Jean Renee Sternlight was born in New York City in 1958. Following a childhood filled with stickball, ringolevio, and a few academic pursuits, Sternlight attended Hunter College High School and then Swarthmore College.She graduated from Swarthmore in 1979 (High Honors, Phi Beta Kappa) where she majored in economics and minored in political science. After a year as an Urban Fellow in New York, Sternlight then attended Harvard Law School from which she graduated in 1983 (cum laude). At Harvard she was Editor in Chief of the Harvard Civil Rights - Civil Liberties Law Review. Following graduation she clerked for Federal District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel in San Francisco, and then worked eight years for a small plaintiff -side employment firm in Philadelphia.
Professor Sternlight joined the faculty of the Boyd School of Law in 2003, where she was named Saltman Professor of Law as well as Director of the Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution. She focuses her writing and teaching on procedure, both litigation and alternatives thereto including negotiation, mediation and arbitration. She is co-author of books on psychology and lawyering, alternative dispute resolution, arbitration and mediation. Professor Sternlight has focused substantial attention on attacking the imposition of mandatory arbitration on consumers and employees. She is particularly concerned about the use of arbitration to deprive consumers and employees access to class actions. Her articles on mandatory arbitration have often been cited by courts and the press, and she frequently gives presentations on the subject to legal academics and practitioners throughout the country. As well, Professor Sternlight researches how knowledge of psychology can help attorneys perform their jobs more effectively. At Boyd, Sternlight teaches various procedure courses as well as a seminar on psychology and lawyering. She is co-coach to Boyd's student client counseling team which has often done very well in regional and even national competitions.
Professor Sternlight began her academic career in 1992 as a member of the faculty at Florida State University where she was also Director of Education and Research for the Florida Dispute Resolution Center. Then, in 1999, she moved to the University of Missouri-Columbia where she became the John D. Lawson Professor of Law and was also Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of Dispute Resolution.
When she is not working Sternlight is a mom to sons Samuel and Benjamin. She also tries to find time for biking, hiking and working out. Since childhood, Sternlight has been a New York Mets fan. Let's Go Mets!