National Security Law Expert Kristen Eichensehr To Join Faculty

‘Must-Read’ Scholar on Cyberspace Issues Worked for State Department
Kristen Eichensehr

Kristen Eichensehr clerked for two U.S. Supreme Court justices, worked in the State Department and in private practice on issues of cybersecurity, and has been recognized for her scholarship. Photo courtesy of UCLA Law

June 24, 2020

National security law expert Kristen Eichensehr, an assistant professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles, is joining the University of Virginia School of Law faculty as a tenured professor. 

Before her academic career, Eichensehr served as a special assistant at the U.S. State Department’s Office of the Legal Adviser, in the Obama administration. She also practiced at Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C., where she specialized in appellate litigation, international and national security law, and cybersecurity issues.  

She writes and teaches about cybersecurity, foreign relations and separation of powers issues. 

“I’m thrilled to welcome Kristen Eichensehr to the UVA Law faculty,” Dean Risa Goluboff said. “Her extensive experience with national security law issues, and her especially deep knowledge of and important interventions into questions of cybersecurity, will add so much to what is already an area of major strength for the Law School.” 

A graduate of Yale Law School, Eichensehr clerked for Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and Sonia Sotomayor at the U.S. Supreme Court, and for Judge Merrick B. Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.  

UVA Law’s traditional strength in national security law was a draw for her, she said. In addition, she was “impressed with the workshop culture and with the focus on the students. It seems like a school that really cares a lot about the student experience and teaching.”  

She has published in numerous law journals and won the 2018 Mike Lewis Prize for National Security Law Scholarship for her article, “Courts, Congress, and the Conduct of Foreign Relations.” Although conducting foreign relations has traditionally been understood as an executive power, the article explores instances in which Congress and the courts engage in foreign relations, and proposes a framework to assess the constitutionality of such actions.  

A more recent paper, “The Law and Politics of Cyberattack Attribution,” forthcoming in the UCLA Law Review, argues that when governments accuse each other of conducting cyberattacks, international law should require that they provide evidence to support their accusations.  

“Although politics may largely determine whether attributions are made public, this Article argues that when cyberattacks are publicly attributed to states, such attributions should be governed by legal standards,” she writes. “Instead of blocking the development of evidentiary standards for attribution, as the United States, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom are currently doing, states should establish an international law requirement that public attributions must include sufficient evidence to enable cross-checking or corroboration of the accusations.” 

Eichensehr said she is excited to work more closely with a number of colleagues whom she already knows and admires, including faculty members Ashley Deeks, who was also a legal adviser at the State Department when Eichensehr served, and Paul Stephan ’77, who has served as a counselor on international law at the State Department. 

“I’m delighted that Kristen is joining our faculty,” Deeks said. “Kristen has established herself as a trenchant observer of the increasingly complicated and quickly changing ecosystem of cyber operations. She takes a nuanced and sophisticated view of how the players in that ecosystem interact, and her fine understanding of the political economy and law of cyberspace makes her work a ‘must-read’ for both scholars and practitioners in this field. Our students will be lucky to be able to learn from her.” 

Eichensehr is an affiliate at the Stanford Center for International Security and Cooperation, an affiliate scholar at the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, a former term member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a former visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution. She is member of the editorial board of the national security blog Just Security.

At Yale, Eichensehr served as executive editor of the Yale Law Journal and articles editor of the Yale Journal of International Law. She earned her bachelor’s in government from Harvard University and an M.Phil. in international relations from the University of Cambridge. 

Eichensehr joins the UVA Law faculty alongside her husband, fellow UCLA faculty member Richard Re. They are previous residents of Alexandria, Virginia. 

Follow Kristen Eichensehr on Twitter at @k_eichensehr

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