Jeffrey Bleich is the former US Ambassador to Australia. He is a Visiting Professor and a member of the Council of Advisors at the US Studies Centre.
Mr Bleich is a litigation partner based in the San Francisco office of Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP. He returned to the partnership in December 2013 following four years of service as US Ambassador to Australia and as Special Counsel to President Obama in the White House during the first year of the Administration. His law practice is focused on international and domestic litigation and counseling, with special emphasis on privacy and data security, internal investigations, trade and cross-border disputes, and the Asia-Pacific region.
Mr Bleich joined Munger Tolles as a litigator in 1992, specialising in complex litigation. He has represented many of America’s leading companies in the technology, security, media, finance and manufacturing sectors, including as lead counsel in both jury and bench trials and in appeals before the US Supreme Court, California Supreme Court and numerous intermediate courts. He has been regularly listed among the Daily Journal's Top 100 attorneys in California, honoured as a California Lawyer Attorney of the Year, and listed in Lawdragon 500 and in America's Best Lawyers as a top “Bet the Company” lawyer. Mr Bleich has also taught several courses at UC Berkeley School of Law, and publishes extensively.
Mr Bleich previously served as Special Counsel to President Obama from March-September 2009 before being appointed by the President to serve as the 24th United States Ambassador to Australia. As Ambassador, Mr Bleich’s term was marked by the US rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, with Australia being the focal point for that shift. His efforts included overseeing record growth in trade and investment between the US and Australia, bringing the Defense Trade Cooperation Treaty into force, establishing new alliance agreements for satellites and cyber security, executing a new space cooperation agreement that supported the Mars Curiosity rover landing, leading joint US-Australia efforts in Afghanistan’s Uruzgan province, and promoting regional human rights efforts. For his federal service, Mr Bleich has received numerous awards, including the highest civilian honour awarded by the Director of National Intelligence: the Distinguished Service Medal. In 2013, he received the State Department's highest award for a non-career ambassador, the Sue Cobb Prize for Exemplary Diplomatic Service.
In addition to his professional practice and federal service, Mr Bleich has served the State of California overseeing the nation’s largest higher education system as Chair of the California State University Board of Trustees (2008-09), and the nation’s largest bar association, as President of the California State Bar (2007-08). Mr Bleich has also served as President of the Bar Association of San Francisco (2002-2003) and Chair of the ABA’s Amicus Curiae Committee (2008-09), as well as chair or president of several other non-profit legal organisations. From 1998-1999, he served as Director of the White House Commission on Youth Violence following the tragic Columbine shootings.
Prior to joining Munger Tolles, Mr Bleich clerked for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist of the US Supreme Court, Judge Abner J. Mikva of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit and Judge Howard M. Holtzmann of the Iran-US Claims Tribunal at The Hague.
Mr Bleich holds a BA magna cum laude from Amherst College, an MPP from Harvard University with highest honours, a JD from the UC Berkeley School of Law with highest honours, and an honourary Doctor of Laws from S.F. State University. He was Editor-in-Chief of the California Law Review, Order of the Coif, and received the Thelen-Marrin Prize for outstanding scholarship.
Mr Bleich has been elected as a life member to both the American Law Institute and the Council on Foreign Relations. He also serves on the board of Pratt Industries as well as Willie May’s Say Hey Foundation. In 2009, the City of San Francisco named a day in his honour.