Jake Sussman joined Southern Coalition for Social Justice in 2023 as the interim Chief Counsel of the Justice System Reform team. Jake brings over 20 years of working on civil rights and criminal justice matters.
After graduating from NYU School of Law, where he was a Root-Tilden-Kern Public Interest Scholar, Jake completed a federal clerkship and moved to North Carolina. For over 16 years, Jake practiced law with two of the state’s leading civil rights law firms, Ferguson Stein Chambers Gresham & Sumter and later Tin Fulton Walker & Owen. Jake handled everything from indigent defense in federal court, juvenile proceedings in family court, complex criminal cases under the glare of intense public scrutiny, and death penalty cases. He also prosecuted scores of civil rights cases ranging from excessive force by police, unlawful conditions of confinement, First Amendment violations, and race discrimination. In 2014, Jake helped secure marriage equality for all North Carolinians through the historic litigation that struck down North Carolina’s Amendment One.
Prior to joining SCSJ, Jake helped launch and grow a non-profit organization that provided legal, policy, communications, and networking support to advocates, organizations, and elected officials across the nation seeking to rethink our approach to public safety and reduce instability.
Jake has regularly been selected by his peers to be included in The Best Lawyers in America and Super Lawyers, and has been awarded an AV® Preeminent rating from Martindale Hubbell, the highest possible rating for legal ability and ethical standards. He has served on various boards and commissions, including the New North Carolina Project, the Center for Death Penalty Litigation, the HopeStar Foundation, and an appointed member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (Massachusetts Advisory Committee).