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William Taft IV to Join Stanford Law School


STANFORD, Calif. - Stanford Law School has appointed William H. Taft IV to the Warren Christopher Professorship of the Practice of International Law and Diplomacy. Taft will join Stanford Law School this fall and remain in residence during the 2007-2008 school year, teaching Contemporary Issues in International Law and Diplomacy and Foreign Relations Law. He will also join the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) at Stanford as a visiting scholar. Taft is currently of counsel in the Washington D.C. office of Fried Frank Harris Shriver & Jacobson.

Taft received his BA in 1966 from Yale University and his JD in 1969 from Harvard Law School, after which he worked for several years in private practice and at the Federal Trade Commission, the Office of Management and Budget, and the U.S. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, where he served as general counsel from 1976-1977. In 1981, Taft became general counsel to the Department of Defense before being promoted in 1984 to the position of Deputy Secretary of Defense. From 1989-1992, Taft was U.S. Ambassador to NATO. He worked as a partner in the Washington D.C. office of Fried Frank from 1992-2001. From 2001-2005, Taft was the U.S. Department of State’s Legal Advisor, the highest legal position in the department.

William Taft succeeds Allen Weiner, who has been the inaugural Warren Christopher Professor of the Practice of International Law and Diplomacy since 2003, and who will remain at Stanford Law School as a senior lecturer in international law.

“The practice of international law and foreign diplomacy has changed dramatically,” said William Taft. “Stanford Law School is preparing the next generation of leaders to negotiate complexities and perils that were unimagined a decade ago and it is at the forefront of doing so--through interdisciplinary courses and research centers, and through a faculty who approach international law as a force for change in the world. Similarly, the work of lawyers has changed fundamentally because there is now a pervasive global dimension to the practice of law. I’m looking forward to teaching Stanford’s exceptional students and to working with the faculty who are deeply respected practitioners and scholars. It is a particular honor for me to be appointed to a professorship named after Secretary Christopher, whose skills and achievements in the practice of international law and diplomacy are unsurpassed in our time.”

The Warren Christopher Professorship of the Practice of International Law and Diplomacy was established to honor Warren Christopher, former Secretary of State of the United States and alumnus of Stanford Law School. It is a joint appointment between Stanford Law School and the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI), Stanford University’s primary forum for interdisciplinary research on key international issues and challenges. The joint position reflects the multifaceted nature of one of the nation’s most influential statesmen: Warren Christopher is considered by many to be the consummate lawyer-statesman who bridges the gap between public and private, national and international. Among his many accomplishments, his negotiations played a key role in the release of American hostages in Iran; he chaired the commission which investigated the Rodney King assault and subsequent riots in Los Angeles; he served on the California Hate Crimes Task Force; and today he continues as a senior partner at O’Melveny & Myers law firm.

“The Warren Christopher endowed professorship was designed to pay tribute to a great statesman and to provide a valuable, lasting resource to support the study and teaching of international issues that shape the future of our world,” said Stanford Law School Dean Larry Kramer. “Given William Taft’s substantial experience in international diplomacy, he is eminently qualified for this chair and we are very fortunate to be able to offer his experience to our students.”

Echoing Dean Kramer’s enthusiasm, FSI Director Coit D. “Chip” Blacker stated, “The Freeman Spogli Institute is delighted to engage William Taft in the research, policy, and educational mission of the Institute. Our scholars, faculty, and Stanford students will benefit enormously from William Taft’s international expertise and his diplomatic and policy experience at the highest levels of the American government.”


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