Susan L. Waysdorf
Professor of Law
A.B. University of Chicago, 1972; J.D. University of Maryland Law School, 1991.
Professor Waysdorf has taught at the University of the District of Columbia, David A. Clarke School of Law since 1993, and began as director and supervisor of the HIV/AIDS Law Clinic. In 1997 she developed and taught the Prisoners’ Rights and Advocacy Law Clinic, which had a highly successful and nationally recognized practice advocating for compassionate release of terminally-ill and elderly prisoners, and the parole of prisoners. Since 1993, she has also been the primary teacher of Family Law at the School of Law, and occasionally has taught Health Law as well. She now teaches the core Constitutional Law II course, Administrative Law, Family Law and the Service-Learning seminar and practicum.
For the last eights years, Professor Waysdorf, together with other School of Law faculty, has taken law students on humanitarian Service-Learning projects during spring break. The program began in 2007, when Waysdorf organized a group of students and faculty to travel to New Orleans, Louisiana, to provide legal services and recovery aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, Professor Waysdorf has expanded this popular, experiential service program to other traumatized or historically under-served regions of the nation, including the Mississippi Delta, the Gulf Coast, and the Arizona-Mexico border. During the 2014 spring semester, several dozen students made trips along with Professor Waysdorf and other faculty members to the Mississippi Delta and to Jackson, the state capital, to work with the Mississippi Center for Justice on a variety of poverty law legal services and civil rights law reform efforts and projects. They also assisted with the planning for the 50th year commemoration of Mississippi Freedom Summer. Another Service-Learning team went to Arizona and assisted immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border and in the Tucson area, with legal and humanitarian issues.
In conjunction with the Service-Learning project, Professor Waysdorf conducts a for-credit Service-Learning Seminar. She has lectured at law schools and professional conferences across the country on the importance of service in the law school curriculum, and models “why service matters” in her own life. For example, she returned to New Orleans several times to do volunteer work on her own, and spent her Spring and Fall 2008 sabbatical leave in New Orleans, doing volunteer service and working with community-based recovery groups. Her scholarship on Service-Learning has been published in the Journal of Legal Education and the New York Law School Law Review, and her approaches to developing Service-Learning programs for law schools has attracted national attention.
Professor Waysdorf began her public interest law career as a Skadden Public Interest Fellow sponsored by the Skadden Arps Foundation and law firm. As a Skadden Fellow, she worked in D.C.’s Whitman-Walker Clinic’s Legal Services Department. At Whitman-Walker, she developed an innovative program in support of women, children, and families affected by the AIDS epidemic that became a prototype for family-centered and holistic HIV/AIDS legal services. In 1996, Professor Waysdorf was invited to the Clinton White House to meet with the Domestic Policy Council and share her experiences working with families affected by HIV/AIDS. Her scholarship reflects and comes out of her social justice commitments and activism. She has published, lectured and consulted on the rights and needs of special populations in the AIDS epidemic, including women, children, prisoners and the elderly, on prisoners’ rights, access to health care for the poor, welfare rights as civil rights, the rights of same-sex couples to marry and Service-Learning. Professor Waysdorf is a member of the District of Columbia and New York state bars. She was also temporarily admitted to practice in Louisiana under that state’s post-Katrina Pro Bono Emergency Civil Practice rule.
Professor Waysdorf attended law school at the University of Maryland after working for a number of years as a community organizer and an activist in the movements for peace, Civil Rights, women’s equality and social justice. While at the University of Chicago during the late 1960s and early 1970s, she majored in American History and the Humanities. As a member of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), she was active in the student movement against the U.S. War in Vietnam and in the domestic Civil Rights struggle. She integrates her life-long interest in American history and the struggles for equality, peace and social justice into her Constitutional Law, Service-Learning and Family Law course materials and lectures.
Laurie Morin & Susan Waysdorf, Teaching the Reflective Approach Within the Service-Learning Model, 62 J. Legal Educ. 600 (2013)
Laurie Morin & Susan Waysdorf, The Service-Learning Model in the Law School Curriculum, 56 N.Y.L. Sch. L. Rev. 561 (2011/12)
Susan L. Waysdorf & Sandie McCarthy-Brown, Katrina Disaster Family Law: The Impact of Hurricane Katrina on Families and Family Law, 42 Ind. L. Rev. 721 (2009)
Susan L. Waysdorf, Returning to New Orleans: Reflections on the Post-Katrina Recovery, Disaster Relief, and the Struggle for Social Justice, 12 UDC/DCSL L. Rev. 3 (2009)
Susan Waysdorf, The Two Tailors: The Pursuit of Racial Justice in 1970s Chicago, in Civil Rights Litigation and Attorney Fees Annual Handbook (Steven Saltzman & Barbara Wolveritz, eds. 2010), reprinted from 9 UDC/DCSL L. Rev. 91 (2007).
Telephone: (202) 274-7330