Joel Samuels

Executive Director

Joel H. Samuels is Professor of Law and Executive Director of the Rule of Law Collaborative (ROLC) at the University of South Carolina. In January 2021, he was appointed Interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, and prior to that, Interim Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies. His scholarship explores the challenges and opportunities presented by changing notions of sovereignty, and his written work addresses international boundary disputes, maritime piracy and cross-border litigation. He is a lead co-author of one of the premier casebooks on international law, Transnational Law (West Academic Press). He also lectures extensively on litigation matters involving foreign parties involved in cases in U.S. courts.

As Executive Director of ROLC, 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.

He 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) focusing on capacity building in economic policy analysis and development management. During that time, he was a member of the World Bank team that drafted the Initiative for Capacity Building in Africa, a cornerstone document in the World Bank’s initial efforts in that arena. Before joining the World Bank, he worked extensively in Russia in the early 1990s on efforts to combat organized crime, and he was an observer of the Russian Constitutional Assembly in 1993. In addition, he has been a contributor to several Russian newspapers and magazines and a variety of African publications. During his time in private law practice at Covington & Burling, he was involved in the ad hoc arbitration of the Eritrea-Ethiopia boundary dispute and led the team that drafted a new Civil Service Code for Eritrea.

Honored by the University of South Carolina School of Law student body in 2007 and 2016 as the Outstanding Faculty Member for teaching excellence, he received his J.D., cum laude, from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was a Clarence Darrow Scholar. While at Michigan, he also earned a master’s degree in Russian and East European Studies. He received his A.B., magna cum laude, in politics from Princeton University. 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.