Karen Musalo


Professor Karen Musalo, Bank of America Chair in International Law, is the founding director of the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies and the Refugee and Human Rights Clinic at U.C. Hastings College of the Law. She is lead co-author of Refugee Law and Policy: An International and Comparative Approach (5th edition), as well as numerous reports, book chapters and articles. Prof. Musalo has contributed to the evolving jurisprudence of asylum law through her scholarship, as well as her litigation of landmark cases.

Prof. Musalo was lead attorney in Matter of Kasinga (fear of female genital cutting as a basis of asylum), which continues to be cited as authority in gender asylum cases by tribunals from Canada to the United Kingdom to New Zealand. She represented Rody Alvarado (Matter of R-A-), whose case exemplified the struggle for the right to asylum for women fleeing domestic violence, and was amicus in Matter of A-R-C-G-, a precedent decision which held that a viable claim to asylum could be based on domestic violence. Prof. Musalo is currently co-counsel in Matter of A-B-, challenging the Attorney General’s ruling which reversed Matter of A-R-C-G-.

In addition to her extensive scholarship, Prof. Musalo is recognized for her innovative work on refugee issues. She was the first attorney to partner with psychologists in her representation of traumatized asylum seekers – a practice that has since become standard – and she edited the first handbook for practitioners on cross-cultural issues and the impact of culture on credibility in the asylum context. She has been recognized with numerous professional awards, and in 2012, she received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Lehman College, the same year she received UC Hastings’ William Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching.