Kenneth J. Vandevelde

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Kenneth Vandevelde
Professor of Law
J.D., Harvard University, cum laude
Ph.D., University of California
B.A., University of Louisville, summa cum laude
Phone: (619) 961-4348

Professor Vandevelde began his legal career at a major Washington, D.C. law firm, where he specialized in litigation on behalf of American Indian tribes. After three years, he left private practice to join the State Department Legal Adviser’s Office, where he represented the United States before the International Court of Justice in The Hague and represented U.S. citizens before the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, also in The Hague. He also served as a treaty negotiator and oversaw legal reform projects in the Western Hemisphere. He began teaching full-time in 1989 at Whittier Law School, having previously taught as an adjunct at the University of Maryland. He joined the TJSL faculty in 1991.  

The following year, Professor Vandevelde published his first book, United States Investment Treaties: Policy and Practice. He has since written three other books on international economic law: Bilateral Investment Treaties: History, Policy and Interpretation, U.S. International Investment Agreements, and The First Bilateral Investment Treaties: U.S. Postwar Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation Treaties, all published by Oxford University Press. He has lectured on the subject of international investment law in Asia, Africa, Europe, South America and the Caribbean and has served as a consultant on international law to Japan, Lithuania, Slovakia, the Republic of Georgia, the United Nations and the U.S. Senate. He has also written on the subject of legal reasoning. His book Thinking Like a Lawyer was published in 1996 and later translated into Portuguese. A second edition of the book was published in 2011. In 2013, he wrote A History of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law. In 2014, while on leave from the law school, he returned to Washington to work in the Obama White House as a policy analyst.  

Much of Professor Vandevelde’s career has focused on administration. In 1992, he was named Associate Dean. He was appointed Dean in 1994, serving until 2005. During his deanship, the law school separated from its former parent institution, Western State University, obtained ABA accreditation, converted to a not-for-profit institution, and achieved a Princeton Review ranking of fifth in the nation for the quality of life on campus.  

Fun Fact: Professor Vandevelde and his daughter rode together in a 100 mile bike ride through Death Valley in three different years in order to raise money to find a cure for juvenile diabetes. They raised a total of approximately $30,000.

Courses include:

American Legal History, Constitutional Law, International Investment and Arbitration Law  


The First Bilateral Investment Treaties: U.S. Postwar Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Treaties (Oxford University Press 2017)

A History of the Thomas Jefferson School of Law (The California Press 2013)

The First Bilateral Investment Treaties: Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Treaties in the Truman Administration (Proquest 2012)

Thinking Like a Lawyer: An Introduction to Legal Reasoning (Westview Press, 2nd ed., 2011) 

Bilateral Investment Treaties: History, Policy and Interpretation (Oxford University Press, 2010)

U.S. International Investment Agreements (Oxford University Press, 2009)

Investment Provisions in Economic Integration Agreements (Principal Author) (Geneva: United Nations, 2006)

International Investment Arrangements: Trends and Emerging Issues (with Roberto Echandi)(Geneva: United Nations, 2006)

Bilateral Investment Treaties in the Mid-1990s (Geneva: United Nations, 2000)

Scope and Definition, UNCTAD Series on Issues in International Investment Agreements (New York : United Nations, 1999)

Thinking Like a Lawyer: An Introduction to Legal Reasoning (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1996)

United States Investment Treaties: Policy and Practice (Deventer [Netherlands] ; Boston : Kluwer Law and Taxation, 1992)

Articles, Book Chapters, And Article-Length Works

Book Review: Jean E. Kalicki and Anna Joubrin-Bret, "Reshaping the Investor-State Dispute Settlement System: Journeys for the 21st Century", 23 Transnational Corps. 103 (2016)

The Liberal Vision of the International Law on Foreign Investment, in Alternative Visions of the International Law on Foreign Investment: Essays in Honour of Muthucumaraswamy Sornarajah 43 (Chin Leng Lim ed., Cambridge University Press 2016)

A Unified Theory of Fair and Equitable Treatment, 43 N.Y.U.J. Int'l L. & Pol. 43 (2011)

A Comparison of the 2004 and 1994 U.S. Model BITs: Rebalancing Investor and Host State Interests, in Yearbook on International Investment Law and Policy (Karl P. Sauvant, ed. 2008/2009)

A Brief History of International Investment Agreements, 12 U.C. Davis J. Int'l L. & Pol'y 157 (2005), reprinted in The Effect of Bilateral Investment Treaties and Double Taxation Treaties on Foreign Direct Investment Flows 2 (Karl P. Sauvant and Lisa E. Sachs, eds., New York: Oxford University Press, 2009)

Leadership in Times of Institutional Change, 37 U. Tol. L. Rev. 163 (2005)

A New Generation of International Investment Agreements: The Asia and Pacific Perspective, UNCTAD Occasional Paper (2005)

International Investment Agreements in Historical Perspective, 12 UC Davis J. L. & Pol'y 157 (2005)

The Economics of Bilateral Investment Treaties, 41 Harv. Int'l L.J. 469 (2000)

Fixing International Law of Fixing Castro, 48 Cath. U. L. Rev. 1035 (1999)

The Political Economy of a Bilateral Investment Treaty, 92 Am. J. Int'l L. 621 (1998)

Investment Liberalization and Economic Development: The Role of Bilateral Investment Treaties, 36 Colum. J. Transnat'l L. 501 (1998)

Sustainable Liberalism and the International Investment Regime, 19 Mich. J. Int'l L. 373 (1998)

Toward an Effective International Investment Regime, 91 Am. Soc'y Int'l Law Proc. 485 (1997)

Investment Arbitration in the BITs and ECT, in The Energy Charter Treaty (Cambridge: Kluwer Law International, 1996)

Arbitration Provisions in the BITs and the Energy Charter Treaty, in The Energy Charter Treaty 409 (Cambridge: Kluwer Law International, 1996)

Book Review, Rudolf Dolzer and Margrete Stevens, Bilateral Investment Treaties, 90 Am. J. of Int'l L. 545 (1996)

Book Review, Claire Cushman, The Supreme Court Justices: Illustrated Biographies, 1789-1993, 3 San Diego Just. J. 317 (1995)

U.S. Bilateral Investment Treaties: The Second Wave, 14 Mich. J. Int’l L. 621 (1993)

Of Politics and Markets: The Shifting Ideology of the Bits, 11 Int’l Tax & Bus. Law 159 (1993) (now Berkeley J. Int’l L.)

Ideology, Due Process, and Civil Procedure, 67 St. John’s L. Rev. 265 (1993)

The BIT Program: A Fifteen Year Appraisal, 1992 Am. Soc'y of Int'l L. Proc. 532 (1992)

The Modern Doctrine of Prima Facie Tort, 79 Ky L. J. 519 (1991)

A History of Prima Facie Tort: The Origins of a General Theory of Intentional Tort, 19 Hofstra L. Rev. 447 (1990)

Reassessing the Hickenlooper Amendment, 29 Va. J. of Int'l L. 115 (1988)

Treaty Interpretation from a Negotiator's Perspective, 21 Vand. J. of Transnat'l L. 281 (1988)

The Bilateral Investment Treaty Program of the United States, 21 Cornell Int'l L.J. 201 (1988)

Organization and Administration: PAC Legal Considerations, in The PAC Handbook 192 (with William E. Sudow, Esq.) (K. Clair ed., Fraser/Associates, 1981)

The New Property of the Nineteenth Century: the Development of the Modern Concept of Property, 29 Buff. L. Rev. 325 (1980)

International Regulation of Fluorocarbons, 2 Harv. Envtl L. Rev. 474 (1978)

Rebalancing through Exceptions, Seventeenth Annual Business Law Fall Forum, Lewis & Clark Law School, Portland, OR (October 12, 2012)

Economic Crises and the National Security Exception, Conference on Global Governance, Oxford University, Oxford, England (June 28, 2012)

Model Bilateral Investment Treaties: The Way Forward, International Law Weekend West, International Law Association (American Branch), Southwestern University Law School, Los Angeles, CA (February 14, 2011)

Major Issues in International Investment Agreements, ASEAN Conference on Regional Economic Integration, Hotel Bali, Bali, Indonesia (November 14, 2007)

Current Issues in International Investment Agreements, UNCTAD International Experts Group Meeting, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland (June 14, 2007)

The Fair and Equitable Treatment Standard in International Law, OAS-UNCTAD Advanced Training Course on Managing Investment Disputes, Puebla, Mexico, Oct. 2006

The Impact of Investor-State Dispute Settlement on the APEC Region, APEC-UNCTAD Regional Seminar on Investor State Dispute Settlement, Mexico City, Mexico, Oct. 2006

Policy Coherence in International Investment Agreements, Presentation to UNCTAD Commission on Investment, Geneva, Switzerland, Mar. 2006

Policy Cohearnce in International Investment Agreements, Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Conference, Tokyo, Japan, Sept. 2005

Keynote Speaker, Romancing the Foreign Investor: Bit-by-Bit, UC Davis, Mar. 2005

The Thomas Jefferson School of Law faculty is highly prolific in the field of legal scholarship and our professors are in demand as speakers and panelists at legal events in the U.S. and abroad.

Moot Court Members to Attend Prestigious Moot Court Competition

February 26, 2015

By Mahsa Kashkooly 2L

On February 27, Moot Court team members Edith Polanco, Elizabeth Atkins, Daven Ghandi, Rachel...

How to Excel on a Law School Exam

August 29, 2014

With the start of the new academic year, TJSL Professor Ken Vandevelde has taken the initiative to talk to students about how to succeed in law...

Professor Ken Vandevelde leaving the West Wing of the White House

Professor Ken Vandevelde's Sabbatical in Washington D.C.

May 16, 2014

Working for the White House seemed to Professor Ken Vandevelde like the next logical step in his career. And, since January, he has been doing...

Third Annual NSLNC Continues to Raise the Bar

Third Annual NSLNC Continues to Raise the Bar

September 24, 2013

By Jonathan Stahler (3L), NSLNC Assistant to the Director  

The Third Annual National Sports Law Negotiation Competition (NSLNC)...

Vandevelde TJSL History

New Book by Professor Vandevelde Documents History of TJSL/WSU

July 26, 2013

After hundreds of hours of research and writing, Professor Ken Vandevelde recently published A History of the Thomas Jefferson School of...


Constitutional Law

International Law

  • International Economic Law
  • International Law

Legal Education

Legal History