Distinguished Visitor Program & Application

Pursuant to its historic purpose of promoting excellence in legal scholarship, The Order of
the Coif sponsors a program that enables chapters to bring distinguished members of the legal profession to their campuses. Each year the Executive Committee will invite one or more distinguished judges, academics, or practitioners to visit several law schools that have established Coif chapters. The Distinguished Visitor spends two days at each of the institutions he or she visits, participating in classroom lectures and seminars, meeting informally with faculty and student groups, and giving one address open to the entire academic community. The purpose of the program is to contribute to the intellectual life of the campus by fostering an exchange of ideas with individuals whose experiences and ideas may be expected to stimulate discussion about important issues confronting the legal profession.

The Distinguished Visitor Program replaced the Lecture Series in 2004.

Coif Distinguished Visitor 2020 & 2021

The Executive Committee takes great pleasure in announcing that Professor Michael J. Gerhardt  is the Order of the Coif Distinguished Visitor for 2020 and 2021.

Michael J. Gerhardt

Michael Gerhardt is Burton Craig Distinguished Professor of Jurisprudence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and inaugural Richard Beeman Scholar in Residence at the National Constitution Center and the University of Pennsylvania Law School.  The principal focus of Professor Gerhardt’s scholarship and public service has been the constitutional conflicts between presidents and Congress.

Besides authoring or co-authoring more than 100 law review articles and dozens of op eds in major newspapers, Professor Gerhardt has authored six books, each of which is considered to be the leading treatise on its subject.  These books are Impeachment:  What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press 2018); The Federal Impeachment Process:  A Constitutional and Historical Analysis (University of Chicago Press 2019); The Power of Precedent (Oxford University Press 2008); and The Federal Appointments Process:  A Constitutional and Historical Analysis (Duke University Press rev. edition 2000).  The Financial Times named his book, The Forgotten Presidents:  Their Forgotten Constitutional Legacy (Oxford University Press), as one of the best non-fiction books published in 2013.  Professor Gerhardt is the co-author of casebooks on constitutional theory and the legislative process.

Professor Gerhardt’s extent of service to Congress as an expert and special counsel is unusually extensive.  In 1998, he was the only joint witness to testify before the House of Representatives during President Clinton’s impeachment; and he was the only legal scholar invited to meet with the entire House behind closed doors to discuss the impeachment process.  In 2003 and 2005, he was the only witness testifying in favor of the constitutionality of the filibuster before the Senate Rules and Judiciary Committees.  In the House Judiciary Committee’s hearings on the impeachment of Thomas Porteous in 2009, he was one of three constitutional experts testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on the question of whether a federal district judge’s misconduct prior to his appointment may serve as a basis for his impeachment.  Subsequently, the House unanimously impeached and the Senate voted overwhelmingly to convict and remove Porteous on that basis.  Gerhardt has participated in confirmation proceedings for seven of the nine justices currently on the Supreme Court, including as Special Counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the Supreme Court nominations of Sonia Sotomayor (2009), Elena Kagan (2010), Neil Gorsuch (2017), and Brett Kavanaugh (2018).  In 2015, the Library of Congress selected Professor Gerhardt as the first independent scholar to oversee the updating of the official United States Constitution Annotated.

Professor Gerhardt received his B.A with honors from Yale University, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics, and a JD with honors from the University of Chicago.  Professor Gerhardt grew up in Mobile, Alabama, and is married to Deborah Gerhardt, who teaches intellectual property, copyright, trademark, and art law at UNC Law School; and they are the proud parents of three boys (Ben, Daniel, and Noah) and two dogs (Ari and Lyla).


Any school with a chapter of The Order of the Coif may host a distinguished visitor Priority will be given to those institutions that do not have extensive resources on which to draw for similar programs or that for other reasons may have difficulty in doing so and which have not recently hosted a distinguished visitor.


The national office of the Order provides an honorarium for the Coif Distinguished Visitor and pays for his or her transportation to the host school. The host school is responsible for the expense of his or her meals, lodging, and local transportation. In addition, the host school undertakes to provide publicity for the Visitor’s lecture sufficient to bring it to the attention of all segments of the campus, the local professional community, including bench, bar, and law students.


The national office of the Order issues invitations to the Distinguished Visitor and posts information about the visitors on this website.


1. The Distinguished Visitors for the following academic year will be selected and chapters notified during the summer.

2. Applications to host a Coif Lecture should be submitted by November 1, 2019. The national office, in consultation with the Visitor, will then arrange a series of visits from among the schools that have expressed an interest. Applicant schools should not communicate directly with the Distinguished Visitor. Designated host schools will be notified of their selection in no later than December 1, 2019.

3. Applications for designation as host school for a Coif Distinguished Visitor must be in writing and contain:

Name(s) of proposed host school(s);
Proposed dates (see below);
Statement of any special reasons this application should be granted (e.g., special
anniversary of the school, etc.)

Since the visits must be arranged for a time compatible with the Visitors other obligations, it is desirable to suggest as many dates as possible that would be consistent with the school’s schedule.


Host School: _____________________________________________________________________

Joint Host: ______________________________________________________________________

Name of Distinguished Visitor Sought: ________________________________________________

Proposed Dates (Include as many potential dates as possible for maximum flexibility)







Special Reason this Application Should Be Granted:

Dean’s Statement: I am acquainted with the obligations of a school undertaking the sponsorship
of an Order of the Coif Distinguished Visitor and state that the applicant school is willing and able to
discharge these obligations.


School ___________________________________________________

Date _____________________________________________________


DEADLINE:  November 1, 2019


Laura N. Gasaway
National Secretary-Treasurer, The Order of the Coif

And forward Dean’s statement, signature and date by regular mail to:

Sandra R. Jones
6530 Kimesville Road
Liberty, NC  27298