Emhoff will serve as a distinguished visitor from practice when he joins the faculty in January, school officials said in a statement. He’ll bring with him nearly three decades of expertise in intellectual property, entertainment and media law.
Emhoff, in addition to his official duties as second gentleman, will teach a two-credit course on entertainment law, according to a transition team spokesperson. Emhoff got his law degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law in 1990.
“I’ve long wanted to teach and serve the next generation of young lawyers,” Emhoff said in a statement. “I couldn’t be more excited to join the Georgetown community.”
William M. Treanor, dean of the law school, said he was “delighted” to have Emhoff join the staff.
“Doug is one of the nation’s leading intellectual property and business litigators, and he has a strong commitment to social justice,” Treanor said. “I know our students will greatly benefit from his experience and insight, and I am eagerly looking forward to his arrival.”
At his previous job at DLA Piper, Emhoff has represented “large domestic and international corporations and high-profile individuals and influencers in complex business, real estate and intellectual property litigation disputes,” according to the firm’s website.
His work at the firm had raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest as spouse of the vice president.
Naomi Mezey, a law professor who teaches subjects including gender and sexuality, said many professors are excited for the new addition.
“Georgetown has a long history of having access to really interesting legal scholars and practitioners because they come through Washington,” Mezey said. “We have this really wonderful, diverse group of distinguished visitors who come for a while and enrich the faculty, but also enrich the education that our students get.”
Lawyer Martin Ginsburg taught at the law school while his wife, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, served on the Supreme Court.
And Sally Yates, former acting attorney general, lectured at Georgetown following her dismissal from the Trump administration. Yates left the Justice Department in 2017, after she ordered federal attorneys not to defend the president’s controversial immigration order that barred people in seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
“We have the luck of being the top law school in the nation’s capital so we get really lucky to get people who are looking to move out of practice for a while and really both teach and think about how they’ve been practicing, and the ideas that have been most influential for them,” Mezey said.
Paul Ohm, associate dean for academic affairs, said Emhoff will fill in an important gap. He will be one of a few faculty members specializing in entertainment law.
“We have a student body that is hungry to learn about this field,” Ohm said. “Our entertainment law student group is one of our most active.”
Ohm, who also serves as a faculty director of the Institute for Technology Law & Policy, called Emhoff a “premier litigator.” Emhoff will join the institute — which focuses on privacy and surveillance issues — and potentially start a speaker series, Ohm said.
“Given his client base, given some of the connections he’s had in his career, bringing some of those people to come talk to our community — that would be a wonderful thing,” Ohm said.
Biden may be teaching soon as well. She has spent her career as an educator — most recently teaching English at Northern Virginia Community College — and said she would return to the field as first lady.
The notion of having both the first and second spouses working day jobs is unprecedented, said Katherine Jellison, an Ohio University professor who studies women’s history and first ladies.
“It may be that they will be less available to participate in ceremonial White House events,” Jellison said. “But one might argue that in a time of national crisis, such events should be scaled back anyway.”
Biden’s and Emhoff’s roles also signal a commitment to education, Jellison said, which could be appealing to the public.
“Americans might be in a mood for substance over ceremony at this juncture,” Jellison said. “And what could be more substantive than seeing to the needs of the nation’s students?”