Peter L Reich

Professor of Law Emeritus

B.A., University of California, Los Angeles
M.A., University of California, Los Angeles
J.D., University of California, Berkeley
Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles

Contact Information

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Professor Peter Reich has been on the faculty since 1988. He directs Whittier’s Environmental Law Concentration, and Whittier’s Mexico City Program at the Universidad Iberoamericana. He has also taught Latin American law at the University of California, Irvine, and modern Mexican history at the University of California, Riverside. A former research attorney for the California Court of Appeal in Santa Barbara and associate at the downtown Los Angeles law firm Parker, Milliken, Professor Reich has published numerous books and articles on the legal history and environmental law of Latin America and the U.S. Southwest. His book Mexico’s Hidden Revolution: The Catholic Church in Law and Politics Since 1929 (University of Notre Dame Press, 1995) received the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies’s Hubert Herring Award, and one of his articles, “Mission Revival Jurisprudence: State Courts and Hispanic Water Law Since 1850” (Washington Law Review, 1994), garnered the Ray Allen Billington Prize from the Western History Association. Professor Reich has been a recipient of Fulbright, Huntington Library, Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation, and Social Science Research Council fellowships, and is currently preparing a casebook for Carolina Academic Press, The Law of the United States-Mexico Border, and a historical study, From Spanish Law to Common Law in the American Southwest, 1800-1900, for the University of New Mexico Press.

Professor Reich serves on the editorial boards of the journals International Wildlife Law & Policy and Western Legal History, and is a past Chair of the AALS Legal History Section. He speaks frequently at academic and professional conferences, and has three times addressed the Senate of Mexico, on California water law and on federalism in the U.S. Southwest. Professor Reich coaches Whittier’s student teams in the California State Bar’s Environmental Negotiations Competition, and has litigated (pro bono) cases applying Mexican law in the United States. Somehow he also finds time for biking, camping, and sea kayaking with his family and for volunteering in local political campaigns.

Books and Book Chapters

  • The Law of the United States-Mexico Border: Cases and Materials (forthcoming, Carolina Academic Press, 2015).
  • From Spanish Law to Common Law in the American Southwest, 1800-1900 (in progress).
  • Law in the Western United States, contributing author, University of Oklahoma Press, 2000.
  • Mexico’s Hidden Revolution: The Catholic Church in Law and Politics Since 1929, University of Notre Dame Press, 1995. (Received Hubert Herring Award, Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies)
  • Reviewed by: Kristina A. Boylan, 30 Journal of Latin American Studies 641 (1998); Daniel H. Levine, 103 American Historical Review 1731 (1998).
  • Statistical Abstract of the United States-Mexico Borderlands, UCLA Latin American Center Publications, 1984.


  • “The Historical, Comparative, and Convergence Trifecta in International Water Law: A Mexico-U.S. Example,” 43 Environmental Law Reporter 10509 (2013).
  • “El legado del Segundo Imperio Mexicano en las revistas de jurisprudencia, 1868-1900,” Patricia Galeana (ed.), El Imperio napoleónico y la monarquía en México 367 (Siglo XXI/Senado de la República, 2012).
  • “Introduction,” A Compilation of Spanish and Mexican Law in Relation to Mines and Titles to Real Estate, in Force in California, Texas and New Mexico, John A. Rockwell, 1851 (reissued by Lawbook Exchange, 2011).
  • “California Legal History in the Huntington Library: An Update,” 5 California Legal History 323 (2010).
  • “California y Los Demás Estados del Suroeste Estadounidense,” Patricia Galeana & Daniel Barceló (eds.), Historia de las instituciones jurídicas 69 (UNAM/Senado de la República, 2010).
  • “El Constitucionalismo Mexicano en la Constitución y Derecho de Aguas de California,” Patricia Galeana (ed.), El Constitucionalismo Mexicano: Influencias Continentales y Trasatlanticas 63 (Siglo XXI/Senado del la República, 2010).
  • “Recent Research on the Legal History of Modern Mexico,” 23 Mexican Studies/Estudios Mexicanos 181 (2007).
  • “Siete Partidas in My Saddlebags: The Transmission of Hispanic Law from Antebellum Louisiana to Texas and California,” 22 Tulane European and Civil Law Forum 79 (2007).
  • “Litigating Property Under the Guadalupe Hidalgo Treaty: The Sangre de Cristo Land Grant Case,” 5 The Scholar: St. Mary’s Law Review on Minority Issues 217 (2003).
  • “Dismantling the Pueblo: Hispanic Municipal Land Rights in California Since 1850,” 45 American Journal of Legal History 352 (2001).
  • “Western Courts and the Privatization of Hispanic Mineral Rights in California Since 1850: An Alchemy of Title,” 23 Columbia Journal of Environmental Law 57 (1998).
  • “Sources for Judging Judges: State Supreme Court Archives in the Southwest,” 10 Western Legal History 79 (1997).
  • “The Mexican Catholic Church and Constitutional Change Since 1929,” 60 The Historian 77 (1997).
  • “Studies in Western Water Law: Historiographical Trends,” 9 Western Legal History 1 (1996) (Introduction as guest editor to special issue on legal history of western water).
  • “Environmental Metaphor in the Alien Benefits Debate,” 42 UCLA Law Review 1577 (1995) (cited in Mendoza v. Monmouth Recycling, 672 A.2d 221, 225 (N.J. Super. A.D., 1996)).
  • “The ‘Hispanic’ Roots of Prior Appropriation in Arizona,” 27 Arizona State Law Journal 649 (1995).
  • “Mission Revival Jurisprudence: State Courts and Hispanic Water Law Since 1850,” 69 Washington Law Review 869 (1994) (Received Ray Allen Billington Prize from Western History Association, 1995).
  • “Greening the Ghetto: A Theory of Environmental Race Discrimination,” 41 University of Kansas Law Review 271 (1992) (Reprinted in 2 Environmental Law Anthology (1993) as one of best environmental law articles of year).
  • “Jurisprudential Tradition and Undocumented Alien Entitlements,” 6 Georgetown Immigration Law Journal 1 (1992).
  • “Public Benefits for Undocumented Aliens: State Law Into Breach Once More,” 21 New Mexico Law Review (1991).
  • “Algunos archivos para el estudio de la historia eclesiástica mexicana en el siglo XX,” 30 Historia Mexicana 126 (1980).

Book Reviews

  • “Florida’s First Constitution, the Constitution of Cádiz: Introduction, Translation, and Text, by M.C. Mirow,” 1 Comparative Legal History 144 (2013).
  • “Spaces of Law in American Foreign Relations: Extradition and Extraterritoriality in the Borderlands and Beyond, 1877-1898,” by Daniel S. Margolies, forthcoming, Western Historical Quarterly (2012).
  • “American Catholics and the Mexican Revolution, 1924-36,” by Matthew A. Redinger, 93 Catholic Historical Review 455 (2007).
  • “Latin American Law: A History of Private Law and Institutions in Spanish America,” by M.C. Mirow, 24 Law and History Review 237 (2006).
  • “Translating Property: The Maxwell Land Grant and the Conflict over Land in the American West, 1840-1900,” by Maria A. Montoya, 46 American Journal of Legal History 111 (2004).
  • “Church and State Education in Revolutionary Mexico City,” by Patience A. Schell, 90 Catholic Historical Review 834 (2004).
  • “The Legal Culture of Northern New Spain, 1700-1810,” by Charles R. Cutter, 65 Pacific Historical Review 663 (1996).
  • “The Holy War in Los Altos: A Regional Analysis of Mexico’s Cristero Rebellion,” by Jim Tuck, 63 Hispanic American Historical Review 613 (1983).
  • “Quantitative Developments in Latin American Studies: A Review of Some Recent Literature,” 12 Historical Methods 169 (1979).

Recent Extramural Lectures and Presentations

  • “La lucha de agua en la frontera de las Californias,” Instituto Nacional de Estudios Históricos de las Revoluciones de México, Secretaría de Educación Pública, México, D.F., June 25, 2014.
  • “Lessons for the Middle East from Mexico-U.S. Water Conflict Resolution,” Arava Institute for Environmental Studies Transboundary Faculty Tour, Ketura, Israel, May 19, 2014.
  • “The Legacy of the Second Mexican Empire in Decisional Law, 1868-1900,” American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting, Miami, Florida, November 9, 2013.
  • “Using the History of Ideas to Resolve International Water Disputes: A Mexico-U.S. Example,” Society for U.S. Intellectual History, U.C. Irvine, November 1, 2013.
  • “Water Law Doctrine and the Origins of the All-American Canal,” California Water Law Symposium, U.C. Davis School of Law, Davis, California, January 26, 2013.
  • “John A. Rockwell and the Origins of U.S.-Mexico Litigation,” lecture sponsored by Law Library of Louisiana, Louisiana Supreme Court, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 7, 2013.
  • “The Historical, Comparative, and Convergence Trifecta in International Natural Resources Law,” Natural Resources and Property Law Joint Program, Association of American Law Schools Annual Meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, January 7, 2013.
  • “La convergencia del derecho civil y derecho común en la jurisprudencia de recursos naturales en el suroeste estadounidense,” Facultad de Derecho, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, México, D.F., June 28, 2012.
  • “El legado del Segundo Imperio Mexicano en las Revistas de Jurisprudencia, 1868-1900;” Impacto de la Intervención francesa y el Segundo Imperio en la Historia de México, D.F., Conference supported by Mexican Senate, México, D.F., October 25, 2011 (to be published in conference proceedings, Siglo XXI).
  • “The Significance of Judge-Made Law in Mexico, 1970-1932,” Chair & Commentator, American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, November 19, 2010.
  • “Hispanic Common Lands and American Common Law: Deciding Land Disputes in Texas and New Mexico Since 1850,” American Historical Association Pacific Coast Branch Annual Meeting, Albuquerque, New Mexico, August 8, 2009.
  • “Historia de Las Instituciones Jurídicas de California y los Demas Estados del Suroeste Estadounidense,” Conmemoración del Bicentenario de los Estados Unidos Mexicanos, Senado de la República, Querétaro, México, June 30, 2009 (to be published in conference proceedings by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
  • “Studies in Forensic History: Historical Evidence in Southwestern Natural Resource Litigation,” Western History Workshop, Autry National Center Institute for the Study of the American West, Burbank, California, April 21, 2009.
  • “El Constitucionalismo en la constitución y derecho de aguas de California,” El Constitucionalismo Mexicano. Influencias continentals y trasatlánticas. Senado de la República, México, D.F., February 5, 2009 (to be published in conference proceedings by Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México).
  • “Manuscript Case Files and the Subversion of Judicial Opinions: The Los Angeles River Cases, Conference on Water and Politics in Southern California,” Loyola Marymount University, Playa del Rey, California, October 4, 2008.
  • “Latin American Public Law,” Panel Chair at American Society for Legal History Annual Meeting, Phoenix, Arizona, October 27, 2007.

Professional Associations

  • American Society for Legal History (Committee on Documentary Preservation, 2013-)
  • Association of Borderlands Scholars
  • Association of American Law Schools (Secretary-Treasurer, Immigration Law Section, 1993-94; Treasurer, Secretary, Chair-Elect, Chair, Legal History
  • Section, 2003-07).
  • California Bar Association (Vice-Chair, Committee on the History of California Law, 1989-92).
  • California State Archives, Task Force on Appellate Court Records, 2005-06 (appointed by California Secretary of State).
  • California Supreme Court Historical Society
  • Ninth Judicial Circuit Historical Society (Editorial Board, Western Legal History).