Professor Shelton joined the Law School faculty in 2004. Before her appointment, she was professor of international law and director of the doctoral program in international human rights law at the University of Notre Dame Law School from 1996-2004. She previously taught at Santa Clara University and was a visiting lecturer at the University of California, Davis, Stanford University, University of California, Berkeley, the University of Paris, and the University of Strasbourg, France. From 1987 to 1989, she was the director of the Office of Staff Attorneys at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
Professor Shelton is the author or editor of three prize-winning books: Protecting Human Rights in the Americas (winner of the 1982 Inter-American Bar Association Book Prize and co-authored with Thomas Buergenthal); Remedies in International Human Rights Law (awarded the 2000 Certificate of Merit, American Society of International Law); and the three volume Encyclopedia of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity (awarded a "Best Research" book award by the New York Public Library). She also has authored many articles and books on international law, human rights law, and international environmental law. She is a member of the board of editors of the American Journal of International Law and is a vice-president of the American Society of International Law.
Professor Shelton serves on the boards of many human rights and environmental organizations. In 2006, she was awarded the prestigious Elizabeth Haub Prize in Environmental Law, and has served as a legal consultant to the United Nations Environment Programme, UNITAR, World Health Organization, European Union, Council of Europe, and Organization of American States. In 2009, she became the first woman nominated by the United States to become a member of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, established by the Organization of American States to promote and protect human rights in the Western Hemisphere. She was elected to a four-year term in June, 2009.