Guernica 37 Centre
Paul Hoffman is the Legal Director of the Guernica Centre for International Justice in San Francisco.
With more than four decades of experience in the protection and promotion of human rights, privacy and freedom of expression, Mr. Hoffman is one of the leading human rights litigators in the United States and was named one of the 100 most influential attorneys in California.
As the legal director of the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Hoffman led a team of more than 100 attorneys and litigated a full docket of civil liberties/human rights cases involving police misconduct, privacy, AIDS discrimination, international human rights, criminal justice and the death penalty. One of his most outstanding achievements was litigation in defense of the rights of activists subjected to illegal surveillance by the Los Angeles Police Department. In recognition of his remarkable work, he was awarded the Clarence Darrow Award in 1984, which honoured his First Amendment advocacy and legal work in the spying cases.
As a private attorney and partner in the Venice, California law firm of Schonbrun De Simone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, Hoffman has pursued accountability for the commission of international crimes and human rights violations and led many of the most important Alien Tort Statute/Torture Victim Protection Act cases brought before U.S. Courts. He has sued both individuals and corporations, including former dictator Ferdinand Marcos for his responsibility in the commission of torture and summary executions in the Philippines and companies, such as Exxon, Chevron, IBM and Ford. Among his most notable cases are Sosa v Alvarez- Machain 542 U.S. 692 (2004) and Kiobel v Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. 113 S. Ct. 1659 (2013) before the U.S. Supreme Court. Among his multiple achievements, Hoffman assisted a former detainee at Guantanamo Bay in suing the psychologists who designed the CIA’s brutal interrogation techniques used in the war on terror, and the case ended in a settlement.
His litigation experience for the protection of constitutional and human rights and international justice has inspired many others, and he has mentored many in the next generation of human rights lawyers. Hoffman, a graduate of both New York University School of Law and the London School of Economics and Political Science, has taught at Stanford Law School, UCLA School of Law, USC Law School, Loyola Law School, and Southwestern University School of Law. In addition, he has directed legal clinics specialized in civil rights and litigation; currently, he co-directs the International Human Rights Litigation Clinic at UC Irvine School of Law and teaches Human Rights Litigation at Harvard Law School. He is the co-author of two of the leading texts in this field, the casebook on Human Rights Lawyering and the U.S. human rights lawyer’s bible, International Human Rights Litigation in U.S. Courts.
Paul Hoffman has served as Chair of the U.S. Board of Amnesty International and Chair of its International Executive Committee between 2002-2004. He is also a member of the International Board of Article 19, the International League for Human Rights and the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. In 2017, Mr. Hoffman received the Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize in recognition of his outstanding legal career dedicated to alleviating injustice and inequity.