In March, the 2017 Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize was awarded to Paul Hoffman, one of the leading human rights lawyers in the United States. He has been involved in many of the most important cases brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), including the cases brought against Ferdinand Marcos and against corporate defendants including Exxon, Chevron, IBM, Ford, and many others. He argued the Sosa v Alvarzez-Machain and Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum cases in the U.S. Supreme Court. He has argued ATS cases in the D.C., Second, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits and in many District Courts.
From 1984 to 1994, Hoffman was the legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California. He was lead counsel in Coalition Against Police Abuse v. Board of Police Commissioners (the “police spying” cases), which challenged unlawful surveillance of community activists by the Los Angeles Police Department, and in Wilkinson v. FBI (a challenge to the FBI’s COINTELPRO operation against the National Committee To Abolish HUAC). In 1984, he received the Clarence Darrow Award for outstanding First Amendment advocacy for work in the police spying cases.
“Paul Hoffman is a beacon for lawyers everywhere,” says Lisa Kloppenberg, professor and dean of Santa Clara Law. “His work is inspiring the next generation of lawyers who will fight for human rights around the globe. We are thrilled to honor him with this award.”
Since 1994, he has been in private practice and since 1999 he has been a partner in Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP. His practice focuses on constitutional and civil rights litigation, including First Amendment, discrimination and privacy litigation, civil and criminal appeals, and international human rights litigation. He is currently the director of the International Human Rights Litigation Clinic at U.C. Irvine School of Law where he also teaches in the Civil Rights Litigation and Appellate Litigation Clinics.
He has long been active in Amnesty International (AI), including serving as the chair of Amnesty International-USA’s Board twice and serving as the Chair of AI’s International Executive Committee from 2002-04. He is also the cofounder of the Center for Justice and Accountability. He is the author of numerous articles on civil and human rights subjects and is the coauthor of an International Human Rights casebook. A graduate of New York University School of Law, he earned an M.S. degree from The London School of Economics and Political Science, and a B.A. from the City College of New York.
ABOUT THE PRIZE
The first Katharine & George AlexanderLaw Prize was presented in March2008 and has been awarded annuallythereafter. This award has been madepossible through the generosity ofKatharine and George Alexander to bringrecognition to legal advocates who haveused their legal careers to help alleviateinjustice and inequity. The hope is thatrecognition of such individuals willimprove the image of lawyers around theworld.
The winner receives a substantialcash award, visits Santa Clara Universityto be honored at a ceremony, participatesin lectures and classes, and may choose toserve as a teacher, mentor, and scholar fora limited period at Santa Clara Law.
Katharine Alexander practiced law for 25 years as a public defender for Santa Clara County and taught law courses for several years at San Jose State University. The late George Alexander served as professor of law at Santa Clara University for 34 years and as dean of its School of Law for 15 years. Both Katharine and George have dedicated their lives to instilling in students and lawyers a commitment to justice. Their service to humanity serves as a model for other lawyers, and they created the Alexander Prize to inspire future lawyers to fight injustice.