Risa E. Kaufman is the executive director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School and a Lecturer-in-Law. Ms. Kaufman develops and advances international human rights norms and strategies in the United States through research, advocacy, network building, and training. Her advocacy and research focus on subnational implementation of human rights; access to justice; and economic, social, and cultural rights. The co-author of Human Rights Advocacy in the United States (West 2014) (with Martha F. Davis and Johanna Kalb), she also teaches a seminar on domestic human rights advocacy and supervises students in the Human Rights Clinic.
Ms. Kaufman has extensive experience in public interest litigation, advocacy and legal education with a special focus on poverty law, access to justice and women’s rights. 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 Gibbons, P.C., and as a Skadden Fellow at NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (now Legal Momentum). Immediately prior to joining the Human Rights Institute at Columbia, she was an acting assistant professor of lawyering at New York University School of Law, and previously taught as an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School and Seton Hall Law School. She is a co-founder and board member of A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center.
Ms. Kaufman holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Snow scholar. She clerked for Judge Ira DeMent in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery, Alabama, and holds a B.A. from Tulane University.