Barbara Schatz

Barbara A. Schatz

  • Clinical Professor Emerita of Law

J.D., Harvard Law School, 1973
B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1969

Areas of Specialty

Nonprofit Organizations
Social Enterprise
Community Development
Clinical Teaching

Since joining the Columbia Law School faculty in 1985, Barbara Schatz has directed clinics devoted to community enterprise, mediation, and community development. She also taught the Clinical Seminar in Law and the Arts and the Community Development Law Externship. She is currently teaching Representing Nonprofits: A Lawyering Skills Simulation Course. As an expert in clinical pedagogy, she has consulted with law faculties in China, Russia, Armenia, Georgia, Poland, and Hungary to support their efforts to establish clinical legal education programs.

Schatz has devoted her career to public service. More than 35 years ago, she co-founded Human Rights First, where she is now an emeritus board member. She is the founding chair and a board member of PILnet: The Global Network for Public Interest Law, which helps lawyers access tools they need to advance human rights and public interest law around the world. To honor her, PILnet created the Barbara Schatz Fellowship Fund, which gives young activist lawyers the opportunity to build their skills by working with PILnet staff in Hong Kong, Budapest, and New York. Schatz also serves on the boards and executive committees of Nonprofit New York, an organization of 1,700 nonprofits that builds their capacity for effective service and advocacy, and Trickle Up, a global organization devoted to raising people out of extreme poverty. She is a director of Bank Street College of Education, which, in addition to operating an elementary school and a graduate school, works with school districts throughout the United States to improve learning outcomes. 

Before entering academia, Schatz served as executive director of the Council of New York Law Associates (now the Lawyers Alliance for New York), where she administered a pro bono program for 1,800 lawyers, developed the organization’s community development practice, and co-founded Court Appointed Special Advocates, a program to advocate for children in foster care.


  • Starting Off Right: A Guide for New York Non-Profit Corporations, Columbia Law School 2016
  • “Community Law Clinics: Teaching Students, Working with Disadvantaged Communities” with Anna Cody in The Global Clinical Movement: Educating Lawyers for Social Justice, F. Bloch, ed. (Oxford University Press, October, 2010)
  • Small Business Start-ups, Columbia Law School, 2005
  • Getting Organized, 5th edition (with R. Hobish and A. Bromberger), Lawyers Alliance for New York, 1999