About Edward O’Brien


Thirty five years ago Ed founded Street Law, the leading program in the U.S. in educating young people about their rights and responsibilities. This program includes the nation’s leading high school law text, Street Law, a Course in Practical Law, which is in use in all fifty states and has been a model for similar books in many other countries

Ed taught the first Street Law course for high school students in 1972. Since then Street Law has worked to spread these programs around the U.S. and to over 35 other countries. Ed has worked in South Africa for over 20 years and in 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree by one of South Africa’s leading universities, the University of Kwa/Zulu Natal, for his work with disadvantaged black youth.\

Ed has been involved in fundraising and grant management since Street Law’s beginning and, under Ed’s leadership Street Law has sought and secured grants from the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of State, U.S. A.I. D., the National Endowment for Democracy, the Ford Foundation, the Open Society Institute and some of the major corporations in America including General Motors, Coca Cola and McDonalds..

Ed has been involved with Georgetown Law Center since he graduated in 1973. He has been an Adjunct Professor of Law, teaching courses in Street Law and Prison Law, and he founded the Black South African Lawyers Program, where close to 50 lawyers from South Africa spent a year at Georgetown earning Master of Laws degrees and then returned to South Africa to become some of its leading lawyers, law professors and judges..

Since 1985, Ed has let his organization in its international work. After establishing Street Law programs all over South Africa he led initiatives in Latin America, East and West Africa and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. In 2005 he oversaw an effort in the Middle East to teach about the connections between Islam and Democracy. This program and resulting training manual was piloted in Egypt, Jordan, Algeria and Morocco.

Ed is an accomplished author, educator and legal contributor on law, democracy and human rights in journals and popular periodicals.

Ed retired from Street Law in late 2007 and was awarded the title of Executive Director Emeritus by the board of directors.

Harvard Business School. Executive Education,  2001 Building Effective Nonprofit Organization – Running your organization like a for-profit business, Sponsored by the Ford Foundation

Honorary, Doctor of Law

University of Natal, Durban, South Africa, 2003

Awarded for contributions benefiting disadvantaged students, faculty and University as a whole

Juris Doctor

Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC 1973

Morgan State College, Baltimore, MD 1969

Graduate Coursework, African American History

Hofstra University, Hempstead, NY 1968

Graduate Coursework, Secondary Education

Bachelor of Arts, History

University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 1967

  1. -Founder, Street Law, a national and international recognized nonprofit organization, providing  curriculum, professionals development and resources to educate about law, democracy and human rights.

  2. -Founded the national Human Rights USA educational campaign in 1998.

  3. -Conceptualized and co-authored Street Law: A Course in Practical Law,now in its eighth edition and  the leading children’s rights high school law text which served as a model in over thirty other countries.

  4. -Initiated first international Street Law program in South Africa, leading an emerging effort for children’s rights education at the University of Natal—now expanded to more than six South African universities.

  5. -Founded the first Street Law program and then helped spread it to seventy law schools in the U.S. and thirty in South America, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia, Africa and the U.K.

  6. -Initiated democracy and legal rights education programs, held conferences and trainings, developed curriculum and managed school and juvenile justice programs in 30 other countries

-Accomplished author, educator and legal contributor for laypersons and human rights in journals and popular periodicals, including the Journal of Legal Education, Social Education, the ABA Update and Preview of US Supreme Court Cases, Sourcebook, Amnesty International’s The Fourth R, Corrections Today, The Reader’s Digest Family Legal Guide and New Directions.

Biographical Sketch

Areas of specialty

  1. 1.Human Rights

  2. 2.Children’s Rights