Sara Sternberg Greene

Associate Professor of Law

Sara Sternberg Greene is an interdisciplinary scholar whose interests span consumer law, bankruptcy, poverty law, access to justice, tax, and contracts.  Broadly concerned in her scholarship with the relationship between law and inequality, Greene uses qualitative and quantitative empirical research to examine and, ultimately, optimize, the impact of financial laws on low- and moderate-income families.

Greene presented at a recent expert workshop on Access to Civil Justice at the United States Department of Justice about her ongoing access to justice research. Her forthcoming article in the Iowa Law Review discusses the connection between distrust of the criminal justice system and resistance to utilizing the civil justice system, as well as racial disparities in civil justice utilization.  Additionally, she is engaged in a long-term study of the effectiveness of different methods of legal aid services.

Greene's recent article, "The Broken Safety Net: A Study of Earned Income Tax Credit Recipients and a Proposal for Repair," 88 NYU Law Review 515 (2013), is based on a novel study of 194 individuals with whom she and other researchers on her team conducted in-depth interviews regarding the EITC. She proposes a simple change to the tax credit’s distribution scheme that would help recipients manage financial shocks and ultimately accumulate savings. Another recent article, "'Robbing Peter to Pay Paul:' Cultural Explanations for How Lower Income Families Manage Debt," co-authored with Laura Tach, examines the debt-management strategies of low-income families and was recently published in the journal Social Problems. Among several bankruptcy-related projects Greene has ongoing, one utilizes data from the comprehensive 2007 Consumer Bankruptcy Project to predict consumer success in emerging from Chapter 13 bankruptcy, with a view to identifying ways to improve the system.

Greene received her BA, magna cum laude, in 2002 from Yale University and her JD in 2005 from Yale Law School, where she received the Stephen J. Massey Prize for excellence in advocacy and served as notes editor for the Yale Law Review and articles editor for the Yale Law and Policy Review.  She also served as chair of the student board of directors for the Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization and as student director and intern in the Housing and Community Development Clinic.  After clerking for Judge Richard Cudahy on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Greene focused on housing law matters at Klein Hornig, in Boston before beginning a PhD program. She received her PhD in social policy and sociology from Harvard University in 2014.