Emily Benfer

Emily Benfer
Visiting Professor of Clinical Law; Director of the Medical and Legal Partnership Clinic
The George Washington University Law School
2000 H Street, NW
Washington, DC
[email protected]

Emily A. Benfer is a Visiting Professor of Clinical Law and the founding Director of the Medical-Legal Partnership Clinic at the George Washington University Law School. She is a Visiting Research Collaborator at the Eviction Lab at Princeton University and the Chair of the American Bar Association Task Force on Eviction, Housing Stability, and Equity. 

Professor Benfer's areas of research and clinic practice include health equity, social justice, housing and eviction, interprofessional education, environmental and racial justice, and medical-legal partnership. She has testified before Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and appeared in numerous media outlets on these topics. Professor Benfer's work has been published in law reviews, peer-reviewed journals, and national media outlets.

An expert in eviction, housing, and health law and policy, she was the principal investigator in a study of nationwide pandemic mitigation policies that control the eviction process and preserve housing. Professor Benfer's COVID-19 research was cited in multiple federal and court orders designed to control the pandemic. 

She served as a Senior Policy Advisor to the White House and American Rescue Plan Implementation Team between 2021-2022, where Professor Benfer focused on eviction prevention and housing policy. She has held numerous academic appointments, including as a visiting Professor of Law and Public Health at Wake Forest University, a visiting faculty member and the founding director of the Health Justice Advocacy Clinic at Columbia Law School, and a Visiting Distinguished Scholar and Senior Fellow at Yale Law School Solomon Center for Health Law & Policy. Between 2010-2017, Professor Benfer served as a Clinical Professor of Law at Loyola University Chicago School of Law and Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine Department of Public Health where she founded and directed an award winning medical-legal partnership at Erie Family Health Centers to resolve the social determinants of poor health for patients.

Professor Benfer served as a teaching fellow and supervising attorney in the Federal Legislation Clinic at Georgetown Law Center. In practice, she was a legislative lawyer in the successful efforts to pass the ADA Amendments Act; to amend the federal Lead Safe Housing Rule definition of lead poisoning; to require education assistance for homeless children and youth in Washington, DC; and to align the Illinois definition of lead poisoning with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention standard, among others. Professor Benfer has engaged in direct representation, class action litigation, grassroots organizing, creative advocacy strategies, and federal and state policy reform in multiple areas of public interest law, including homelessness, lead poisoning prevention, special education, housing, health, eviction prevention, environmental justice, disability, and public benefits at non-profit organizations and a public interest law firm. She served as an Equal Justice Works Fellow and a Peace Corps volunteer.

Professor Benfer has received numerous commendations for her efforts to advance U.S. housing policy and secure health justice, including the American Public Health Association David P. Rall Award for Advocacy and an American Bar Association Presidential Commendation.