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Kenneth Vandevelde

Kenneth Vandevelde



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