International Court of Justice Judge Joan Donoghue to Receive Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law

Joan E. Donoghue

Joan Donoghue will present "Inside the World Court: The Influence of Common Law and Civil Law Traditions" on April 13 at 10 a.m. in Caplin Pavilion at the Law School.

March 4, 2015

Joan E. Donoghue, who has served as a judge on the International Court of Justice since 2010, will receive this year's Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law.

Donoghue, the third woman elected to the court, previously served as the principal deputy legal adviser to the U.S. Department of State from 2007-10, the senior career attorney at the agency. In that role she advised Secretary Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama on all aspects of international law.

"Joan Donoghue began her career in international law over 30 years ago. During her many years of service at the U.S. State Department, she was responsible for a succession of diverse and important issues, culminating in three years of service as the Department of State's senior career lawyer," Dean Paul Mahoney said. "In this role, she helped direct a large legal office that advises one of the world's most complicated organizations on some of the world's most delicate legal issues. As a judge of the International Court of Justice, she participates in settling disputes between states and in fostering the progressive development of international law."

Sponsored jointly by UVA and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation, the nonprofit organization that owns and operates Monticello, the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are awarded each year to recognize the achievements of those who embrace endeavors in which Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence and the third U.S. president, excelled and held in high regard, including law, architecture and leadership. The awards are UVA's highest external honors.

On April 13, the Jefferson Medalists' luncheon will be held in UVA's Garrett Hall, and the medalists' dinner will be held at Monticello. Donoghue will give a lecture, "Inside the World Court: The Influence of Common Law and Civil Law Traditions," at 10 a.m. in the Law School's Caplin Pavilion.

In her career at the State Department, Donoghue played a role in the negotiation and application of numerous multilateral and bilateral agreements on such diverse topics as environment, security, international claims, investment and migration. She also provided advice on customary international law and U.S. foreign relations law and advocated the U.S. position in various judicial and policy fora.

Donoghue has taught classes at George Washington University School of Law and the Georgetown University Law Center, and she was a Council on Foreign Relations International Affairs Fellow and visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

She has served as general counsel for Freddie Mac, deputy general counsel for the U.S. Department of the Treasury, and worked in federal court and administrative litigation for Covington & Burling.

She earned her J.D. at Berkeley and bachelor's degrees with honors in biology and Russian studies from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals are conferred each year during the University's Founder's Day celebrations, held around Jefferson's April 13 birthday. In addition to receiving a medal struck for the occasion, recipients attend ceremonies in the Rotunda and a dinner at Monticello.

Other recipients this year include U.S. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga), who is receiving the medal in citizen leadership, and Herman Hertzberger, who is receiving the medal for architecture. (Full story)

Lewis, a civil rights activist, lifelong public servant and central player in America's struggle for equal rights, chaired the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and organized the march from Selma to Montgomery, which took place 50 years ago this week, on March 7, 1965.

Hertzberger is an internationally acclaimed Dutch architect and recipient of the 2012 Royal Gold Medal who established his firm, Architectuurstudio HH, in 1960 and who since has made significant contributions to the world of modern architecture.

Recent Past Recipients of the Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Law:


Founded in 1819, the University of Virginia School of Law is the second-oldest continuously operating law school in the nation. Consistently ranked among the top law schools, Virginia is a world-renowned training ground for distinguished lawyers and public servants, instilling in them a commitment to leadership, integrity and community service.

News Highlights