Stephen Pershing

Professorial Lecturer in Law


2000 H Street, NW Washington DC 20052

Steve Pershing, who has taught voting rights law at GW since 1999, is an experienced public interest litigator and law teacher with a lifelong passion for civil rights. From 1996 to 2005, he was a senior attorney in the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Justice Department, litigating minority voting rights across the nation. From 1989 to 1996, he litigated voting and other civil rights and liberties cases as legal director of the Virginia ACLU, and for the 20-plus years since then has served on its legal panel. He is now in his fourth decennial census cycle litigating voting cases on behalf of racial and language minorities.

After leaving the Justice Department, Prof. Pershing served for four years as senior counsel at the Center for Constitutional Litigation, P.C., in Washington, a boutique aligned with the plaintiffs’ trial bar which litigates civil justice issues nationwide under the U.S. and state constitutions. From 2009 to 2011 he directed and taught in the Washington semester program for the law schools of the University of California, and in 2011 he founded a similar program of his own as a nonprofit consortium of law schools. He has taught civil rights law as an adjunct at William & Mary and American University. Today, in addition to his G.W. law teaching and his Washington law semester program, Prof. Pershing maintains a varied solo practice and is of counsel to Hall & Sethi, PLC, of Reston, Va.

Prof. Pershing is a 1979 graduate of Harvard College and a 1987 graduate of the University of Virginia Law School, where in his third year he successfully sued his alma mater on behalf of student protesters under the First Amendment. From 1987 to 1989 he was law clerk to U.S. District Judge Julian A. Cook, Jr., of the Eastern District of Michigan in Detroit, who presided over the $1 billion Northwest Flight 255 air crash litigation.

Steve grew up in Huntsville, Ala., and New York City. He is a devoted amateur classical violinist, a dad, and a former public radio music producer, cyclist, and sculler. In his nonexistent spare time he is a freelance editor and voice-over artist. You may see him zipping around town on a silver Vespa.

BA, Harvard University; JD, University of Virginia