Rubenfeld was a summa cum laude graduate of Princeton University (A.B., 1980) and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School (J.D., 1986).
He also studied theater in the Drama Division of the Juilliard School between 1980-1982. Rubenfeld clerked for Judge Joseph T. Sneed on the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1986-1987.
After his clerkship, he worked as an associate at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz and as an assistant U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York.
He joined the Yale Law School faculty in 1990 and was appointed to a full professorship in 1994. Rubenfeld has also taught as a visiting professor at both the Stanford Law School and the Duke University School of Law.
In September 2006, Rubenfeld's first novel, The Interpretation of Murder, was published by Henry Holt & Co. It was a number one bestseller in the United Kingdom, and it sold over a million copies worldwide.
Rubenfeld is married to Yale Law School professor Amy Chua, author of the book World on Fire.