Meet Hafsa Mansoor ’20: Center for Social Justice Scholar
Each academic year, Seton Hall Law School School’s Center for Social Justice (CSJ) selects Student Scholars who seek careers in public interest. The Scholars are afforded opportunities to work with faculty members in areas of interest and career ambition.
Hafsa Mansoor ‘20 came to law school to learn how to use the law to dismantle structural violence, empower the silenced, and restore dignity to the marginalized. In particular, Mansoor is passionate about rectifying institutional inequities impacting women of color.
Mansoor is from a family of Pakistani immigrants in St. Louis, Missouri. “My background as a hijabi woman of color and as a first-generation American and first-generation college student really informed my passion for social justice. Knowing what it’s like to be treated unfairly or be at a disadvantage because of a social identity I can’t control makes me that much more committed to actualizing the promise of justice, equality, and dignity for everyone— not in spite of who they are or where they come from, but because of it.”
Mansoor graduated from Webster University summa cum laude with BAs in International Human Rights and Political Science. Her thesis, Intimate Terrorism, Psychological Enslavement, and Private Torture: Reconceptualizing Intimate Partner Violence Using a Human Rights Framework, advocated for using the mechanisms and rhetoric of international human rights law to remediate institutional policies that fail survivors of intimate partner violence. As an undergrad, Mansoor interned at The WILLOW Project, a nonprofit that provides pro bono legal representation to women wrongfully incarcerated for crimes arising from family and domestic violence. She was also a campus organizer around diversity issues, advocating for more equitable and inclusive policies to promote racial justice on campus.
Those experiences were her first taste of the power of a handful of individuals, especially attorneys, to effectuate powerful institutional change that directly improves lives, and those opportunities motivated her to become a lawyer. “I believe the law is both the ultimate obstacle and the ultimate tool for social justice; and I believe lawyers have a unique opportunity to stand before powerful institutions to demand not just individual justice, but institutional justice. Speaking truth to power is the truest calling of the profession.”
At Seton Hall Law, Mansoor is one of the founding officers of the SHL chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and Vice President of the Muslim Law Students Association. She is also a Leadership Fellow, leading a project to design a guidebook for first generation law students. During her 1L Summer, MansoorHafsa was a legal intern at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice; she was also a Research Assistant for Professors Jessica Miles and Kip Cornwell, researching family law and race in the opioid crisis, respectively. This spring, she is interning with a federal judge. As a CSJ Scholar, she is working to expand public interest programming for students.
In her free time, Mansoor likes watching scathing political satire, drinking coffee, and overthinking everything, because life is complicated.