Public Interest Law
Title/s: Clinical Professor of Law, Director, Health Justice Project
Office #: Corboy 715B
Professor Benfer is the founder and director of the Health Justice Project, an interprofessional, live client litigation and policy clinic. Professor Benfer graduated cum laude from Providence College with a B.A. in English and Writing. After two years of service in the Peace Corps, which took her to Zimbabwe, Belize and Thailand, and working as a law clerk at the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Inc., she began studying law. She received her J.D. from Indiana University School of Law, cum laude, where she was an editor of the Indiana International and Comparative Law Review, Order of the Barristers, and President of both the local and national Equal Justice Works. During law school, she clerked for Judge David Hamilton, the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights, the Indiana Protective Order Pro Bono Project, and the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless.
Professor Benfer has dedicated her career to serving the public interest. She received an Arnold & Porter Equal Justice Works Fellowship to design and implement an advocacy and litigation strategy to represent, and improve the District's response to homeless families, children and youth at the Washington Legal Clinic for the Homeless. She then worked on a successful class action on behalf of preschool aged children with disabilities. As a Staff Attorney and Teaching Fellow in the Georgetown University Law Center Federal Legislation and Administrative Clinic, she supervised law students, represented the Epilepsy Foundation in the legislative campaign to pass the ADA Amendments Act of 2008 and represented Workplace Flexibility 2010 in legislative advocacy involving low-wage workers, family and medical leave, and the federal workforce.
In recognition of her achievements, Professor Benfer named one of Chicago's Promising 40 Lawyers Under 40 by the National Law Journal and was awarded the Indiana University Early Achievement Award, Equal Justice Works Martindale Hubbell Exemplary Public Service Award and the American Bar Association Judy M. Weightman Memorial Public Interest Award, along with numerous other commendations for her commitment to pro bono and public interest service.
She has served on the Equal Justice Works Board of Directors and National Advisory Committee, the District of Columbia McKinney Vento Homeless Assistance Advisory Board, the Washington Council of Lawyers Board of Directors and Executive Committee and as a volunteer for the Homeless Children’s Playtime Project. She is currently the chair of the American Association of Law Schools Poverty Law Section Executive Committee, a member of the Society of American Law Teachers Board of Governors and the faculty advisor for the Norman Amaker Public Interest Law and Social Justice Retreat.
Her recent publications include, "The ADA Amendments Act: An Overview of Recent Changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act," American Constitution Society (2010); "The Redefined Hero: Discovering Champions of Social Change," 16 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y 271 (2010); "Bending the Arc," 16 Geo. J. on Poverty L. & Pol'y 283 (2010); "The ADA Amendments Act of 2008," 13 Tex. J. C. L. & C. R. 187 (2008)(with Chai Feldblum and Kevin Barry); "In the Best Interests of the Child?: An International Human Rights Analysis of the Treatment of Unaccompanied Minors in Australia and the United States," 14 Ind. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev. 729 (2004); "Shaking a Cup: Panhandling in Indianpolis," NUVO (Mar. 3, 2004)(recipient of the Society of Professional Journalists Award, 2005). Annette Appel, Emily A. Benfer, Davida Finger, Theory & Praxis in Reducing Women’s Poverty, Amer. Univ. J. of Gender, Social Pol’y & L. (forthcoming 2012); Health Justice Project: Law Schools Reaching Out Beyond the Classroom, Ind. Health L. Rev. (forthcoming 2012); Interdisciplinary Collaboration Between Graduate Schools and Host Communities in Town and Gown: Effective Legal Strategies Promoting Cooperation Between Institutions of Higher Education and Their Host Municipalities (forthcoming 2012); Emily A. Benfer, John Ammann, Lisa Bliss, Sylvia Caley, Elizabeth Tobin Tyler, Robert Pettignano, Advancing Health Law & Social Justice in the Clinic, the Classroom and the Community, 21 Annals Health L. 241 (2012); May All Creatures Be at Peace, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, September 11, 2011. Emily A. Benfer, Educating the Next Generation of Health Law Leaders: Medical-Legal Partnership and Interdisciplinary Graduate Education, J. Legal. Med. (forthcoming 2013); Educating the Invincibles: Strategies for Teaching the Millennial Generation in Law School, Clin. L. Rev. (forthcoming 2013) (with Colleen Shanahan); Adaptive Clinical Teaching, 19 Clin. L. Rev. 201 (2013) (with Colleen Shanahan).
BA, cum laude, Providence College
JD, cum laude, Indiana University
LLM, Georgetown University
clinical teaching, access to health and justice, poverty law, legislative advocacy, interdisciplinary partnership