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Risa E. Kaufman

Executive Director; Lecturer in Law
922 Jerome Greene Hall
  • Co-Director, Human Rights Clinic

Risa E. Kaufman is the executive director of the Human Rights Institute (HRI) at Columbia Law School and a Lecturer-in-Law. At HRI, she works to develop and advance international human rights norms and strategies in the United States through research, advocacy, network building, and training. Her advocacy and research focus on state and local implementation of human rights, access to justice, and economic, social, and cultural rights. She also teaches a seminar on domestic human rights advocacy and oversees the overall functioning of the institute.

Ms. Kaufman has extensive experience in public interest litigation, advocacy and legal education with a special focus on women’s rights, poverty law, and access to justice. Prior to joining HRI, she engaged in impact litigation and policy initiatives as associate counsel at the Community Service Society of New York, as a Gibbons Fellow in Public Interest and Constitutional Law at the law firm of firm of Gibbons, P.C., and as a Skadden Fellow at NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now Legal Momentum). Ms. Kaufman has taught at Fordham Law School, Seton Hall Law School and New York University School of Law, where, immediately prior to joining Columbia, she was an acting assistant professor in the Lawyering program.

She holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Snow Scholar, clerked for Judge Ira DeMent in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Alabama, and holds a B.A. from Tulane University. Ms. Kaufman’s publications on domestic human rights implementation, access to justice and poverty include: “By Some Other Means”: Considering the Executive’s Role in Subnational Human Rights Implementation, 33 CARDOZO L. REV. (forthcoming 2012); Framing Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the U.N., 4 NORTHEASTERN U. L. J. (forthcoming 2012); State and Local Commissions as Sites for Domestic Human Rights Implementation, in HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE UNITED STATES: BEYOND EXCEPTIONALISM 89 (Shareen Hertel & Kathryn Libal eds., 2011); Access to the Courts as a Privilege or Immunity of National Citizenship, 40 CONN. L. REV.1477 (2008); Bridging the Federalism Gap: Procedural Due Process and Race Discrimination in a Devolved Welfare System, 3 HASTINGS RACE & POVERTY L. J. 1 (2005); Preserving Aliens’ and Migrant Workers’ Access to Civil Legal Services: Constitutional and Policy Considerations, 5 U. PA. J. OF CONST. L. 491 (2003) (with Laura K. Abel); State ERAs in the New Era: Securing Poor Women’s Equality by Eliminating Reproductive-Based Discrimination, 24 HARV. WOMEN’S L.J. 190 (2001); and Seeking Redress for Gender-Based Bias Crimes: Charting New Ground in Familiar Legal Territory, 6 MICH. JOURNAL OF RACE & LAW 265 (2001) (with Julie Goldscheid).

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