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Defining a Remarkable Career - John Bellinger, III

published October 19, 2010

Donna McGill
( 3 votes, average: 2.8 out of 5)
What do you think about this article? Rate it using the stars above and let us know what you think in the comments below.
Few people have witnessed as many historical events as John Bellinger, III. The 1986 Harvard Law School graduate is currently a partner at the law firm Arnold & Porter, located in Washington DC. It was his almost-accidental stumble into government law that set the pace for every other decision he would make in his career since. But first, a look back at those choices.

Bellinger’s first position was an associate at Shaw Pittman, also in the DC area, where he gained experience in international banking. Little did he know how well that experience would serve him. Within two short years, Bellinger received an invitation to interview with CIA Director William Webster, who needed an assistant. The timing, from a historical standpoint, could not have been better. He explains, ''It was the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, Tiananmen Square…'' Indeed, history is always being made, but there are times when it seems historical moments that affect life as we know it come in rapid succession.


After a brief return to private practice, Bellinger knew that he was meant to serve in a governmental capacity and in 1995, he accepted a position as general counsel that conducted investigations into post-Cold War data. From there, he moved, figuratively speaking, of course, to the White House and oversaw the legal department under President George W. Bush. This was just the first of what would eventually become five government positions in the role as an attorney. There would be controversy during these years, and Bellinger declines the opportunities to discuss those based on national security and of course, his deep ethical convictions.

By 2009, Bellinger had once again returned to private practice and found himself embroiled in the Geneva Convention standards for terrorist detainees. He was clearly outnumbered; however, the Supreme Court had already declared precedence.

These days, Bellinger remains committed to the political climate and the legalities associated with it. He oversees the national homeland security group as well as the international division within Arnold & Porter, LLP. This is certainly a far different pace than his experience working under Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the Bush Administration; however, his commitment is as solid now as ever. He lectures at such renowned law schools as Harvard, Berkeley, Texas and the London School of Economics. He has traveled around the world and has written countless articles and op-eds for publications such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.

Along with his JD from Harvard Law School, he is also a graduate of Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and he currently holds a Masters in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. He current resides in the Washington, D.C. area, where he has built his life and career.

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