Legal Adviser of the Department of State

Legal Adviser of the Department of State
Legal Adviser of the
United States Department of State
Harold Hongju Koh

since June 25, 2009
Inaugural holder Green Hackworth
Formation 1931
Website Official Website

The Legal Adviser of the Department of State is a position within the United States Department of State. It was created by an Act of Congress on February 23, 1931 (P.L. 71-715; 46 Stat. 1214) and given a rank equivalent to that of an Assistant Secretary. The Legal Adviser replaced the Solicitor, a Department of Justice employee who had functioned as the Department of State's chief legal officer since 1891. Between 1870 and 1891, the Examiner of Claims had been the chief legal officer of the Department. The Legal Adviser provides legal advice on all problems (domestic and international) arising in the course of the Department's activities. Solicitors and Examiners of Claims were by statute officials of the Department of Justice.The first Legal Adviser was Green Hackworth, who served until 1946 and then became a judge on the International Court of Justice.

The Legal Adviser heads the United States Department of State Office of the Legal Adviser.

List of Legal Advisers of the Department of State

Name Assumed Office Left Office President served under
Green Hackworth July 1, 1931[1] March 1, 1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman
Charles H. Fahy June 19, 1946 August 15, 1947 Harry S. Truman
Ernest A. Gross August 16, 1947 March 3, 1949 Harry S. Truman
Adrian S. Fisher June 28, 1949 January 27, 1953 Harry S. Truman
Herman Phleger February 2, 1953 April 1, 1957 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Loftus Becker June 13, 1957 August 15, 1959 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Eric H. Hager September 9, 1959 January 20, 1961 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Abram Chayes February 6, 1961 June 27, 1964 John F. Kennedy
Leonard C. Meeker May 18, 1965 July 13, 1969 Lyndon B. Johnson
John R. Stevenson July 14, 1969 January 1, 1973 Richard Nixon
Carlyle E. Maw November 27, 1973 July 9, 1974 Richard Nixon
Monroe Leigh January 21, 1975 January 20, 1977 Gerald Ford
Herbert J. Hansell April 8, 1977 September 20, 1979 Jimmy Carter
Roberts Bishop Owen October 4, 1979 February 16, 1981 Jimmy Carter
Davis Rowland Robinson July 30, 1981 February 27, 1985 Ronald Reagan
Abraham D. Sofaer June 10, 1985 June 15, 1990 Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush
Edwin D. Williamson September 20, 1990 January 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush
Conrad K. Harper May 24, 1993 June 30, 1996 Bill Clinton
David Andrews September 2, 1997 April 25, 2000 Bill Clinton
William Howard Taft IV April 16, 2001 March 2005 George W. Bush
John B. Bellinger III April 6, 2005 March 23, 2009[2] George W. Bush, Barack Obama
Harold Hongju Koh June 25, 2009 present Barack Obama


  1. ^ Initially commissioned during a Senate recess; subsequently confirmed and re-commissioned on December 17, 1931.
  2. ^

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