This article appeared in the July/August 2014 edition of Public Citizen News.
New Haven, Conn., native Adina Rosenbaum has worked as an attorney with Public Citizen Litigation Group for almost 10 years. Rosenbaum attended Harvard University and New York University School of Law, with her eyes set on pursuing justice. During law school, she interned at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Women’s Rights Project, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the Center for Law and Social Policy before serving as a law clerk for the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
Directly after her clerkship, Rosenbaum came to Public Citizen, where she’s fueled by her passion to make people’s lives better and her desire to work on cases that seek to protect and vindicate people’s rights.
She has argued two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. Most recently, in Northwest v. Ginsberg (2013), Rosenbaum represented Rabbi S. Binyomin Ginsberg, who sought to challenge Northwest Airlines’ decision to abruptly terminate his membership in its frequent flyer program. The court held in favor of the airline. In Taylor v. Sturgell (2008), Rosenbaum successfully argued that a person could not be bound by a judgment in a case under the theory that he was “virtually represented” in the case, when he had no legal relationship with any party to that case.
Q: Does your zeal for practicing law extend outside of the office?
ROSENBAUM: I’m on the board of Jews United for Justice, a nonprofit organization that engages Jews in the Washington, D.C., area in campaigns for economic and social justice in the local community.
Q: Public Citizen Litigation Group litigates cases in areas including government transparency; consumer justice; access to the civil justice system; First Amendment rights; and health, safety and environmental issues. Do you focus on any particular area of law?
ROSENBAUM: For my first few years at Public Citizen, I focused on government transparency issues. I worked to protect the public’s right to know what the government is doing, so that the public could participate more effectively in the democratic process.
For the past few years, I have focused on access to justice issues, combatting the structural and procedural hurdles that are too often thrown in people’s paths when they try to vindicate their rights. The establishment of good precedent in areas such as civil rights, human rights and environmental law is irrelevant if people with good claims in these areas can’t get their cases heard. I work to ensure that corporations and others with power in our society can’t evade liability and accountability when they break the law — that ordinary people whose rights have been violated get to have their day in court.
Q: What would you say is the main goal of Public Citizen Litigation Group?
ROSENBAUM: Public Citizen Litigation Group works on a lot of different issues, but the cases tend to have one thing in common: We generally represent people who are fighting to protect their rights against entities with far more resources and power. We work to ensure that health, safety and financial protections are maintained and enforced.
Q: Can you share with us what it is like to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court?
ROSENBAUM: My oral arguments in the Supreme Court have been two of the most intellectually stimulating events of my life. It is amazing to get to stand up there, answer questions and converse with the justices.
Q: What would you like people to know about your job?
ROSENBAUM: I feel very lucky to be a lawyer at Public Citizen. My colleagues in the Litigation Group are incredibly smart and talented; we work on important, cutting-edge issues; and we always get to argue for the position that we think is right and just.