A former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa will be the first international judge to speak at the University of Colorado Boulder Law School’s annual John Paul Stevens Lecture on Thursday.

Zak Yacoob is a former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa. (Courtesy photo)

Zak Yacoob was a justice on South Africa’s highest court from 1998 to 2013 and was previously involved with community organizing, anti-apartheid activism and the African National Congress underground in addition to practicing law.

Yacoob has been blind since infancy and studied at the Arthur Blaxall School for the Blind in Durban, South Africa, and earned his law degree from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Yacoob’s experience with racial and social justice and the roles of courts, lawyers and activists will provide insight into the current societal upheaval, said Professor Suzette Malveaux, Director of the Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law.

“I think his message is going to be very critical given all the challenges we have to our democracy,” Malveaux said.

Yacoob was appointed to the Constitutional Court by Nelson Mandela and helped draft the country’s constitution, which Malveaux described as “extraordinary” for its substantive rights and protections.

The law school has hosted fireside chats with renowned legal experts since 2011, with previous speakers including U.S. Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The lecture often attracts more than 2,000 people to Macky Auditorium, though the event Thursday will be entirely virtual because of coronavirus limitations.

Yacoob will give an introduction, have a discussion with Malveaux and take questions from Colorado law students and community members.

If You Watch

What: Zak Yacoob, former justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa

Where: via Zoom

When: Noon on Thursday

Cost: Free and open to the public. Registration required, visit

More information: