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William B. Rubenstein

Bruce Bromley Professor of Law

William B. Rubenstein
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William Rubenstein is the Bruce Bromley Professor of Law at Harvard Law School where he teaches and writes primarily about complex litigation.

Professor Rubenstein is the author, co-author, or editor of four books and more than a dozen scholarly articles, as well as dozens of shorter publications, most of which concern complex litigation. Since 2008, Professor Rubenstein has edited Newberg on Class Actions: he is the sole author of the 10-volume treatise’s Fifth Edition and is in the process of writing the Sixth Edition, Newberg and Rubenstein on Class Actions (6th ed. forthcoming 2022).  Professor Rubenstein has litigated, consulted, and served as an expert witness in class action lawsuits.  Federal courts have appointed Professor Rubenstein to provide his expertise on issues ranging from class certification to attorney’s fees, and to serve as a mediator, in complex class actions and MDLs.

Professor Rubenstein was a practicing lawyer for nearly a decade before becoming a law professor.  After graduating from Yale College (magna cum laude, 1982) and Harvard Law School (magna cum laude, 1986), Professor Rubenstein clerked for the Hon. Stanley Sporkin in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. He was then awarded a Harvard Fellowship in Public Interest Law to help start an AIDS Project at the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union. Professor Rubenstein was a Staff Attorney with the ACLU’s National LGBT and AIDS Projects from 1987-1990 and Director of those Projects from 1990-1995. In those capacities, he litigated civil rights cases in state and federal courts throughout the country and oversaw the ACLU’s national litigation docket on these issues. Professor Rubenstein argued the landmark case, Braschi v. Stahl Associates, 544 N.E.2d 49 (N.Y. 1989), before New York’s highest court, yielding the first decision in the United States recognizing a gay couple as a legal family.

While practicing at the ACLU, Professor Rubenstein also taught courses on sexual orientation and AIDS law at Harvard and Yale Law Schools. In conjunction with those courses, he authored the first law school casebook in the area, now entitled, Cases and Materials on Sexual Orientation and The Law (now with Carlos Ball and Jane Schacter, 4th ed. 2011).

From 1995-1997, Professor Rubenstein was a visiting professor from practice at Stanford Law School; he was awarded the 1996-1997 John Bingham Hurlbut Award for Excellence in Teaching at Stanford Law School. From 1997-2007, Professor Rubenstein taught at UCLA School of Law; he was awarded the 2001-2002 Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching at UCLA. While at UCLA, Professor Rubenstein founded the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy. Professor Rubenstein joined the Harvard faculty in 2007; he was awarded the 2011-2012 Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence at Harvard Law School.

Professor Rubenstein is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and currently resides in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Additional Information

Professor Rubenstein's Personal Web Page:


  • J.D. Harvard Law School, 1986
  • B.A. Yale College, 1982

Academic Appointment and Employment History

  • Acting Professor and Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law (1997 - 2007)
    Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Acting Associate Professor of Law, Stanford Law School (1995 - 1997)
    Stanford, California, United States
  • Staff Counsel and Project Director, ACLU National Lesbian and Gay Rights & AIDS Projects (1987 - 1995)
    New York, New York, United States

Bar Admissions

  • Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts, United States (2008)
  • State Bar of California, California, United States (2004)
  • District of Columbia Bar, District of Columbia, United States (1988, inactive)
  • Supreme Court, Pennsylvania, United States (1986, inactive)


  • Hon. Stanley Sporkin, United States District Court for the District of Columbia, 1986 - 1987

Honors and Awards

  • Albert M. Sacks-Paul A. Freund Award for Teaching Excellence (Awards)
    Harvard Law School, June 2012
  • Rutter Award for Excellence in Teaching (Awards)
    UCLA School of Law, June 2002
  • John Bingham Hurlbut Award for Excellence in Teaching (Awards)
    Stanford Law School, June 1997

Representative Publications

View all publications by William B. Rubenstein