Legomsky Appointed Chief Counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

Stephen H. Legomsky, the John S. Lehmann University Professor, has been appointed Chief Counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Legomsky is an authority on U.S., comparative, and international immigration, refugee, and citizenship law and policy. He will be taking a leave of absence from the law school to assume this position effective October 24 and moving to Washington shortly before that.

USCIS is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS). It is the successor agency to the now defunct Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), but shorn of its law enforcement operations which now reside elsewhere in the Department. As Chief Counsel, Legomsky will manage a staff of 160 attorneys, advise the Director of the agency on legal and policy issues, and serve as a member of the DHS and USCIS leadership teams. 

His latest of several books, Immigration and Refugee Law and Policy (co-authored starting with the current fifth edition), has been the required text at 175 law schools since its inception. A member of the American Law Institute, he founded and chaired the Immigration Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools. He also has testified before Congress on several occasions and has served as a consultant on immigration and refugee policies to the transition teams of Presidents Clinton and Obama, to the first President Bush’s Commissioner of Immigration, to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, and to several foreign governments.

“Washington University has done so much to shape my professional and personal development,” Legomsky says, “and after 30 years here I’ll sorely miss my wonderful colleagues and students.”

Legomsky, who joined the law school faculty in 1981, served as founding director of the Whitney R. Harris World Law Institute.

"Steve Legomsky is among the most influential and insightful immigration and citizenship law scholars in the world. He also is a dedicated teacher who cares about people and about getting things done right," says Kent Syverud, dean and the Ethan A.H. Shepley Distinguished University Professor. "I can’t imagine a better choice for this vital public service position."

Among Legomsky’s many accolades are the American Immigration Lawyers Association’s annual award, given to one immigration law professor in the United States, and Washington University’s Arthur Holly Compton Award, given annually to one university faculty member for career accomplishments. Legomsky has also been appointed to visiting positions at Oxford University, Cambridge University, and other universities in the United States, Mexico, New Zealand, Switzerland, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Australia, Suriname, Singapore, and Israel.

A former actuary, he was a court law clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and then headed a division of the Ninth Circuit central legal staff in San Francisco. Legomsky received his D.Phil. from the University of Oxford; J.D. from the University of San Diego (Day Division), where he graduated first in his class and was Notes and Comments Editor of the San Diego Law Review; and B.S. in mathematics from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.