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National Asian Pacific American Bar Association

1612 K Street N.W., Suite 1400
Washington, DC 20006


Contact: Aleli Samson

April 7, 2009

(202) 775-9555


Washington, DC – The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA), the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors, and law students, is pleased that Harold Hongju Koh has been nominated by President Obama to serve as Legal Adviser of the United States Department of State and strongly urges a speedy hearing and swift confirmation by the Senate. Koh, Dean of Yale Law School since 2004, is exceptionally qualified to serve in this post.

“Dean Koh possesses credentials of the highest rate, as a renowned lawyer, academic and leading expert in international law,” said NAPABA President Andrew T. Hahn, Sr. “President Obama could not have found a more qualified individual to nominate for this position and NAPABA urges the Senate to give Dean Koh a speedy hearing and to confirm him swiftly.”

"As Asian Pacific Americans, we have been proud of Dean Koh and his accomplishments for many years," said NAPABA Executive Director Tina R. Matsuoka. "As a Harvard law graduate and former U.S. Supreme Court clerk, he has risen to become Dean of Yale Law School, yet he has also taken the time to mentor many younger lawyers who have gone on to distinguished careers as lawyers and law professors."

Dean Koh first joined Yale Law School as a law professor in 1984, where he taught courses in human rights and international law. From 1983 through 1985, he worked at the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice during the Reagan administration. From 1998 through 2001, Dean Koh served the Clinton administration as the United States Assistant Secretary for the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor – a position for which he was unanimously confirmed due to strong bi-partisan support.

A devout advocate committed to protecting the Constitution and the rule of law, Dean Koh has argued before the United States Supreme Court and testified before Congress more than 20 times. Among the accolades that his human rights and international law expertise has earned him are 11 honorary doctorates, three law school medals, and more than 25 awards, including the 2003 Louis B. Sohn Award from the American Bar Association International Law Section and the 2003 Wolfgang Friedmann Award from Columbia Law School for this lifetime achievements in International Law. A prolific author, his book, The National Security Constitution: Sharing Power after the Iran-Contra Affair, won the American Political Science Association Award in 1991 as the best book on the American Presidency.

"Dean Koh represents the best of our profession," said NAPABA President Andrew T. Hahn, Sr. "Remembering the immigrant and refugee experiences of his own family and friends, he successfully has stood up for Haitian refugees and others who were not receiving justice through the law. Because of his high standards of legal skill and social conscience, he has won acclaim from lawyers across the political spectrum and all around the world."

Dean Koh is a Korean American native of Boston and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard College and Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Arts degrees from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He earned his law degree from Harvard University, where he was Developments Editor of Harvard Law Review. Dean Koh is also a former law clerk for Justice Harry A. Blackmun of the United States Supreme Court and Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.


The National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) is the national association of Asian Pacific American attorneys, judges, law professors and law students. NAPABA represents the interests of over 40,000 attorneys and approximately 58 local Asian Pacific American bar associations. Its members represent solo practitioners, large firm lawyers, corporate counsel, legal service and non-profit attorneys, and lawyers serving at all levels of government. NAPABA continues to be a leader in addressing civil rights issues confronting Asian Pacific American communities. Through its national network of committees and affiliates, NAPABA provides a strong voice for increased diversity of federal and state judiciaries, advocates for equal opportunity in the workplace, works to eliminate hate crimes and anti-immigrant sentiment, and promotes professional development of minorities in the legal profession.


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