Harold Koh Yale State.jpgThe Yale Law School campus is buzzing with rumors that their popular dean, Harold Hongju Koh, could be leaving for a job in the Clinton State Department. The Yale Daily News reports that Koh could be appointed as legal adviser to the State Department:

In that position, Koh — a former assistant secretary of state and a leading expert on international law — would serve as principal counselor on all legal matters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton LAW ’73.

Rumors have swirled for months around the Law School and in Washington, D.C., that Koh, whose five-year term as dean ends in June, might leave Yale to serve again in government. Koh, however, has repeatedly dismissed talk about a possible appointment as pure speculation.

Koh and the YLS press office did not respond to ATL’s requests for comment.

Even though Koh’s five year term is up in June, Yale has given every indication that Koh can keep his current job if he wants it:

University President Richard Levin said Wednesday that a routine review of Koh’s tenure at the Law School — timed for the end of his first term as dean — had yielded positive responses.

“It was clear that the community supported his reappointment,” Levin said. “There’s no question: If he stays here, he will be reappointed.”

If Koh leaves, he’ll be creating yet another opening on the Law School Dean circuit — which is one of the few jobs in the legal profession that is hiring.

Details after the jump.


There are a lot of law schools looking for new deans. The National Law Journal reported on the phenomenon earlier this week:

Even in this economy, there seems to still be a demand for one high-paying job — law school dean. At least 27 law schools throughout the country are searching for new deans — and many are having a tough time filling the position.

In an interesting twist to the global financial crisis, the economy is making these particular jobs less instead of more (“holy God you’re hiring please give me some of that I’ll take anything you don’t know what it’s like out there”) appealing:

“Being a dean is less attractive than it used to be,” said Thomas Ulen, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law. “An increasing percentage of the job — upwards of 80 to 90% — is devoted to fundraising. And with the economy in this state, that is not easy. And let’s face it, being a law professor is one of the best jobs in the universe.”

Regardless about how Koh feels about fundraising, the chance to have significant power in his field of expertise must be a compelling opportunity:

“It’s certainly the most prestigious international law office in the federal government, if not the most prestigious general counsel office in the government overall,” said John Bellinger III, who served as legal adviser until last month’s change of power in Washington. “It is the central place to do international law.”

And while you might think Obama is trying to shove all of the Yalies (like Secretary Clinton) into the State Department, remember that Koh has Harvard College and Harvard Law degrees. So he’ll be able to fit in with the rest of our new HLS overlords.

Update: As expected, Dean Koh is leaving Yale for the Obama State Department. See here.

Koh considered for State Department [Yale Daily News]

Koh to State? [The Plank / TNR]

Wanted: law school deans. Lots of them. [National Law Journal]


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