Eric C. Christiansen, a professor of law and former interim dean at Golden Gate University, will serve as Michigan Law’s next assistant dean for international affairs.

He assumes responsibility for the Law School’s longstanding Center for International and Comparative Law (CICL), outgoing and incoming student exchanges, and Master of Laws (LLM) and Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) programs.

“Eric brings years of experience in international and comparative law to Michigan Law—at all levels of administration and as a scholar,” said Professor Julian Arato, who serves as CICL’s faculty director and chair of the Law School’s Global Affairs Committee, and led the assistant dean search. 

“He is entrepreneurial and empathetic, and our students could not be in better hands. It was clear to the committee from the jump that Eric was the person to carry Michigan’s international programs into the future, and we are so excited for him to join our community.”

Continuing a strong tradition of excellence

The University of Michigan has long been known for its preeminence in the fields of international and comparative law. Dating back to the University’s founding in 1837, when the statutory mission demanded the law department have a faculty member devoted to international law, Michigan Law has been uniquely committed to the study of law beyond US borders. From the scholars who pioneered new thinking about transnational order in the wake of World War II to today, Michigan Law faculty pursue new fields of global study, changing the landscape of American legal education and beyond.

“Michigan Law was already a leader in the field of international law when world wars and rapid globalization demonstrated how interconnected the world was in the last century,” said Christiansen. “Now, with the new century’s impassioned call for real and renewed commitments to justice and equality, democracy, and the rule of law, Michigan Law can again play a critical role in envisioning and shaping a more stable and just international community.”

Christiansen said that one of his major goals is “to model a fully inclusive scholarly community that learns from and with scholars of the Global South.” 

Experience in practice, academia, and global programming

At Golden Gate University (GGU), Christiansen served as interim dean of the law school from 2020 to 2021. He also served as associate dean for international partnerships and as director of the GGU Comparative Law Institute, as well as North American director of the Comparative Law Summer Program at Université Paris Nanterre. 

Christiansen has taught American and comparative constitutional law and researches and publishes in the areas of comparative constitutional history, social welfare rights, and the rights of sexual minorities. 

After graduating from New York University School of Law, he was a Center for Transitional Justice Fellow and began his initial work in the area of South African law, eventually resulting in a position as foreign law clerk to Chief Justice Arthur Chaskalson of the South African Constitutional Court.  

Prior to joining academia, Christiansen worked in private legal practice, specializing in international capital markets work for the London office of Latham & Watkins and in national nonprofit management related to the AIDS epidemic.  

Having worked at constitutional courts, private global law firms, and international NGOs in Europe, Africa, and North America, Christiansen said he has “seen the ever-expanding influence of law in its transnational dimensions—and the enduring need for lawyers equipped with the specific skills to impact the world we live in.

“I am thrilled to be working at an institution leading the academic understanding and practical evolution of the global dimensions of the law in the modern world.”