portrait of professor stephen ellman

Stephen J. Ellmann

Martin Professor of Law (In Memoriam)

Stephen J. Ellmann

Martin Professor of Law (In Memoriam)

This page remains in memory of Professor Stephen J. Ellmann, who passed away on March 8, 2019. Read Dean Crowell’s message about Professor Ellmann’s passing. Learn about the Stephen J. Ellmann Clinical Theory Workshop.

An award-winning author on legal ethics and an expert in clinical legal education, constitutional law, and South African law, Stephen J. Ellmann also pursues his deep interest in legal education through his work as Director of Clinical and Experiential Learning.

Professor Ellmann holds both a B.A. and J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard and served as Law Clerk to Hon. Elbert Tuttle, U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth (now Eleventh) Circuit in 1976-77. As a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery, Alabama from 1977-83, his practice included institutional reform litigation for mentally disabled people and prison inmates, voting rights cases, anti-Ku Klux Klan suits, and defense work in capital murder trials. While in Montgomery, Professor Ellmann began a long career in legal education by teaching courses on constitutional law and federal courts.

In 1985, he started the Clinical Theory Workshop, which met first at Columbia, where he was Associate Professor of Law from 1983-92, and thereafter at New York Law School. The discussion series brings law professors from around the nation to present papers on various aspects of clinical education. On October 1st and 2nd, 2010, New York Law School hosted a conference celebrating the Clinical Theory Workshop’s first 25 years, with some 150 people in attendance and 32 papers illuminating the theme: “Twenty-Five Years of Clinical Scholarship: What Have We Learned, and What Should We Work on Next?” As a clinical scholar himself, he has written extensively on the skills and ethics of lawyers’ interviewing and counseling of clients. Also writing about broader questions of legal ethics, he earned the Sanford D. Levy Memorial Award from the New York State Bar Committee on Professional Ethics for his article, “Lawyering for Justice in a Flawed Democracy,” 90 Columbia Law Review (1990).

Long interested in South Africa, he co-chairs the Law School’s South Africa Reading Group, an interdisciplinary group of scholars who study South Africa from a variety of perspectives. He has written extensively on human rights in South Africa, both under apartheid and in the newly democratic nation that has followed the end of apartheid. He recently received the Law School’s Otto Walter Faculty Scholarship Prize for 2016, for his article, “The Struggle for the Rule of Law in South Africa,” 60 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 57 (2015/16).

Since the September 11 attacks he has also worked on issues of war and emergency power. He has written on racial profiling as a response to terrorism, discussed New York City’s random subway searches on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, and published a critical analysis of war powers in the post-apartheid South African constitution. His most recent essay on these issues, “Unraveling the Law of War,” a chapter in Federico Fabbrini & Vicki C. Jackson eds., Constitutionalism Across Borders in the Struggle Against Terrorism (2016), argues that the struggle against terrorism is indeed a war, but that the law governing this new form of war is and should be evolving to provide greater protection of human rights in wartime.


Lawyers and Clients: Critical Issues in Interviewing and Counseling (West 2009) (with R. Dinerstein, I. Gunning, K. Kruse & A. Shalleck)

The Post-Apartheid Constitutions: Perspectives on South Africa’s Basic Law (Witwatersrand University Press & Ohio University Press, 2001) (coedited with P. Andrews).

In a Time of Trouble: Law & Liberty in South Africa’s State of Emergency (Clarendon Press: Oxford, 1992).


“A Constitutional Confluence: American ‘State Action’ Law and the Application of South Africa’s Socioeconomic Rights Guarantees to Private Actors,” in The Post-Apartheid Constitutions: Perspectives on South Africa’s Basic Law at 444–480 (P. Andrews & S. Ellmann, eds., Witwatersrand University Press and Ohio University Press, 2001) Reprinted, as revised, in H. H. Wellington, Festschrift Issue, 45 New York Law School Law Review 21–75 (2001).

Introduction: Towards Understanding South African Constitutionalism, (with P. Andrews) in The Post-Apartheid Constitutions: Perspectives on South Africa’s Basic Law at 1–19 (P. Andrews & S. Ellmann eds., Witwatersrand University Press and Ohio University Press, 2001).

“Cause Lawyering in the Third World,” Chapter 12 in Cause Lawyering: Political Commitments and Professional Responsibilities, at 349–430 (A. Sarat & S. Scheingold, eds., Oxford University Press, 1998).

“Test Cases: Legal Battles and Latent Effects,” in Wyatt v. Stickney: Retrospect and Prospect, at 181–190 (L.R. Jones & R.R. Parlour, eds., Grune & Stratton, 1981).


“The ‘Rule of Law’ and the Military Commission,” (New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day III), 51 New York Law School Law Review 761-799 (2006-2007) originally published as New York Law School Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No 06/07-9 (2006). <http://ssrn.com/abstract=939603>

“The Rule of Law and the Achievement of Unanimity in Brown” (New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day II), 49 New York Law School Law Review at 741–784 (2004–2005).

“Connection, Capacity and Morality in Lawyer-Client Relationships: Dialogues and Commentary,” 10 Clinical Law Review at 755–804 (2004) (with R. Dinerstein, I. Gunning & A. Shalleck).

“Weighing and Implementing the Right to Counsel” (South African Law Journal Jubilee Conference: The Impact of the Constitution on South African Law: Ten Years On), 121 South African Law Journal at 318–338 (2004).

“Legal Interviewing and Counseling: An Introduction” (Symposium: The 25th Anniversary of Gary Bellow’s & Bea Moulton’s The Lawyering Process), 10 Clinical Law Review 281–309 (2003) (with R. Dinerstein, I. Gunning & A. Shalleck).

“Racial Profiling and Terrorism” (Special Issue: Reflecting on the Legal Issues of Our Times. New York Law School Faculty Presentation Day), 46 New York Law School Law Review 675–730 (2002–2003).

“A Constitutional Confluence: American ‘State Action’ Law and the Application of South Africa’s Socioeconomic Rights Guarantees to Private Actors” (Harry H. Wellington Festschrift Issue), 45New York Law School Law Review 21–75 (2001).

“To Live Outside the Law You Must be Honest: Bram Fischer and the Meaning of Integrity,” 26 North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulations, 767–798 (2001). Reprinted, as revised, in 17 South African Journal on Human Rights 451 (2001).

“Truth and Consequences” (Symposium: Case Studies in Legal Ethics), 69 Fordham Law Review895–937 (2000).

Calling to Account (A review of George Bizos’ No One to Blame? In Pursuit of Justice in South Africa), 15 South African Journal on Human Rights 406–412 (1999).

Discussant, in response to Justice Richard J. Goldstone, 1998 Otto L. Walter Lecture: International Human Rights at Century’s End, 15 New York Law School Journal of Human Rights 256–262 (1999).

“Ethical Issues Panel Symposium: The Future of Legal Services: Legal and Ethical Implications of the LSC Restrictions,” 25 Fordham Urban Law Journal 357, 371–387 (1998).

“To Resign or Not to Resign” (Symposium: Executioners, Jailers, Slave-Trappers and the Law: What Role Should Morality Play in Judging?), 19 Cardozo Law Review 1047–1059 (1997).

Introduction to Albie Sachs’ The Creation of South Africa’s Constitution, 41 New York Law School Law Review 665–667 (1997).

Editor’s Introduction, “Struggle and Legitimation” (Symposium: Lawyering in Repressive States), 20 Law & Social Inquiry 339–348 (1995).

“Law and Legitimacy in South Africa” (Symposium: Lawyering in Repressive States), 20 Law & Social Inquiry 407–479 (1995).

Foreword: “Why Not a Clinical Lawyer-Journal?” 1 Clinical Law Review 1–8 (1994) (with R. Hertz & I.R. Gunning).

“The New South African Constitution and Ethnic Division,” 26 Columbia Human Rights Law Review5–44 (1994).

“The Ethic of Care as an Ethic for Lawyers,” 81 Georgetown Law Journal 2665–2726 (1993).

“Federalism Awry: The Structure of Government in the KwaZulu/Natal Constitution,” 9 South African Journal on Human Rights 165–176 (1993).

“The Separation of Powers in a Post-Apartheid South Africa,” 8 American University Journal of International Law and Policy 455–482 (1992–93).

“Client-Centeredness Multiplied: Individual Autonomy and Collective Mobilization in Public Interest Lawyers’ Representation of Groups,” 78 Virginia Law Review 1103–1173 (1992). Excerpted in Clinical Anthology: Readings for Live Client Clinics 248–254 (A. Hurder, F.S. Bloch, S.L. Brooks & S.L. Kay, eds., Anderson, 1997).

“Empathy and Approval” (Conference on Theoretics of Practice: The Integration of Progressive Thought and Action), 43 Hastings Law Journal 991–1015 (1992).

“Visions of Legitimation in Old and New South Africa: A Summary and Response” (Symposium: Law and the South African Legitimacy Crisis), 16 Legal Studies Forum 193–205 (1992).

“Lawyering for Justice in a Flawed Democracy” (Book Review Essay on David Luban’s Lawyers and Justice: An Ethical Study), 90 Columbia Law Review 116–190 (1990).

“Lawyers Against the Emergency,” 6 South African Journal on Human Rights 228–250 (1990).

“A Constitution for All Seasons: Providing Against Emergencies in a Post-Apartheid Constitution,” 21 Columbia Human Rights Law Review 163–191 (1989).

“Legal Text and Lawyers’ Culture in South Africa,” 17 New York University Review of Law & Social Change 387–418 (1989).

“Who Are the Citizens of South Africa and Transkei?” 4 South African Journal on Human Rights 76–79 (1988).

“Lawyers and Clients,” 34 UCLA Law Review 717–779 (1987).

“Manipulation by Client and Context: A Response to Professor Morris,” 34 UCLA Law Review 1003–1022 (1987).


Blog Proprietor, NOW WITHOUT HESITATION (January 2010 – ) at http://nowwithouthesitation.blogspot.com/.

Co-Editor, CLINICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE. (New York Law School Research Paper Series, SSRN, 1998 – ) (with R. Marsico).

Advisory Committee, Journal of Legal Education (Association of American Law Schools, 2000–2002).

Essay in Eight Blocks Away: Memoirs of September 11, 2001 at 11–16 (New York Law School, 2002).

First Meeting of the September 11 Law School Pro Bono Coordinating Committee, Minutes in EightBlocks Away: Memoirs of September 11, 2001 at 108–117 (New York Law School, 2002) (E-mail Invitation to Meeting at 105).

“Unjust Laws and Just Lawyers,” 4(3) The BLSA News Journal 3–4 (April 2001).

Letter to the Editors, 5 Clinical Law Review 335–336 (1998).

Co-Editor-in-Chief, Clinical Law Review: A Journal of Lawyering and Legal Education (American Association of Law Schools, Clinical Legal Education Association and New York University School of Law, 1994–1997); Board of Editors (1997–1999).

Judge Albie Sachs: Shaper of South Africa’s New Constitution, 15 In Brief 16–17 (Spring/Summer 1997).

Editor, Symposium: Lawyering in Repressive States, 20 Law & Social Inquiry 339–599 (1995).

“On the Death Penalty, Copy South Africa,” New York Newsday (Viewpoints), at A41 (June 29, 1995).

“South African Constitution of 1993,” South Africa: The Countdown to Elections (Special Edition) (Southern Africa Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law), February 14, 1994.

South African Constitutional Amendments, South Africa: The Countdown to Elections (Southern Africa Project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law), May 3, 1994, at 3–6.

“Instructions on Death: Guiding the Jury’s Sentencing Discretion in Capital Cases,” 10(3) The Champion 20 (1986).