Tess Bridgeman

  • Lecturer

Tess Bridgeman is Senior Editor at the national security online forum Just Security. She is also a Senior Fellow and Visiting Scholar at NYU Law School’s Reiss Center on Law and Security, a lecturer and affiliate of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University, and a Senior Adviser to National Security Action.

Bridgeman served as Special Assistant to President Obama, Associate Counsel to the President, and Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Council (NSC), where she covered the full range of issues relating to the national security and foreign policy of the United States. From 2014 to January 2017, among other Administration priorities, she worked on the negotiation, implementation, and oversight of the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA), use of force, international humanitarian law, and counterterrorism matters, Middle East and North Africa policy (including the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Libya), Cuba policy, U.S. foreign assistance programs, human rights, multilateral affairs, sanctions programs, and international economic and environmental policy. 

Bridgeman previously served in the U.S. Department of State’s Office of the Legal Adviser, where she was Special Assistant to the Legal Adviser. Prior to that role, she was an Attorney Adviser in the Office of Political-Military Affairs, focusing on armed conflict, detention operations and safeguards, related civil and criminal litigation matters, negotiation of UN Security Council resolutions relating to armed conflict, and the intersection of the law of armed conflict and human rights law.  Bridgeman clerked for Judge Thomas L. Ambro of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals and has served at the Senate Judiciary Committee. Earlier in her career, Bridgman worked as a consultant for the World Bank Inspection Panel and co-founded a food security and community development organization in Oaxaca, Mexico. 

A Rhodes Scholar, Truman Scholar, and Gardner Fellow, Bridgeman has a D.Phil. in International Relations from Oxford University, where she focused on global governance and international institutions; a J.D. from NYU Law School, magna cum laude and Order of the Coif, which she attended as a Root-Tilden-Kern and Institute for International Law and Justice Scholar; and a B.A. with University Distinction and Departmental Honors from Stanford University. She serves on the Board of the Women’s Foundation of California and on the Strategic Initiatives Committee of the American Society of International Law (ASIL).


D.Phil., International Relations, Oxford University (2011)
J.D., NYU Law School (2010)
B.A., Stanford University (2003)