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U.S. Department of State

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James H. Thessin
Acting Legal Adviser

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Biography

Mr. Thessin is the Acting Legal Adviser of the U.S. Department of State. As such, he is the senior attorney and manager of an office of about 120 lawyers who give advice to the policy officials of the Department and other Government agencies on international issues and other legal aspects of the Department's work. He also serves as the Designated Ethics Official for the State Department.

Mr. Thessin's State Department career began in 1982 when he served as Attorney-Adviser for Political-Military Affairs. From 1984-85, he served as Assistant Legal Adviser for Human Rights and Refugee Affairs. From 1986-90, Mr. Thessin was Assistant Legal Adviser for Management. In 1990 he became a Deputy Legal Adviser. He also served as a Senior Litigation Attorney for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission from 1981-1982, as Counsel on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1978-1981, and as an antitrust attorney with the Federal Trade Commission from 1974-1978.

Mr. Thessin received a J.D., cum laude, from Harvard Law School in 1974. He received a B.A., summa cum laude, from Catholic University in 1971. He is a member of the District of Columbia Bar and an inactive member of the State Bar of Wisconsin.

Mr. Thessin has won a number of awards from the State Department, including the Distinguished Presidential Rank Award (1999 and 1989), the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award (1988) and the Distinguished Performance Award (1984). He has also received the Outstanding Federal Attorney Award from the D.C. Chapter of the Federal Bar Association (1998) and the Distinguished Service Award (1998) from the Director of the Office of Government Ethics.

Mr. Thessin was born on April 19, 1948, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He is married and has two children.

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