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Joseph F. Rice School of Law


Joel Samuels

Title: Professor of Law
Director, Rule of Law Collaborative
Joseph F. Rice School of Law
Phone: 803-777-7161

1525 Senate Street
Columbia, SC 29208


CV [pdf]


Rule of Law Collaborative


Joel Samuels


Joel H. Samuels is Professor of Law and Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative at the University of South Carolina. Honored by the USC School of Law student body in 2007 and 2016 as the Outstanding Faculty Member for teaching excellence, Professor Samuels received his A.B., magna cum laude, in politics from Princeton University in 1994. At Princeton, he also received certificates in Russian Studies and European Cultural Studies and was awarded the Asher Hinds Prize in European Cultural Studies, the Montgomery Raiser Prize in Russian Studies, and the Caroline Picard Prize in Politics. Professor Samuels received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School in 1999, where he was a Clarence Darrow Scholar. While at Michigan, he also earned a master's degree in Russian and East European Studies.

Professor Samuels has authored articles on international boundary disputes, maritime piracy and domestic civil procedure, and he is a lead co-author of one of the premier casebooks on international law, Transnational Law (West Academic Press). Professor Samuels also lectures extensively on litigation matters involving foreign parties involved in cases in U.S. courts.

As Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative, he oversees programming focused on rule of law development across the globe. In addition, he regularly lectures to U.S. Government officials from the State Department, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense on rule of law development abroad.

Following law school, Professor Samuels clerked for Judge Barry Ted Moskowitz of the Southern District of California. After completing his clerkship, he practiced law with Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., where he was involved in a wide range of international litigation matters, including several international arbitration cases at the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), litigation in U.S. courts involving the Alien Tort Claims Act, and the ad hoc arbitration of the Eritrea-Ethiopia boundary dispute.

In 2001, Professor Samuels left private practice and accepted a position as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. At Michigan, he taught Civil Procedure, Transnational Law, International Litigation and International Arbitration. In his first full year of teaching, he was nominated for the L. Hart Wright award for teaching excellence — the only visiting faculty member to be so honored. He maintains an ongoing affiliation with the University of Michigan, where he regularly teaches a course on International Litigation.

Professor Samuels has also worked at the World Bank in both Washington (in the Office of the Vice President for Africa) and in Zimbabwe (at the African Capacity Building Foundation). During that time, he was a member of the World Bank team that drafted the Initiative for Capacity Building in Africa. In addition, he has been a contributor to several Russian newspapers and magazines and a variety of African publications.


  • Civil Procedure (LAWS 544)
  • International Litigation (LAWS 765)
  • Transnational Law (LAWS 784)
  • Transnational Dispute Resolution (LAWS 839)


  • “Initial Reflections on an Interdisciplinary Approach to Rule of Law Studies”, 8 Law & Devt Rev. 277 (2015) (with A. Polavarapu).
  • Joel Samuels, Mathias Reimann, et al., Transnational Law: An Integrated Approach To The World Legal Order (West Publishing, 2013).
  • “The Full Story of United States v. Smith, America’s Most Important Piracy Case”, 1 Penn. St. J.L. & Int’l Aff. 320 (2012).
  • “Dancing the Rumba: Federalism Reform in Russia Under Putin and Medvedev”, in Legitimacy, Legal Development & Change: Law & Modernization Reconsidered, Ashgate Press (2012).
  • “How Piracy Has Shaped the Relationship Between American Law and International Law”, 59 Am. U. L. Rev. 1231 (June 2010).

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