Scharf & Williams Volume on the Legal Adviser

by Peter Spiro

Mike Scharf and Paul Williams have published an interesting collection of recollections and colloquys among all ten living State Department legal advisers, Shaping Foreign Policy in Times of Crisis: The Role of International Law and the State Department Legal Adviser, released by Cambridge UP earlier this year.  In addition to essays from each, recounting particular episodes from their tenures, there is useful bookend material on the history of the office, theories of compliance, and a chapter devoted to “L” and the inter-agency process (or lack thereof) on post-9/11 anti-terror practices.  There is some great stuff here, very accessible, some of which would go a long way in helping students understand the role IL plays in the policymaking process.

It brought to mind Richard Bilder’s superb 1962 AJIL piece on the office which I remember studying when I was a young lawyer there in the late 1980s.  We could use an updated integrated analysis of the legal adviser’s role (have I missed one?).  The Scharf and Williams compendium would provide a lot of material for any such effort.

3 Responses

  1. Congratulations to them, and my special congratulations to my friend and WCL colleague Paul Williams!

  2. OJ readers may be interested in this compilation of descriptions of the MFA legal advisers’ offices in several European states.  The database is maintained by CAHDI (Committee of Legal Advisers on Public International Law, a Council of Europe body).  Of course, the descriptions are rather more dry than the insights provided by the Williams & Scharf book, but they do provide an interesting compartive perspective.

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