Adviser to U.S. Department of State to speak at Wayne Law Commencement

Legal Adviser to the United States Department of State and former Yale Law School Dean Harold Hongju Koh will speak at Wayne State University Law School's annual Commencement Ceremony on Monday, May 17. Koh will also receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony.

The ceremony will begin at 5 p.m. at Orchestra Hall in Detroit.

"I am delighted to welcome Koh to our Commencement Ceremony and am pleased that our students will have the opportunity to hear from one of the world's most renowned scholars on international law," said Wayne Law Dean Robert M. Ackerman. "His presence at our Commencement Ceremony is a crowning achievement to our Program for International Legal Studies' inaugural year."

"I am humbled and honored by this recognition and look forward to addressing the graduating class," said Legal Adviser Koh. "Wayne State has an outstanding international and comparative law faculty and a stirring vision for international law study."

Harold Hongju Koh was confirmed by the Senate as Legal Adviser to the United States Department of State on June 25, 2009. Before joining the Administration, Koh was Dean of Yale Law School, where he continues, while on leave, as Martin R. Flug '55 Professor of International Law.

He began teaching at Yale Law School in 1985 and served from 2004 until 2009 as its 15th dean. From 1998 to 2001, he served as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, and previously had served on the Secretary of State's Advisory Committee on Public International Law. Before joining Yale, he practiced law at Covington and Burling from 1982-83 and at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice from 1983-85.

Koh is a leading expert on public and private international law, national security law and human rights. He has argued before the United States Supreme Court and the International Court of Justice, and he has testified before the U.S. Congress more than 20 times. He has been awarded 11 honorary doctorates and three law school medals and has received more than 30 awards for his human rights work. He is author or co-author of eight books and more than 150 articles on international human rights, international business transactions, national security and foreign affairs law, international trade, international organizations, international law and political science, and procedure. He was also the editor of The Justice Harry A. Blackmun Oral History Project (1994-95).

Koh is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, an Honorary Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, a former Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford, and a member of the Council of the American Law Institute. He has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Century Foundation. He has sat on the Board of Overseers of Harvard University and sits on the Boards of Directors of the Brookings Institution, Human Rights First, the American Arbitration Association, and the National Democratic Institute. He has been named one of America's "45 Leading Public Sector Lawyers Under The Age of 45" by American Lawyer magazine and one of the "100 Most Influential Asian-Americans of the 1990s" by A magazine.

A Korean-American native of Boston, he holds a B.A. from Harvard College and B.A. and M.A. degrees from Magdalen College, Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he was Developments Editor of the Harvard Law Review, and served as a law clerk for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court and Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.

Admission to Wayne Law's Commencement is by ticket only. For more information, contact the Law School's Dean of Students Office at (313) 577-3997 or at

Published: Wed, Mar 17, 2010