," in Foreign Court Judgments and the U.S. Legal System (Paul Stephan, ed., Brill, 2014).

"South Sudan’s Dualistic Constitution," in The Social & Political Foundations of Constitutions (D.J. Galligan et al., eds., Cambridge University Press, 2013).

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