Professor Suzanne Goldberg

Suzanne Goldberg

  • Herbert and Doris Wechsler Clinical Professor of Law

J.D., Harvard University, 1990
A.B., Brown University, 1985

Areas of Specialty

Sexuality and Gender Law
Civil Procedure
Civil Rights
Lawyering and Social Change
Equality Theory

The founding director of Columbia Law School’s trailblazing Sexuality and Gender Law Clinic, Suzanne Goldberg has led the clinic since joining the faculty in 2006. One of the country’s foremost experts on gender and sexuality law and a leading advocate and attorney for the LGBTQ+ community, she is also co-director of the Law School’s Center for Gender and Sexuality. Since September 2023, she has served as Senior Advisor and Legal Expert to the Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons at the U.S. Department of State.  She began her federal service in January 2021 as deputy assistant secretary for Strategic Operations and Outreach in the Office for Civil Rights (serving as acting assistant secretary) at the U.S. Department of Education. 

An award-winning teacher who has received the Law School’s Willis L.M. Reese Prize for Excellence in Teaching and been named the Public Interest Professor of the Year, Goldberg has served as Columbia University’s inaugural executive vice president for university life since 2015. In this role, she works to broaden and reinforce the university’s commitment to respect, inclusion, and ethical leadership among students, faculty, and administrators. 

Goldberg launched her career as an advocate at Lambda Legal, the country’s first and largest legal organization focused on achieving full equality for LGBTQ+ people. While at Lambda, she worked on immigration, employment discrimination, and family law matters as well as two cases that became cornerstone gay rights victories at the U.S. Supreme Court: Lawrence v. Texas, the landmark decision that struck down Texas’s sodomy law, and Romer v. Evans, which overturned an anti-gay Colorado constitutional amendment. She has continued this advocacy as a professor at Columbia, filing briefs in nearly every marriage equality case in the United States. 

From 2000 to 2006, Goldberg was on the faculty of Rutgers University School of Law, where she directed the Women’s Rights Litigation Clinic. Goldberg has also served as a clerk to Justice Marie Garibaldi of the New Jersey Supreme Court.

Goldberg is a frequent commentator and analyst for the news media on the MeToo movement, sexuality and gender law, and discrimination law and litigation issues. Her commentary has been featured on the ABC News program 20/20, CNN, and other television networks as well as on the radio and in news outlets around the world.

Professor Goldberg is currently on leave serving in the federal government. 


Honors and Awards

Co-Chair, University Commission on the Status of Women


LeGal Foundation Community Vision Award


Willis L.M. Reese Award for Excellence in Teaching


Public Interest Professor of the Year Award


M. Ashley Dickerson Award from the National Association of Women Lawyers


Dukemenier Award for Sexual Orientation Scholarship

2004, 2006

Association of American Law Schools Outstanding Scholarly Paper Award


Senior Staff Attorney, Skadden Fellow, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund


Activities and Affiliations

  • Member of the New Jersey Civil Practice Committee of the New Jersey Supreme Court, 2002-2006
  • Annual Review Board of Advisors, Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law, 1999-­present
  • Founder and past president of the board of directors of Immigration Equality (formerly the Lesbian and Gay Immigration Rights Task Force)

Professional Experience

  • Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund 1991-2000  
  • Senior staff attorney, Skadden Fellow, 1991-1993
  • Counsel in numerous lesbian and gay civil rights impact litigation cases involving constitutional, statutory, and common law claims; responsible for all phases of trial-level and appellate litigation in state and federal courts, including in U.S. Supreme Court
  • Advised and oversaw attorneys and legal interns on litigation, legislative, and public policy analysis projects
  • Advised employers on personnel matters, benefits, and other employment issues
  • Extensive public speaking, media relations, and authorship and editing of informational, advocacy, and scholarly publications
  • New Jersey Supreme Court 1990-1991
  • Judicial clerkship with Justice Marie Garibaldi

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