Thomas McDonnell

Position: Professor of Law at Pace University, New York City

Links: Website

Expertise Areas: International Law



Professor Thomas M. McDonnell is an expert in international law, and the author of The United States, International Law and the Struggle against Terrorism (Routlege, hard copy 2009; revised paperback ed. 2011). His book discusses the critical legal issues raised by the U.S. responses to the terrorist threat, analyzing the actions taken by the Bush and Obama administrations during the so-called “War on Terrorism” and their compliance with international law. Professor McDonnell highlights specific topics of legal interest including torture, extra-judicial detentions, targeted-killing-drone strikes, the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and examines them against the backdrop of terrorist movements which have plagued Britain and Russia. The book extrapolates from the actions of the U.S., going on to look at the difficulties all modern democracies face in trying to combat international terrorism. Listen to Professor McDonnell talk about his book here.

Professor McDonnell has written articles on international law, international human rights law, lawyering, and legal writing and research. He was the principal author of an amicus curiae brief to the New York Court of Appeals on a right to counsel issue. Professor McDonnell teaches International Law, International Human Rights Law, and Criminal Law, and helps coach the Jessup International Moot Court Team.  He also teaches Legal Writing in the New Directions Program.

Before joining the Pace faculty, Professor McDonnell was director of the Department of Legal Research and Writing and Appellate Advocacy at the University of Florida College of Law. Prior to that he was acting director of the Legal Skills Program at California Western School of Law and taught legal research and writing, as well as pretrial and appellate advocacy, at University of Puget Sound School of Law. Admitted in New York and California,Professor McDonnell has worked in Legal Services, representing the indigent, and in private practice.  For Legal Services, he practiced consumer, immigration, and housing law.  As a private practitioner, he focused on consumer law, immigration law, social security law, and criminal appeals.

Professor McDonnell has served as the Co-Chair of the Teaching  International Law Interest Group of the American Society of International Law (ASIL) (2008-2011) and as Chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ Section on Legal Writing, Reasoning and Research (2004-2005).  He is currently a member of ASIL’s Midyear Conference Planning Committee.



McDonnell, Thomas M. 2011. The United States, International Law and the Struggle against Terrorism (Routledge Research in Terrorism and the Law). Routledge; Reprint edition


Sow What You Reap?:  Using Predator and Reaper Drones to Target and Kill Suspected Islamic Terrorists, 44 Geo. Wash. Int’l L. Rev. 243 (2012).

The Death Penalty: An Obstacle to the ‘War on Terrorism?’, 37 Vand. J. Transnat’l L. 353 (2004).

Targeting the Foreign Born by Race and Nationality: Counterproductive in the ‘War on Terrorism?’, 16 Pace Int’l L. Rev. 19 (2004).

Cluster Bombs over Kosovo: A Violation of International Law, 44 Ariz. L. Rev. 31 (2002).

Playing Beyond the Rules: A Realist and Rhetoric-Based Approach to Researching the Law and Solving Legal Problems, 67 UMKC L. Rev. 286 (1998).

Defensively Invoking Treaties in American Courts – Jurisdictional Challenges Under the U.N. Drug Trafficking Convention by Foreign Defendants Kidnapped Abroad by U.S. Agents, 37 Wm. & Mary L. Rev. 1401 (1996).

Joining Hands and Smarts: Teaching Manual Legal Research Through Collaborative Learning Groups, 40 J. Legal Educ. 363 (1990).

Thomas McDonnell in the News: