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March 2017

Paul Hoffman

Paul Hoffman

Eminent Civil Rights Attorney Paul Hoffman to Receive 2017 Alexander Law Prize

The award honors lawyers who dedicate their legal talents to alleviating injustice and inequity.

The Alexander Law Prize, honoring a top lawyer who helps alleviate injustice and inequity, will be presented March 20.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 8, 2017 – Paul Hoffman, one of America’s leading civil rights lawyers who has successfully litigated to hold human rights violators accountable, to reduce unlawful police or government surveillance, and to protect freedom of expression, is the 2017 recipient of the Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize.

The award from Santa Clara University School of Law, for lawyers who dedicate their legal talents to alleviating injustice and inequity, will be presented to Hoffman at a ceremony March 20 at Santa Clara University’s Adobe Lodge, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, Calif.

“For four decades, Paul Hoffman has dedicated his career to fighting for the rights of vulnerable people, in the U.S. and worldwide,” said Lisa Kloppenberg, dean of Santa Clara Law. “At a time when many Americans are reexamining and recommitting to our nation’s core values, we are pleased to honor an attorney who has fought to keep the legal boundaries protecting each of us in sharp relief.”

For a decade until 1994, Hoffman was the legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, where he led the case challenging unlawful surveillance of community activists by the Los Angeles Police Department, and a challenge to FBI counterintelligence against a group seeking to end the House Un-American Activities Committee. In 1984, he received the Clarence Darrow Award for outstanding First Amendment advocacy for his work in police spying cases.

After serving with ACLU he entered private practice, where he worked on many of the most important cases brought under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), including the cases brought against former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos for torture and summary executions, and against corporate defendants including Exxon, Chevron, IBM, Ford, and many others. He argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court involving human rights abuses by foreign individuals violating the ATS.  

“I am very grateful to the Alexander family for this recognition of my work over the years,” said Hoffman. “The need for effective civil and human rights lawyering has never been greater. I hope the prize will inspire many young lawyers and law students to join the fight for civil and human rights.”

Since 1999, Hoffman has been a partner in Schonbrun Seplow Harris & Hoffman in Venice, Calif., focusing on constitutional and civil rights litigation, including First Amendment, discrimination and privacy litigation, civil and criminal appeals, and international human rights litigation. He has been named one of the 100 most influential attorneys in California by the Daily Journal.

He is currently the director of the International Human Rights Litigation Clinic at UC Irvine School of Law where he also teaches in their civil rights litigation and appellate litigation clinics.  He previously served as associate professor at Southwestern University School of Law in Los Angeles, where he codirected a clinical program on the rights of the disabled and elderly. Hoffman has taught at Stanford Law School, UCLA School of Law, USC Law School, Loyola Law School, and Southwestern University School of Law.

He has long been active in Amnesty International, including serving as chair of the group’s U.S. board twice and serving as chair of its International Executive Committee from 2002 to 2004. He is also the cofounder of the Center for Justice and Accountability. He is the author of numerous articles on the subjects of civil and human rights, and is the coauthor of an International Human Rights casebook. Over the years, he has appeared at dozens of conferences related to  civil and human rights issues.

A 1976 graduate of New York University School of Law, Hoffman received an M.S. degree in 1973 from the London School of Economics and Political Science. He received his B.A. from City College of New York in 1972.

About the Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize  
The Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize was created to bring recognition to legal advocates who have used their legal careers to help alleviate injustice and inequity. Since 2008, the annual award has been made possible through the generosity of the late George Alexander, former dean and professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, and his wife Katharine, a longtime public defender and legal educator. They hoped that recognition of such individuals would improve the image of lawyers around the world. For more information see

About Santa Clara University School of Law
Santa Clara University School of Law, one of the nation’s most diverse law schools, is dedicated to educating lawyers who lead with a commitment to excellence, ethics, and social justice. Santa Clara law offers students an academically rigorous program including certificates in high tech law, international law, public interest and social justice law, and privacy law, as well as numerous graduate and joint degree options. Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara Law is nationally distinguished for its faculty engagement, preparation for practice, and top-ranked programs in intellectual property. For more information, see

Media Contact
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121


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