PUBLISHED:February 07, 2024

Christopher Schroeder to address class of 2024 at Convocation


Schroeder, former head of the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice and longtime faculty member, will be the distinguished speaker at Duke Law School’s May 11 graduation ceremony.

Christopher Schroeder Christopher Schroeder

Professor Emeritus Christopher H. Schroeder, who retired last year from leading the Office of Legal Counsel and was a faculty member at Duke Law School for 40 years, will address graduating students as the distinguished speaker at their Convocation on May 11.

Schroeder, the Charles S. Murphy Professor Emeritus of Law and professor emeritus of public policy, joined the Duke Law faculty in 1979 and retired from teaching in 2020. In October 2021 he was appointed by President Joe Biden as assistant attorney general for the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which provides legal advice to the White House and executive branch agencies on a wide range of complex issues.

 On his retirement from that position in July 2023, Schroeder was presented with the Edmund J. Randolph Award, the department’s highest honor, by Attorney General Merrick Garland in recognition of outstanding contributions over his career that included prior terms leading the OLC and also its Office of Legal Policy (OLP).

“Chris Schroeder has worked in the highest tiers of government, including serving as a legal advisor to three presidential administrations,” said Kerry Abrams, the James B. Duke and Benjamin N. Duke Dean and Distinguished Professor of Law.

“His wisdom and experience benefited countless Duke Law students during his long tenure on the faculty, and motivated many to pursue a career in public service. As the nation faces some of its most challenging legal and political questions in recent history, I can think of no one better to inspire the graduates of 2024 as the embark on their own paths in the law. I look forward to welcoming Chris back.”

Schroeder’s academic career was punctuated by several high-level terms in government service. At Duke Law, Schroeder taught Property, as well as courses on Congress, federal policymaking, environmental law, and cybersecurity, among others. In 1998, he founded the Program in Public Law, now the Richard A. Horvitz Program in Constitutional & Public Law, to promote an understanding of public institutions, the Constitutional framework in which they function, and the principles and laws that apply to the work of public officials.

Early in his academic career Schroeder advised the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then-Senator Joe Biden, on judicial nominees, including Supreme Court nominees, and served as chief counsel to the judiciary committee from July 1992 to February 1993. In spring 1993 he joined the OLC and led the office as deputy assistant attorney general from April 1995 until January 1997.

Schroeder returned to Washington in 2010 and served for nearly three years as assistant attorney general in the OLP, where he provided policy advice to the attorney general and the White House on a variety of law enforcement and national security issues and supervised the evaluation of then-President Barack Obama’s nominees to the federal judiciary. He returned to the Duke Law faculty from late 2012 until the 2020 presidential election, when he was tapped to lead the DOJ agency review team for the Biden-Harris transition and retired from teaching.

“I’m delighted to have been asked to provide a few short remarks at the commencement exercises of the Class of 2024,” Schroeder said in a brief video address.

“I’m very much looking forward to seeing you, the graduating class, your family and friends, and my former colleagues on the law faculty, as we help you celebrate this happy occasion.”

Schroeder is married to Kate Bartlett, the A. Kenneth Pye Professor Emerita of Law and former dean of Duke Law School.

Duke Law’s Convocation ceremony is scheduled for Saturday, May 11 at 5:30 p.m. in Cameron Indoor Stadium. Guests of graduating students are invited to attend, and the event will also be livestreamed on Duke Law’s YouTube channel ( and recorded for later viewing.

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