2009 Archive

Obama Taps Jeff Bleich ’89 to Be Top Envoy to Australia

Jeff Bleich

On September 11, President Barack Obama appointed international law expert Jeff Bleich ’89 to be the U.S. ambassador to Australia. A long-time friend and associate of the president, Bleich raised funds for his White House campaign and co-chaired its California operation.

Since March, Bleich has served as special counsel to the president after taking leave from the San Francisco office of Munger Tolles & Olson, where he is a partner. A former president of the California State Bar and the San Francisco Bar Association, Bleich is currently chairman of California State University’s board of trustees.

Bleich, who received his certificate in Public International Law from The Hague Academy in 1993, has taught international human rights at Berkeley Law and has written and lectured extensively on the International Criminal Court.

He has served as an officer or member in numerous foreign policy organizations including the Council on Foreign Relations, the American Bar Association Section on International Law, the Pacific Council on International Policy, the International Law Association, the American Society of International Law, and Human Rights Watch. See the White House announcement and a brief bio of Bleich here.

A sampling of articles and blogs in the Australian media indicates a very positive reaction to the nomination, which has been treated as a significant news item in that country. Before the announcement, there had been considerable speculation concerning Obama’s eventual selection. Also, some Australian officials had expressed concern that the president had been taking too long to name a replacement for Bush appointee Robert MacCallum, who left the Canberra post in January.

Although Bleich faces a Senate confirmation hearing, there is little doubt that his appointment is assured.

The current interim ambassador is also a Berkeley Law grad, Daniel Clune ’74.