President Barack Obama has announced his choice for another key legal post in his administration. Harold Koh, dean of Yale Law School, is Obama’s pick for legal adviser to the State Department.
If confirmed, Koh will counsel Yale alum Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on all domestic and international legal questions that arise in the course of her work, and he’ll have a hand in formulating and implementing U.S. foreign policies.
It won’t be his first time at the department. Koh was Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor from 1998 to 2001, and prior to that, was a member of the Secretary of State’s Advisory Committee on Public International Law. In the 1980s, he practiced at Covington & Burling, and served in the Office of Legal Counsel at the Justice Department. He graduated from Harvard Law in 1980.
Despite his Harvard roots, the Yale Daily News reports that Koh sent an e-mail to members of the law school after Obama’s announcement Monday, professing, “There is no institution I love more than Yale Law School.” He started teaching there in 1985.
The Daily News also details some of Koh’s experience in human rights law, including when he led a group of law students in an effort to free Haitian refugees from Guantanamo Bay in the early 1990s.