Tamar Luster ’18 LL.M.
2017 – 2018 Human Rights Fellow
Before she came to Columbia Law School, Tamar Luster ’18 LL.M. served as the head of a clinic focused on the theory and practice of socioeconomic rights at the College of Law and Business in Ramat Gan, Israel. She explored principles of community-based lawyering with students and supervised their work providing legal aid to marginalized populations, primarily around the right to housing.
Now she’s a clinical student herself—in her first semester as an LL.M. Human Rights Fellow, Luster is enrolled in the Advanced Human Rights Clinic, a year-long offering that prepares students for careers in social justice advocacy around the globe. In September, the course (taught by Professor Sarah Knuckey, Lecturer Benjamin Hoffman, and Associate Research Scholar Alexander Moorehead) brought Luster to London for advocacy meetings.
Luster called the clinic “inspirational” and said it was a major draw in her decision to attend Columbia Law School.
“Columbia really offers an opportunity to engage with academic figures and professionals,” she said. “It’s been an amazing experience so far to join the Human Rights Clinic and take part in its work, and I am sure it will deepen and broaden my future clinical work.”
Luster, who earned her LL.B. from Tel Aviv University in 2006 and a master’s degree in community development studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2014, said her interest in social justice stems from growing up in a society where power imbalances and inequality were easy to see.
“I always felt obligated to try and change the reality around me,” she said. “I feel law has given me a new language to understand and redefine the reality around me. What were once seen as facts of life could now be seen as a violation of rights.”
Luster started her legal career working on conflict and justice issues and engaging with international law, in both governmental and non-governmental organizations. During an internship in Nepal, where she worked on reconciliation processes and transitional justice issues, Luster realized the importance of socioeconomic rights in conflict-affected societies and has been focusing on them since.
In addition to her work at the clinic in Israel, Luster has worked as the legal director of community-based legal right centers, where individuals were provided with tools to advocate for themselves. "Rather than speaking for others, I try to enable more voices to be heard," she said.