Professor Stephens has published a variety of articles on the relationship between international and domestic law, focusing on the enforcement of international human rights norms through domestic courts. She co-authored a book analyzing U.S. enforcement of human rights norms, International Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts (Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2d ed. 2008). She has also written on the international law norms governing corporations, and has consulted with human rights groups on negotiations for a new treaty on business and human rights.
From 1990-1995, she was in charge of the international human rights docket at the Center for Constitutional Rights in New York, where she litigated a series of cases addressing human rights violations in countries around the world, including Bosnia, Guatemala, Haiti, East Timor and Ethiopia. In 1995, Professor Stephens received the Trial Lawyers of the Year Award from Trial Lawyers for Public Justice in recognition of her work litigating international human rights claims. She was a finalist for the same award in 2001 and 2010.
As a cooperating attorney with the Center for Constitutional Rights and a former member of the board of directors of the Center for Justice and Accountability, Professor Stephens continues to litigate human rights cases, including cases filed against U.S.-based corporations alleging responsibility for human rights violations committed in the course of their activities abroad. She was co-counsel for the plaintiffs in Samantar v. Yousuf, a human rights case decided by the Supreme Court in May 2010, in which the Court ruled 9-0 for her clients.
Professor Stephens graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University, received her J.D. degree from the law school of the University of California at Berkeley, and clerked for Chief Justice Rose Bird of the California Supreme Court. She spent six years studying the changing of the legal system in Nicaragua in the 1980s.