Paul L. Hoffman

Paul L. Hoffman

Los Angeles, California


Private Practice

Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP  Venice, California March 1994 - Present

In November 1999 I became a partner in Schonbrun DeSimone Seplow Harris & Hoffman, LLP. Prior to that, on March 1, 1994, I established my own law firm. On May 1, 1997, the firm became Bostwick & Hoffman, LLP. My practice has been in the areas of constitutional and civil rights litigation, including First Amendment, discrimination and privacy litigation, and general business litigation; including copyright and trademark litigation. I also specialize in civil and criminal appeals. In October 1998, I was named one of the 100 most influential attorneys in California by the Daily Journal and in February 1999 one of the top trial lawyers in Los Angeles County by the Los Angeles Business Journal.


Legal Director, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. September 1984 - February 1994

I directed the legal program of the ACLU in Southern California which included the supervision of ten staff attorneys and more than 100 volunteer attorneys with a docket of approximately 150-200 pending cases in every area of civil liberties and civil rights practice. In addition, I litigated a full docket of civil liberties/civil rights cases myself. I specialized in cases involving First Amendment rights, police misconduct, privacy, AIDS discrimination, international human rights, criminal justice and the death penalty.

Volunteer Attorney - ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Los Angeles, California. October 1976 - Present

In the period from 1976 to 1984 I litigated more than 20 civil rights/civil liberties cases in the following areas: First Amendment rights, criminal law and procedure, rights of persons with disabilities, race and sex discrimination, voting rights, police misconduct, freedom of information and privacy. I was lead counsel in Coalition Against Police Abuse v. Board of Police Commissioners (the "police spying" cases) and in Wilkinson v. FBI (a challenge to the FBI's COINTELPRO operation against the National Committee To Abolish HUAC). In 1984, I received the Clarence Darrow Award for outstanding First Amendment advocacy for my work in the police spying cases. After leaving the ACLU in 1994, I was named "of Counsel" to the ACLU Foundation and a member of the ACLU Foundation Board. I continue to litigate ACLU cases.

Private Law Practice

Associate Attorney (Litigation Department) Loeb and Loeb, Los Angeles, California August 1976 - August 1981

I participated in the preparation and trial of matters in the following areas: securities regulation, bankruptcy, contracts, business torts, real estate, copyright, defamation and constitutional law. I also handled a number of appeals. I often had primary responsibility for the cases I handled and on several complex cases I supervised several other attorneys and numerous paralegals. I was also a member of several firm committees, including the recruitment committee.

Teaching Experience Fulltime

Associate Professor, Southwestern University School of Law Los Angeles, California. August 1981 - July 1984

Courses: Criminal Law and Procedure, Federal Courts, Civil Rights Litigation Seminar, International Human Rights Law, Public International Law, Contracts. I was also the Co-Director (with Stanley Fleishman) of a clinical program on the rights of the disabled and elderly.


Oxford University/George Washington School of Law June 1980 - Present
Stanford Law School
UCLA School of Law
USC Law School
Loyola Law School
Southwestern University School of Law

In all, I have taught more than 40 separate courses, including First Amendment, Civil Rights Litigation, Constitutional Law Seminars on Equality and Privacy, International Human Rights, International Criminal Justice, Police Abuse Litigation, Slander, Libel, and the First Amendment and AIDS and the Law.


  • Amnesty International: Since August 1999 I have been a member of AI's 9 member International Executive Committee which oversees AI's operations throughout the world.
  • Amnesty International - USA: Chair of the Board (1997-99, 1988-89); Member, Executive Committee (1984-1989, 1992-94, 1997-99); Member of Board (1983-89, 1992-94, 1996-99); Chair, International Council Meeting (1991-97); Founder and National Coordinator, AIUSA Legal Support Network (1982-87); Chair of December 1998 International Summit of Human Rights Defenders (Paris, France). I have also undertaken several human rights missions, diplomatic missions (e.g. as a delegate to United Nations meetings) and trial observations for AI. I have served on numerous AIUSA committees and task forces and I have frequently represented AIUSA in the media.
  • Human Rights Watch: Member of California Committee; Member of Advisory Committee to Asia Watch; Research mission to Ethiopia (1994)
  • Article 19 (International Centre Against Censorship): Member of International Board (since 1999); Chair of 1995 International Conference on Freedom of Expression and National Security (Johannesburg, South Africa).
  • International League for Human Rights: Member of Board
  • Center For Human Rights and Constitutional Law: Member of Board
  • International Human Rights Law Group: Member of Domestic Advisory Committee

Areas of Practice

  • Civil and Criminal Appeals
  • Civil Rights Litigation
  • Constitutional
  • Copyright
  • Discrimination
  • First Amendment
  • General Business Litigation
  • Privacy Litigation
  • Trademark Litigation


  • New York University School of Law, New York, New York
    • J.D. - 1976
  • The London School of Economics and Political Science
    • M.S. - June, 1973
    • Major: Economics
  • The City College of the City University of New York
    • B.A. - June, 1972
    • Honors: Class Standing: Top 5%
    • Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
    • Honors: Magna Cum Laude Regent's Scholarship
    • Major: International Relations

Published Works

  • "Security and Liberty: National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information,", (Co-Authored with Coliver, Fitzpatrick & Bowen), 1999
  • "International Human Rights Law and Police Reform," in Zero Tolerance: Quality of Life and the New Police Brutality in New York City", (Co-Author with Eds. A. McArdle and T. Erzen), NYU Press, 2001
  • "Using Immigration Law to Protect Human Rights: A Legislative Proposal,", ( Co-Author with William Aceves), 20 Mich. J. of Int'l L. 657, 1999
  • "Safeguarding Liberty: National Security, Freedom of Expression and Access to Information: United States of America,", (Co-Author with Kate Martin), Secrecy and Liberty, Supra
  • "The Gag Order in the O.J. Simpson Civil Action: Lessons to be Learned?,", 17 Loyola Ent. L.J. 333, 1997
  • "The 'Blank Stare Phenomenon': Proving Customary International Law in U.S. Courts,", 25 Ga. J. Int'l and Comp. Law 181, 1996
  • "Enforcing International Human Rights Law in the United States," in Human Rights: An Agenda for the Next Century", (Co-Author with Nadine Strossen), American Society of International Law, 1994
  • "Double Jeopardy Wars: The Case for a Civil Rights 'Exception,", 41 UCLA L. Rev. 649, 1994
  • "The Feds, Lies and Videotape: The Need for an Effective Federal Role in Controlling Police Abuse in Urban America", 66 So. Cal. L. Rev. 1453, 1993
  • "The Elimination of Torture: International and Domestic Developments" 9 International Lawyer 1351, (Co-Author with Linda Brackins), Fall, 1985
  • "Public Interest Lawyers: Three Success Stories,", Los Angeles Lawyer, December, 1984
  • Hannum, "Guide to International Human Rights Practice," and Meron, "Human Rights in International Law: Legal and Policy Issues," 18 International Lawyer 741, Summer, 1984
  • "The Police Spying Settlement: New Safeguards for Political Expression,", (Co-Author with Robert Newman), Los Angeles Lawyer, May, 1984
  • "The Application of International Human Rights Law in State Courts: A View from California," 18 The International Lawyer 59, Winter, 1984
  • "Trade Union Rights Under Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights," 5 Comparative Labor Law 149, 1982
  • "Assignment to Trial Department; Motions; Procedure in Chambers," in California Civil Procedure During Trial, (Co-Authored with Dale L. Gronemeier), C.E.B., 1982
  • "Environmental Law/The Clean Air Act Amendments," 1974/75 Annual Survey of American Law 641
  • "The Right of Self-Determination in Very Small Places," 8 N.Y.U. Journal of International Law and Politics 331, (Co-Authored with Professor Thomas M. Franck), 1976
  • "The United Nations and the Death Penalty," in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • United Nations and Amnesty International, (Co-Authored with Zazi Pope), AIUSA, Fall, 1988

Representative Cases


  • Associate Professor, Southwestern University School of Law, 1981 - 1984
  • Adjunct Teaching, Oxford University/George Washington School of Law, 1980 - Present
  • Adjunct Teaching, Stanford Law School
  • Adjunct Teaching, UCLA School of Law
  • Adjunct Teaching, USC Law School
  • Adjunct Teaching, Loyola Law School
  • Adjunct Teaching, Southwestern University School of Law

Honors and Awards

  • Staff Member, Annual Survey of American Law, 1974 - 1975
  • Research Associate, International Law Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1975 - 1976
  • Law Clerk, Manhattan Legal Services (N.Y.U. Public Interest Clinic), 1974 - 1975
  • RFK Fellow, Office of Congressman Jonathan Bingham, Washington, D.C., 1974

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • California Academy of Appellate Lawyers, Member, 2000
  • Los Angeles Copyright Society, Member, 1997 - Present
  • Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, Lawyer Representative, 1989 - 1992
  • The State Bar of California, Member, Committee on Private Bar Involvement in Pro Bono Work, 1988 - 1991
  • ABA Section on Individual Rights and Responsibilities, Program Coordinator, International Human Rights Committee, 1984 - 1988
  • The State Bar of California, Committee on Human Rights, 1983 - 1986
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Individual Rights and Responsibilities Law Section, Executive Committee, 1985 - 1987
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, International Law Section, Executive Committee, 1982 - 1986
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Arbitrator (Legal Fee Disputes), 1980 - 1983
  • American Arbitration Association, Arbitrator, Commercial Panel, 1981 - 1985
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association, Vice-Chair, Arbitration Committee, 1982 - 1983
  • Los Angeles Municipal Court, Judge Pro Tem, 1983 - 1984
  • Amnesty International, Member
  • Amnesty International - USA, Chair of the Board
  • International League for Human Rights, Member of Board
  • Center For Human Rights and Constitutional Law, Member of Board
  • International Human Rights Law Group, Member, Domestic Advisory Committee

Past Employment Positions

  • ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, Legal Director, 1984 - 1994
  • Loeb and Loeb, Los Angeles, California, Associate Attorney (Litigation Department), 1976 - 1981
  • Stanley Fleishman, Co-Director

Pro Bono Activities

  • Volunteer Attorney, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, 1976 - Present