Public Justice

Speaker Bio

Shelby Leighton joined Public Justice in March 2022 as a staff attorney in the Access to Justice Project. She litigates high-impact cases with the goal of making the civil court system a fair, equitable, and effective tool for those with less power to win just outcomes and hold those with more power accountable, including cases involving civil rights, access to courts, and consumer protection.

Before coming to Public Justice, Shelby was an attorney for more than three years at a civil rights law firm in Maine, where she represented workers, consumers, and other plaintiffs whose rights had been violated. Some highlights of her work there included: reaching a successful settlement on behalf of incarcerated workers who had their unemployment benefits seized by the government; successfully defending in Maine's highest court the constitutionality of the City of Portland's ordinance providing workers with COVID-19 hazard pay; representing workers with age discrimination claims against IBM in challenging the validity of an arbitration agreement and class action waiver; and obtaining relief for dozens of individual plaintiffs in employment discrimination actions.

Shelby also previously represented plaintiffs in complex civil rights, employment, consumer, and human rights class actions as a law fellow at Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll PLLC in Washington, DC, and was a Supreme Court Assistance Project fellow at Public Citizen, where she authored briefs in opposition to certiorari on topics including qualified immunity and forced arbitration. She clerked for Judge Kermit Lipez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit and Justice Jeffrey Hjelm of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.

Shelby graduated magna cum laude from Georgetown Law in 2014. In law school, she represented civil rights plaintiffs at the Institute for Public Representation, served on the editorial staff of the Georgetown Journal of International Law, and was a Global Law Scholar. She received her undergraduate degree from Claremont McKenna College in International Relations and Psychology.

Shelby works remotely from Portland, Maine, where she enjoys sailing, skiing, and taking her terrier mix, Jackie, to the beach. She continues to advocate for the rights of workers in Maine by serving on the Board of the Southern Maine Workers' Center and helping to coordinate the Workers' Center's legal clinic.