Law School Announces Comprehensive Pipeline Program

Columbia University Law School

Columbia Law Receives Multi-Million Dollar Gift

A tech industry leader just donated $5 million to Columbia Law School’s human rights clinic.

Microsoft president Brad Smith and his wife Kathy Surace-Smith, a senior vice president at biotechnology company NanoString, gifted the donation to Columbia Law, which renamed the clinic the Smith Family Human Rights Clinic in honor of the gift. The Smiths both graduated from Columbia Law in 1984, Reuters reports.

“The Human Rights Clinic is one of the most innovative and effective clinics of its kind,” Gillian Lester, Dean and Lucy G. Moses Professor of Law at Columbia Law School, says in a press release. “Through their generosity and dedication to clinical education, Brad and Kathy have cemented the clinic’s role in our community and around the world for generations to come.”


The Smith Family Human Rights Clinic, according to Columbia Law, is part of the law school’s commitment to the study and practice of international human rights law. Through the clinic,

students focus on social justice advocacy to address the global power imbalances that drive economic and political inequality, exploitation, threats to physical security, poverty, and environmental injustice.

Recent projects include working to ensure accountability for civilian casualties in Yemen and for war crimes in the Central African Republic; safeguarding freedom of expression and conducting trial monitoring in Southeast Asia; and promoting access to sanitation in the rural United States.

The Smiths’ donation will help the clinic expand class sizes, deepen social justice community building and mentoring, hire more fellows and supervising attorneys, increase travel funds for experiential learning, ensure clinic NGO partners in the global south can access advocacy opportunities, and enhance public programming and training about human rights.

“Columbia Law School is a national and global leader in human rights law,” Smith says. “It became apparent that a larger gift—and an endowment—would create a long-term, sustainable foundation for the Human Rights Clinic not only to continue but to grow.”

Sources: Columbia Law, Reuters

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