Main content

Emory Law News Center

Honors and Awards

Professor Laurie Blank to serve as special counsel to general counsel of DoD

A. Kenyatta Greer |

Laurie R. Blank, clinical professor of law, has been appointed as special counsel to the general counsel of the US Department of Defense. The Office of the General Counsel provides advice to the secretary and deputy secretary of defense regarding all legal matters and policies. Professor Blank will take leave from the Emory faculty for one year, beginning September 1, 2022, to take up her appointment in Washington, DC.

Blank is director of the International Humanitarian Law Clinic at Emory University School of Law, where she teaches the law of armed conflict and works directly with students to assist international tribunals, non-governmental organizations, and militaries around the world on cutting edge issues in humanitarian law and human rights. 

In her role as special counsel, Blank will focus primarily on the law of armed conflict and national security law. “I am incredibly excited about this opportunity to support the work of the general counsel. As the conflict in Ukraine highlights, this is a time of extraordinary tension and change in the international arena. I am honored to have this opportunity to contribute and look forward to getting to work on challenging issues with the talented and dedicated attorneys in the Office of the General Counsel.”

One of the leading scholars in the law of armed conflict, Blank is a senior fellow at the Lieber Institute for Law and Land Warfare at West Point and at the Stockton Center for International Law at the Naval War College. For the past several years, she has also served as a core expert on the Woomera Manual on the International Law of Military Space Operations.

"I’ve been fortunate to have the opportunity to work for many years at the intersection of academia and operational law and policy, which has exposed me to many different perspectives on the law and its application. I’m certain that my time at the Office of General Counsel will enrich my teaching, scholarship, and engagement with students when I return to Emory.”

Blank has served as the director of the Center for International and Comparative Law and teaches international law, national security law, and transitional justice. Before coming to Emory, Blank was a program officer in the Rule of Law Program at the United States Institute of Peace, where she directed the Experts’ Working Group on International Humanitarian Law. She received her juris doctor from New York University Law School and her master’s degree in International Relations from The Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

“Emory Law is delighted by this recognition of Professor Blank’s extraordinary expertise and her commitment to public service,” said Dean and Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law Mary Anne Bobinski.

“The law school’s national and global leadership in legal education and research is based in part on the eminence of our faculty and the frequency with which they are called upon to advise governmental and non-governmental organizations on some of the most important challenges facing our world.  Our faculty and students look forward to welcoming Professor Blank back to Emory when she completes her service in this important role.”

During Blank’s leave of absence, the International Humanitarian Law Clinic will be under the direction of Benjamin Farley, a 2011 graduate of Emory Law and deputy director of the Office of Terrorist Detentions at the US Department of State.  Farley originally joined the Department of State in 2012. Between 2013 and 2017, he served as a senior adviser to the special envoy for Guantanamo closure. While at Emory, Farley was editor in chief of the Emory International Law Review.