Susan Farbstein, a leading practitioner in the field of human rights, has been appointed assistant clinical professor of law and co-director of the International Human Rights Clinic at Harvard Law School.
Farbstein is recognized as a national figure on Alien Tort Statute litigation, an expert on South Africa, and a leader on transitional justice and its relationship to human rights. She teaches several classes in her specialty areas, including “Litigating Using the Alien Tort Statute,” “Advanced Skills Training for Human Rights Advocacy,” and “Transitional Justice in Southern Africa: A Comparative Perspective.” Previously a Lecturer on Law, Farbstein has worked at the Clinic since 2008 and became associate clinical director in 2011.
Said Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow: “Susan’s splendid accomplishments in human rights, transitional justice, pro bono services and clinical teaching already have been tremendous contributions for our students, our Clinic, and for communities in need across the globe. We are all delighted that her new role as Assistant Clinical Professor of Law will allow her both to continue great work and undertake new, invaluable initiatives.”
“I am thrilled to continue working at the law school in this new role,” said Farbstein. “It’s a privilege to collaborate with such dedicated colleagues and talented students on projects that we all care deeply about. I’m excited to help guide the International Human Rights Clinic and to support our students as they launch careers devoted to human rights and social justice.”
Farbstein has served as counsel of record on numerous amicus curiae briefs, including to the U.S. Supreme Court in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. and Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman. She is also co-counsel in several major suits including In re South African Apartheid Litigation, a case against multinational corporations for supporting human rights violations committed by the apartheid state, and Mamani v. Sanchez de Lozada, which brings claims against the former Bolivian president and defense minister related to a civilian massacre. She participated in litigating Wiwa v. Shell, a suit for human rights abuses committed in Nigeria, for which she was honored as a finalist for the Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award in 2010.
“Susan has been indispensable to the International Human Rights Clinic because of her innovation in the classroom and her tireless commitment to mentoring students to be the very best advocates and lawyers in the field,” said Clinical Professor and Clinic Co-director Tyler Giannini. “We are so fortunate that Susan has joined the faculty and that she will bring her leadership to the Clinic and human rights for years to come.”
Farbstein has led clinical students on numerous international field missions. In addition to litigation work, her clinical projects have ranged from analyzing sexual violence against schoolchildren in South Africa to authoring a report on economic, social, and cultural rights in the Zimbabwean constitution. Her current clinical practice includes an examination of the social and political tensions in Thailand that erupted into violence in 2010, and an investigation into human rights abuses committed by the Burmese military.
Farbstein is a co-author of the book “Prosecuting Apartheid-Era Crimes? A South African Dialogue on Justice” (Harvard University Press, 2009, with Giannini). Other recent publications include “The Alien Tort Statute and Corporate Liability” (University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Debates, 2011, with Giannini) and “Corporate Accountability in Conflict Zones” (Harvard International Law Journal Online, 2010, with Giannini).
Prior to joining the Clinic, Farbstein clerked for the Honorable Morris E. Lasker of the Southern District of New York. She also worked at the Cape Town office of the International Center for Transitional Justice.
Farbstein received her J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School, where she was executive editor of the Harvard Human Rights Journal, a founding board member of HLS Advocates for Human Rights, and the recipient of a Kaufman Fellowship. She holds an M.A. in International Relations from the University of Cambridge, where she was a fellow of the Cambridge Overseas Trust Society. She received her A.B. cum laude in International Affairs and Public Policy from Princeton University, where she was a Woodrow Wilson Scholar and a member of the President’s Standing Committee on the Status of Women.