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Tamara Relis

Assistant Professor of Law

New York University Law School, Visiting Researcher, 2012
London School of Economics, Department of Law (LSE) Research Fellow, 2005-present
Columbia University Law School Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2005-09
Ph.D., LSE, Department of Law, 2005
LL.M., LSE, Department of Law, with honors, 1998
LL.B., University of London, with honors, 1995

Contact Info
Phone: Office: 631-761-7130
Room: 311C
Office Hours:
Faculty Assistant: Cathy Cembrale
Dr. Tamara Relis joins us from Columbia University Law School in New York and the Department of Law of the London School of Economics (LSE), where she has been and continues as a postdoctoral research fellow since 2005. She holds a Ph.D. in law and an LL.M. degree with honors from the LSE (focusing on conflict resolution, procedural law and human rights in the developing world), where she taught two LL.B. courses for two years. Dr. Relis also holds an LL.B. degree with honors from the University of London. She is a trial lawyer (barrister) with experience in trial court practice, as well as having qualified as a solicitor, working primarily in litigation.

Dr. Relis is currently working on her second book, The Purchase of Human Rights: Standards and Legal Pluralism in the Global South (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). The manuscript is based on a large-scale four-year empirical study (2005-09) of formal courts and quasi-legal non-state justice processing of international human rights violation cases of violence against women in India. She was the recipient of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Award for 2005/06, the British Academy’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Award for 2006/09, and a Columbia University (Provost’s Office) & LSE Seed Fund Publishing Award relating to a collaborative project with Professor Kendall Thomas (Columbia Law School, Center for Law and Culture) and Professor Simon Roberts (LSE). Her doctoral findings have been published as a book by Cambridge University Press (New York, 2009) entitled ‘Perceptions in Litigation and Mediation: Lawyers, Defendants, Plaintiffs and Gendered Parties’. Further to positive reviews and recommendations by US and International law professors, the book was published in paperback in 2011. Dr. Relis has also published in various law journals including the Harvard Negotiation Law Review (2007), the Pittsburgh Law Review (2007), and Human Rights Quarterly (2011). In 2012 she was published in the United Nations Press (UNDP) in relation to her research on the permeation of the CEDAW in non-state justice courts in South Asia.

Dr. Relis has been invited to speak about her research throughout North America (Canada, USA), Europe (Britain, Italy, Germany, Spain, France, and Croatia), Asia (India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, China) and South Africa. She was also invited to Japan through a Japanese government award to speak about her findings culminating in her first book. Most recently, Dr. Relis has been invited to speak at Cornell University Law School, St. John's University School of Law, Rutgers Law School and Fordham Law School. Her 2009 book was chosen to be the topic of an Author-Meets-Reader panel at the American Law and Society Association Conference in May 2010. In October 2010 she was invited by the United Nations Development Program to speak on the permeation of CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women) in non-state justice regimes in South Asia. In 2011, Dr. Relis was appointed by the U.S. National Science Foundation to be a reviewer relating to decisions on large-scale funding of empirical legal and sociolegal research. In 2012, she was appointed a manuscript reviewer for the Journal of Legal Pluralism. In 2013, she was appointed manuscript reviewer for Cambridge University Press (law and international human rights).

Download CV/Resume

Criminal Law
International Human Rights Law
Global Conflict Resolution

For Selected Works,click here.

Perceptions in Litigation and Mediation: Lawyers, Defendants,Plaintiffs and Gendered Parties (Cambridge University Press, New York, 2009 and 2011 paperback)

Peer reviewed by Prof. Richard Abel (UCLA Law School) and Prof. Carrie Menkel-Meadow (Georgetown Law School). Book Reviews – American Bar Assocn. Dispute Resolution (2/10); Prof. Fiona Kay (Queen’s U) Canadian Journal of Sociology (8/10); Canadian Journal of Law & Society (University of Toronto Press, 6/10). Book Recommendations-Profs. Len Riskin (UFlorida), Jonathan Hyman (Rutgers Law School), John Leubsdorf (Rutgers Law School).

The Purchase of Human Rights: Standards and Legal Pluralism in the Global South
(Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

The book is based on her empirical fieldwork research in 8 states of India on formal courts and quasi-legal, non-state justice processing of human rights violation cases of violence against women. The book draws on 400 interviews, questionnaires and case hearing observations with victims, accused, families, lawyers, judges, state and non-state mediators. Elucidating non-Western legal and lay actors’ perceptions and experiences, the book critically analyzes the permeation of human rights laws and norms as well as the actual workings of human rights cases in the developing world within the context of globalization. In so doing, the book draws on interdisciplinary scholarship--international relations, law and anthropology, law and development, feminist legal theory, victimology and access to justice literatures--as well as the theoretical ideas informing these processes. These include norm diffusion theory, universalism versus cultural relativism, and restorative justice. 


Work-In-Progress–International Human Rights and Normative Visions of Justice: Discontinuities in Local Desires and International Law

Human Rights and Southern Realities, 33(2) HUMAN RIGHTS QUARTERLY 509-551 (2011)

Permeation of CEDAW in Non-State Justice Systems of India: Mahila Panchayats and Nari Adalats, in ENGAGING WITH NON-STATE JUSTICE SYSTEMS: PRINCPLES AND PRACTICES (United Nations Development Program press, 2012) (forthcoming)

"It’s Not About The Money!": A Theory On Misconceptions Of Plaintiffs’ Litigation Aims, 68(3) PITTSBURGH LAW REVIEW 701-746 (2007)

Consequences Of Power, 12 HARVARD NEGOTIATION LAW REVIEW 445-501 (SPRING 2007)

Civil Litigation from Litigants’ Perspectives: What We Know and What We Don’t Know About the Litigation Experience of Individual Litigants, in 25 STUDIES IN LAW, POLITICS AND SOCIETY 151-212 (Austin Sarat and Patricia Ewick eds., 2002) (peer-reviewed)

Lawyers and Clients: Disparate Conceptions of Dispute Resolution in Litigation-Linked Mediation, in SOCIOLOGY OF LAW, JAPAN ASSOCIATION OF THE SOCIOLOGY OF LAW (JASL) University of Tokyo 24-41, October (2004)

Disparate Lay and Legal Actor Perceptions of the Meaning and Function of Mediation (translated to Japanese), KYOTO UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL PUBLICATION, March (2004)