Jeena Shah is a Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor of Law in the Constitutional Rights and International Human Rights Clinics. Her clinic docket includes human and civil rights cases and projects at the local, state, national, and transnational levels:
· Local level. Students collaborate with community organizations in Newark to develop local policy proposals that implement the Movement for Black Lives’ policy platform; are conducting a human rights assessment of Newark Public Schools system for an organization composed of education workers, parents, and students; and represented a local community organizer/public school teacher facing retaliation for her attempt to offer culturally-relevant education to Black students.
· State level. Students collaborate with a statewide network of grassroots immigrants’ rights organizations to design model sanctuary policies for various institutions, such as schools and county jails, and conduct research for New Jersey State sanctuary legislation; respond to queries by faith-based institutions regarding the legal implications of hosting undocumented immigrants; assist immigrant workers’ rights organization in its anti-Wage Theft campaign by providing legal advice on effective public records act requests; and develop community education tools, including Know Your Rights flyers and scripts for interactive Know Your Rights workshops, for community organizations.
· National level. Students represent a national network of U.S. veterans in their Freedom of Information Act requests to the U.S. government concerning the toxic legacy of the Iraq war and drafted human rights reports for organizations across the country affiliated with the Movement for Black Lives to various U.N. bodies concerning the state suppression of human rights defenders.
· Transnational level. Students represent four Iraqi men detained at Abu Ghraib in their federal lawsuit against a U.S. military contractor for its participation in their torture and represent Sexual Minorities Uganda, a network of grassroots LGBTQ organizations in Uganda, in their federal lawsuit against a U.S.-based anti-gay extremist for contributing to the widespread and systematic persecution of LGBTQ Ugandans.
Professor Shah’s scholarship examines how civil rights and human rights lawyers can use domestic and international law to address the imbalances of power that lead to rights violations, by combining frameworks offered by critical race theory and law and organizing scholarship. Her scholarship also
examines how doctrines from international law can be used in litigation under U.S. law, and vice versa, to remediate human rights violations more effectively, particularly in the context of Alien Tort Statute litigation.
Professor Shah has over a decade of experience addressing human rights violations using U.S. civil rights, labor, immigration, environmental, and family law; international human rights, criminal, and humanitarian law; and foreign constitutional, civil, and criminal law. As a movement lawyer, Professor Shah has employed domestic and international human rights law to support communities in their effort to dismantle systemic oppression in places such as Gujarat, India, Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Kampala, Uganda, Ferguson, Missouri, and Newark, New Jersey.
Prior to joining Rutgers, Professor Shah practiced as an international human rights attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights, where she served as co-lead counsel on Sexual Minorities Uganda v. Scott Lively, and counsel on Al Shimari v. CACI and The Right to Heal project. She also assisted in the development of the Ferguson Legal Defense Committee and a Movement Lawyering training program, and helped direct the Ella Baker internship program.
Professor Shah also worked in Haiti with a local civil and human rights law office, Bureau des Avocats Internationaux, following the January 2010 earthquake. There, she represented earthquake victims facing unlawful evictions and victims of the ex-dictator Duvalier’s crimes against humanity, and observed the country’s national elections. She appeared on various media outlets, including Democracy Now! and Al Jazeera, to discuss human rights issues in Haiti.
She also worked in India with a Dalit rights organization, Navsarjan, where she supported local lawyers and organizers representing Dalit victims of hate crimes and other forms of caste-based discrimination. In addition, she practiced for several years at a New York law firm, Shearman & Sterling LLP, where she worked on complex commercial and civil rights litigation and international human rights projects, and represented individuals in their immigration, asylum, and domestic violence cases.
Professor Shah also helped found and direct the Movement Lawyering Boot Camp. She earned a J.D. from NYU School of Law and a B.A. summa cum laude from Drew University.