Risa E. Kaufman is the executive director of the Human Rights Institute at Columbia Law School and a lecturer in law.
She 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. Kaufman is the co-author of Human Rights Advocacy in the United States (with Martha F. Davis and Johanna Kalb), West Academic Publishing, 2014. She also teaches a seminar on domestic human rights advocacy and supervises students in the Law School’s Human Rights Clinic.
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). 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.
She clerked for Judge Ira DeMent in the U.S. District Court in Montgomery, AL.
Kaufman holds a J.D. from New York University School of Law, where she was a Root-Tilden-Snow scholar, and earned her B.A. from Tulane University.