Gerald Torres is a leading figure in critical race theory, environmental law and federal Indian Law. He previously served as the Bryant Smith Chair in Law at the University of Texas School of Law and taught at The University of Minnesota Law School, where he served as Associate Dean. He is also a former president of the Association of American Law Schools (AALS). Torres has served as deputy assistant attorney general for the Environment and Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., and as counsel to then U.S. attorney general Janet Reno.
His book, The Miner's Canary: Enlisting Race, Resisting Power, Transforming Democracy (Harvard University Press, 2002) with Harvard law professor Lani Guinier, was described by Publisher's Weekly as "one of the most provocative and challenging books on race produced in years." Torres' many articles include "Translation and Stories" (Harvard Law Review, 2002), "Who Owns the Sky?" (Pace Law Review, 2001) (Garrison Lecture),"Taking and Giving: Police Power, Public Value, and Private Right" (Environmental Law, 1996), and "Translating Yonnondio by Precedent and Evidence: The Mashpee Indian Case" (Duke Law Journal, 1990).
Torres has served on the board of the Environmental Law Institute, the National Petroleum Council and on EPA's National Environmental Justice Advisory Council. He is currently Vice Chair of Earth Day Network and Board Chair of the Advancement Project as well as serving on the Board of the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Texas League of Conservation Voters. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute. Torres was honored with the 2004 Legal Service Award from the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) for his work to advance the legal rights of Latinos.
He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Stanford and Yale law schools.