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Karl Thompson

Distinguished Lecturer from Government

B.A., Harvard; M.Phil., Ph.D., Cambridge; J.D., University of Chicago

Karl Thompson is a Distinguished Lecturer from Government. He teaches a seminar concerning executive branch legal decision-making, focusing on the separation of powers and the...

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Karl Thompson is a Distinguished Lecturer from Government. He teaches a seminar concerning executive branch legal decision-making, focusing on the separation of powers and the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Between March of 2014 and January of 2017, Professor Thompson served as the head of the Office of Legal Counsel, first as Acting Assistant Attorney General and then as Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General. In that capacity, he oversaw, supervised, and managed the work of roughly 30 OLC attorneys and staff; represented OLC in its interactions with the White House, Justice Department leadership, and other executive branch agencies; and signed numerous formal OLC opinions. Before serving as head of OLC, Professor Thompson served as a Counselor to Attorney General Eric Holder and as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in OLC. Prior to joining the Justice Department, Professor Thompson worked in private practice in Washington, D.C. He clerked for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg of the United States Supreme Court and Judge David S. Tatel of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Professor Thompson graduated with high honors from the University of Chicago Law School in 2000, where he was an Articles Editor for the University of Chicago Law Review. He also holds a PhD and MPhil in political theory from the University of Cambridge, and a B.A. in physics from Harvard University.

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