Ronald graduated from the University of California at Santa Barbara with a degree in political philosophy in 1971 and received a law degree from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
Collins served as a law clerk to Justice Hans A. Linde on the Oregon Supreme Court and was a Supreme Court Fellow under United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger. After working with the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles and the Legal Aid Society of Orange County, Collins was a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School. Then he taught constitutional law, contracts, and commercial law at Temple Law School (1988-1990), The George Washington University Law School (1992-1992), Seattle University (since 1995), and other schools. In 2009, he served as the president of the Supreme Court Fellows Alumni Association. In 2011, Collins became the book editor for SCOTUSblog. In 2015 he joined the board of editors of the Journal of Legal Education. In 2016 he was selected to serve as Editor-in-Chief of the Online First Amendment Library. Collins is one of the co-organizers of The History Book Festival, which will launch in Lewes, Delaware in October 2017.
Collins is also an editor and co-author of a number of books. He is also a contributor to books and periodicals. Collins has published more than 60 scholarly articles in publications such as the Harvard Law Review, Stanford Law Review, Michigan Law Review, the Supreme Court Review, Texas Law Review, etc. Collins has published more than 300 articles and reviews in publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Washington Times, etc.; in blogs or on websites.
Collins is an adherent of Progressivism.
Collins said that he enjoyed writing "more than most other things". For him writing is "an experiment, as life is. It is a way, both in form and substance, to test new waters, new ways, even new worlds. Part of this experiment is the attempt to make writing mean dif¬ferent things as the reader senses different patterns in the writer’s quilt".
He has been a member of Simone Weil Society, Legal Aid Society of Orange County.
Ronald Collins married Susan A. Cohen (employed in the field of public interest) on May 25, 1986. They have a child Dylan Lee.