Krista Ralston

Clinical Professor of Law Emerita


B.A., Immaculate Heart College, 1964
J.D., University of Wisconsin, 1979;


Krista Ralston was born in Austria but grew up in Southern California, where she got her undergraduate degree, married Richard Ralston, had two sons, David and Michael, and became an avid tennis player during her spare time. The Ralstons lived in Rochester, N.Y. and Menlo Park, CA. before moving to Madison, WI. in 1975. She received her law degree from the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1979. Following graduation she served as the first law clerk for the Hon. Barbara B. Crabb, Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, and then practiced law in both the public and private sectors for 10 years before becoming the full-time Director of the University of Wisconsin Law School Legal Defense Program (LDP) in January, 1990. 

In addition to administering the LDP clinic and supervising LDP students in their representation of indigent criminal defendants, Prof. Ralston teaches one or more litigation oriented classes each semester and is the faculty advisor for the law school's national mock-trial competition teams. She has also been active in a number of professional and community organizations, including serving as Chair of the Criminal Law Section of the State Bar of Wisconsin for two years and as a past member of the Board of Directors of the Urban League of Greater Madison.

Prof. Ralston has presented papers and participated as a panelist in various national and international law conferences and has been a visiting law professor at the Justus-Liebig Universitat in Giessen, Germany. Her primary areas of research focus on how charging decisions, jury deliberations and sentencing considerations are affected by issues of poverty, race or ethnicity, and mental health concerns.

Prof. Ralston believes very strongly in the importance of high quality clinical programs in the law school curriculum. She recommends LDP to any student interested in helping indigent defendants while learning the art of litigation and client representation. She also strongly advocates maintaining a sense of humor while in law school and afterwards. Too many law students and lawyers take themselves too seriously.

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