Susan Farbstein ’04 has been appointed Clinical Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. Co-director of the International Human Rights Clinic, Farbstein has been an assistant clinical professor at HLS since 2012.
Farbstein’s current work focuses on Southern Africa, transitional justice, Alien Tort Statute litigation, community lawyering, and economic, social, and cultural rights. She is an expert on South Africa, having worked on a variety of human rights and transitional justice issues in that country for nearly 15 years. Her writing has been published in scholarly journals, including the Harvard Law Review and the Harvard International Law Journal, as well as The New York Times and SCOTUSBlog.
“Susan is a true leader in human rights and transitional justice, and she is also an amazing teacher,” said Martha Minow, Harvard Law School Dean. “Her innovative work spans social and economic rights in South Africa, transitional justice issues in Africa and Asia, and Alien Tort litigation in the United States. Susan’s devotion to students and tireless, imaginative work makes her an outstanding member of this community and the entire human rights community.”
For the past three years, Farbstein and her clinical students have collaborated with Equal Education Law Centre in South Africa to advance the right to education enshrined in that country’s constitution. Farbstein is co-counsel in In re South African Apartheid Litigation, a suit against major multinational corporations for aiding and abetting human rights violations committed by the apartheid state.
She is also co-counsel in Mamani v. Sanchez de Lozada, which brings claims against the former Bolivian president and defense minister related to a 2003 civilian massacre.
Farbstein was also a participant in litigating Wiwa v. Shell, which charged Shell with complicity in the torture and killing of non-violent Nigerian activists in the mid-1990s and successfully settled in 2009. For her work as a member of the Wiwa legal team, Farbstein was honored as finalist for the 2010 Public Justice Trial Lawyer of the Year Award. She has authored numerous amicus curiae briefs, including to the Supreme Court in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. (on behalf of legal history scholars), Presbyterian Church of Sudan v. Talisman (on behalf of international law scholars), and Samantar v. Yousuf (on behalf of human rights organizations).
Farbstein has a strong interest in clinical pedagogy and, in 2011-2012, was a recipient of the Harvard President’s Innovation Fund for Faculty Grant for her creative clinical teaching. Building on this interest, she developed and implemented a training and exchange program on clinical pedagogy with practitioners and academics in South Africa.
“I am honored and humbled to be appointed Clinical Professor of Law,” said Farbstein. “It’s a joy to work every day with students and colleagues who are creative, inspiring, and deeply committed to advancing human rights. I feel extraordinarily lucky to be part of this community.”
Farbstein joined the International Human Rights Clinic in 2008. She previously worked at the Cape Town office of the International Center for Transitional Justice. Prior to that, she clerked for the Honorable Morris E. Lasker of the Southern District of New York. She holds a B.A. from Princeton University, an M.Phil. from the University of Cambridge, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.