Dean Kenneth W. Starr
As a law professor and dean, as a federal appellate judge, as an appointed independent counsel in high-profile cases, as a representative of blue-chip clients in private practice, as a pro bono advocate for condemned persons on death row, and as a public citizen engaged in community service, Kenneth W. Starr has pursued a career spanning the breadth of the legal profession.
Kenneth Starr currently serves as the Duane and Kelly Roberts Dean and Professor of Law at Pepperdine University School of Law in Malibu, California. Dean Starr previously taught Constitutional Law as an adjunct professor at New York University School of Law. He was also a distinguished visiting professor at George Mason University School of Law and Chapman Law School in Orange, California.
Dean Starr’s current academic life includes a resumption of scholarship. His scholarship includes First Among Equals: The Supreme Court in American Life, published in 2002. The book, which was written to explain key decisions by the Justices of the Supreme Court to the American people, is now in paperback. It is described by United States Circuit Judge David B. Sentelle as “eminently readable and informative…not just the best treatment to date of the Court after Warren, it is likely to have that distinction for a long, long time.”
In his academic life, Dean Starr maintains a longtime connection to the practice of law. He is Of Counsel to the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, where he was a partner from 1993 to 2004, specializing in appellate work, antitrust, federal courts, federal jurisdiction and constitutional law. Through his Of Counsel connection, Dean Starr has in recent cases represented: public school officials in a Free Speech case involving a student’s display of a banner (the “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” case); California winegrowers asserting a constitutional (Commerce Clause) challenge to state laws restricting interstate delivery of wine; Blackwater defendants in the Iraqi wrongful death civil suit; and (serving pro bono) death row inmates in two murder cases where exculpatory or mitigating evidence allegedly was suppressed or disregarded by prosecutors.
As Solicitor General of the United States from 1989 to January 1993, Dean Starr argued twenty-five cases before the Supreme Court. He also served as United States Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1983 to 1989, as counselor to U.S. Attorney General William French Smith from 1981 to 1983, and as law clerk to Chief Justice Warren E. Burger from 1975 to 1977 and 5th Circuit Judge David W. Dyer from 1973-1974. Dean Starr received bipartisan praise for his work on behalf of the U.S. Senate Ethics Committee in a case involving the diaries of former Oregon Senator Bob Packwood. Dean Starr was appointed by a three-judge federal court panel to serve as Independent Counsel for five investigations, including Whitewater, from August 1994 to October 1999.
Having received his B.A. from George Washington University in 1968 and his M.A. from Brown University in 1969, Dean Starr graduated from the Duke Law School with a J.D. degree in 1973. He was Note and Comment Editor of the Duke Law Journal and graduated Order of the Coif. He is admitted to practice in California, the District of Columbia, Virginia and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Dean Starr has numerous professional affiliations, including having served as president of the Institute of Judicial Administration in New York and the Council for Court Excellence in Washington, D.C. Other Boards on which he serves or has served include Advocates International, American Law Institute, American Association of Law Schools, American Judicature Society, Supreme Court Historical Society, American Inns of Court Foundation, Institute for United States Studies, American University, Shenandoah University, and the American Bar Association Journal Board of Editors.
He has received a multitude of honors and awards including the J. Reuben Clark Law Society 2005 Distinguished Service Award, the 2004 Capital Book Award, the Jefferson Cup award from the FBI, the Edmund Randolph Award for Outstanding Service in the Department of Justice, and the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service.
Dean Starr was born on July 21, 1946, in Vernon, Texas, and raised in San Antonio. He and his wife Alice have three children and two grandchildren. They lived in McLean, Virginia from 1978 to 2004, when they moved to Malibu, California. He has volunteered many hours teaching in the inner city and assisting disadvantaged students in Washington, D.C. with summer internships, after school programs, and financial help for attending college.