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Sally Yates Finds Perch at Georgetown Law

Sally Yates, during her confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee to be Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. March 24, 2015. Photo by Diego M. Radzinschi/THE NATIONAL LAW JOURNAL.

Georgetown University Law Center has snagged a big name this semester: Former Acting U.S. Attorney General Sally Yates.

Yates has joined the law school this fall as a Distinguished Lecturer from Government as part of a program that brings former government officials to campus. (That appointment might explain why Yates was spotted at Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Wednesday talk at the Washington law school, along with Georgetown first-year student Tiffany Trump.)

As a distinguished lecturer, she will participate in a variety of law school programming, including serving as a resource for students, taking part in faculty workshops, and guest lecturing.

I am honored to be joining Georgetown Law for the fall semester, Yates said in a Thursday announcement of her appointment. Georgetown has a long and distinguished history of rigorous and thoughtful academic dialogue and a commitment to social justice. I look forward to being a part of this dynamic environment and interacting with their outstanding students and faculty.

Yates' appointment ends the speculation about where she will land at least temporarily. She ran the U.S. Department of Justice for a mere 10 days in January following President Donald Trump's inauguration and the departure of Loretta Lynch. Trump fired her on January 30 after she instructed the department not to defend the president's so-called Muslim travel ban a move that garnered her folk hero status among the left.

Pundits have surmised that Yates will eventually end up back in her hometown of Atlanta, where she spent three years at King & Spalding before becoming a federal prosecutor. She was the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 2010 to 2015, before being named the deputy attorney general. In that role, Yates focused on criminal justice reform and prison reform, among other issues.

Sally Yates is an extraordinary public servant who has had a career of the greatest consequence, said Georgetown Law Dean William Treanor. It is a privilege to have her join our faculty this fall.

It's likely that the Georgetown law community will get Yates' unvarnished thoughts on Washington's latest developments. Yates hasn't held back of late when it comes to criticizing her short-term boss. She has written numerous op-eds and given interviews in which she condemns Trump's attempts to interfere in the justice system. She also set up a personal feed on Twitter.

Yates is hardly the only Obama-era government lawyer taking refuge on law campuses. At least five of the former U.S. attorneys who resigned after Trump's election or who were fired by the president shortly after taking office have accepted temporary positions at law schools. Among them is Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who is currently a scholar in residence at New York University School of Law.

Karen Sloan covers legal education for Law.com. Contact her at ksloan@alm.com. On Twitter: