Emhoff is likely the vice president’s first wife to work at Georgetown Law, said Tanya Weinberg, a spokeswoman for the school. His appointment – along with First Lady Jill Biden’s decision to return to teaching – marks a modernization of the roles normally played by first and second spouses.
Emhoff will serve as a respected practitioner when he joins the faculty in January, school officials said in a statement. He brings nearly three decades of experience in intellectual property, entertainment, and media law.
“I have 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.”
According to a spokesman for the transition team, Emhoff will teach a two-credit course on entertainment law in addition to his official duties as the second gentleman.
William M. Treanor, dean of the law school, said he was “pleased” to have Emhoff join the workforce.
“Doug is one of the leading intellectual property and business litigation attorneys in the nation and is a strong advocate for social justice,” said Treanor. “I know our students will benefit greatly from his experience and insights, and I look forward to his arrival very much.”
Naomi Mezey, a law professor who teaches subjects like gender and sexuality, said many professors are excited about the new addition.
“Georgetown has a long history of accessing 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 of our students.”
Attorney Martin Ginsburg taught at the law school, while his wife Ruth Bader Ginsburg worked at the Supreme Court.
And Sally Yates, former acting attorney general, gave a lecture in Georgetown after her discharge from the Trump administration. Yates left the Justice Department in 2017 after ordering federal prosecutors not to defend the presidential immigration ordinance, which banned people in seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
“We are fortunate to be the best law school in the country’s capital. So we are very fortunate to have people who want to get out of practice for a while and really both teach and think about how they practiced and the ideas that were most influential to them, ”said Mezey.
Paul Ohm, deputy dean for academic affairs, said Emhoff would fill an important void. He will be one of the few faculty members who specialize in entertainment law.
“We have a student body hungry to learn about this field,” said Ohm. “Our entertainment law student group is one of our most active.”
Ohm, who also acts as the head of the faculty of the Institute for Technology Law and Policy, described Emhoff as a “leading litigation attorney”. Emhoff will join the institute, which focuses on privacy and surveillance issues, and may start a series of speakers, Ohm said.
“Given his client base and some of the connections he’s had in his career, it would be a wonderful thing to get some of these people to speak to our community,” said Ohm.
President-elect Joe Biden’s wife Jill may soon be teaching too. 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 that both first and second spouses have a day job is unprecedented, said Katherine Jellison, a professor at Ohio University who studies women’s history and first ladies.
“They may be less available to attend ceremonial events in the White House,” Jellison said. “But one could argue that at a time of national crisis, such events should be scaled back anyway.”
Biden and Emhoff’s roles also signal a commitment to education, Jellison said, that could appeal to the public.
“Americans might be in the mood for substance over ceremony at this point,” Jellison said. “And what could be more substantial than attending to the needs of the nation’s students?”